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charmedquark's avatar

What are some options for reducing outside noise in a bedroom?

Asked by charmedquark (10points) October 14th, 2010

I currently live in a house at an controlled intersection across from a bar. During the summer the A/C drowns out the noise, and during the winter the cold and snow keep the noise down. However, it is crazy annoying during the rest of the year. I’m not moving out until June, but the noise has been an issue lately.

Does anyone have suggestions for ways to reduce the outside noise? I’m assuming it’s coming in mostly from the windows (yes, closed), but can’t rule anything. The house is 130 years old and drafty, so I can’t imagine the walls are bastions of sound reduction. I want something temporary, like sound-blocking drapes or something I can take with me when I leave (or dismantle).

And yes, I’m using a white noise machine already, and ear plugs aren’t an option.

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8 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Hi, and welcome to Fluther.

Your options to limit sound are:
1. Control it at the source (unlikely in this case, I suppose… but you could burn down the bar). That’s not a recommendation, but I’m trying to get all the options on the table here.

2. Deaden the sound before or as it enters the structure. The windows and walls apparently don’t do a good job now, but you could consider tapestries or other thick wall hangings on the walls closest to the bar, for example. (Another option, to plant a row of fir trees between you and the bar and wait 20 years for them to mature, is probably not what you’re looking for. But it would be pretty effective.) If you can stand the lack of light, hanging heavy towels over the windows might help.

3. Use a sound source that overcomes the noise from the bar but is less of a nuisance to you. In the summer time the AC does that for you, but you don’t have a similar noise generator for this time of year. But you could, presumably. For example, you could play your own music, television, etc. You might even be able to run your AC unit on “recirculate only”.

4. Use a tone generator that produces “equal and opposite” sound frequencies so that your tone generator’s sound and the bar’s sound would cancel each other and you’d hear… nothing at all. Unlikely that the bar’s sounds are regular enough to accurately cancel in that manner.

What kinds of sounds are you having trouble with, and what are the chances (short of the burning thing in #1) that the sound could be reduced at the source?

charmedquark's avatar

I could burn down the bar, but that would just make me feel bad. I mean, I knew it was there when I moved in years ago, but it’s only come to annoy me in the last year or so. I briefly considered installing one of those devices that creates a high-pitched signal that drives off teenagers, but for drunks. Unfortunately, I empirically confirmed that they have about the same range of hearing as I do.

Are there drapes out there particularly good at reducing noise?

flutherother's avatar

A window that lets in draughts will also let in sound. Double glazing would help I’m sure but isn’t much use if you are leaving in June. You can get sound proof curtains or drapes but I’m not sure if even these would be cost effective if you are leaving in June.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I know someone who decorated her walls and ceiling with pieces of styrofoam. It was like being in an anechoic chamber. Very quiet – and, yes, romantic.

zophu's avatar

I don’t know if it will do much more than make you more frustrated, but here’s a TED talk I listened to the other day about noise and health.

Sound health in 8 steps

WestRiverrat's avatar

Put plastic or bubble wrap up over the windows and fill the gap between the window and the plastic with styrofoam peanuts.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

There’s a thin styrofoam/plastic sheeting that you see in small shipping pouches or for putting glasses and plates into for moving. I’m sure you can buy it in rolls from an online office supply. I’d get that and insert sheets of between your window glass and screen (if there are screens). Hang several layers of curtains, maybe contrasting colors but of heavier fabric. Sew one layer to the other with the inner panel folded over a bit to be the same length as the outer one you actually hang with. Are your floors wood, linoleum or tile? If so then search around for a big area rug to put under your bed and that will cover as much of the floor as possible.

autumnsunset's avatar

To reduce sound, I use a loud fan. I turn it backwards to blow towards the wall. It is similar to the A/C.

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