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The challenge of making a room soundproof is being able to isolate the noise by means of proper insulation material. However, there is a limit to what can be done. Sound travels through the wooden beams that connect the floors and ceilings of terraced houses. Sound travels through adjoining chimneys.

The young couple next door asked us not to play music when they're in as they can hear the piano via the tiled floors and adjoining walls.

We can hear them walking up and down their open-tread spiral wooden staircase. We can hear their television. We can hear their laughter and muffled conversation when they entertain.

So we decided that soundproofing the adjoining walls was a necessary solution to this persistent problem.

The builder and his father, a retired, master builder-carpenter, worked all day while I cooked for them and cleaned after them. There was a lot of estimating, measuring, sawing, fitting, and gluing involved in what they were trying to do.

After soundproofing the upstairs study and the downstairs living room, we lost 4.5 cm but only slightly less noise. One more thing is needed. We'll have to insulate around the chimney, all the way into the attic. And completely seal the inner doors and walls.

Ironically, while we can control when we play our music, the neighbours can't control when they have a nasty argument. Only the night before the soundproofing job, they had their bimonthly shouting match. The ritual goes like this:

  • she screams
  • he yells
  • she cries
  • he slams the door
  • she runs upstairs
  • he runs after her

If the soundproofing works, we will be able to play music and not hear the neighbours. But we will definitely miss their screaming rituals which provide interesting entertainment for the sober-minded.

16 October 2003 Thursday

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Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.