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Noise pollution where the source is unknown

34 posts in this topic

Hi all, 

 

I've tried looking through the threads, sorry if it is a duplicate. 

 

The thing is, well, I live in a quiet-ish industry area. There's more or less continual noise from the neighbouring area, but I can't figure out where the source of the noise is from. It's a bit difficult to describe, as well. It's the same kind of music, and it's diffuse enough on the ground level that it just sounds like background industrial noise. I checked it out today because it's sunday and has been mostly quiet today. It only started at 9pm and will last through the night. I tried to follow the noise, but it just leads down to another street and I can't really head there because it'd be a very long walk with no bus. (Yes, I considered that it could be just me, but if it was just me it wouldn't follow actual physical laws such as line of sight.)

 

Yesterday early in the morning (think 3-4am), there was even the sound of drums. 

 

From my apartment, it doesn't sound that loud, but it is definitely clear that it is music, sometimes with vocals. Because it pretty much goes on every night, regardless of Ruhezeiten, it's been getting really frustrating and is causing sleep problems. I do prefer to sleep with my windows open, because it's just a small apartment and gets really stuffy especially in the summer. I think sound travels in a weird way, i.e. noise will get blocked on the street but there is likely a line of sight from that place to my apartment. 


I use earplugs pretty much every night and am ordering a white noise machine so that I can sleep and focus on my studies.

 

I have called the police once, but I don't think they did anything because it's still continuing, and my German isn't good enough to explain to them the concrete situation. I've heard that calling the police too much can make them think I'm the one who's the problem.

 

My biggest concern is also that I can't prove to anyone because it's diffuse enough to not be properly recorded down on a mobile phone. At this rate, even if I complained to the town council or the police, I won't be taken seriously.

 

Any suggestions about how I can find out the source of the noise?

 

Is there anything that I can do about this without having to mietmindern? I'm getting a pretty good deal with my apartment, and my landlady seemed pretty nice, so I don't really want to bother her too much. 

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You might be getting a "good deal" exactly because of this, of course.   Can you perhaps engage a consultant / expert?   Whose opinion would more perhaps add weight to be "taken seriously".

 

I've had the occasional sound issue to deal with (for different reasons) and that seemed to me to be the thing to do.  Some sort of sound issue is not so unusual.  It could also be something fairly simple to solve in the context of apartment structure.   However, I would definitely not have been able to solve it myself.  (As per above, what does the landlady say?).

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Perhaps there is a music "Proberaum"  practice room  in the  "industrial" area and because of the hot weather have a window open? On weekends it goes longer?

Have seen  old bunkers /tunnels /former  factories used this way.   Can be quite annoying if downwind.

 

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1 hour ago, easytodraw said:

Perhaps there is a music "Proberaum"  practice room  in the  "industrial" area and because of the hot weather have a window open? On weekends it goes longer?

Have seen  old bunkers /tunnels /former  factories used this way.   Can be quite annoying if downwind.

 

This does sound like the case, because the noise quality changes but the tune stays the same. If it was quiet during Ruhezeiten, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but as it is, it is unacceptable. 

I checked googlemaps but hmm all it states are the companies that own the factory. Didn't know this would be a problem with industrial areas... Occasionally I'll hear shouts from down the hill at least a couple of streets away, too. 

 

1 hour ago, swimmer said:

You might be getting a "good deal" exactly because of this, of course.   Can you perhaps engage a consultant / expert?   Whose opinion would more perhaps add weight to be "taken seriously".

 

I've had the occasional sound issue to deal with (for different reasons) and that seemed to me to be the thing to do.  Some sort of sound issue is not so unusual.  It could also be something fairly simple to solve in the context of apartment structure.   However, I would definitely not have been able to solve it myself.  (As per above, what does the landlady say?).

Well, it wasn't like this until the heatwave began...

Hmm what kind of consultant would you recommend? 

I haven't contacted the landlady yet -- I just am not quite sure what to tell her. We communicated in German, and if I can't explain it to the police, I'm not sure how well I can explain it to her, either.

 

2 hours ago, LukeSkywalker said:

Did you ask your neighbours? Do they hear it as well?

The person downstairs was really irritated by the drums in ungodly hours, but it was impossible to tell where the noise was coming from.

 

1 hour ago, SpiderPig said:

Why dont you move?

I would prefer not to, since I don't plan on staying here for the long term.

Thanks everyone for the suggestion.

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11 hours ago, SpiderPig said:

Why dont you move?

Chip-pans and fires...?

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10 hours ago, washingtub said:

Hmm what kind of consultant would you recommend?

My wife is an acoustic engineer and she works for the largest acoustics company in Germany.

I can give you the contact, if you want.

From my studio engineering experience, I think a directional microphone with a meter would be the way to go, but I find it strange that you can't narrow down the source.

This can mean that the transmission is not by air but purely by the building structure. But that would only affect you if you are directly connected to the building producing it.

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Bear with me, this is a very interesting story.

 

6 years ago, in Portugal, me and my wife investigated a case of a man who would hear a ringing sound.

But only when he was inside his house, and not 100% of the time.

 

He brought in specialists from all over the country. Acoustic measurements showed nothing.

He had in some guys from the university that measured some spikes in the electric field, but no conclusion.

 

I thought it had to be tinnitus or some sort of dementia, but we went forward anyway.

After 2 days of measurements, it became clear it was not an acoustic issue.

After clearing that, I measured the AC installation with an oscilloscope and found some high frequency tones, at 5k, 10k, 15k, 20kHz, which matched the findings from the university guys.

Still, the mic detected nothing. But then I remembered that it was a capacitor/condensator microphone, which has no metal parts.

So I switched to a coil microphone, which is not used for acoustic measurements, but I had several from my studio. This has metallic parts.

With that microphone, I could detect the exact same peaks, 5k, 10k, 15k, 20kHz, even if it was completely covered, in a quiet room.

 

So for the next test, I disconnected the ground cable from the main board several times, while the old man would shout, from another room, if he was hearing it or not.

He was right in all tests. So the conclusion could only be that he was electric-field sensitive!

 

The source of the field were nearby farms with large electric motors, and a crappy local transformer post, which had poor grounding and propagated the "noise" into the old man's house.

We made a report and he filed a complain to the electricity provider. Unfortunately, this type of "noise" is not part of the quality parameters, so they don't have to fix it...

 

Now, the OP is hearing music, but this kind of noise could also come through the electric ground. But if more people can hear it, the chances are it is not tinnitus, nor electric field sensitivity, just some noise propagated by the structure.

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Yes, I think that is possibly right.    My most recent problem was something (to a non-expert) like reverb.   I initially thought it was an exterior source or possibly electrical humming but eventually it dawned that it wasn't - it's the building structure.  It only happened when I closed (the only) window.  Opening it was the solution, albeit with some exterior noise as the tradeoff.   It was like the sound went right from that window to the front door (directly) in what is quite a windy area.  The exterior patio to the window often has mini tornados whirling round it. 

 

I think "move" is too strong a reaction initially, at least not until you've got some expert guidance.   However, sleep is obviously important and so, if no solution is found, it might be a solution further down the line. I do know people who moved out of places because an electrical humming noise was unavoidable (and obviously this apples often to smaller places being talked about here, we can't just move rooms).  Some people can tolerate it, others not.   I may rent the above flat and so obviously I had to sort it for any future resident.  I think it is perfectly reasonable for a landlady to be alerted to such things.  They may not be in a position to do anything, or be obliged to, but you can still notify them.

 

 As the last point says, sometimes it is unavoidable.   I am a big fan of earplugs anyway but also make sure you have the best ones.  With the wax ones, double up, I find that makes a difference :lol:.

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When you googled, how wide was your search area?

 

Sound can travel a very long way at night, e.g. a couple of years ago there was an outdoor club which was open until god knows when in the mornings, the music was audible in the flat which was over 1.5k away as the crow flies.

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This is all true and I often hear things like distant football crowds but normally earplugs would solve that sort of noise - exactly one thing they are for -  and rock concerts and football matches and Grand Prix and the rest are not allowed in the middle of the night anyway, for just that reason of being too noisy at night.

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... but this might be music from a practice room carrying though walls and ground. I've wandered around industrial areas near my home, tracking down exactly that just for fun - it's surprisingly difficult sometimes.

That also would explain the unholy times - many bands practice nights after the day job, and are not aware the sound carries.

 

In a nutshell, I don't think the OP can do a lot about that. Maybe white noise from the Internet can help.

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8 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

My wife is an acoustic engineer and she works for the largest acoustics company in Germany.

I can give you the contact, if you want.

From my studio engineering experience, I think a directional microphone with a meter would be the way to go, but I find it strange that you can't narrow down the source.

This can mean that the transmission is not by air but purely by the building structure. But that would only affect you if you are directly connected to the building producing it.

Hmm... I think it is not by building structure, but by air. I've checked the building multiple times, and the only reverbs that occur are from metal pipes connected to the outside area. I'll try and record it down with my phone first, and then look for a mic. As it's also a small room,  I can feel the physical vibrations and easily localize the source if it's actually happening within the room. I think it's genuinely far enough away and loud enough from the source to sound really diffuse on the ground, much like at a concert. It also doesn't help that there's a highway right above, and so there's a lot of traffic noise on top of it. (I don't mind the traffic noise, even at night, but music...)

 

I think what I will do today is to record with my mobile first, load it onto my laptop, and see if I can get a good clear sound with audacity.

 

Please give me the contact so that I can see if they have a branch here. Thanks :) 

 

2 hours ago, Metall said:

... but this might be music from a practice room carrying though walls and ground. I've wandered around industrial areas near my home, tracking down exactly that just for fun - it's surprisingly difficult sometimes.

That also would explain the unholy times - many bands practice nights after the day job, and are not aware the sound carries.

 

In a nutshell, I don't think the OP can do a lot about that. Maybe white noise from the Internet can help.

Absolutely. I haven't been bothered by this for the longest time because it's rock music, but hearing the same tunes repetitively, especially if they're often partial music, sometimes synthed to pure noise, gets old quite fast. Especially during unholy hours.

 

5 hours ago, skadi said:

When you googled, how wide was your search area?

 

Sound can travel a very long way at night, e.g. a couple of years ago there was an outdoor club which was open until god knows when in the mornings, the music was audible in the flat which was over 1.5k away as the crow flies.

A couple hundred meters... radius from my apartment, from the direction of the noise. I know there's a couple of live venues nearby, but they have never been a problem for me, and the direction is wrong anyway. It's coming from the factory side. (Well, though, if I were to actually physically walk, the winding of the streets and the contour of the hill would make it ... a few kilometers each way.)

Oh... dear. I guess there really isn't much I can do.

6 hours ago, swimmer said:

Yes, I think that is possibly right.    My most recent problem was something (to a non-expert) like reverb.   I initially thought it was an exterior source or possibly electrical humming but eventually it dawned that it wasn't - it's the building structure.  It only happened when I closed (the only) window.  Opening it was the solution, albeit with some exterior noise as the tradeoff.   It was like the sound went right from that window to the front door (directly) in what is quite a windy area.  The exterior patio to the window often has mini tornados whirling round it. 

 

I think "move" is too strong a reaction initially, at least not until you've got some expert guidance.   However, sleep is obviously important and so, if no solution is found, it might be a solution further down the line. I do know people who moved out of places because an electrical humming noise was unavoidable (and obviously this apples often to smaller places being talked about here, we can't just move rooms).  Some people can tolerate it, others not.   I may rent the above flat and so obviously I had to sort it for any future resident.  I think it is perfectly reasonable for a landlady to be alerted to such things.  They may not be in a position to do anything, or be obliged to, but you can still notify them.

 

 As the last point says, sometimes it is unavoidable.   I am a big fan of earplugs anyway but also make sure you have the best ones.  With the wax ones, double up, I find that makes a difference :lol:.

Hmm... I don't think it's electrical humming, as it does get better when I close the windows, but this sounds interesting. I will keep this in mind as a possible solution in the future.

7 hours ago, Petro6golf said:

Dont take this the wrong way and I honestly am not suggesting this to get laughs or be an asshole/ troll you but some of the signs of schizophrenia are this. 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508634/

 

I have considered this, and tinnitus. I don't think either are the cause. 

 

Thanks everyone for the comments and additional viewpoints. I've learnt new things today. :)

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15 hours ago, washingtub said:

Hmm... I think it is not by building structure, but by air. I've checked the building multiple times, and the only reverbs that occur are from metal pipes connected to the outside area. I'll try and record it down with my phone first, and then look for a mic. As it's also a small room,  I can feel the physical vibrations and easily localize the source if it's actually happening within the room. I think it's genuinely far enough away and loud enough from the source to sound really diffuse on the ground, much like at a concert. It also doesn't help that there's a highway right above, and so there's a lot of traffic noise on top of it. (I don't mind the traffic noise, even at night, but music...)

 

I think what I will do today is to record with my mobile first, load it onto my laptop, and see if I can get a good clear sound with audacity.

 

Please give me the contact so that I can see if they have a branch here. Thanks :) 

 

Absolutely. I haven't been bothered by this for the longest time because it's rock music, but hearing the same tunes repetitively, especially if they're often partial music, sometimes synthed to pure noise, gets old quite fast. Especially during unholy hours.

 

A couple hundred meters... radius from my apartment, from the direction of the noise. I know there's a couple of live venues nearby, but they have never been a problem for me, and the direction is wrong anyway. It's coming from the factory side. (Well, though, if I were to actually physically walk, the winding of the streets and the contour of the hill would make it ... a few kilometers each way.)

Oh... dear. I guess there really isn't much I can do.

Hmm... I don't think it's electrical humming, as it does get better when I close the windows, but this sounds interesting. I will keep this in mind as a possible solution in the future.

I have considered this, and tinnitus. I don't think either are the cause. 

 

Thanks everyone for the comments and additional viewpoints. I've learnt new things today. :)

 

I didnt say it to be an asshole. It usually comes on at a young age in case you care. I have bad tinnitus in both ears, its a pretty distinctive. 

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3 hours ago, Petro6golf said:

 

I didnt say it to be an asshole. It usually comes on at a young age in case you care. I have bad tinnitus in both ears, its a pretty distinctive. 

I know there are occasions where it could be well-meaning. And I do know enough about abnormal psychology to have considered it.

 

I have tinnitus too. It's the first thing I consider. And it's also why earplugs don't help, unless I want to listen to music with headphones every night, further ruining my ears.

 

It's just that I lived for a while in a place with constant parties where loudness was the norm where you could hear sh*t in the wee hours with the best earplugs you have, so I'm sick of people telling me it might be just me, when I have objective and rational methods to determine whether or not something is happening.

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3 hours ago, Petro6golf said:

 

I didnt say it to be an asshole. It usually comes on at a young age in case you care. I have bad tinnitus in both ears, its a pretty distinctive. 

 

maybe, but that doesn't stop your suggestion from coming across as shockingly ignorant and tone deaf, at best.  I suspect you have never encountered anyone who actually suffers from schizophrenia to have even the slightest inkling of the difficulty people with such a severe disorder face?  "you're hearing things?  maybe you're schizophrenic" is so...ugh.  It's actually stomach turning.  I just don't have words.

 

visit a psych ward or treatment center sometime if you have any doubts about how obnoxious a statement like yours is.  "Well meaning" or not

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