Own an investment property? Discover your profitability score and grow your wealth faster. TAKE THE TEST

← Back

Footsteps or loud music: which is worse?

Do you find some neighbourhood noises more disturbing than others?

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment block, a college or even a large share house, you’ll know that the most annoying neighbours aren’t necessarily the ones who play loud music on a Saturday night or stand around chatting in the hallway.

Rather, they are often the ones upstairs, who put you on edge by randomly clomping around or (apparently) rearranging the furniture in the middle of the night.

These noises are called ‘impact sounds’ since they consist of one or more distinct sounds of short duration – they are not continuous, like the thump of a bass or the buzz of a conversation: they thud, bang, crash and clang quickly and erratically. And they have been found to be more annoying in general than continuous sounds, such as music or speech.

What’s more, they could have an impact on our health, according to a new study by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

In a study titled ‘Noise from above: a summary of studies regarding the perceived annoyance due to impact sounds’, NRC researcher Markus Mueller-Trapet described a series of experiments designed to simulate and measure the degree of irritation caused by a noisy neighbour.

According to Mueller-Trapet, long-term exposure to such unwanted sounds may potentially lead to cardiovascular problems and sleep disturbance. With the increased population density of urban areas over the last decades and the rise of working from home in early 2020, he believes the topic has become even more relevant.

Mueller-Trapet and an international team of researchers provided a fake living room and recorded impact sounds of objects dropping and people walking, which they then played back to the study participants.

Continuous noises like chatter or music were found to be less annoying, while the impact sounds, which included recordings of people simply walking barefoot or objects falling on the floor, were the most frustrating.

Results also suggest that the thudding sounds created by people walking barefoot are not captured by the current standardised performance metrics that are used in building codes. The challenge facing the research team is to now integrate this new information with the existing metrics.

By continuing this work, the team hopes to provide guidance to architects and building code developers and make progress toward a more liveable built environment.

If you would like to help with the study, you can take part in an online survey at https://nrc-cnrc-construction.ca/online_listening_survey/index.html – all you need to do is imagine that you are sitting in your living room and hearing sounds from above, then giving each one a rating of just how irritating it is.

About Adam Nobel

CEO | Principal
M. Bus, Grad Dip Adv, B.Int Bus, LREA


0417 007 001

Adam is the founder and Principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group. With a previous career in advertising, 22 years experience in property investment, and 16 years in Brisbane real estate, he knows the market inside out to ensure his clients grow their wealth faster.

Google Rating