Dealing with "neighbor noise"

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Jen and I are temporarily not in our normal studio space and so recording has been a challenge. This got me wondering:

What kind of room/house/space is your studio in?
How do you deal with noise bleed issues from outside the studio?

I'm particularly interested in places where there are shared walls with neighbors, like townhomes or apartments, and how that impacts recording and what steps you take to address it. But all noise coping strategies will be useful.

So, what's your studio like and how do you keep it quiet-ish?

Wow, well, this will be a sideways helpful answer.

I am fortunate that while "Sub-urban" ish, it's not to much a problem. And, if you've ever caught one of mine around September, -- the yard crickets are kind enough to change keys so I leave the Window open, 'cause I like them, (Birds too). I can sound like I live in the country, but, not in the least... my yard, being "green-green" in an attracting for urban wildlife -- oasis.

Otherwise, I do a good bit of Direct-in, into the Mixer. I do that at night when family is watching TV and etc., not an issue.

With Mics, and have done it, not lately and have suggested it to others with low-Z that really carries, -- for a "real take" (not a bounce track),
-- make a sound blanket "tent" directly; over me/mic, over amp/mic. Sounds funny, but works and cheap solution.

Otherwise, aside from friends semi-pro "studios" that have built rooms within rooms and in the Basement; I find that Soundblankets (old fashion "Moving Blankets"), -- nailed/or your preference of attachment to the Wall, 1-2 layers.) Basements in temp, they can be hung from the Joists.
-- Nothings gonna stop the Freight Train I have going by at regular times, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm 1am, 3am Smile but, I almost don't hear it anymore!

-- On the other hand, the semi-pro studios above are to keep the Police from stopping by concerning * "them" bothering the * Neighbors (vise versa), e.g., hours of Acoustic Drum Kit, Jamming and etc.

-- I think too, -- it depends on what you consider an issue within a track too.

You got folks who go to allot of trouble for a "sound room", and then sing 3 feet from the Mic, -- why?

Aside from in front of Mic noise on my Condensers (which I can control well enough), -- if I am "mouth, close no touch" (with sock and screen attached) ... there's not a whole lot other then me thats going to get recorded and I have that wonderful Proximity Effect too.

Some may hear my tracks and think, "wow, that's not good", (? never mentioned but who knows Smile )
-- but, honestly, with or without the Crickets, Birds or Lawnmower that mows in the Key of D (I'm flexible Smile ) ... will they like/dislike it any more or less? My feeling, if even Studio Produced, they'll like it just the same Smile

-- Unless your selling Backing Tracks, Jingles, etc., work product; but, we're not talking about a pre-planned Pro-Studio Space, not what you asked.

Then, -- nutha thread for that one Smile

I live in an apartment on the ground floor mid-complex. I cleaned out half of my bedroom closet, put a thick blanket down on the floor, and hung two thick curtains inside the closet, put my microphone in the closet with a small lamp. My computer is on the other side of the sliding doors outside the closet. I click record, then jump in the closet and close the doors, and record my vocals while holding my audio-interface in my hands. This requires leaning around the door to set levels and such.

I live in a 2nd floor condo. I just moved my "studio" to the loft which is good, because no shared walls, but bad because I'm right next to the central air unit and it's so hot up here I'm not sure I'll be able to breath for live recording. I guess we'll find out in a week how I deal with that!

Neighbour noise is a constant issue for me. Particularly with my current neighbour who seems to be in whenever I am.

The way I've always tended to deal with it is to wait until I'm in and the neighbour is out to record vocals. Obviously the less time the neighbour is out the harder that is.

The other method is to use a portable recorder and record vocals in the car. The problem with this is that it limits the flexibility in the vocal arrangement or requires multiple bounce downs to add extra tracks beyond the 4-track limit of the recorder.

Sometimes I wish instrumentals were my thing ...

Interesting discussion! The way you think about this one would have to do with what kind of recordings you're hoping for.
10 years or so ago, I was really into recording - got advice from pro mixers/masterers, had some semi-fancy gear. Did what I had to do in the office/bedroom of our house, and anything that wasn't direct line was into a condenser mic.
Now, my demos for FAWM and 50/90 have all sorts of neighborhood noise, some natural (birds and frogs), some not (sirens and urban noise from the hospital and 6-lane road a couple of blocks over). But the neighbors themselves are not an issue (I just won't record when the young man next door is working on his cars) even though our houses are just feet from each other.
Years ago, I practiced with some guys in a converted garage with all the padding and such - I found it stifling and claustrophobic.
So I guess my short answer is that I used to care more about recording than I do now. My songs sound like a guy recording at home in a sort-of urban neighborhood.

I don't mind urban noise that much, birdsong or traffic noise in the background kind of adds atmosphere to the track (Laurie Anderson's first album has truck noise in places as she recorded in an apartment).

What I can't deal with is footfall noise - creaky floorboards from upstairs etc. Even if they are not that audible on a vocal take, the fact that I can hear someone creaking about above me completely kills my ability to sing - especially when I'm just randomly vocalising to try to work out lyrics/melody to go with the track I'm working on.

Heaven is a soundproof studio!!

I got a small temporary "studio" space in an old closed down nursing home, so absolutely not optimally sound wise. ( My old studio building is being renovated until summer 2021, so I don't want to invest to much in this temporary room, since I'm saving up for the expenses I know will come when I move back.) I have people in the room next door and under me working with loud EDM/Techno/Hiphop music that often disturb vocal and acoustic guitar recordings, but by far the most annoying disturbance is the street noise with people skateboarding and such in the streets outside. So I have ended up doing more mixing and doing more electronic and DI based recordings, and carefully choosing times for vocal recording. And some sort of reflection stand for vocal mics and some solid lowcuts to remove rumbling from my 808 loving neighbors also helps a little bit.

But I need to add that even though it's not the best space, I feel lucky that I got the space, I can't imagine how I could manage to record at home, hate the thought of my upstairs neighbors hear me while I'm recording, would especially find it really hard to sing.

@pfoo and I are in a fully detached house now, and while you maybe could hear drums or loud guitars from the sidewalk, it would not be loud.

For the 20 years before that, though, I was in a house with shared walls. An old house. Lousy separation. I gave my neighbor my phone number so they could text me when/if things were bothersome. You can also learn their schedules and look for windows of opportunity, a quick discussion would help with that. And of course, recording things direct into amp simulators and plugins is always an option. If @pfoo has gone to bed I might switch to headphones. But I'm in the basement, and she's two floors away...

Edited to add: Funny. I am not addressing sounds made by neighbors at all, this only made me think of the noises I subject others too. I record electric guitars pretty often, and if you put a microphone 1" from the speaker, no neighbor will be loud enough to be on the recording...

Generally, if there's intrusive noise you could use a mic with a "tighter" pattern (they vary, some quick experiments might bring some insight), and get closer to the microphone. If your guitar or mouth is very close to the microphone the other noises will drop away. I suppose something like a leaf blower, helicopter, rifle target practice or circular saw might be too intrusive to deal with that way.

Im rural. My wildlife is real wildlife,animals and birds etc. they can be really loud. I have a studio/rooom and i have built a loose box made out of the foamy stuff like jigsaw pieces that they use as floors outside RVs. I use this for vocals. Im pretty lucky, my problem is being this side of the world for skirmishes etc, its usually nighttime and the wife or visiting grandchildren dont appreciate my vocal skills all hours of the night.

I live in between two DIY enthusiasts who never use a simple screwdriver when they can use an impact driver.
So, because I can make more noise than the both of them, I am awarded great respect.
On top of that, people love the cachet of living next door to a bona fide sonic animal nutcase muso.
Believe me it's bonus points for them to have me around, I'm the nearest they've got to an actual celeb.
Don't smother it all with acoustic panels, let it out, people just love psychos.

I live in an apartment house and I've been very lucky with my neighbors. Except for that one time, when for a year and a half I had a Cannonball member living next door. He and his girlfriend were very quiet most of the time, but when they got noisy they got really noisy. They also had loud arguments and then even louder make-up sex. It all was an eye opener for sure. They just didn't care!

But other than that my other next door neighbors have been an old lady, a young deaf girl and latest, a middle age man who is always traveling because of his work. Basically, there hasn't been anything to prevent me from recording for the last six years. I mean anything other than my own politeness not to disturb anybody anytime.

This year I'm doing mostly very basic demos. But if I ever needed live drums, feedback electric guitars ( that's hard to do with amp simulation, yeah ) or screeching vocals I would try and find some band rehearsal place or I could just ask the local church for temporary recording space. I don't know what the situation is in the USA, but here in Finland, there are lots of churches with additional facilities and they are just empty during summer months. I bet I could use my local church's youth band rooms for recordings if only I went there more often. Smile

I currently live in a mobile home which lets outside noise bleed through all the time. My studio is in a bedroom that shares a wall with my kids room adding even more potential ambient noises to be picked up when recording. I've sound proofed my recording booth as best as possible but I find it easiest to wait till everyone has gone to bed if physically recording something. I don't know if this would necessarily help in an apartment typ setting though. Luckily I've moved to mostly synth and VSTi based music so I don't do muchrecording via microphone anymore.

I wasn't going to say this, for fear of being ostracised, but I will...the lower floor walls of Dunn's Mill are nearly 3 foot thick and the windows are small. You can almost entirely block out the outside noise without even resorting to blankets over the doors. But also, I get around the INTERNAL house noise--I have a spouse and Macci the Milch Dog is in residence for the winter too--usually by using dynamic mics (not condensers or electrets or ribbons that'll pick up an owl coughing at 3 miles), and by direct injection of electric guitars/keyboards into the mixer. And, a physical mixer cos I like knobs and sliders rather than mice or greasy fingers. If it's something I cant clip a pickup onto, like the tambourine, then it's close up to the dynamic mic. But then, I'm a lo-fi imperfectionista

Yes, those condenser mics are sennnnnnsiiiiiitive.... sometimes I can hear what they are watching on tv in the last apartment in the next complex on my condenser mic....

Recording at certain times of the day when mowers and dogs are not likely to be going off. Using plenty of soft furnishings to absorb sound. If all else fails editing out the noise in your DAW and putting lots of tracks in to mask it! Haha - good luck

Write rock music and add plenty of distorted guitar tracks that'll overpower all background noises.