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artwombat
03-07-2014, 01:13 PM
Ukulele Nuisance Noise

Keeping your Ukulele Practice Quiet

By Mango Chutney

We all know that musical instrument practice can annoy other people so how do we keep it quiet.

My son wanted to practice guitar in a tin shed/garage in suburbia and he asked me for advice which was put into practice and he did not get any complaints.

One day tho, a new neighbour stuck his head in and did not say much but was amazed at the low level of noise outside, he heard it but it was too quiet so he investigated.

Our new neighbour was in fact the professor of stringed instruments at the Con and played harp and owned some expensive harps. As it turned out our new neighbour knew nothing of substance when it came to controlling musical nuisance noise.

He had a garage sized wooden structure built in his yard with a high pitched roof and we called it the Harp House. When he was practising for an overseas engagement he did it when I was asleep but before he left to catch a plane. The tonality was amazing and I used to wake up thinking I was in heaven with the harps playing.

Yes he spent a lot of money to control his harp noise but he failed. And yes he is an expert musician of the highest standard and probably one of the best known harpists in the world. (I can’t remember his name, I would have to ask my wife)

So what do we have to know about nuisance noise so that we know enough to control it.

Let there be LIGHT
If we swap noise for light it is easier to understand

Noise is an energy and so is light, they are the same thing but different frequencies, there are similarities with heat and temperature too. A match has a high temperature but will not heat a room but all these things are ENERGIES.

For light we have mirrors that reflect and black surfaces that do not reflect and for noise we have hard surfaces that reflect and soft surfaces that absorb energy and do not reflect it. (bending fibres uses noise energy)

Now the Nitty Gritty
The instrument that measures noise levels (decibels) is a pressure gauge - it measures air pressure changes above normal air pressure caused by the noise source. Our ears do the same thing and our brain converts it to good noise or bad noise with some kind of meaning.

There are two ways of reducing nuisance noise impact,
1. Reflecting noise towards a distant receiver (the light mirror)
2. Using the noise energy by bending fibres. (the light black surface)

Decibels shown as dB (A)
The (A) is a fudge factor used to help the reading be more like our ears perception, We measure the air pressure and add the fudge factor and end up with dB(A).

DB (A) does not add and subtract like normal numbers for example.
1. One machine produces 70 dB(A) in a free field (with no reflectors around it)
2. Add another similar machine and the resultant dB(A) will be about 75
3. Add two more machines and the dB(A) will be about 80

Rule of thumb
Every time you double the amount of noise the dB(A) only goes up by about 5 dB(A).

But that works in reverse too,
If you use up half the noise energy by bending fibres then you only drop the dB(A) by about 5 dB(A),

Sound boxes on stringed instruments
The only energy that is available is the energy emanating from vibration of the strings.

All the sound box can do is collect the noise that did not go forward towards the audience and redirect it to the audience via the hole.

If the sound box did this perfectly for the audience it would be the summation of 2 equal noise sources, one from the strings and one from the hole.

And as we already know that two equal noise sources equals the noise from 1 plus 5dB(A). Say the strings produce 60 dB(A) and the Hole produces another 60dB(A) the resultant noise towards the audience is 65dB(A).
In the non perfect noise box situation, the hole will produce less noise and therefore it will be maybe 3dB(A) louder than no noise box. But that noise level is on the audience side not the musicians side. The noise that would have gone back towards the musician has been redirected forward to the audience via the noise box hole.

Putting a sock in it.
If we put a sock in the hole it will mean very little noise change to the musician and about 2 or 3 d(BA) less for the audience.

Will 2 or 3 dB(A) make a difference,
We have learned to hear the difference between background noise level and the noise source, not the whole noise. So we speak at 5 -8 dB(A) above background, but machines make the same noise level and do not consider the background.

Losing noise with distance
Roughly, if we double the distance the noise level reduces by 5dB(A)

So it works out fine to have a noise box it reduces the noise for the musician who is very close to the noise source and increases it for the audience. So 60 dB(A) at 3 metres is 55 dB(A) at 6 metres and 50dB(A) at 12 metres.

The noise box
Using light the explanation goes like this.

The strings are a fluorescent light tube and the front face of the instrument is a one way mirror that lets light into the box. The light reflects around inside until it finds the hole and then shines out through the hole.

Negative noise
Negative noise is used in car mufflers etc which is of course similar to but opposite to a noise box. Reflected air pressure (noise) in the box can meet itself going the other way thereby neutralizing itself. But if we want pure sound we do not want time delays when it comes out the hole and joins the noise direct from the strings.


My guess is that the front face is a one way mirror and the back is the main reflector and the shape of the sides is to make negative noise for more pure sound. (less stray out of synch noise)

Noise power
Gets more complicated but if a uke was a match then a double base would be a gas ring.

Ideal Practice room
The ideal practice room has free hanging fabric walls and no openings and the fibres are bent so the noise energy does not leave the room, It makes no noise level difference to the musician.

Household background noise levels usually are 45 to 55 DB(A) and anything that is 5dB(A) above background becomes intrusive.

Have fun.

The end
2014 C.J.Griffin

PS If you take a few readings with a cheap noise level meter you can work out what is reasonable.

fretie
03-07-2014, 02:30 PM
Long story short... how do you keep music noise/sound levels down in the average condo?

In addition to ukulele I also play shakuhachi the tones of which concern me more because the music is less familiar to most of my neighbours and therefore possibly more noticeable and potentially more disturbing than the western tunes from my ukulele.

Lori
03-07-2014, 07:30 PM
When you talk about fibers that are bent so no energy leaves the room... what does that mean? Are we talking about felt, or is there a weave you are talking about? Or are you talking about fabric panels with stuffing inside?

Lori

artwombat
03-07-2014, 08:41 PM
G'day Freti

We do not have condos but I will see if I can help.

You can start by putting socks or similar in the sound-box big hole then get as much wall and windows as you can covered by loose hanging heavy drapes and carpet on the floor.

Or

You can sit behind a screen and play, it is best if you face the screen and are very close to it. The screen absorbs the noise energy and does not reflect it.

If I was asked to make a screen I would make it out of plywood and put carpet on one face. Noise can build up pressure and dribble around a screen so you need "returns" on the edges of the screen. Returns are just a wooden frame around the outside of the screen and protruding past the carpet to stop the build up of air pressure dribbling around the corner.

The type of instrument does not matter but low frequency noise will even go through double glazing so the lower the frequency the more important it is to use the energy before it hits a neighbors shared wall.

You can buy a cheap noise meter and test the room for "Hot spots" and move your screen until you get what you want.

I hope that helps.

artwombat
03-07-2014, 09:06 PM
Thanks Lori the fibres are like in heavy drapes and carpets and blankets.

Some of the best noise energy absorbing materials can become fire hazards and heat insulation does not work.

Typical fibre that does work is heavy window drapes but not vinyl or any hard shiny surface. The best is rubber backed carpet. Fabric works best if it is not stretched tight but left to hang loose.

When they get serious they line a room with cardboard egg cartons those grey paper mache looking ones.

Every situation is a bit different so if you can move all your drapes or heavy blankets into one room and use a cheap meter to identify hot spots you will be able to work it out.

Buy a cheap noise meter and test for hot spots

Air pressure likes to build up in corners and you can get a lot of noise through a crack under a door.

Can you let me know what works for you and what does not.

stevepetergal
03-08-2014, 10:15 AM
I just read the original post. I'm completely lost.

artwombat
03-08-2014, 11:46 AM
Thanks Steve noise is a difficult concept. Most people have trouble with it no matter how it is described.



To get rid of NOISE we have to think

Air Pressure waves NOT Noise.

The best way to understand noise is to buy a cheap meter and find your noise hot spots. Gaps near corners leak big mobs of noise for example; Under doors because the floor and the door make a corner and the gap lets the air pressure out.

You have seen a speaker (electronic) in operation so you have seen that the speaker diaphragm pushes the air by going in and out.

If not then have a closer look.

Speakers make air waves by their pulsing in and out movement. Big speakers can rattle windows.

The sound waves through the air are fluctuations in air pressure.

Sound waves in the air are nothing but air pressure rising and falling

A) High pitched noise rises and falls fast.
B) Boom boom boom noise rises and falls slowly.

But they are only air pressure changes that our ears pick up.

Noise meters measure air pressure and that REPRESENTS loudness as heard by our ears.
Noise meters "decibels" db(A)
Noise meters are an air pressure gauge.
When the energy from the air pressure waves vibrate fibres in a carpet then there is no energy left to echo away somewhere else.

Light is a similar concept.

If you have a music practice room with the window covered then put the light on at night and where the light leaks out of the room so will the noise. You can create a "noise shadow" just like light can create a shadow.

So you can protect an area from noise nuisance by creating a noise shadow with a screen. If the screen has a soft face then it will absorb the air pressure waves by bending the fibres and therefore not "echo" off to another part of the room.

Every situation is different so a cheap noise meter is good for finding noise hot spots.

As you know noise will go through some walls and they need extra protection.

fretie
03-08-2014, 11:56 AM
G'day Freti

We do not have condos but I will see if I can help.

You can start by putting socks or similar in the sound-box big hole then get as much wall and windows as you can covered by loose hanging heavy drapes and carpet on the floor.

Or

You can sit behind a screen and play, it is best if you face the screen and are very close to it. The screen absorbs the noise energy and does not reflect it.

If I was asked to make a screen I would make it out of plywood and put carpet on one face. Noise can build up pressure and dribble around a screen so you need "returns" on the edges of the screen. Returns are just a wooden frame around the outside of the screen and protruding past the carpet to stop the build up of air pressure dribbling around the corner.

The type of instrument does not matter but low frequency noise will even go through double glazing so the lower the frequency the more important it is to use the energy before it hits a neighbors shared wall.

You can buy a cheap noise meter and test the room for "Hot spots" and move your screen until you get what you want.

I hope that helps.

Yes, that makes sense to me and is helpful - thank you!

artwombat
03-08-2014, 12:14 PM
Thanks for all the questions I get a buzz out of helping people if I can.

What will help everyone is if you post how you removed your noise HOT SPOT.

Noise absorbing materials are confusing mostly they are different to HEAT INSULATION.

Cork tiles are good but if they are sealed with a lacquer they are a mirror for noise and do not absorb any energy.

Anyway feel free to ask.

actadh
03-08-2014, 12:34 PM
I can always play in my fiberglass travel trailer and bother no one. Out where I live, jet skis and garden tractors are the high noise polluters, not my little ukulele.

PhilUSAFRet
03-08-2014, 12:42 PM
Awesome post, thanks

Bill Mc
03-08-2014, 12:52 PM
I just read the original post. I'm completely lost.

You are not the only one.

chikon2000
03-08-2014, 03:18 PM
I have to say that it's hard to imagine being able to make much of a racket with an un-amped ukulele. Since my kids were born, I have more or less given up playing the accordion, since it is so loud, and there's no satisfactory way to make it quieter. In contrast, I can play the uku when the whole house is asleep and not dsturb anyone.

Inksplosive AL
03-08-2014, 03:39 PM
I play at night next to my lady sleeping I strum softly. A violinist uses a mute which is a block which deadens the strings. I have a piece of a white face cloth I keep in my case that can easily be put under the strings to mute the ukulele. Having had a background with many friends in garage bands back in the day I have learned a longtime ago how to stop sound reflecting off your practice space.

Posted by: artwombat

Credited to: By Mango Chutney

Ends with: 2014 C.J.Griffin

I might thank you but I might be committing plagiarism depending who I thank.

artwombat
03-08-2014, 08:16 PM
Hello Acta,

The sooner mowed grass becomes unfashionable the better and Jet Skiers have no friends who can hear them.

Your little fibre glass egg makes an ideal music studio for a uke.

artwombat
03-08-2014, 08:32 PM
I play at night next to my lady sleeping I strum softly. A violinist uses a mute which is a block which deadens the strings. I have a piece of a white face cloth I keep in my case that can easily be put under the strings to mute the ukulele. Having had a background with many friends in garage bands back in the day I have learned a longtime ago how to stop sound reflecting off your practice space.

Posted by: artwombat

Credited to: By Mango Chutney

Ends with: 2014 C.J.Griffin

I might thank you but I might be committing plagiarism depending who I thank.

I write as Mango Chutney and sign my art with a wombat but the owner of the copyright is the real me. Col Griffin, It is all part of the fun. I don't sell art or writing these days but I do swap art world wide. And you never know one day I might choose to sell something again.

della-belle
03-09-2014, 11:59 PM
1. stuff uke in case
2. go out and find tree
3. climb tree
4. scare crap out of local dog walkers with your playing instead of scaring family
5. success!

Abandoned buildings are great too, I built up quite a database with my urban exploring and some of them have incredible acoustics :D and it means I don't drive my parents to suicide with my playing, so win/win!

Inksplosive AL
03-10-2014, 08:40 AM
I write as Mango Chutney and sign my art with a wombat but the owner of the copyright is the real me. Col Griffin, It is all part of the fun. I don't sell art or writing these days but I do swap art world wide. And you never know one day I might choose to sell something again.

Thank you for the explanation. As an artist myself an Pro old school Tattoo Artist who is very familiar with bypassing copyright laws, it's interesting you would attempt copyright on a forum post. If nothing else thanks for making me think!