Recording hums, buzzes or rumbles

Trying to record hums, buzzes, rumbles etc. It’s actually low volume electronic game noises when neighbors ‘attempt’ to control the volume of their play. Sound coming through wood floors to a lower floor apartment. I finally made progress with bass type noise when the volume is up but they go on binges, binders what ever playing games 24/7.

One website said I need two mics to record things like buzzes? Would close proximity to source help?


Environment recordings are a mess. You can’t aim the microphone at a point source (like a person speaking) and you are at the whim of the resonances in your room. Did you notice the noises change as you move about your rooms? That’s your walls liking some sounds and not others.

My laundry room loves the sound of a neighbor’s leaf blower. I walk outside and the blower motor sound gets quieter. For about a week there, I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.

This is one important reason to record live music in a quiet room with no echoes. You don’t have to fight the room.

Do you have wooden floors?

The microphone and recorder are a mess, too. Most home microphones are directional and like sounds coming from some directions and not others. You have to pick a direction. This could be why the recordings seem to be magic and not exactly what you’re hearing.

And since the noise is relatively quiet and constant, it qualifies as “background sound” and many recorders and recording system try to “filter it out to help you.”

People who build theaters use special expensive microphones and recorders to get an accurate idea of the sound quality.

If you do get a successful recording, what will you do with it? Audacity can’t be used for surveillance, law enforcement, and conflict resolution. If you try to show the recordings to someone, they are going to try to play it on their phone and most of the noise quality is going to go away.


But wait. There’s more.

Most home microphones are designed for loud performances such as you speaking about 8 inches away, not somebody playing World of Warcraft on the other side of a building floor divider. As sounds get quieter, they start to compete with the microphone’s own built-in noise. That could be something else you’re running into. How much of the sounds on your recording are coming from the microphone electronics?

Professional, recording, and broadcast microphones publish noise values so engineers can balance them for the application. Most home microphones don’t.


Thanks, I figured environmental noises would be an issue. I do notice in the bathroom and very short hall separating rooms I hear just as good even though further away from source.

I just need enough to show the landlord, probably the neighbors hopefully not police. I already knew if I present the recording I’d have to use an external speaker with good bass because that’s how I have to hear a recording.

It a problem that’s has been getting worse with regularity. I’m surprised it they got loud enough for me to record the bass and music type sign because they were warned by landlord.


I hear just as good even though further away from source.

Exactly. Resonances are serious magic. It’s why guitars and violins are shaped like that.

There is one secret oral teaching. Depending on your microphone, you can use Pressure Zone Configuration. Just lay the microphone on a quiet flat surface. The sound quality and directionality remain constant and the volume automatically doubles. This can help with microphone noise problems. Microphone noise doesn’t double.

This is a formal version and I haven’t painted it yet, but you get the idea.

Here’s a phone making a voice recording in Pressure Zone in my garage “studio.”

I made an audiobook quality voice test recording with that. The shortcoming? I can’t clean the garage until the end of the book. I’m performing where the car normally goes. But if you’re desperate enough for a “studio,” that and actually recording in the car can work better than you think.

The smaller the board, the worse the effect. Bigger than about 3 feet on a side doesn’t help.

Good luck.


Volume automatcally doubles.

That’s only 6dB, so don’t get all excited, but 6dB is 6dB. If you’re scrounging for every possible volume boost…


Audacity’s spectrogram display could serve as a record of when the noise is occurring.

To see the bassy noises (<200Hz) clearly on the spectrogram you’ll have change the spectrogram window-size from the default of 1024 to 16384 …
spectrogram to show bass.gif

could serve as a record of when the noise is occurring.

In some instances, it’s happening around the clock. This may be the place you have let someone hear how annoying it is. And the only problem with that is the need to contrast the noise with a quiet apartment. You get stuck with playing the noise so it’s some percentage louder than the room it’s playing in. Which means now you need to measure the playback room.

And etc, etc, etc, etc.

This isn’t press Record and the people upstairs move out.

If you just play the recording loudly, you will be accused of exaggeration. “Oh, come on, surely it can’t be that bad.”