Are you considering enhancing your audio experience by adding a subwoofer in your apartment but unsure if it’s allowed, legal, or feasible?
Let’s find out; can you have a subwoofer in an apartment? Yes, you can install a subwoofer in your apartment as long as the sound does not cause disturbance to your neighbors and meets the apartment rules and regulations.
Building regulations and lease agreements may prohibit having a subwoofer in your apartment. So you should also be aware of your apartment noise rules and regulations.
This article will discuss factors that help you determine whether the subwoofer suits your apartment. In addition, we will discuss strategies to minimize noise from subwoofers in flats and recommend the best subwoofers for apartments.
Factors to Consider Before Installing Subwoofers in an Apartment
This section covers a few factors that you should consider before installing a subwoofer in your apartment.
Apartment’s Size and Layout
The foremost thing to check is your apartment’s size and layout. As you know, the larger the subwoofer, the more deep bass could produce excessive noise that could disturb your neighbors.
That is why having a large subwoofer for a small apartment will not be suitable and if you already have one and thinking to use it, be ready to deal with the housing council.
The same goes with the small subwoofer in the medium or large apartment as the neighbor might not disturb but the sound will not be as immersive as it needs to be.
So you have to look for both sides and get a subwoofer that not only keeps the volume within the apartment but also enough to let you enjoy decent bass quality and enhance overall sound performance.
Consider your apartment’s layout and size before finalizing the subwoofer. Usually, a subwoofer with a small driver works for flats. The smallish driver brings in less air movement and, eventually, less intensified sound.
Building Materials of the Apartment
Type of material used to construct the apartment factor that can impact whether or not to use a subwoofer in an apartment. It impacts the sound performance and the way sound travels and the level of noise that is transmitted through walls and floors.
For example, an apartment made of concrete or brick is more soundproof than apartments constructed with thin walls and floors made of materials like drywall or wood.
And that means if you live in an apartment where the walls are thick and floors are made of a material like concrete the less sound frequencies will travel through and be less likely to disturb your neighbors.
In addition to the building materials, the layout of your apartment can also impact the way sound travels. For instance, apartments with an open floor plan or large common areas can create more reverberation, leading to more sound transmission. In contrast, apartments with smaller rooms and more walls can help absorb sound, leading to less sound transmission.
If it is necessary for you to place a subwoofer in the apartment you can use different soundproofing materials like acoustic foam or sound-absorbing curtains to help reduce the amount of sound that travels through walls and floors.
When it comes to where to place a subwoofer the answer will be an experiment. Not only does it impacts the sound performance it can cause disturbance to your neighbors. So it is important to avoid putting the subwoofer near the corners and walls.
In addition, Wall corners connect the adjacent rooms, ceiling, and floor. As a result, the vibration spreads quickly.
The best placement for subwoofers in an apartment is near the main listening area or the middle of the room. You can even place a subwoofer behind the couch or under the couch if needed.
The nearer the subwoofers from the listening area, the lesser the need for pressuring the room with bass energy, which results in excessive vibration and noise.
Keep in mind the subwoofer height from the floor can also impact. As above I mentioned if you have a floor made of drywall or wood the chances will be higher for the sound to travel through. So consider placing your subwoofer on a stand or isolation pad to help reduce vibration transfer.
Subwoofer’s Volume Level
The only thought surrounding your mind while buying a subwoofer must be to go home and blast the room with a bassy sound. Subwoofers are well-known for their deep bass sound output at the highest levels. However, living in an apartment, you must think twice before streaming music at the highest volume levels.
To play safely, position the subwoofer nearby the listening area. This way, even if you stream music at the lowest levels, the sound output will be satisfying.
Keep the gain settings low if the subwoofer sounds separate from the speakers. Maintain a balance between the subwoofer and speakers for better sound quality.
Exceptions Where Subwoofers Might Work in an Apartment Safely
Some users succeed in blasting subwoofers in their apartments without their neighbors complaining about it. There are some exceptions where a subwoofer might work in an apartment safely. The exceptions are;
Lower Volumes With Good Timing
Before looking for a solution or investing in isolation pads, stands, or isolating your walls and ceiling, try taking a risk. Test the water with a lower sound level during midday.
On day one, stream music at a 20% volume level, while on the second day, 30%. Keep raising the voice until someone notices. However, the primary concern is that the majority doesn’t want to stream at lower levels with a subwoofer.
Keep pushing the limits until someone notices and complains. Or, find a suitable volume level where you’re satisfied with the audio quality and no one is complaining about it and calling it “disturbing.”
Concrete Or Brick Walls
If you live in a brick or concrete wall apartment, you don’t have to worry about vibration or loud noise. Center-level apartments mostly face this issue since they surround vibration in all directions.
Concrete or brick wall apartments are mostly soundproof. The thick layer of concrete prevents the sound from escaping from one room to another. These apartments are either expensive or old.
You can blast your subwoofer in a concrete wall room, knowing the vibration and noise won’t pass through. Or, if you are dedicated to streaming music, one room in your apartment with brick or concrete walls.
Open Communication With Neighbors
The last, yet worth trying way! Try to have an open conversation with your neighbor. You are possibly freaking out for no reason and looking for alternatives while your neighbors don’t have an issue with the vibration and sound.
Have an open conversation with your neighbors and ask what they feel about the noise and vibration. It might be possible your neighbors don’t mind the noise and love bumping loud music. However, remember the worst scenario; they can also say a big no!
Try negotiating to make things work out. Try to make them agree to specific hours. For instance, if they allow streaming music for 2-3 hours daily, that would be great. If not, the section below will cover safely using a subwoofer in an apartment.
How To Use Subwoofers In An Apartment Safely?
Here is how you can use a subwoofer in your apartment safely;
Use Damping or Isolation Pads
Everyone will recommend using damping or isolation pads if you ask how to use subwoofers in an apartment without disturbing the neighbors.
As you know, subwoofers produce bass sound waves in all directions (omnidirectional). The long-wavelength sound waves often reflect and cause acoustic reflection. As a result, the waves seep through the walls or rattle loose objects in the surroundings.
Placing isolation pads underneath the subwoofer helps reduce the bass reflection. You can also set the isolation pads on the walls or ceiling. The loosely circulating air molecules prevent the sound from passing through or directly hitting the floor or furniture.
Avoid Placing the Subwoofer on the Floor
The goal is to disconnect it from the ground by avoiding placing the subwoofer on the floor. Mechanical vibration is a massive contributing factor in passing bass vibration through walls.
Before you wonder how to lift the subwoofer from the floor by a few inches, use subwoofer decouplers. The decoupler can be in any form, whether rubber feet, speaker stands, or metal pegs.
The sole purpose of the subwoofer decoupler is to prevent the mechanical and bass vibration from passing through the walls. Although it is not an idyllic solution, the passing vibration will be negligible compared to the subwoofer resting on the ground. If your apartment has wooden flooring, use rubber feet; use metal strikes if you have carpeting.
Find the Best Placement
Despite installing isolation pads and a drop ceiling, you will still receive complaints from your neighbor unless you find the best placement for the subwoofer.
Since an apartment surrounds other houses in all directions, the vibration spreads quickly. The best placement for subwoofers in an apartment is near the listener’s position.
Avoid placing the subwoofer near the wall corner. If so, the vibration will pass over from one room to another. Another benefit of positioning the subwoofer near the listener’s position is the convenience of adjusting the volume level; you can even stream music at low levels if your neighbors are grumpy.
Acoustically Treat the Room
Whether a large room or small, it creates bass-related problems, and treating it acoustically is the only way to solve the issue. Using bass traps is the best way to treat your room acoustic.
Besides reducing unwanted vibration that disturbs your neighbors, bass traps improve sound quality by absorbing the damaged reflections. Bass traps absorb the high-low energy frequencies by sitting in the room corner and the walls.
Bass traps somewhat resemble isolation pads. However, they don’t cover the whole wall, but only a few parts, mainly the corners. Bass traps absorb the wayward bass sound waves reflecting off the wall corner. As a result, the sound quality feels more accurate and compact.
Soundproof Your Ceiling
The ceiling is the main culprit for passing the vibration and noise to your neighbors. There are multiple ways you can soundproof your ceiling, among which the top are;
- Build a drop ceiling
- Put up a drywall
- Use isolation pads.
The two ways mentioned above won’t work for you if you live in a rented apartment. Even if you have a private apartment, you must get permission from the housing council before installing the drop ceiling or drywalls.
Nevertheless, installing a drop ceiling or drywall will do wonders with the vibration. Compared to a drop ceiling, drywall is a permanent solution. You can get rid of the drop ceiling whenever you want.
Placing a subwoofer in an apartment is possible, but it is more complex. There are a few things you need to do. First and foremost, ensure it is allowed to place a subwoofer in an apartment. You can talk to the building owner and get the information.
Next, the type plus placement of the subwoofer and the type of material the apartment is made of play a key role. If you have the right type of subwoofer and placement is good, as well as the apartment has decent soundproofing material, you will be good to go.
In case the soundproofing is not good, or the subwoofer is too loud, it will impact others.
It is important to choose the right subwoofer and placement that fits the space and reduces the sound’s impact on others. You can also use different soundproofing materials/tools to prevent the sound does not go through the apartment as well as can achieve better sound quality. It’s also important to be mindful of noise levels and to work with neighbors to find mutually acceptable solutions.
With proper planning and consideration, you can use a subwoofer in the apartment.