The New York City Noise Code has numerous provisions, addressing sound from commercial establishments, mechanical equipment and commercial music, among other things. It also specifies how different types of noise are to be measured. But the equipment and methods used by the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) do not always match the Code provisions
The DEP (or another consultant) told you your noise problem isn't a violation?
They could be wrong.
In our experience, a lot of the noise that people complain about is low-frequency noise. This includes sounds like the bass beat from a nightclub and the humming of mechanical equipment such as air conditioners, fans, washing machines, pumps and elevators .
The Noise Code and Building Code contain language that sets limits on such sounds, specifying maximum permissible levels for each frequency band. But measuring noise in separate bands requires a complex spectrum analyzer, which the DEP inspectors do not use. The meters they use measure in "dBA" only. This is a system that gives a single number measurement of all frequencies, but it is "weighted" to strongly discount the low frequency sounds.
Thus, the law is intended to protect you from low frequency noise, but the DEP has not yet obtained the right meters to measure it.
Some other consultants also use the wrong type of measurements, often downplaying the noise you hear. In an adversarial situation, you need to be equipped to counter erroneous claims made by the other side's expert. In addition to the frequent misuse of dBA in cases of bass (low-frequency) noise (see above), several other errors have come up in recent cases that we have worked on:
The more you understand about the subtleties of noise and measurement techniques, the better armed you are for litigation. Our consultant, Alan Fierstein has a knack for explaining technical issues in terms that are understandable to the non-expert.
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Using the proper type of analyzer, we can measure the noise you hear and compare the results with the provisions of the applicable codes.