Keeping Loud Music in the Nightclub

From: Ron Pellegrino
Subject: A small step forward
Date: June 30, 1999

I thought there would be subscribers to the quiet-list that would appreciate what I consider a small step forward in the sane sound movement. This businessman's consciousness has been raised at least to the level where he wants "to keep noise pollution to a minimum as there are residential neighbors nearby." As the crescendo continues to build it seems to be passing through a threshold region that's finally getting the attention of our crisis driven culture. Meanwhile I find it necessary to plug my ears more and more often and I don't expect that to change soon.

>Hello Ron, I saw your name on a web site with info about noise generators.
>I have been searching for a few hours but have found little info to help me
>solve a problem.

>I am opening a nightclub soon and there will be loud music inside. I want
>to keep noise pollution to a minimum as there are residential neighbors

>Am looking for a reference on how to buy/build a pink noise (assuming that
>is what I need) generator that could go on the outside of the building to
>keep the neighbors happy.v >Just looking for a direction and maybe a URL to get started.

>Thank you for any info you can provide.

>Best Regards,

>Rick Klenotiz

Hi Rick:

Kudos for your concern for your neighbors and your positive attitude about dealing with the loud music problem. However I have a feeling you're looking for a high tech magic bullet solution to your noise problem but nothing is available along those lines yet. My suggestion is to commit to keeping the loud music inside the nightclub. The fact is that any kind of noise generator outside the nightclub will just add to the irritation level of your nearby residential neighbors; moreover a noise generator will fail completely to mask the loud music. So keep it in the club.

To keep the loud music in the nightclub, hire an acoustical consultant to help you implement as many of the following suggestions as you can afford. The suggestions are based on the principles of isolation and insulation. Isolation works by avoiding direct acoustic coupling so the transfer of the loud music to the outside space is reduced by the benefit of an impedance mismatch. (Rather than a structure to structure transfer of acoustic energy you get an air to structure transfer and thankfully that's far less efficient so the acoustic energy will be significantly diminished.) In effect you want to keep the structure of your building from acting like a loudspeaker especially with thumping/booming low frequencies. Insulation absorbs and neutralizes acoustic energy to keep it from radiating out of the nightclub. Your acoustical consultant will explain those principles in more detail especially as they relate to design of your space.

  1. When the club is open for music, cover your windows with sound absorbent materials (insulation). For every window in the space, build tracks that will allow you to slide attractively adorned sound absorbent materials (original paintings or cool graphics or advertisements) over the windows to mute the sound. When the space is open during the day and there's no loud music use the tracks to slide the sound absorbent materials away from the window. This suggestion presupposes that you will have an excellent air ventilation/heating/cooling system.

  2. Isolate the stage from the floor of the room with acoustical insulation material.

  3. Isolate all speaker systems from the floor of stage with acoustical insulation material or hang them from the rafters. Distribute speakers throughout the space rather than following the "wall of sound" approach. (This will require less acoustic energy to create the illusion of a louder (and actually far better) sound for your customers.)

  4. Go as far as you can towards building a room within a room (this will serve both the isolation and insulation principles). The idea is to build highly reflective false walls and ceilings. High reflectivity means that less acoustic energy will be required to produce a louder sound for your audience. Use sound insulating materials between the false and the real walls and ceilings; this isolates the real walls and ceilings from the acoustical energy of the loud music and absorbs much of what makes it through the false walls/ceilings before it hits the real walls/ceilings so less sound will radiate out of the nightclub into the neighborhood. If you can afford it, build a false floor for the same reasons.

  5. Isolate the entrance from the loud music space by creating a foyer or lobby with a good acoustic seal between the loud music space and the foyer.

There are solid physical reasons for all of the above suggestions. An acoustical consultant will explain them to you if you ask.

Be a good neighbor and do what you can to keep your loud music in your nightclub. My suggestions should not subtract one iota from the entertainment pleasure of your customers; in fact they should enjoy your nightclub experience even more because the sound will be cleaner and less strident than the usual loud music club. Of course, it's not a set of cheap solutions but they should help you stay in business longer and on good terms with your neighbors.

Good luck on your venture.

Ron Pellegrino

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