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I am currently in the market for a new apartment/house. I am aiming for a house since I want to be able to jam with others, but was wondering if this was ever possible for others in apartments. There are a few options with concrete/brick walls was thinking this might help alot with noise. Any one ever had luck with this?

  • This is the bane of our existence. A house is the only option. Make sure it is separated enough if you are playing acoustic drums. You usually have to stop by 10PM as well. You can also get Zildjian L80 cymbals and mesh heads if you need to play in an apartment – Kolob Canyon Mar 10 '17 at 21:50
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Sites like this always get lots of questions about how to soundproof thin walls, and the answer is always that you can't do much. Soundproofing is achieved by having a lot of mass in the walls (and those foam panels you see in studios are about diffusing reflections, not soundproofing). So this means that you need to look for a house/apartment that's been built with sound insulation in mind. This is something that you can explicitly ask about, because a lot of newer construction prides itself on luxuries like this. At the very least, the current residents or neighbors will be able to tell you if they can hear their neighbors.

I don't play drums, but I've practiced brass instruments in apartments for years without ever getting a complaint. Aside for looking for solid construction, you can:

  • Keep practice time to daytime hours
  • Talk to the neighbors, give them your phone number, and tell them to call/text if you're annoying them. Seems obvious, but it makes a huge difference. It's easy to hate "that guy next door with the drums", but if you've taken the time to meet them and let them know you're aware of the potential problem, it takes all of the animosity out of the situation.
  • Practice in the middle of your apartment. The extra wall and room will make a huge difference.
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One of the best policies is to set a cut-off time for your practice. Each situation is different. When I was starting up one of my country dance bands, we practiced (in a garage no less) for several days a week for a couple of months to learn our book (about 600 songs to start with). We usually started about 7:00pm and would always quit at 10:00pm.

Only one neighbor even complained; I told her that we would always stop at 10 and even earlier if necessary. She said that 10pm was fine if we kept to it. She later was one of the first people to hire us for one of her parties (she said that we kept our word and sounded much better after some rehearsal.)

I think the guarantee of a stop time means a lot to neighbors.

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"Soundproofing is achieved by having a lot of mass in the walls." Well, that's not quite true. Soundproofing is achieved by having a lot of mass between your drums and the outside. I play drums and I read a lot. I have a lot of hardback and paperback books, numbering in the tens of thousands. I made one big bedroom into a library and lined every wall. Each bookcase held double rows of books in bookshelves filled to overflowing with my extensive library. I had, in essence, at least a ten-to-twelve inch thick sound barrier made out of books and shelving. I put heavy curtains over the windows (with some lighter curtains on the inside). My library was soundproof, so I had a place to practice and, as a secondary benefit, I had a home for many of my books. Whatever you use in place of books on the outside walls needs to be thick and solid. You can also cover the windows. I wanted some air circulation, so I didn't.

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I'd recommend looking into electronic drums, and/or low-volume heads and cymbals. I don't want to endorse any specific brands, but if you try out some products at your local music store you'll realize that some electronic drums have excellent sound quality and responsiveness, and the low-volume heads/cymbals are also very impressive and expressive. I'd also recommend you get an apartment on the ground floor so you can put your kit on the concrete slab, because the pedal noise travels through the floor otherwise. As said elsewhere here, effective soundproofing is usually prohibitively expensive, but the low noise options these days make this mostly a non-issue, and they'll help you go deaf slower, which is another bonus.

  • Recently I went to see a jazz band, and was surprised to see the drummer was using e-drums, not real drums at all. The sound was just as good, IMHO. And he had lots of special effects, as a bonus. – RedSonja Mar 13 '17 at 11:26
  • For an apartment, electronic drums are probably the only viable option. Even then, look for quality, low-noise pads with mesh heads, rubber cymbals (not Zildjian's metal ones), and beaterless pedals. – Alen Siljak May 25 '17 at 21:02
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I recommend looking into low-volume cymbals.

(This is not a recommendation of that brand, but rather an example of what low-volume cymbals sound like.)

  • Good tip. However, it is worthy to keep in mind that these are still too loud for an average apartment. Especially if one likes playing until 3AM. – Alen Siljak May 26 '17 at 8:47

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