How To Block Out Low-Frequency Noise

Low-frequency noise is a type of sound that has a low pitch and a long wavelength. It can be very annoying and disturbing, especially if you are trying to sleep, study, or work in a quiet environment. Low-frequency noise can come from various sources, such as traffic, airplanes, trains, industrial machinery, wind turbines, or even your own appliances.

In this article, we will explain what low-frequency noise is, how to identify it, and how to block it out effectively. We will also answer some common questions related to low-frequency noise and its effects on your health and well-being.

Understanding Low-Frequency Noise

Before we dive into the solutions, let’s first understand what low-frequency noise is and why it is so hard to deal with.

Definition of Low-Frequency Noise

Low-frequency noise is defined as sound that has a frequency range of 20 to 200 Hz. Frequency is a measure of how many times a sound wave vibrates per second, and it determines the pitch of the sound. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch, and the shorter the wavelength. The lower the frequency, the lower the pitch, and the longer the wavelength.

Human hearing is most sensitive to sounds between 1,000 and 4,000 Hz, which is the range of most speech and music. Sounds below 20 Hz are called infrasound, and they are usually inaudible to humans. Sounds above 20,000 Hz are called ultrasound, and they are also beyond our hearing range.

Low-frequency noise falls in the middle of these two extremes, and it can be heard by most people, but not very clearly. Low-frequency noise often sounds like a hum, a rumble, or a thump, and it can be very annoying and disturbing.

Determining if the Noise You Heard is a Low-Frequency Sound

One way to determine if the noise you heard is a low-frequency sound is to use a sound level meter or a smartphone app that can measure the frequency spectrum of the sound. You can compare the readings of the sound level meter or the app with the normal background noise level in your area, and see if there is a significant increase in the low-frequency range.

Another way to determine if the noise you heard is a low-frequency sound is to use your own ears and body. Low-frequency noise can cause vibrations in your walls, floors, windows, furniture, and even your body. You can feel these vibrations by touching the surfaces or by placing your ear against them. You can also try to move to different locations in your room or house, and see if the noise level changes. Low-frequency noise tends to be louder and more noticeable in corners, near walls, or in closed spaces.

Basics of Sound Energy

Sound is a form of energy that travels through a medium, such as air, water, or solid objects. Sound energy is measured in decibels (dB), which is a logarithmic scale that indicates how loud a sound is. The higher the decibel level, the louder the sound, and the more energy it has.

Sound energy also depends on the frequency and the wavelength of the sound. As we mentioned earlier, low-frequency sounds have long wavelengths, which means they can travel farther and penetrate deeper than high-frequency sounds. Low-frequency sounds can also bend around obstacles and reflect off surfaces, which makes them harder to block or absorb.

Common Sources of Low-Frequency Noise

Low-frequency noise can come from various sources, both natural and man-made. Some of the most common sources of low-frequency noise are:

  • Traffic: Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles can produce low-frequency noise from their engines, exhausts, tires, and brakes. Traffic noise can vary depending on the speed, density, and type of vehicles, as well as the road conditions and the distance from the source.
  • Airplanes: Airplanes can produce low-frequency noise from their engines, propellers, and jet blasts. Airplane noise can vary depending on the size, type, and altitude of the aircraft, as well as the weather conditions and the flight path.
  • Trains: Trains can produce low-frequency noise from their engines, wheels, and horns. Train noise can vary depending on the speed, length, and type of trains, as well as the track conditions and the distance from the source.
  • Industrial Machinery: Industrial machinery, such as generators, compressors, pumps, fans, and motors, can produce low-frequency noise from their mechanical operations. Industrial noise can vary depending on the size, power, and location of the machines, as well as the acoustic environment and the insulation of the building.
  • Wind Turbines: Wind turbines can produce low-frequency noise from their blades, rotors, and gearboxes. Wind turbine noise can vary depending on the size, number, and design of the turbines, as well as the wind speed and direction, and the distance from the source.
  • Appliances: Appliances, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, heaters, washers, dryers, and dishwashers, can produce low-frequency noise from their motors, compressors, and fans. Appliance noise can vary depending on the age, model, and condition of the appliances, as well as the settings and the usage patterns.

Effective Ways to Block Out Low-Frequency Noise

Now that we have a better understanding of what low-frequency noise is and where it comes from, let’s look at some effective ways to block it out. The main principle of blocking out low-frequency noise is to increase the mass and density of the barriers between you and the noise source. This can be done by adding, modifying, or replacing the materials and structures that separate you from the noise. Here are some of the most effective ways to block out low-frequency noise:

Identifying the Noise and Source

The first step to block out low-frequency noise is to identify the noise and the source. This will help you to determine the best solution for your specific situation. You can use the methods we discussed earlier, such as using a sound level meter, a smartphone app, or your own ears and body, to measure and locate the noise. You can also try to communicate with the noise source, such as your neighbors, your landlord, or the authorities, and see if they can reduce or eliminate the noise.

Using Bass Traps

Bass traps are acoustic devices that are designed to absorb low-frequency sound waves. They are usually made of porous materials, such as foam, fiberglass, or mineral wool, that can trap and dissipate the sound energy. Bass traps are typically placed in the corners of the room, where low-frequency sound waves tend to accumulate. Bass traps can help to reduce the reverberation and echo of low-frequency noise, and improve the sound quality of the room.

Adding Drywall as a Noise Barrier

Drywall, also known as plasterboard or gypsum board, is a common building material that is used to make walls and ceilings. Drywall can act as a noise barrier, as it can block and reflect some of the sound waves. However, drywall alone is not very effective against low-frequency noise, as it is too thin and lightweight. To increase the effectiveness of drywall, you can add more layers of drywall, or use thicker and denser drywall, such as soundproof drywall or mass-loaded vinyl drywall. You can also use resilient channels, which are metal strips that create a gap between the drywall and the studs, to reduce the sound transmission through the wall.

Using Soundproof Curtains

Soundproof curtains are thick and heavy curtains that can block and absorb some of the sound waves. Soundproof curtains are usually made of dense fabrics, such as velvet, suede, or polyester, that can create a barrier between you and the noise source. Soundproof curtains are easy to install and remove, and they can also improve the aesthetics and the privacy of the room. However, soundproof curtains are not very effective against low-frequency noise, as they are too flexible and porous. To increase the effectiveness of soundproof curtains, you can use multiple layers of curtains, or combine them with other soundproofing materials, such as foam, rubber, or vinyl.

Soundproofing the Room

Soundproofing the room is a comprehensive and permanent solution to block out low-frequency noise. Soundproofing the room involves modifying or replacing the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows of the room, to create a soundproof enclosure. Soundproofing the room can be very effective, as it can block and absorb most of the sound waves, and create a quiet and comfortable environment. However, soundproofing the room can also be very expensive, time-consuming, and complex, as it requires professional skills, tools, and materials. Soundproofing the room may also require permission from the building owner or the local authorities, depending on the regulations and the codes.

Building a DIY Window Plug

A window plug is a removable device that can block and absorb the sound waves that enter through the window. A window plug can be made of various soundproofing materials, such as foam, wood, or cardboard, that can fit snugly into the window frame. A window plug can help to reduce the noise level in the room, especially if the window is the main source of the noise. However, a window plug can also block the natural light and ventilation in the room, which may affect the comfort and the health of the occupants. A window plug can also be inconvenient to install and remove, depending on the size and the shape of the window.

Sealing Any Gaps

Sealing any gaps is a simple and inexpensive way to block out low-frequency noise. Gaps are small openings or cracks that can allow the sound waves to pass through the barriers. Gaps can be found in various places, such as around the doors, windows, outlets, pipes, vents, or ducts. Sealing any gaps can help to prevent the sound leakage.

Using Soundproof Blankets

Soundproof blankets are thick and heavy blankets that can block and absorb some of the sound waves. Soundproof blankets are usually made of dense materials, such as cotton, wool, or fiberglass, that can create a barrier between you and the noise source. Soundproof blankets are easy to use and store, and they can also provide warmth and comfort. However, soundproof blankets are not very effective against low-frequency noise, as they are too flexible and porous. To increase the effectiveness of soundproof blankets, you can use multiple layers of blankets, or combine them with other soundproofing materials, such as foam, rubber, or vinyl.

Using White Noise Machine

A white noise machine is a device that can produce a constant and soothing sound that can mask or cover up the low-frequency noise. White noise is a type of sound that has a uniform frequency spectrum, which means it contains all the frequencies that humans can hear. White noise can help to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, and improve the sleep quality and the concentration of the listeners. However, white noise machines are not very effective against low-frequency noise, as they are too weak and high-pitched. To increase the effectiveness of white noise machines, you can use them in combination with other soundproofing methods, such as earplugs, headphones, or speakers.

Considering Mass-Loaded Vinyl

Mass-loaded vinyl, also known as MLV, is a soundproofing material that is made of vinyl and loaded with heavy minerals, such as barium or calcium. Mass-loaded vinyl can block and reflect most of the sound waves, as it has a high mass and density. Mass-loaded vinyl can be used to cover or wrap around the noise sources, such as pipes, ducts, or appliances, or to line the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, or windows of the room. Mass-loaded vinyl can be very effective against low-frequency noise, as it can reduce the sound transmission and vibration. However, mass-loaded vinyl can also be very expensive, heavy, and hard to install, as it requires special tools and techniques.

Low-Frequency Noise-Related Questions

In this section, we will answer some common questions related to low-frequency noise and its effects on your health and well-being.

Can Low-Frequency Sound Make You Sick?

Low-frequency sound can make you sick, depending on the intensity, duration, and frequency of the exposure. Low-frequency sound can cause various physical and psychological symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular problems

Low-frequency sound can also interfere with the normal functioning of your inner ear, which is responsible for your balance and orientation. This can lead to a condition called vibroacoustic disease, which is a chronic and progressive disorder that affects the whole body.

Why Most White Noise Machines Don’t Block Low-Frequency Noise?

Most white noise machines don’t block low-frequency noise, because they are not powerful enough to produce enough sound energy to mask or cover up the low-frequency noise. White noise machines usually have small speakers that can only produce high-frequency sounds, which are easily drowned out by the low-frequency sounds. White noise machines also have a limited frequency range, which means they do not contain all the frequencies that humans can hear. To block low-frequency noise, you need a white noise machine that has a large speaker, a high volume, and a wide frequency range.

Do Earplugs Block Low Frequency?

Earplugs can block low frequency, but not completely. Earplugs are devices that can fit into your ear canal and block some of the sound waves from entering your ear. Earplugs can reduce the noise level in your ear, and protect your hearing from damage. However, earplugs are not very effective against low-frequency noise, as they are too small and soft to block the long and powerful sound waves. Low-frequency noise can also bypass the earplugs and reach your ear through the bones and tissues of your head. To block low-frequency noise, you need earplugs that have a high noise reduction rating, a tight fit, and a solid material.

Advanced Techniques

If the above methods are not enough to block out low-frequency noise, you can try some advanced techniques that can provide a more drastic and permanent solution. However, these techniques are also more costly, complicated, and risky, as they involve major changes to the structure and the appearance of the room or the building. These techniques may also require professional help, as they involve specialized skills, tools, and materials. These techniques include:

Removing All Electrical and HVAC Covers, Removing All of the Drywall. Using Acoustic Caulking, Seal Every Gap and Crack You Can Find–Including the Sill Plate to the Sub-Floor, and Around Any Wall Penetrations.

This technique is a radical way to block out low-frequency noise, as it involves removing and replacing the entire surface of the room or the building. This technique can eliminate any gaps or cracks that can allow the sound waves to pass through, and create a solid and dense barrier that can block and reflect most of the sound waves.

However, this technique can also be very expensive, time-consuming, and messy, as it requires a lot of demolition and reconstruction work. This technique can also affect the aesthetics and the functionality of the room or the building, as it may change the color, the texture, and the shape of the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows. This technique may also require permission from the building owner or the local authorities, depending on the regulations and the codes.

Conclusion

Low-frequency noise is a type of sound that has a low pitch and a long wavelength. It can be very annoying and disturbing, especially if you are trying to sleep, study, or work in a quiet environment. Low-frequency noise can come from various sources, such as traffic, airplanes, trains, industrial machinery, wind turbines, or even your own appliances. To block out low-frequency noise, you need to increase the mass and density of the barriers between you and the noise source. This can be done by adding, modifying, or replacing the materials and structures that separate you from the noise. Some of the most effective ways to block out low-frequency noise are:

  • Identifying the Noise and Source
  • Using Bass Traps
  • Adding Drywall as a Noise Barrier
  • Using Soundproof Curtains
  • Soundproofing the Room
  • Building a DIY Window Plug
  • Sealing Any Gaps
  • Using Soundproof Blankets
  • Using White Noise Machine
  • Considering Mass-Loaded Vinyl

You can also try some advanced techniques, such as removing all electrical and HVAC covers, removing all of the drywall, and using acoustic caulking to seal every gap and crack you can find. However, these techniques are more costly, complicated, and risky, as they involve major changes to the structure and the appearance of the room or the building.

We hope this article has helped you to understand what low-frequency noise is, how to identify it, and how to block it out effectively. We also hope this article has answered some of your questions related to low-frequency noise and its effects on your health and well-being. If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!

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