“Noise is the No. 1 Quality-of-Life Complaint in NYC” solutions from Acoustical Surfaces

An article came out earlier this year titled “Noise is No. 1 Quality-of-Life Complaint in NYC” by Verena Dobnik, and I wanted to contribute some basic solutions for noise reduction to mitigate some of the complaints listed in the article. (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/noise-no-1-quality-life-complaint-nyc)

Large cities with large populations and lots of concrete are always going to be noisy, that’s just part of the game when it comes to living in the city.  If you don’t like noise, it’s probably not the right place for you.  But, even in a big city, people should be able to create quiet, comfortable spaces to unwind.  Fortunately there are quite a few different products that can be used to reduce the amount of sound coming into a building.

RSIC-1 Clips
RSIC-1 clips can be used for exterior walls to float the drywall off of the studs, allowing the sound pressure to be converted to heat by allowing the wall assembly to vibrate:

Green Glue
Green Glue and an additional layer of 5/8” drywall can be used to retro-fit an exterior wall to increase the STC rating of the assembly, and block more sound from making its way into the space:

Acoustic Window Inserts in Historic Building
Climate-Seal Window Inserts are a very effective, retro-fit way to reduce the amount of sound coming in a weak window.  These windows snap into place and are held onto a metal frame that is installed around a window:

Noise Barrier/Sound Absorber Sound Blanket
Exterior Grade Quilted Barrier-blankets can be used around noise sources outside such as: Generators, AC Units, etc.

These are just a few different materials that can be used to reduce the amount of sound inside of buildings. Find all of our materials at our home page www.acousticalsurfaces.com



  1. Shana Mahaffey

    Dear Ted,

    I came across your blog while searching on how to block noise from an old refrigeration unit housed in a basement. We are in a city environment in a San Francisco Victorian house. The building next door is a corner store which has a basement refrigeration unit. The unit generates a lot of noise that goes into an alleyway adjacent to our back yard. We only have a 6ft wide wooden fence + trellis between our yard and the alleyway. The sound travels as far as the second floor of our house.

    Do you have any suggestions for us? It feels like we’re living next to an idling 777 airplane.

    Thank you.

    • Ted W

      This could be a bit of a tricky one and I am probably going to have more questions for you before I have any answers. The site-specific picture that I have put together in my head may or may not be even remotely close to what’s happening in the real world.

      I assume the refrigeration unit is below ground and that there is some kind of air intake or exhaust so that the ambient air in the room does not get warm enough to blow up the machine. If that’s the case, think about the noise source as if it were a water source. Both sound and water travel via the path of least resistance and whenever you have common air space that connects a noise source with a potential receiver, that allow for the sound to travel from point A to point B. You can potentially build a chamber to force the sound and air past and around an acoustical lining (like the guts for a car muffler).

      You are going to want/need to treat this situation as close to the source as possible. Once the sound is out in the alley way, it fills the area kind of like an explosion. If you can see the noise source, or the vent/intake that the noise is coming out of, you will be able to hear it.

      You may be able to get some reduction with one of these two products, but it’s really hard to try to estimate reduction. Climate Seal Window Inserts and Exterior Sound Blankets for the fence.


  2. ELliot

    Thanks so much for the useful information!

    I’m having serious noise issues from my upstairs neighbors. They are not even being loud, just walking around and talking but I hear every single thing. I’m looking for an NYC consultant to measure my IIC levels to see if I have grounds to have the developer cover the costs associated with sound proofing.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    • Kyle Berg

      Hi Elliot,

      Thank you for the response!

      I have lived in a multiple dwelling unit myself and had some noisy neighbors above me, honestly I’ve probably been that noisy neighbor myself as well, so I understand what you are going through. Every time someone was walking around above me, it sounded like a herd of elephants running from danger! What is happening in this situation, is that when footfall/dropping something/etc on the floor, it is creating a structural vibration. This vibration travels on this floor in means to go as far as it can in every direction. This transfers to the walls, the subfloor, your ceiling, and even down you walls, as well as in the air as airborne noise, all depending on the frequency that is created by it and how loud the noise is. There is a way to stop this transfer, though. It does need to be done at the source of the noise/at the point of impact, so it would need to be installed in the apartment above you. Our Acoustik Flooring Underlayment works great for this. It is installed under the subfloor of any style of finished flooring. This will also help with the airborne talking noise, by adding mass and density to the subflooring, which should take care of both noise problems at once.

      Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions about this, or if you would like to receive a quote based off the finished flooring option and the total square footage.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *