Disturbing the neighbors

Mastiff

Senior Member
The stereotypical thing just happened. Neighbor guy came over to complain about the noise. I have a practice room in the garage that I recently put up, and while it is by no means sound isolated, I put a lot of insulation in the walls and sealed it tightly. There are multiple walls in the direct line toward his house. He's not telling me to stop, but to constrain my hours more. It's all reasonable, but rough since I struggle to fit practice in where I can as it is. Plus, the big thing is now I simply feel self conscious about playing, especially since I'm always trying to get better and I'm sure it rarely sounds like music.

Mostly venting here, but I wonder how everyone else manages. I thought I was in a pretty enviable spot in a rural-ish neighborhood with decent spacing between houses and a custom drum room. I suppose for practice I could fill my drums with pillows and stuff to kill them, but that's not ideal. I had visions of mic'ing them in the near future.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I've had this happen several times, and you're right, it makes you feel self-conscious. That's the worst part about it, wondering if you're disturbing them this time.

Maybe you can fix it, though. (or maybe you know this already)

Think of sound like water. If there are any gaps in the walls/doors (no matter how small), the sound will leak out. You can have a room lined with acoustic foam or insulation from floor to ceiling, but if there's a small crack under the door, a lot of it will still leak out. You gotta find those cracks!

Think of a car window while you're driving along. Crack open the window just a sliver, and all the sound suddenly comes rushing in.

And remember, acoustic foam is great for adjusting the level of reverb INSIDE a room, not "soundproofing" it from the outside. (if you didn't know this already.)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The ultimate solution to keep acoustic volume at a minimum and still give you drum sounds, is to get an e-kit. That would also help with your mic'ing desire, somewhat (e-cymbals are still a bit weak.) That would allow you to practice almost at any time. hard rubber pads and cymbals do have a dull attack that can be heard, but nowhere near the volume of a live kit.

You don't have to invest $7000 in the latest Roland gear, but there are less-expensive Roland, Yamaha, Alesis and Simmons options starting at under $1000 that would serve you well.

Bermuda
 

thebarak

Senior Member
Yes I agree with Bermuda. Unless you are playing jazz, most genres of music can be played just as well on nearly silent e-kits. I had several and only went back to acoustic because I am playing jazz and need the full acoustic expression from my snare and ride. For rock, funk, pop and country etc etc., just play e-drums while at home in the neighborhood and take an occasional splurge at a practice studio with your acoustics.
 

PaisteGuy

Well-known member
I would recommend the RTOM black holes and Zildjian L80’s. IMHO they’re better than an e-kit. They really do quiet down the kit. I’m in a townhouse, and my former neighbor was a Cop. They had no idea I had an acoustic drum set, The new neighbours don’t either. Worth looking into.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
I had a middle of the line Roland mesh head kit for a number of years. It was fun to play along with songs, but aside from limb coordination I don't feel like the practice translates well to "real" drums. For example, doing a double stroke roll on an e-kit doesn't translate to a real snare, nevermind a buzz roll. Similar thing with bass drum speed and technique. And as mentioned, the cymbals and hi-hat are all wrong. It's certainly an option worth considering though if it comes to it.

The RTOMs look interesting. I played a kit with replacement practice heads once and they were all wrong feel wise. Well, they felt like Roland mesh heads. A quick Google on the RTOMs tells me they are a different animal from what I tried. I'm going to research them.

Also, I'm isolated from the neighbors enough that I don't need to be as silent as I would in an apartment or something. Muffling and deadening the existing setup might go a long way, and maybe getting a bit more aggressive with the sound isolation in the room.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Well, this sounds familiar and I had to go down the path of Aquarian Super Pads and Zildjian L80s. I considered an e-kit and actually did everything in my power to go that route, but the feel was just not there.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Also, I'm isolated from the neighbors enough that I don't need to be as silent as I would in an apartment or something. Muffling and deadening the existing setup might go a long way, and maybe getting a bit more aggressive with the sound isolation in the room.
Well, first off, what ARE your usual hours of operation?

Know anyone who can play your kit while you walk around outside and actually see how loud it really is? That would be a great way to figure out what you might need to do, to "sound control" further. Walk out towards the house of the "complaint". See what the issue really is. Go from there.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Walking around outside might not tell the whole story. I can hear my neighbors playing music IN my house, but not really outside. The sound travels freely through the air, but bounces around in my house once it gets here. The house amplifies the sound. They are about 100 yards away.

You could try filling the snare and toms with pillow stuffing. It quiets them significantly. Stuff the kick with laundry. The cymbals, I dunno. You may re-orient the position the drums also so they don't point at the neighbors if they are.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Well, first off, what ARE your usual hours of operation?
I never play before noon and always stop by 8, normally by 7. I play almost every week day after work around 6-7 pm and longer on the weekends when I can, normally mid afternoon. I thought I was being courteous. I think part of his annoyance is that I almost never miss a day, so perhaps it seems relentless.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I think part of his annoyance is that I almost never miss a day, so perhaps it seems relentless.
Well, that could be. So you need to figure out how loud you are ..... and what he hears .... and how do you solve it. I mean, if I'm sitting in my living room at 6 pm. watching TV, and I hear my neighbors "anything" ..... they're being too loud.

But on the other hand, your neighbor may be being a bit unrealistic ..... maybe all he needs to do is turn on his TV, and then he won't hear you.

Once you know the level of noise you have to reduce, then you can go about solving it.
 

blinky

Senior Member
I too am practicing in my garage, and been down the e-kit route only to discover that it translates poorly to playing the acoustic kit. I bought a set of Zildjian L80 which I love, and a Sabian quiet tone pad to put on the snare, which is good too, it has a real head and rim so you also can practice brush playing on it as well. On the toms I use the Evans sound-off rubber things and these are the weak link in the chain. Anyhow it works out so good that I have sold my Roland kit, and when I play at rehearsals it feels much better because I'm used to play on "real" drums.
 

Frank

Gold Member
Wow. I figured you would say you were playing at midnight. If you stop by 7 to 8, you are being very conscientious.

Now I'm wondering what my neighbors are hearing. I haven't really given it much thought. I don't think I have ever played beyond 9:30pm. Most stops would be by 8:30pm. I wonder what they are hearing.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I do not play before 11:00 in the morning, and I do not play after 8:00PM. Seven days a week. I would walk the street to the four closest houses, front, back, either side and just ask, if they hear you and if it is too loud. Find out their schedules and what would work. Most areas have ordinances as to what make a nuisance. It could be anytime of day not just after 11PM as some people think. Getting along is much better than not being able to play at all. Good luck.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
My neighbors haven’t complained at all, but my wife started to about a year ago and now is vehemently against the noise. This is the first house I’ve had where I had the freedom to play and have pretty regularly, but I guess my time ran out. There’s literally never where I’m off work, where she’s not around. If that happens, it seems I’m pulled away for something as well. I’ve probably spent 99% of my playing time in 2019 on my DW Smart Practice pads.

Strangely, it hasn’t been all negative! Since there’s no point in putting headphones on and jamming along to something, I’ve been working on patterns and brain twisters. I actually got the pads in 18, when she first complained, but banished to them pretty much full time this year. When I finally gave up on the possibility of getting on the kit with frequency, I started looking into the alternates.

What I absolutely hate most about the pads are their nothing like drums feedback and compact size. I’d get things down to where they sounded fantastic on the pads, then find that moment when noise wasn’t going to be an issue, just to realize I couldn’t transfer the same to the acoustic set. I was way slower, sounded super choppy, because the sticks wouldn’t come back and the spread of the real drums would throw things off even more.

E-kits wouldn’t solve any of that, so down the path of the L80s and SuperPads I went. So many raving reports on how awesome they are, but I just don’t know yet. Playing without isolation is a huge plus. Having the same spread and dead feeling heads is definitely a step in the right direction, but....taking a bit to get used to the differences. Should transfer to acoustic way better than my previous setup, but haven’t had enough time with them or transitioned to loud drums after a long stretch to know how well I adjust yet. Should be fine....

Trying to see if I can mic up my set (5 + 2 overheads) from the reso head and closer to the cymbals and use every effect in my setup to see if I can get them to sound at least acceptable. Having a tough time getting sucked into the music with their current tones. Part of this is just getting used to things...

I ruled out the Sabian Quiet Tones only because they were louder and brighter than the Zildjian’s and While they are way better for quiet gigs (I’m not gigging right now), they aren’t easy on the ears, so you still need ear protection. It would also be tougher to balance them out in the mics. May have been a better choice with the Yamaha EAD10 if someone happens to have that in their setup.

I keep getting reminded of how drums are just about the only instrument with these obnoxious challenges. Even with the best low volume alternatives, to me at least, it still either feels like or sounds like a guitar outfitted with cotton yarn, instead of strings.... :’(
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
I ended up moving my drums/studio to my finished basement. It immediately eliminated 83.3% of the sound-leakage problem.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
My neighbors haven’t complained at all, but my wife started to about a year ago and now is vehemently against the noise. This is the first house I’ve had where I had the freedom to play and have pretty regularly, but I guess my time ran out. There’s literally never where I’m off work, where she’s not around. If that happens, it seems I’m pulled away for something as well. I’ve probably spent 99% of my playing time in 2019 on my DW Smart Practice pads.
...
Sounds like we're in a similar boat. My wife hasn't complained about the noise, only the time spent. Our garage is a separate unit from the house, so it's hardly noticeable in there. Which is why I thought I'd be okay with the neighbor. My drumming goal in life is to build up my skills, not just goof around, so it'll be a bitter pill if I need to go with some poor approximation to real drums. Where in AZ are you BTW?

GruntersDad, we've actually had all the near neighbors over for grilling before and some mentioned the drums, but they all said "we can hear it a little, but it's not annoying". The guy who complained is the one neighbor who doesn't come to the little get togethers. He's also the closest to the drum space. Maybe he insists on napping in mid day with his window open or something.

In hindsight, I wish I'd asked him what he specifically heard. If it was just thumping bass drum, that would help me focus my soundproofing, vs if he hears every snare hit. Filling the bass drum with pillows wouldn't bother me much at all.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I always talk to neighbors up front before I play to get a sense will it be an issue. Lots of hobbies make a racket so you could always tell them you use to rebuild motorcycles but the noise was deafening so you took up drums played indoors with much less noise. So you come off a considerate saint and they thankful at least you’re not louder/it’s all relative LOL. No seriously I’d just talk to neighbors maybe let them beat on it while you’re outside listening - if upfront people usually supportive is my experience
 
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