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#1509895 - 09/06/10 06:46 AM Need advice on noise reduction in an apt
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
I am moving to a new flat and i don't know my neighbours. I am taking a piano there, a 5' 7" baby grand. I am quite concerned about noise, even a bit paranoid. You never know what to expect. So i was wondering what is a reasonably efficient and easy solution to reduce noise .

For the time being i am planning to place a carpet under the piano , a wool carpet, and underneath that, some kind of iolating material. Obviously i ll play with the lid down. Would this provide a significant reduction?

I have to collect the piano and move in on friday. I ve done lots of reading on the inet but i cannot make any structural changes to the house, so most of what i have read doesn t apply..

Thank you

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#1509944 - 09/06/10 09:32 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
izaldu, a little common sense will work here.

There's a gap between the lid and the piano body, right? Place strips of felt there and fill that gap.

Lay under the piano and take a good look. If you're not handy, you could have a friend take some measurements and use plywood (or something similar) with sound absorbent material attached. You could place a blanket over the strings (not touching) and quiet down the piano on the inside.

When I owned a C3 (in a free standing house, no neighbors), I stuffed many towels in the soundboard. Of course, now I don't have that problem at all.

You can also treat the room as well as the piano. There are many approaches to this problem.
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#1509964 - 09/06/10 10:03 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
Thank you. Do these changes have a significant impact on volume only or also on tone? Maybe i am being a bit over sensitive, but i have had true psychopaths for neighbours in the past and i would really try to avoid a permanent confrontation that keeps me away from practice or that makes me feel not at ease while playing.

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#1509969 - 09/06/10 10:12 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Sparky McBiff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 1112
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
It's going to depend completely on how the flat is constructed.
There is a HUGE variation in sound transmissions between various types of apartments.
For, example, if you are actually living above somebody it is a completely different issue than if they were beside you.
Ultimately it is going to depend on the materials that the walls are constructed of which will determine the amount of sound heard by the neighbors.
I suggest that when you move you alert the neighbors to the fact that you have a piano and that you are interested in determining how much (if any) of it that they hear when you play.
Only then can you start thinking about whether (and how) you will take measure to reduce the sound.
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#1509974 - 09/06/10 10:20 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
+1
I also believe in talking to your neighbours before hand. I would tell them that you have a piano but want to be a good neighbour and not cause them any problems. I would ask them to do a little 'test' where you play at different volumes and they tell you how loud it is in their apartment. Also give them your cell phone number so they can send you a simple text message if they would like you to quieten down on any occasion.

I have found this has a few key benefits:
1) In many cases you can actually play louder than you think without any bother to your neighbours. This would make playing much more enjoyable than constantly worrying about it.
2) Your neighbours may be completely relaxed about it and talking to them will build relationship in the event you ever are too loud. It also will probably make them more tolerant and forgiving of noise because you have talked to them.
3) Giving them a non confrontational way to communicate noise problems makes it very simple and friendly for them to ask you to be quiet (without people banging on walls, calling the police, etc)

Of course they could be psychopaths in which case you have tried to be reasonable and you can just play your piano as you please.

just my 2 cents


Edited by Rjt (09/06/10 10:21 AM)

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#1509984 - 09/06/10 10:33 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
Good points. I am not so sure about talking to neighbours. Im renting this flat, being an owner i think is a different story. But being a tennant.

I actually lost my first chopice flat the minute i mentioned the piano. Thus, i did not mention it to the owner of this one, but did tell the porter. He said it should be alright.

From what i understand , houses built after 2005 are much better isolated than pre 2005 buildings. But i guess i will not know until i am in.

I will have neighbours above , below and besides. The guys below i think i will be able to protect a bit with a thick rug under the piano and maybe something under the carpet too. It s the above and besides i am more worried about.

I guess Rjt is right. Try to be nice first, if they don't respond well then i ll go back to "ok , sue me".

But, i will try to reduce the noise as much as possible without affecting the tone too much.

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#1510006 - 09/06/10 11:05 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
Three sides eh... Yes, chances are at least one of those guys is going to be an annoying neighbour. I would check with the council (or whatever you call your local government) the rules on noise. Normally it is X Decibels between Y-Z hours etc. (even an iphone can measure decibels these days) Just make sure you are compliant and you should be fine. I would specifically tell the council that you have measured the noise and you are compliant. Then if complaints are made to the council the council can tell the neighbours you are compliant. If the neighbours complain directly to you - you can show them the rules and your compliance.

Does your upstairs neighbour have carpet? If so the carpet and underlay should diminish noise via the ceiling - versus floorboards at least.

I think the floor will be the biggest transfer source because your piano directly touches it. You should try to get thick rubber casters as well as the other items you mentioned.

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#1510022 - 09/06/10 11:27 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
Floor boards all over. Ouch!

You reckon casters add a lot of reduction even when the legs are sitting on say 3-4 inches of carpet? It s an old piano and i am not sure i will find the right casters for it.

I am most concerned about the guy on the side and the guy downstairs, for some reason. I will definitely check the noise level and in case they re not understanding, it s good to know you re withing legal levels.

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#1510038 - 09/06/10 11:43 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
When I say casters I mean just rubber pads under the piano wheels. A few inches of carpet will definitely help a great deal - that is a lot of carpet! However it is the low frequency vibrations you want to try to stop being transferred to the floor - not just carpet to muffle the noise. Rubber is a very good material to absorb these low freq vibrations - better than carpet. Just an idea.
I would put carpet over as much floor as possible.

Being within the legal levels is very important because although your neighbours might not like you - there is nothing they can do.

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#1510048 - 09/06/10 11:59 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
I just checked the noise rules for my council. They are much more subjective than I thought. See what yours is...

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#1510194 - 09/06/10 04:09 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
I just called a buddy who is a sound tech for the live concert bars in the area. Seems it s around 30 db after 11 o clock and he reckons around 50 db before that. That is way too low alevel for a piano.

Oh my god. I think im gonna have to seduce my neighbours with my trademark basque cuisine skills the minute i arrive, or else i am in trouble.

Seems i have a good week to collect the piano from the seller's house. Will definitely check those rubber pads and see what i can do. Thanks again for the kind advice.

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#1510205 - 09/06/10 04:24 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2235
Loc: UK
Buy a DP, and headphones!

No seriously. Keep and play the baby grand for your close to finished pieces, but don't subject your neighbours to 'practice'. That's pure torture at any time of day. Use the DP for the majority of practice - endless runs, missed notes, variable tempo, variable dynamics, over and over, it's not music or pleasant.

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#1510206 - 09/06/10 04:25 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: Rjt]
crogersrx Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 712
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: Rjt
Rubber is a very good material to absorb these low freq vibrations - better than carpet. Just an idea.
I would put carpet over as much floor as possible.


I've seen a type of rubber flooring mats that they use in restaurants or in children's playrooms that are made of squares that have litter interlocking nubby things which attach them together. You can look for something like that and cover the floor in it. It's not attractive, but it should dampen the noise, and it's completely able to be taken with you when you leave.

http://www.kodiaksports.com/interlockingrubberflooringmats.aspx

You can take care of walls by hanging some cheep rugs on the walls (you can pretend they are tepestries!)... but as for the cieling, I dunno 'bout that. Just try keeping the lid closed, and a quilt or two over it should dampen things quite a bit.

You might also just thing about buying a used Yamaha Clavinova... should be able to get a decent for about $2,000 (that's US$) and use headphones.

I've been looking into similar sound issues as I'm planning a move to San Francisco next year, and for at least the first year, I plan on living in a flat in the city, so I can expect neighbors on all sides, no insulation to dampen sound, etc.


Edited by crogersrx (09/06/10 04:32 PM)
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#1510210 - 09/06/10 04:34 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
BGJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 162
Loc: Texas
Use the excellent new Google search feature at the upper left corner of this page and search "piattino", and/or "apartment" you will get many old discussions about this topic. Piattino makes sound dampening grand piano caster cups, but there are also many other comments and ideas about this issue.

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#1510225 - 09/06/10 04:53 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Alreadyinuse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/03/10
Posts: 31
Loc: Montreal
Apart from rubber casters, carpets etc., I think you should do as RJT suggested and get your neighbours' input about what is too loud (or even if it is too loud). It will help get them on side and avoid awkward neighbour tension. I don't see how it matters whether you are an owner or a tenant; you want to be within the bounds of the local bylaws and you want to be a good neighbour.

I used to rent in a newer condo building (hardwood floors but cement between the floors) and the woman upstairs had a grand piano. We loved it when she played. Mind you we never heard her "practice" in the sense described by Spanishbuddha. She also didn't practice late at night or early in the morning. In my experience, kids upstairs are much louder than pianos upstairs :-)

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#1510263 - 09/06/10 05:39 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: izaldu
around 30 db after 11 o clock and he reckons around 50 db before that.


If that is dbA, then this doesn't make sense. 30 dbA is effectively absolute silence. 50 dbA is the noise a quiet refrigerator makes. It must be much more - probably 75 ish at least.

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#1510762 - 09/07/10 11:38 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: spanishbuddha]
Rjt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 63
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: spanishbuddha
Buy a DP, and headphones!

No seriously. Keep and play the baby grand for your close to finished pieces, but don't subject your neighbours to 'practice'. That's pure torture at any time of day. Use the DP for the majority of practice - endless runs, missed notes, variable tempo, variable dynamics, over and over, it's not music or pleasant.


This is good advice I think. I am buying a piano with a silent system fitted for this exact reason. I think my neighbours (and my wife) will tolerate me playing beautiful music, however will not tolerate me practicing scales for hours or working on that grade 8+ piece I dream of conquering.

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#1510791 - 09/07/10 12:35 PM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: Rjt]
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
Originally Posted By: Rjt
30 dbA is effectively absolute silence. 50 dbA is the noise a quiet refrigerator makes. It must be much more - probably 75 ish at least.
I agree. That sound guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Normal conversation is 60-70 dB (forget the A/B/C weights, it doesn't matter here). Normal piano practice is 60-70 dB. A vacuum cleaner is 80dB. A violin is 82-92 dB, a cello, oboe, flute, and clarinet are even more. Look at this chart.

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

I wouldn't worry about it. You probably play your stereo louder than your piano would be.

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#1511261 - 09/08/10 04:17 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: gryphon]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1248
Loc:
Yes the figures he gave seemed ridiculous


Anywaym, i went to the local supllies shop and bought this thing called Copopren, seems it s good for floor isolation. I ll just lay it on the floor and put a thick wool carpet on top of it, then rubber pads on the legs of the pi That shoukd do i guess, anyway there is nothing much i can do apart from this.

At least i don t have any babies in the adjacent flat, which was my main concern. The flat upstairs is vacant.

Will post pics when everything is sorted. THanks, guys.

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#1511276 - 09/08/10 05:12 AM Re: Need advice on noise reduction in an apt [Re: izaldu]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Looking forward to the pics. Should be interesting. Thanks.

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