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Noise pollution tit for tat uses the Baha Boys as a weapon

Here [Matthew Br] explains the situation he’s in with the neighbors that share this wall of his apartment. When they listen to music they like it loud and so he gets to ‘enjoy’ the experience as well. But he can’t ignore it any longer, and has decided to use a sound volume detector to blast some tunes right back at them.

He taped a microphone to the wall and wired it up to his Arduino. It monitors incoming sound and, using an adjustable threshold, it will trigger when the neighbors are too loud. We think he was wise to include some time filtering that makes sure the loud noises are sustained and not just the result of someone bumping into the wall. When the system does detect loud music for a sustained period it triggers [Matthew's] own CD player to pump out Who Let the Dogs Out? by the Baha Boys. It will play for a period of time, then shut off to listen and see if the neighbors are still rowdy.

He documents an actual run in the latter half of the clip after the break. We sure hope he’s living in a building with just two units, otherwise this will drive the rest of the neighbors batty as well!

Comments

  1. dext3r says:

    Ugh, cool hack, but I’m really against passive-aggressive tactics like this. Just go knock on their door? Maybe they’ll just turn it down and you don’t have to poison your own ears with Baha Boys. I’m just glad I don’t live in this building, lol.:)

    • soopergooman says:

      Maybe they’re crack dealers and have guns.

      • Jaguarius says:

        In which case… you probably don’t want to tick them off regardless. I agree though, it is ridiculous to assume your neighbours know they are causing problems without letting them know.

        On the other hand, if they have been warned … LET THE METALOCALYPSE BEGIN!

    • steve says:

      I have the same problem. And I am tired of calling these idiots three times a week. There is no learning effect, I always have to complain and I don’t see why.

    • das boot says:

      This is what a normal person will do,unfortunately this “language” works only between normal people.After a year of some strange turkish music played by a powerfull but very bad sound system i decide to use Rammstein against ,usually after 1 minute they stop.

  2. mohonri says:

    Cool hack, but I’m not sure it’ll be effective, for a couple reasons:
    1) if he can hear the neighbors’ music through the wall, it’s pretty loud. Unless he cranks up *his* music *super* loud, the neighbors won’t be able to hear it.
    2) a polite request to the neighbors might be more effective, or barring that
    3) there should be some sound insulation between the units. It should be a double wall with no mechanical connection between the two sides, plus sound-deadening insulation (e.g. Roxul).

    • Anybodysguess says:

      In reply to your first problem, do you see those speakers. I don’t think he has a problem playing it louder than them.

    • Barefoot says:

      In reply to your third problem, what should be and what is are usually worlds apart. Yes, it should be insulated, etc., but I doubt his property manager is going to go to all that effort after the fact (meaning, once tenants move in).

    • jared555 says:

      In response to #1, assuming it is just a two unit building, or a situation where everyone in the building wants them gone, that is where you get a couple friends with pro audio subs/amps to come by and aim those at the wall. Just be sure to take anything valuable off of your own walls/shelves.

  3. CB4 says:

    Always nice to see a hack that’l be bound to end with a visit from the police but why not record the noise and play it back a fraction of a second later.

  4. Jay says:

    Well done sir… well done! :D I love it.

  5. soopergooman says:

    I personally did something similar but with cb radio. hooked it up and placed the antenna close to where their speakers are. then turn it on and broadcast through their speakers even when they are off. (you need a high powered amp) I pretended to be a ghost for a month, would play rick astley late at night through it. A few months went by and they ended up selling their stereo and got a better one only to find out it happened with the new one, they moved out later that week. hahahahahah justice is served.

    • dave says:

      Awesome. Illegal, but awesome. I’ll remember this trick for when the need arises.

    • dave says:

      I have a canon I like to fire on occasion. I’d hate for someone to build the equivalent device to counter my canon.

      • Andrew says:

        They might respond with a fugue. How can you defend against that?

      • Oliver Heaviside says:

        I prefer the much easier cantata myself. Fugues waste energy, whereas a cantata simply wastes time.

      • Oliver Heaviside says:

        I’ve found that moving to William S. Gibson style isolated enclaves of old rich guys helps this problem, however, it isn’t always an option.

        It’s amazing how poorly shielded most stereo equipment is, especially that used by people who live within 20-25 meters of you and like to keep it turned up to 11.

        I assure you that his preamp, tuner and power amp are all designed to pick up interference, and that somewhere between 1 khz and 1 Ghz exists the magic resonant frequency and power that will effectively dampen their enthusiasm for the music.

        These days I see people blaring music in their vehicles and on cheap stereos as signs of their happiness, in the same way that an adolescent male gets a thrill from winding up his engine and treating us to the sound of poorly tuned exhaust pipes. If it makes you happy, great. I like weird turkish music, btw.

        My vote: get a recording of a big dog or two barking at a mailman, or a squirrel. Enhance it a bit, and play it when loud noises occur for 3-5 minutes. Eventually, a negotiation will occur.

  6. bkstiff says:

    I’d play cheech and chongs lp when he is banging on the door pretending to be a cop, and loop that; as well as various other knocking on door sounds. ha

  7. MikrySoft says:

    Just get Hack a Days Red Bull delivery system and knock to their windows.

  8. Michael Lashinsky says:

    Neighbor wars suck, but sometimes ‘ya gotta stand up for yourself.

  9. clvrmnky says:

    I’d like to see a high-amplitude sound that is 180deg out of phase with whatever they are playing, like those noise cancelling headphones. That might get really weird enough for them to stop.

  10. Haku says:

    If that fails, build a sonosub or two like this one and feed it white noise for an ‘earthquake’ effect:

    http://www.subwoofer-builder.com/inspirations/7ft-tall-3ftdiameter-18in-driver.jpg

    :D

  11. Solenoid says:

    Needs much, much more bass so the neighbors would literally feel the beat. I have thin walls and I noticed lower frequencies travel much better than high ones.

  12. pineappleman says:

    Be careful of things like this, over at a speaker building forum that shall remain anonymous a similar situation happened in an industrial strip mall kind of shop place. Guy built big speakers to play over annoying music and the neighbor cut a hole in the wall and then shot the man and then committed suicide. Neighbor had mental issues, you never know what might happen.

  13. rageahol says:

    correction:

    it’s Baha MEN.

  14. RobinJood says:

    Not sure on this.

    Watched the video and yeah you could hear the neighbor but it didn’t seem outrageously loud.

    And he keeps talking about setting it up to play while he’s not there. Is that taking it too far? Possibly. If someone was blocking my drive way while I’m not there, even if it didn’t cause me a problem, it would bug me. But if a neighbor was playing loud music while I was out… Yeah I don’t see why that would bother me at all.

    Infact I’d say let them do it. Everyone loves to pump out some loud tunes now and then. Better to let them get it out of their system while you’re not even there!

    I’m sure most of us have had noisy neighbors before and have had the occasional bang on the wall or retaliation music. One of the risks is that your neighbor doesn’t even realize its an issue and thinks YOU’RE the jerk for randomly playing short loud bursts of music.

    Another risk is that you just piss each other off and what could have been solved with a simple conversation or politely written note has now turned into a never ending sound war.

    I’ve had a noisy neighbor before that I couldn’t work anything out with. Setting an alarm for 3am a few nights a week and blasting some bass at their wall solved it. Yes it inconvenience me as much as them, but people don’t like being woken and it sends a pretty clear message. Sometimes there’s really no other solution, but try the simpler and nicer ones first!

    • garym53 says:

      >Watched the video and yeah you could hear the neighbor but it didn’t seem outrageously loud.

      THAT is the most ludicrous statement I have ever seen written down in a public forum.

    • n0lkk says:

      Something that’s nearly impossible to judge over the internet. When the music from next door is compared to the person on camera speaking, it’s loud enough require you to turn up your system to be able to fear it over the noise from next door.Not that this would be a route I’d take

  15. tech2077 says:

    XKCD…

  16. brad says:

    He should definitely look into some surface transducers. More sound energy would be input directly into the wall and not wasted on filling his own apartment.

  17. hooooooooooooooorj says:

    We had this issue in an apartment. The people below us blared their music at all hours of the night. We went down to ask them to turn it down a bit on a Wednesday morning at about 3am and their response was, “IT’S A PARTY!!!”

    We started playing Dance Dance Revolution at ALL hours. They were less than amused.

  18. Alex says:
  19. In these situations, I think timing and style are everything.

    Some years back, I lived in an apartment that had one suite that like to play loud music in the wee hours, waking myself and many others. One morning at 9am, fed up after yet another episode, I put my big studio monitors on the balcony and played Wagner’s Valkyrie, Beethoven’s 5th and Bach’s Toccata at well over 100 db preceded, of course, by a THX intro. Those neighbours never, ever played loud music again.

  20. Golddigger says:

    Anyone done any hacks on active noise cancellation?

  21. rkward says:

    Pretty cool, but you had better be able to back this up with something else when things get more violent. Isn’t the apartment complex willing to do anything about problem tenants?

  22. your mum. says:

    hmm. his speakers look pretty big and beefy (1970’s style, the heyday of loud quality speakers) So he probably enjoys a bit of loud music himself. so maybe the neighbors already have some sort of auto sonic weapon setup going. In which case there will be an ongoing cybernetic sound war between the two systems. All good fun unless you happen to live near by.

  23. Andr0id says:

    I remember building a high freq generator in highschool that was very effective in making people mad at me as it caused pain in the jaw and in some cases vomiting. It was also very hard to pinpoint. Perhaps a good dose of vomiting every time they play loud music might condition them to keep it down… Or it would at least provide some satisfaction ..:)

  24. mr foo says:

    re: delay and feedback – friend of my ex’s parents did this. big-ass amp, mic, delay and spring reberb, with speakers physically coupled to the wall. worked a treat, apparently – neighbours knew he was an ee, so came round to ask for advice. so he went round, all innocent, had a poke about, sure as eggs at a certain level all sorts of wacky feedback happened. his response – “move your speakers to the other side of the room, and play it less loud.”…

  25. cfavreau says:

    Ugh… very immature.

    Why not try:

    1) Talking to the neighbors… maybe they don’t know it bugs you and just assume that your not saying anything is a sign that it is OK.

    2) Try talking to the landlord if the neighbors give you a hassle after talking to the neighbors.

    3) Try something more scientific … like more than one person suggested… Noise canceling.

    I can’t think of any better ways to cover up loud crap with even louder crap.

    • redfive1976 says:

      It’s possible that he’s already tried talking to the neighbors and the landlord/management, and those discussions have been fruitless; he doesn’t make any statements about prior attempts to solve it before resorting to fighting fire with fire. Certainly valid points, but he may have “been there, done that” already.

  26. jeicrash says:

    Seams like more torture for the guy who setup the system then the neighbors.

  27. jaf says:

    plan for stereo disarmament:
    phase 1 “compromise”: leave a plate of cookies with a note politely requesting the neighbors only pump up the volume during certain times and to give you a heads up when they would be pumping out side those times, continue to leave plates of cookies to thank them for being cooperative. if this fails escalate to phase 2.

    phase 2 “formal”: file a formal complain with any relevant managers, HOA’s, and police departments. if they will do nothing about it escalate to phase 3

    phase 3 “get their attention”: counter with a loud sound system that possess the following qualities.
    a. louder than theirs
    b. sound can be directed at the other apartment with out filling your apartment with louder noise
    c. computer controlled so it only plays when they are loud
    d. (optional)can play the nyan cat song, rick roll, trololol, and classical
    if ineffective escalate to phase 4

    phase 4 “unconditional surrender”: leave a note detailing that you counter system will be running continuously for an unreasonable amount of time and you won’t be around to shut it off if their stereo isn’t dismantled and on the curb by the end of that time the bombardment will continue. if they attempt to shut it off them selves you will be pressing charges. open the bombardment with flight of the Valkyrie(it is recommended that you install security systems and cameras for this phase if you haven’t already)

  28. Sven says:

    Cool idea, but why not hook the device to a phone instead, and have it automatically call the neighbor and complain about the sound every time it gets too loud?

    “This is an automatic message telling you unacceptable levels of noise is emitting through the wall from your apartment”

    Or if there is no phone available, play that message through the wall instead of just cranking music.

    just make sure the software averages over a good few seconds at least, no need to call just because someone dropped a plate.

  29. TechByTom says:

    Stick some headphones in your ears.
    Play loud music into them.
    Turn on a stereo and turn up the volume.
    Step into another room with the headphones still in.
    Do you hear your music in the other room? No? Exactly.

    This guy is just making life even harder on himself. Lots more loud music, now with more than just bass AND it’s annoying music too. This isn’t a hack, it’s an epic Fail.

  30. simon says:

    I think we pretty much agree this is a half measure on any level – a half measure at tech, a half measure at diplomacy, a half measure at style.

    so why is this on hackaday?

  31. echodelta says:

    Like my steel guitar, the original is Tesla’s earthquake machine. In other words the feedback idea with a wall transducer made with a coneless woofer and a contact mic picking up the most offending notes. Threshold acting it will end up making their room act like when a turntable picks up big bass and sets a limit to how loud you can crank it.

  32. snowdruid says:

    would be kinda cool to play around with noise cancelation tech imagine how cool it would be if you could bounce “inverted” music back at them canceling everything out :P

  33. Jim says:

    Would be better if you set it up to noise-cancel with the neighbor’s music.

  34. 1kko says:

    I think it would be much cooler if noise reaches some threshold, send reverse wave like many active noise cancellation earbuds do for cancelling out neighbours music.

  35. kevin says:

    How about drill a hole in your wall, find the nails sticking through that hold their pictures, and tap them out from behind.

    Or get one of those things that turn any surface into a speaker and mount it to their drywall and play your music.

  36. Chris C. says:

    Yes, you “should” talk politely to your neighbor first. And then if that fails, involve the landlord and/or police.

    But let’s not be naive here. Too often these approaches are utterly useless. Sometimes it’s obvious that they’ll be useless from the start, and not even worth attempting.

    You going to move every time this happens? Heck no. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and your rights.

    Resorting to sonic/electronic warfare does just that. Yet it’s still more gentlemanly (and legal) than alternatives like vandalism, threats, assault, etc.

    And more importantly, it may convince the neighbors that you’re crazy enough to possibly do any of those things, without actually having to do it. It is a demonstration you’re willing to take matters into your own hands. Especially if you never bothered with more than one friendly request, police, or landlords. A great motivator, and unfortunately what it often takes.

  37. ChalkBored says:

    Play a subsonic/ultrasonic tone to trigger the device, then file a complaint against the guy for leaving his stereo blasting while he’s not even home.

  38. bob says:

    this is retarded, if he is not home he shouldn’t care if they play music, as thats the time he should want them too, then when he is home respect that he can hear it and be reasonable.
    If I was his neighbor and he set that up when he went to work I would be investing in some crazy huge subwoofers and letting the dogs out on him at 4am

  39. n0lkk says:

    One cancellation techniques. Would be far out if that could be carried out the point where the offenders couldn’t hear their own system, if they didn’t respond to a request to keep the volume down. Particularly if they go spend mega bucks to replace broken equipment

  40. metalwolfhax says:

    I used to have a problem like this at my old apartment. I talked to the neighbors above me multiple times. The last time i talked to them, the kids were running back and forward in the halls and rooms of their apartment. The mother asked me what she should do about it and looked at me like i suggested murder when i suggested she let the kids play outside. I considered doing a setup like this, but to hit the ceiling with a rubber mallet for every stomp that is detected.

  41. Hirudinea says:

    Can you imagine what will happen if his neighbours are hackers and build an identical system? If the speakers don’t work maybe he should upgrade, I suggest this link…

    http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/industrial-x–ray-machine.html

  42. who says:

    This guy is an individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intellegence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears. and he who seeks revenge digs two graves.. i bet his neighbors will burn the house down if he keeps this up.

  43. Edgarvice says:

    90% of Arduinos are waste…
    Just plug-in the microphone and the speakers into the laptop. A script should do the same in less time and is maybe more easy to improve…

    You could even record while playing and filtering the input so you can still detect the neighbours music without stopping your playback…

  44. Paul says:

    Why does everybody always blame the neighbours for making the noise?
    The real problem is ofcourse the way houses / apartment blocks are builtt and the soundproffing of the walls is insufficient in even most newly built appartments.

    Stop blaming your neigbours and start blaming the people who design and build these appartments.

    • Anon says:

      Because the neighbors are the ones making the noise.

      If you live in an apartment…you can’t play music that loud. End of story. Get some good headphones, or a hearing aid.

    • Chris C. says:

      In happy la-la land, you can call the designer/builder if you have this problem. They will immediately come out, apologize for their mistake, and install additional soundproofing.

      Unfortunately Paul, we’re in the real world, where none of this will happen. Apartments typically have inadequate soundproofing, some not having enough to mute even a normal volume conversation. And some people, instead of recognizing and living with the limitations of their building, take the money saved by renting such apartments to buy large stereo systems. Producing such ridiculous volume and amounts of bass that ANY amount of soundproofing couldn’t stop it; even a concrete wall.

      If anyone is to blame other than the noisemakers, it’s actually YOU; and the many others like you who think they’re living in happy la-la land. Because any time an effective noise abatement law is proposed, people like you endlessly march into court and defend the noisemakers, blaming anyone and anything else. Causing the law to either be officially retracted, or informally treated as unenforceable.

      We have what would seem a clear-cut noise ordinance here. If the noise exceeds a certain level as measured by SPL meter through a wall, or at a specified distance, then it’s in violation.

      Except no one is willing to enforce it, because they’re tired of dealing with endless whining from folks like you.

      The police avoid enforcing it by not having SPL meters. The official story is that they don’t have enough money in the budget, not even for ONE of them. But from experience I know that if you know the right people and speak off the record, they’ll tell you the real reason. And that they used to have some SPL meters, which inexplicably disappeared six months after the ordinance was passed. An apartment association here even offered to donate a bunch of SPL meters to them, but they rejected the offer without explanation.

      If you use your own SPL meter, the courts avoid enforcing the ordinance by saying your meter isn’t calibrated. Or could have been tampered with to return false readings. Or could be measuring something else, since the typically offending bass doesn’t reproduce well enough to be heard at anywhere near true volume on a video recorder or court television.

      That is reality for you. I’ve dealt with plenty of it. I’ve been listening to wall-shaking bass for the last two hours at this point, coming through external walls and windows with additional soundproofing I’ve installed. I’m not happy about it, but my current neighbors are enjoying their 4th of July celebration music with no interference from me; because they rarely do it, are friendly, and have always turned it down if I ask. Unfortunately, that seems to be the exception, not the majority; and I have not been so lucky with past neighbors. So I have much respect for anyone who is willing to attempt to solve a noise problem through any creative means necessary, and none for those that defend those that make excessive noise.

  45. P_J says:

    Just playing annoying song back will not do much. And you will have to crank it right up to work.
    This will only end up with bringing the police or an enraged neighbour and his trusted bat.

    Instead, record the noise from the wall microphone, delay it by, say 0.25 seconds, then play it back.

    This should make it nearly impossible to enjoy.
    With a bit of luck, your neighbour will believe his stereo set-up is broken above a certain volume.

  46. techyguru says:

    Step 1. Estimate position of enemy’s stereo.
    Step 2. Cut small hole in drywall and insert camera to determine location of enemy’s electrical outlet.
    Step 3. Locate and splice into enemy’s electrical wiring and add a switch to add a load large enough that it will pop an electrical breaker or just wire up a light switch to short the line.
    Step 4. Apply load when music gets too loud.

  47. ulfr says:

    the sad part is, it doesn’t even work, i.e. “they” don’t seem to care. the poor soul got it all wrong.

    if something like that was my last resort, i’d at least play stuff to suit my taste, use hearing protection, and gently push my gear not too close to its safety limits. audiophilia nervosa the hard way. if distortion is kept within reason and protective earplugs are of good quality, this can still sound nice.

    then again, uninvolved third parties might not be amused, so i would really have to be desperate on that last resort part…

  48. This Guy says:

    What a waste of time and money.

  49. Joe says:

    Great idea.
    I’ve wanted to find/make some sort of gizmo that will transmit RF into a nearby stereo system, just like my CB used to do. That way I don’t need to make MY house loud just to annoy the noisy neighbors, I can make THEIR audio system produce awesomely bad noises, and they’ll have no idea where it’s coming from.
    My only problem is, I’m not an electronics type. I can handle setting up and using the typical CB, and I even have a ham radio license, but to create the thing I need, I need some advice from a person(s) with more know-how than I have.
    Any readers got any ideas to share? No flames, please, I apologize for my ignoramousity and stuff, it is what it is. I’m just asking an honest question, honestly seeking a lilbit of assistance making another solution for the same problem the poster’s got.
    How ’bout it, y’all?
    -Joe

  50. Hawkeyeaz1 says:

    Why not noise cancellation? Yes, more involved, but it allows more fun to be had by remotely turning down their volume, and solves the problem peacefully anyway.

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