Noisy neighbour? Why sounds from upstairs are even more annoying

Noisy neighbour? Why sounds from upstairs are even more annoying
Noisy neighbour? Why sounds from upstairs are even more annoying

Arabnews24.ca:Tuesday 6 December 2022 11:06 AM: Whether it's a new neighbour moving in, or your sister dancing to Taylor Swift, most of us will have had to contend with bothersome noises coming from upstairs.

Many find such sounds from above so annoying, that they even outweigh the goings-on right next to them - and new research has a theory as to why.

Led by Markus Mueller-Trapet, a team at the National Research Council of Canada set up a living room-like setting in which participants would sit and listen to typical upstairs noises.

Among them were people dropping things, or walking around in heavy shoes.

Those sounds were recorded, and then presented to the participants - taking part in several countries - using different playback techniques and virtual reality.

They were delivered so that the direction, frequency, and nature of the noises matched what you'd expect from an upstairs flat or bedroom, like sudden thuds and bangs.

Image: The study aimed to replicate the conditions of a living room. Pic: Markus Muller-Trapet

Branding them "impact sounds", Mr Mueller-Trapet says they are particularly aggravating as they are "impulsive".

That means they consist of one or more distinct sounds of short duration - the neighbour dropping something as they move in, for example.

Continuous sounds, such as music or speech, were found to be comparatively less annoying.

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Mr Mueller-Trapet believes the topic has become even more relevant since the pandemic, as more people started working from home.

They are one of the main causes of complaints in multi-storey residential buildings, and long-term exposure may lead to health issues such as sleep deprivation.

The researchers hope to continue their work and provide guidance to architects and developers, helping them ensure buildings - especially multi-storey blocks of flats - are designed with their findings in mind.

The findings are to be presented at the 183rd meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, which runs this week.

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