Can my Neighbors Hear my Subwoofer?

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Those looking to get into home audio almost always want a subwoofer.

It is capable of producing low-frequency sounds and heightened bass, something that headphones or TV speakers are not capable of.

However, many consumers are hesitant to buy a subwoofer because they are worried their neighbors will hear it and complain about the noise.

Is this an irrational fear? Can your neighbors really hear your subwoofer?

If you share walls with someone then your neighbor will probably hear your sub.

Low-frequency sounds can travel pretty far and penetrate easily through non-concrete walls.

If you are in an apartment/condo you should either avoid buying a subwoofer or look at investing in one that is more quiet.

In this blog post, I will explain how to know if your neighbor can hear your subwoofer as well as how to keep them from hearing it.

How to know if your neighbor can hear your subwoofer


You should go out your front door and/or your closest window as a test, if you can hear your subwoofer outside of the front door/window then your neighbors will most definitely hear it.

If you have someone who lives directly below you then there is another high likelihood that they will hear the subwoofer as the sub is on the floor and not the ceiling.

A sub could possibly work if you are a corner unit on the lower level and have no one attached to you except upstairs, however.

The construction of your building is another element you have to consider, are the walls concrete, drywall, etc..

If they are concrete then you are in a much better position to have a sub in an apartment or condo as sound doesn’t travel as far through concrete.

The wavelength of subwoofers is extremely long and they travel much farther than other sounds.

Personally, I’d recommend avoiding a subwoofer altogether, the odds are very high that it will cause noise complaints from neighbors.

It is very stressful to have to constantly deal with the anxiety that comes with playing a subwoofer in a building with shared walls.

Every time you turn your sub on you have to worry that you might get a noise complaint which is not fun at all.

How do I keep my apartment neighbor from hearing my subwoofer?

This will be extremely difficult, since you are in an apartment you can’t really invest in any permanent soundproofing or adding any enhancements to the building.

However, you could look at adding soundproof blackout curtains (paid link) as well as acoustic panels (paid link) so that the low-frequency noises are dampened before reaching the other side of the wall.

You can also turn down the volume for your sub and place it closer to yourself.

You want to lower the bass and low-frequency sounds so there is no vibration and the sound does not travel so far.

Apartment friendly Subs

You can look at apartment-friendly subs like the Sonos sub mini (paid link) which is designed for small spaces and does not cause vibrations and has lower bass than regular subs.

Best Subwoofer for Apartment
Sonos Sub Mini
  • Mix and match Sonos speakers to create a wireless sound system for immersive home theater, multiroom listening, and more.
  • Dual force-canceling woofers generate surprisingly deep, dynamic low end with no buzz or rattle so you feel more immersed in every scene and song.
  • Advanced processing further enhances the acoustics, reproducing the full-tuned low frequencies expected from a much larger subwoofer.
  • Trueplay tuning technology optimizes the bass for the unique acoustics of your space so it never sounds harsh, muddy, or flat.
  • Enjoy quick and easy setup with just a single power cable and help from the Sonos app.
  • Effortlessly control the sound. The volume automatically adjusts along with your paired speaker or soundbar, and you can use the Sonos app to customize the EQ.
  • The 5 GHz WiFi connection enhances audio transmission speed so you can enjoy high-quality sound synced with your Sonos soundbar and TV.
  • The unique cylindrical design looks at home in your home, blending in beside your furniture or hiding underneath it.
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Another way to increase the chances of your sub not being heard is by placing an isolation pad underneath it.

A good option for this is the isolation pads made from Auralex (paid link). This pad will absorb the vibrations coming from the sub before it has a chance to hit the floor.

You will also want to decouple the subwoofer from the ground if your isolation pad does not already do this, the SVS soundpath (paid link) is a good option.

These are somewhat similar to speaker stands in that they lift your sound equipment off the ground.

Another soundproofing measure you can take is putting door sweeps (paid link) under your door so the sound does not escape below it.

This really helps if you are living with other people in the house and you do not want to disturb them when listening to your audio.

The unpopular choice: headphones


This is likely a last resort option for many people as you want to experience low-frequency sounds and you can’t really experience that with headphones.

However, you can still get great sound depending on which headphones you use. Personally, I use the Sony XM5’s (paid link) at night time when I watch movies and still have a great time.

They wirelessly connect to my Sony TV which is really convenient.

The great thing about headphones is you can crank up the volume as loud as you want and don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone.

However, many subwoofers do come with a night mode setting that is designed to not elicit loud low-frequency sounds and this could help if you are playing the sub in a living space with shared walls.

Be friendly with your neighbor

Although this won’t prevent sound from penetrating your neighbor’s wall it can go a long way as it’s important to communicate and not be hostile with your neighbor if you plan on having a sub in the apartment.

This will also stop noise complaints most likely and will ease the anxiety you have when you start blasting your sub.

Simply give your phone number to your neighbor and have them notify you whenever the sound is too unbearable so you know what volume level is ideal when playing your sub.

A good way to do this is to do a live test and ask your neighbor if they can hear sounds coming from your apartment so you can properly limit the power of your sub.


Although it is not recommended to have a sub in a living space that shares walls there are certain workarounds you can do to better ensure your neighbors do not hear it.

You can invest in subs that are specifically designed for smaller living spaces and have a less bombastic bass response like the Sonos sub-mini.

You can also better soundproof your room by using acoustic panels, isolation pads, and blackout curtains. Most importantly make sure to establish a good relationship with your neighbor.

Having animosity between each other will take a toll on you after a while and you’ll be less likely to fire up your home theater system and will have a lot less fun watching your movies or listening to music.

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