Common Wall Blues

I have a townhouse and when I play my reference system at a moderate volume, my neighbors tell me they hear the bass through the wall. My system is placed on the common wall and the speakers are right at three feet from the back wall and at least four feet from each side wall. Moving the system is not really an option. To try and eliminate the problem I removed all the sheetrock on the common wall, mounted five rows of  sound isolation clips to the studs, steel hat channel mounted to the clips, and two layers of sheet rock, with green glue between the layers, mounted to the hat channel. Around the entire perimeter an acoustical sealant was applied. Sound isolation putty was applied to each electrical box. So now the common wall behind my system wall is physically detached from the studs and has greater mass. I did not address the ceiling or the adjacent room also along the common wall. As per the building code, the buildings are constructed with a 2 x 4 insulated stud wall on my side, a narrow air gap, and a 2 x 4 insulated stud wall on my neighbors side. There are no shared features like HVAC ducts, plumbing or electrical. This was a rather costly project and one that has only moderately worked. As such, I turn the volume way down when my neighbors are home so as not to bother anyone. I would like to play my system at a nominal audiophile volume level at any time I like and was wondering if there might be any other options available to me. I do not really want to do any further construction or move. If there are any suggestions I would very much appreciate hearing them. Thank You. 

4 Answers

  • If you own your townhouse, you could look into floor isolation. But before embarking on another construction project I would try isolating your speakers from the floor to see if that reduces bleed-through next door. For quick and dirty isolation tests look at putting your speakers on layers of closed cell foam. Another scheme that sometimes works is suspending your speakers so they don't touch any walls or floors - if isolation is still a problem then you are getting airborne leakage.

    You really need to figure out the why's of your leakage problem before you can address solutions.

    If all else fails (or the solutions are too expensive), you may want to consider a good earspeaker system...

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  • Hi,

    Another option (similar to the suggested "mini floor isolation units" by Steven) is the Townshend Stella Speaker stands.

    I use these and they remove part of the "boom in my room", bass is more tuneful and less boomy.  I also notice a significant reduction of physical energy to my electronics from my speakers.  They are not inexpensive, but I have tried isolating my speakers on a number of devices, these work for me. 

    Benefits were twofold, improved sound quality for me, and a reduction of Bass travelling thru my building that was upsetting family members.

    Also, I went to the hardware store and purchased rubber strips for my windows. I attach to the edge of the window, so when I close it, it forms a more perfect seal, so less sound escapes from my listening room. Inexpensive and a further decrease in sound escaping.

    These two ideas may not fully solve your issue, though I think they may help. Especially the Townshend Stella Stands .... when it is just bass that people hear than can very very annoying (think of how many of us are not impressed by the "Doof Doof" escaping from some cars).  

    Hope this helps, good luck.


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  • Thank you so much for your suggestions. I'll try a simple version and if that helps I'll have some sort of nice looking platform built. I would like a solution for this because I feel like I'm driving a Ferrari at the speed limit. 

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  • Thanks for the reply Steven. The closed cell foam sounds interesting. The floor is a concrete slab common to all the units it a building. So maybe that is the culprit. As to a suspension system, I doubt the better half would ever go for it. I have a hard enough time with my system as it is being in the great room. I'm curious, would there be any advantage to some sort of wall treatment or maybe tube traps in the corners? 

    • The common cement floor makes for excellent sound transmission, unfortunately. The studio pro way would be to build a floating sub-floor that is sonically isolated. It is an expensive solution. You could try building "mini floor isolation units" under your speakers - my closed cell foam trick that I use under my desktop subwoofer is a "red-neck engineering" approach that will give you some isolation, tube traps will possibly lower the overall amount of sound, but won't help isolate. — StevenStone January 04, 2013 10:11 a.m.

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