Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Das Laute Lehrer

This whole, "Writing down what's on my mind," thing is somewhat of a new concept to me. I tend to mull over my thoughts in my noggin, and figure things out there. However, I've decided that I need a bit more of a creative outlet, so here I am!

Along with that creativity, I hope that people might learn something by reading this... And with a nod to the title of this post, you can imagine some of the things I might have to teach. No, it's not just a statement that I'm a loud man (you can ask my friends, it's a well known fact that most of them consider me the loudest person they know, to their chagrin), but the title speaks more to my studies of vibration and acoustics. I help design microphones for a living, but mostly I do a lot of measuring with many types of transducers. 

The window is open (because it's spring here, finally), and the traffic outside at this hour is pretty crazy (It's around 9PM). Some jerk at the traffic light down the road just felt the need to rev the engine to tell half of the apartment complex I'm in that he has a souped up motor. I hate to tell him that none of us care...

This leads to a statement I get from people a fair bit: That has to be a noise violation! How come nothing is ever done about this!

I am especially entertained to read the noise ordinance in the town I live. Specifically it is only mentioned in the zoning area, and then again with regards to specific things like howling dogs and drilling for foundations. Read below the definition of "Noise" per my village:

Noise. The sound-pressure level (SPL) as measured at the edge of a lot and which is produced by a mechanical, electrical or vehicular operation on the lot, where said lot is adjacent to a residential area, shall not exceed the average intensity of the street traffic noise in that residential area. No sound shall have objectionable intermittence, volume, beat, frequency or shrillness characteristics.

This isn't a very good definition for noise, but that's another blog entry. The one part of this statement I actually agree with is the last sentence stating, "No sound shall have objectional intermittence, volume, beat, frequency or shrillness characteristics." so I'll use that as my working definition of noise. To put it much more succinctly, Noise is any unwanted Sound.

Here's the next question, who determines unwanted from wanted sound? In the course of noise ordinance in a city, town, or village, the complainant. However this must be judged by another party, namely law enforcement, in order for some sort of reprimand to be administered. The problem is how does law enforcement determine if something truly is noise? How do you measure that?

Some communities (not mine, so I'm a poor example) define it very well. The definition above says that the SPL as measured at the edge of a lot (blah blah blah) shall not exceed the average level (Intensity is a completely different sound term, so I'm fixing it here) of the street traffic noise in that area. 

Here's the rub, that jerk I mentioned earlier, technically was part of the background noise, as defined by the noise ordinance of my town. Therefore, I can't submit a complaint against him, even if I could catch him.

There are a plethora of different ways this conversation can go from here, so I'm going to stop, and mull it over a bit, however I think the next things to cover are a couple of definitions. Not tonight however, I don't want to make these things so long that they are too boring, and I think leaving this as a bit of a cliffhanger (you should be asking, "Well what is a noise violation then?") will serve better in the long run.

-CMW