Acoustic panels consisting of latex membranes and plastic buttons might offer an economical solution to blocking annoying bass frequencies.
I've mentioned before about my predicament having to deal with a noisy neighbor in an adjoining apartment. So recent news by researchers in Hong Kong of economical latex panels that might silence - or at least significantly reduce - the sounds emanating from next door piqued my interest.
There's nothing new about acoustic panels and room treatments. But these new panels are designed to address exactly the sort of sounds that I often find myself subjected to at all hours of the day or night - bass frequencies, which are typically difficult to block due to their long wavelengths.
The panels consist of a latex membrane stretched over a 3-mm-thick plastic grid of 1-cm-wide squares, with a small, weighted plastic button in the middle of each square. When the panels are hit by sound waves the latex membrane and weighted buttons resonate at different frequencies that cancel out the sound waves.
The membranes are tuned based on the weight of the plastic buttons. And they can be stacked to enable cancelling over a range of frequencies. According to the researchers, five differently tuned membranes stacked together could be used to create a panel that has a sound transmission loss of about 20 dB over a 70 to 500-Hz frequency range.
If they're able to be manufactured economically, these panels - at about 15-mm thick and weighing about the same as bathroom tiles - certainly would seem to be a more practical solution to the problem of noisy neighbors than other alternatives I can think of off the top of my head:
- Wear earplugs all the time
- Live in a nuclear reactor containment building
- Hire Dr. Conrad Murray for nightime sleeping assistance
Of course the easiest solution would be if noisy neighbors acted more considerately once made aware of the problem. In my case the results have been mixed so far.
I was reminded of this just a couple of weeks ago when I had to pay my next-door neighbor a 1 AM visit to ask him to turn down his entertainment system. He did, but apparently at great inconvenience. Those latex panels are looking better all the time.
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