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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How do you guys deal with it?

Just curious because we rent a portion of our warehouse to an amp repair shop. It can get VERY loud when he's testing amps for issues. Honestly, it doesn't bother me at all. I've even been on the phone while he's been doing some amp testing and sure it's quite loud, but not impossible to work through. Though I do wonder whether or not it is good for his hearing. In commercial environments, hearing protection is required for anything above 85dB and I guarantee he's getting well over 100dB at times. Sure it is only for a few seconds at a time, maybe one minute tops, but that's still a lot.

Anyways, today we had a not so fun discussion with one of the neighboring businesses who demands near complete silence as long as they are working (8am-8pm Mon-Sat). After a rather lengthy discussion when they were cooled down, they are unwilling to compromise at all. After checking the noise bylaw in Ottawa, they are well within their right if what we do causes noise levels of 45dB or above in their unit (which is actually below average conversation levels). Apparently it doesn't matter whether your area is zoned for industrial, retail, or whatever. What matters is whether or not someone complains. I went over to their unit to hear how loud it is and it is definitely above 45dB. I'm pretty sure it was up closer to 65dB.

That's a problem that we need to solve. Does anyone have any suggestions? How do you guys keep the volume levels reasonable when you're testing/repairing amps? Do you have methods for testing and repairing tube amps that don't involve turning them up above conversation level volumes?
 

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I tested amps in my basement. I never played for too long at high volume, it was mostly an after the fact test for a minute or so. While troubleshooting, I would typically use a dummy load. When I needed to hear the amp near full power during troubleshooting, I would tap off the dummy load to an 8" speaker. Puts the volume at a more manageable level but allows the amp to be cranked up.

Would putting some sound absorption materials between the amp and the direction of the business help reduce the level they receive in their building? Unfortunately, not everyone likes a cranked half stack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I tested amps in my basement. I never played for too long at high volume, it was mostly an after the fact test for a minute or so. While troubleshooting, I would typically use a dummy load. When I needed to hear the amp near full power during troubleshooting, I would tap off the dummy load to an 8" speaker. Puts the volume at a more manageable level but allows the amp to be cranked up.
Cool! Does that allow for the same kind of play testing you would do at full volume?

Would putting some sound absorption materials between the amp and the direction of the business help reduce the level they receive in their building? Unfortunately, not everyone likes a cranked half stack.
Unfortunately not. We'd have to build a complete iso-booth for the all the amp testing.

Attenuator?

A sound proof booth to contain the sound.
That's one option we're considering.

what about an iso-cabinet?
Suggested that, but it was vito'd pretty quick by the amp tech.

Trying to get as many opinions as possible to bring a list of stuff to consider when I meet with him on Monday morning.
 

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I have a good friend who loves to play loud, but has a young family and lives in a quiet neighbourhood. When he reno'd his basement he built a large amp testing room in his basement. He built the room with double walls and a double ceiling, with acoustic insulation, no heating or cooling ducts and 2 solid core doors with weatherstripping. A baseboard heater or radiant heating is needed for winter (no ducts) but the basement stays cool in the summer. Its not perfectly silent inside the house, but the kids can sleep while he is playing, and outside the house it is basically inaudible.

Rather than an iso booth its an iso room, and is very pleasant for a few people to jam or hang out in. It has some nice furniture and a beer fridge, which might not be needed for your application.
 

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Suggested that, but it was vito'd pretty quick by the amp tech.
Why? That is the best solution, IMO.

It's a real speaker load, reactive and not resistive. It would allow him to make qualitative adjustments (how does it sound) as well as quantitive adjustments (what are the levels, etc). It would also allow him to test different speakers, if he built it with that in mind. If he is at all handy, he could probably put one together for $100 - they're not that complicated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Why? That is the best solution, IMO.

It's a real speaker load, reactive and not resistive. It would allow him to make qualitative adjustments (how does it sound) as well as quantitive adjustments (what are the levels, etc). It would also allow him to test different speakers, if he built it with that in mind. If he is at all handy, he could probably put one together for $100 - they're not that complicated.
True on all counts. Except, it doesn't take the customer's opinion into mind (which is a pretty important one).

I can't speak on his behalf, so take this with a grain of salt. If I had to guess, I think he has 3 reasons why he doesn't like the iso-cab solution (all customer service related):
1) Hearing what the customer hears - Part of his method for doing repairs/mods is first hearing what the customer hears. He actually has the customer plug in and turn up to their regular playing volume to demonstrate what they are hearing that they think indicates a problem (or how they want the tone changed). His customers seem to really appreciate that step in the process rather than having to describe everything verbally, which we all know doesn't always work because of the ambiguous language musicians use. To ensure he has succeeded at the task, he runs it the same way the customer did (for the customer) so they can hear the improvements (and ask for further changes if needed). True, not all repairs/mods require this step, but some significantly benefit from it (and customers love it).

2) Demoing gear - Sometimes he does work for people (mainly people he knows/trusts) in trade for other broken gear that he in turn fixes and sells. People considering buying that stuff would like to try it at reasonable rehearsal/stage volumes before paying for it and walking out. Most people would not be happy testing amps or pedals through an iso-cab (or an attenuator/load-box for that matter).

3) Custom gear demos - He does not just do repairs, he builds custom amps and pedals. Naturally, people deciding whether or not to buy that kind of stuff want to be able to try it out. And he does it with the customer's desires first. Assuming they've commissioned the build, if while they're trying it out they say they wish it had more or less of this or that, he will modify the gear to suit their needs (sometimes on the spot). Then they continue to play test it. Demoing any gear in an iso-cab doesn't really give a customer an accurate picture of what they will hear in a rehearsal space or on stage. So, same point as #2 applies. Most people wouldn't want to test gear through an iso-cab (unless they are testing the iso-cab itself.)

So yeah... A lot of the solutions I have on my list will work well for the neighbors, but they all pose potential problems in the customer service department for our tech. So far, the only solution which would seem to work for our neighbors as well as our tech (and his customers) is to build an entire isolation room for him. That's something that is way out budget. I'm also not sure we have the space for it long-term.

Maybe he should start a kickstarter or something... I dunno. Just spit-balling here. He's a good dude and I don't want to see his business (dreams) crushed because of something so trivial.
 

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If he needs volume and you cant soundproof, unfortunately it sounds like he needs a new spot.

Pretty sure I know who you're talking about. If it's who I'm thinking of, he does good work - just needs the right place.
 

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Work nights.
Good point. Or at least hold your high volume testing until the evening.
A band I was in years ago had a practice space above a bunch of stores. In those days all the stores closed at 6:00 pm so we always had to wait till 6:00 before turning the amps on.
 
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