If you're going to wake someone up in the apartment next door at 3 AM in the morning playing loud video games, you'd better be sure they're not an engineer with a subwoofer.
So last Sunday I was awakened in the middle of the night - actually 3 AM - by a rhythmic, boomy pounding coming from the apartment next door. No need to guess the cause - the guy next door had apparently come back from a night of partying and decided to cap it off with some full on, all-out video gaming action.
This isn't the first time this has happened, or that I've had to complain about the noise from his apartment. While it's not a nightly - or even weekly - occurrence, this "kid" (he's probably in his 20s or 30s) must live, eat, and breathe video games, because all I ever hear from his apartment when he's home are sound effects and video game soundtracks.
Most of the time the sound level is low enough that it fades into the background noise that comes with living in an apartment, but on more than the isolated occasion he feels the need to "turn it up" - sometimes for hours at a time. Never mind that it might bother other people - he just goes ahead with all the indifference of someone who knows that astronomers and cosmologists would, if asked, confirm that the center of the known universe does indeed currently reside in the apartment next door to the writer of this blog.
So this guy is apparently very fond of his sound system, which I've deduced apparently includes a "subwoofer." Of course I really only have the "benefit" of hearing the system's lower-frequency performance, but I think he has one of those typical so-called subwoofers sold for home theater and gaming systems that in reality only has a real output capability down to about 30 Hz or so.
A real subwoofer, IMO, should be able to produce significant levels of low-distortion output down to about 20 Hz or below. In fact, I've built and designed such subwoofers and they are a revelation in terms of being able to reveal the ultra-low-frequency sounds (and subsonic effects) that are recorded on many CDs and DVDs.
Mostly what I hear coming from the apartment next door are boomy, thumpy sounds in the 30 to 40-Hz region. A true subwoofer, on the other hand, is capable of shaking the air (and nearby structures) without actually appearing to make any sound.
I currently own a commercial pair of such units, which are advertised as having a bass response down to "as low as bass goes." They're large cylindrical units measuring 46" tall and 16" in diameter. Unfortunately they don't get much of a work-out, as I only listen to my speakers at low levels (I live in an apartment after all).
Just for kicks, I put an image of them side-by-side and to scale with a typical higher-end gaming system subwoofer (see below) - the sort of system that I imagine is being used by the avid gamer next door.
The image itself is probably enough for the kid next door - who is probably impressed by such things - to immediately begin experiencing subwoofer envy.
Still, although I'm not the type to engage in "tit-for-tat" reprisals, it's amusing to think of the ways I might return the favor of last Sunday's early morning "wake-up call." For example, it would be a simple matter to move my subwoofers next to our shared wall and then, at 3 AM some morning when he's asleep, pump a 20-Hz signal through them at high levels that would have him waking up to an apparent earthquake or some other imagined disaster.
Another - more diabolical - idea might involve attaching sensors to our adjoining wall, and then feeding back the sounds from his apartment - amplified and perhaps frequency converted - through my appropriately situated subwoofers. While this has a certain "hoist by his own petard" kind of appeal, I see one or two fatal flaws - not least of which might be that this clown would probably enjoy the added sound reinforcement!
Back to the drawing board I guess.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.