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TL;DR : What are some original and/or just generally effective ways to block low-frequency noise?

Not TL;DR: This question has been asked in various forms already, such as this, but I am not looking for a physical solution (unless someone knows one I can implement easily, That would be awesome). Rather, I need solo ways to deal.

I just moved in to a basement suite fully aware it would be loud above. There is a 3 year old up there. I am super sensitive to this type of noise, and in fact is normally the only deal-breaker in turning down a place. I despise it, and it makes me SUPER anxious. I also don't like kids so this adds to the stress. But this is not about my hangups, it's about managing the noise.

I had no choice. This is the only place I could get and this is where I will be for a year. I feel like advice saying I should reconsider living here, that I should move, or I should get mental health care, etc, would be facile and not super useful. Still, all advice welcome.

I'd be great if advice could not focus on:

  1. Modifying the ceiling or doing other physical alterations. I mentioned this already earlier (at least I think I did?)
  2. Talking to the neighbour about the issue. Since this is how it will be no pleasant discussion will change it. As all parents (I've encountered) say when confronted with their child's noise, my neighbour too uttered the ubiquitous: "it's a kid. What can you do?" mantra. Also, the noise is not extra ordinary enough to really justified a "talk."

I'm hoping to get irregular ideas since I've already tried and thought of the regulars. I am sensitive to sound after all, and this didn't just develop over night. I've tried earplugs of various types. Foam ones work the best. Also I use a white noise app with headphones.

My latest attempt is blasting white noise while wearing earplugs - in fact a long time attempt at a solution for me. It's a poor solution though and I need to turn up the white noise so loud that even with ear plugs the loudness hurts my ears, and makes them ring for some time afterwards.

While looking for a solution I found this article article about solutions, which I was led to by this Slate article about earplugs. These are much better than the general google search solutions I've found on the issue, but still these links offer no silver bullet. And a silver bullet is, obviously, what I'm after,

Also, not sure if this is the correct forum for this question.

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Noise cancelling headphones would protect your ears, as opposed to blasting loud noise which slowly damages hearing. That said, it's not truly a "lifehack", as these headphones range from US$60 to hundreds of dollars.

These headphones work by producing out-of-phase sound to external noise, actually reducing the noise level at the ear. There are also automotive exhaust systems using active noise cancellation.

N.B. Read Arthur C. Clarke's cautionary story on noise cancellation! ;-)

  • +1 for linking to a cautionary tale! And for linking to a cheap pair of noise-canceling phones. Bose are like $450+ which is out of my price range. This is similar to what I already do though, with my ear plugs and over-ear white noise, so I am not sure this is the answer. – Mote Zart Jan 11 at 19:46
  • White noise increases the noise level, but noise-cancelling headphones reduce it. The goal of a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones is to produce zero noise, as experienced by your ears. They can definitely be pricey though. – John Wiersba Jan 15 at 19:16
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I wouldn't normally suggest going to these sort of lengths on Lifehacks - but your case is so extreme it sounds as though it might be viable.

Since you're only there for a year, I'm assuming you are renting and are therefore limited in what alterations you can make to it. You also don't really seem to be trying to do this on the cheap. This will not be cheap.

I suggest you build a "Room within a room"; a timber structure slightly smaller in all dimensions than the walls of the room. This gives you scope to attach sound-deadening materials to the ceiling and walls of the frame to any thickness that you need, to achieve the sound reduction you're looking for.

There are many types of sound-absorbing materials available, you will need to do your research and find the material that best suits your budget/effectiveness. Dealing with window(s), door(s), ceiling lights etc will all have to be thought about - but they are complications rather than deal-breakers.

When you leave, you will be able to dismantle the structure and dispose of it, leaving no trace that it was ever there.

All-in-all, a lot of work and expense, but it may solve your problem.

The only alternative I can think of might be room-level noise cancelling. There doesn't appear to be any off-the-shelf solution, but again, I'm sure there are forums on the web where people have cracked many of the problems, so you might be able build your own solution without too much difficulty. This has the advantage of being portable and might be useful for the next noisy place you move to!

  • A contraption built inside the space, that can assembled and disassembled, is not a bad idea. I can think of how it could work in my place. However it is a out of my capability range to do this since I am disabled and unable to build (and I am pathetic and have no friends to do it either). – Mote Zart Jan 11 at 19:43

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