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12 Tips for Keeping Your Neighbors Happy with a Home Studio

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I’ve had a lot of home studios in my life.

My family moved around a lot. This means I’ve had to deal with a lot of neighbors. I’ve lived in houses, double-block homes and apartments. I’ve never soundproofed a room and luckily never had an issue.

Imagine a sound that could be annoying to you. Consider that this sound could happen for a few hours on a daily basis. This is how music sounds to some people. Especially music while it’s in its composite stage.

In our minds, we’re always working on our masterpieces. We hear what the finished product will sound like. They hear someone practicing with an imaginary friend.

There are things you can do to reduce the irritation to your neighbors. Let’s look at some.

1. Don’t Move In and Immediately Start Wailing

Introduce yourself to your neighbors. No need to get overly personal. A simple meet and greet is nice. Tell them you’re a professional musician/engineer. Explain that you’ll likely make noise occasionally. But, you’ll be very respectful.

2. Schedule

Ask your neighbors when they work. Do they have a late shift job? Do they stay home on the weekends? If you know what their schedules are you can work around them.

They can’t complain if they’re not home.

3. Give it a Break

Don’t make a lot of noise 7 days a week. Give people a break on the weekends and on holidays.

What may be music to you is the sound of a lawnmower to others.

4. Limit the Actual Amount of Time You Record Loudly

Tracking a lead guitar solo for two hours is going to drive everyone batty except you. They can’t hear the solo in context. They just hear meaningless noodling. You can get away with volume in short spurts.


My advice is to get good enough so it only takes you a few takes.

5. Use Headphones

Perform tasks through headphones that you might usually do through monitors.

Remember when we used to have long distance minutes? Well, it’s kinda like that.

You only have so many minutes per month you can make noise and not frustrate everyone. Choose how you use them. Do your edits with headphones.

6. Be Nice

Don’t be a dick. Start being nice to people. They’re going to have to put up with a lot of your noise. People are more forgiving to those they like.

If it snows, shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk once in a while. I’m not saying you need to brown nose. I’m saying be courteous.

7. Don’t Complain About Someone Else Making Noise

If the person living above you is a heavy walker at night … Live with it! Be happy they make noise. Quiet neighbors are going to be more of a problem for you.

When we moved into our NYC apartment years ago I was relieved to hear music playing upstairs. When I heard a party on the weekend and late night talking I felt pretty sure I was going to be ok volume wise.

Our neighbors have been great upstairs. We make all kinds of noise.

8. Consider Noise When Looking for a Place to Live

What’s the vibe of the neighborhood? Can you hear a pin drop in mid-afternoon? Does the landlord or broker keep using the word “quiet” in their description of the place? Warning!

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I’m not saying move into a loud industrial area. I’m just saying observe your surroundings.

9. Be Understanding About the Type of Music You Record

I personally like all kinds of music. Not all people are so open-minded. Your thing might be death metal which is awesome. People tend to be more open when they’re not overwhelmed.

10. Do Some Things at a Real Studio

Just because you have a home studio doesn’t mean you have to track every instrument there. If you’re pushing the envelope tracking drums, go to a real studio.

It’s worth it not to strain your relationship with the neighbors. Remember the long distance minutes I mentioned?

11. Practice in Headphones

Wait until you know what you’re going to record to run through real amps. Use an amp sim to get close to the desired sound until rehearsed.

I use the Softube Amp Room Suite and Rosen Cab Impulses for this.

12. Reamp Later

This is not my favorite method, but it could be really handy for a lot of individuals. This will greatly reduce the amount of time you’ll be making noise. I always prefer to be playing through an amp while tracking. It’s more romantic.

There is no room for romance if your neighbors have a stick up their bum (unless they find that romantic). Reamping may allow you that small window to get great tones.


If you follow some of these tips, you would be surprised what you can get away with.

I’ve recorded drums, guitar amps, bass amps and many other instruments in my NYC apartment.

Mind you, they weren’t all at the same time. That would really be pushing my luck.

Mark Marshall

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC. More at