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White-noise machines vs. live band 14 stories down: Live band wins

Residents of buildings in the Back Bay and Fort Point say they realize they live in the city and that means a certain level of sound - that's why they've bought white-noise machines. But the devices have proved no match for a nine-piece band in one case, and throbbing bass in another, the residents told city licensing head Christine Pulgini today.

In both the case of Earl's in the Prudential Center, and Bastille Kitchen, at 49 Melcher St., the residents had the support of police, whose licensing detectives say their sound monitors confirmed what the residents said: The music was too damn loud.

At issue in the Earl's case was mainly a nine-piece band a customer who'd rented the outdoor patio brought along for a Dec. 14 event.

Tobias Schroeder, who lives 14 floors up at 790 Boylston St., said the three white-noise machines he and his wife have proved no match for the music. It was, he told city licensing head Christine Pulgini, like "having a live band playing in my living room."

Michael Buckley, who lives on the 9th floor of the Mandarin Oriental building, agreed - he and his wife actually called police twice that night - overcoming their reluctance to dial 911 over something like loud music.

Both residents testified this was not the first time they'd complained about music from the patio, just the first time their complaints resulted in police citations.

Earl's managers apologized, saying the live music was a surprise to them - they had booked the patio, which has a canvas covering, for a 400-person event, but said they didn't know the group was going to bring in a live band. And when somebody shows up with a check for $45,000 and a band and 400 people on the way, well, you know how it is, they said.

Still, in front of an audience that included not only residents, but the two lawyers they've hired, Earl's says it is rewriting all its contracts to keep that from happening again. Earl's and the residents agreed to try to work together to figure out a way that Earl's can still satisfy customers who insist on at least background music as a background salve during events on the patio and neighbors who don't want to become part of any performances they haven't paid for.

Meanwhile, over in Fort Point, managers at Bastille Kitchen, 49 Melcher St., say they're doing their best to assuage residents of the apartments above them in the historic converted warehouse building, short of actually permanently reducing the bass on their speakers.

One manager showed off the new, half-inch-thick plastic panels Bastille has installed over all its windows to cut the noise ceiling soundproofing failed to keep out of the rest of the building.

A second-floor resident - who reports both a white-noise machine and headphones fail to fully staunch the base - said her neighbor have moved out because of the noise.

Both the resident and Bastille said the real problem may be that the company that owns and rents out space in the building has so far refused to take recommended steps to further dampen the noise, which would involve sealing up certain spaces in residents' laundry rooms and bathrooms.

A Bastille sound engineer said he visited the resident's apartment and confirmed that the gap is bad enough that if somebody simply laughed under it in the restaurant, the resident could hear it.

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Comments

I get so tired about the "noise complaints" that aren't backed up by actual measurements that are extremely easy to do.

Now ... about the 5am airplane onslaught ...

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dining rooms in the city: painful. (The downstairs Chalet bar is not nearly as bad.)

As an early local professional restaurant critic to regularly cite noise levels in my reviews, I carry a sound pressure meter. I recall Bastille's upstairs dining room routinely registering ambient noise of over 90dB there at peak hours. That level is a menace to customers, even more so to employees with daily exposures of 10+ hours.

I understand why restaurants design their rooms this way (deterred camping equals more table turns per service equals more profit), but >90dB requires everybody to scream to be heard, and often results in misheard orders. I can tolerate the high 80s, which is pretty typical these days for newer places, but above that, my enjoyment of a place quickly plummets.

There's a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen on behalf of industry workers against these dangerous workplace noise levels, much like the ones that helped usher in the smoking ban at many restaurants and bars.

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Physics Toolbox for Android includes a Decibel meter, among other things. I have no idea how accurate it is.

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meter, but I tested a few smartphone apps and found one that is accurate enough for my purposes: I'm just looking for levels within a dB or two. (Plus a phone app is way less obtrusive.)

Mine helpfully yields average and peak levels for the sample, though I'm now practiced enough that I can predict the reading pretty closely.

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I wonder if this is something OSHA would get involved in.

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LMFAO

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than a live band TBH in spite of their connection to Motown.

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I once bought a white noise machine, I had to return it after one night as it kept me up all night going "I have black friends" "where can I get a pumpkin spice latte" "is it OK to where uggs with yoga pants" .....

*runs*

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Huh. Not funny.

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Says the voice done by Mike Henry.

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Where it asks you if you've seen Black Panther!

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Another buck in the 'made me laugh' jar...

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if the residents atop Great Scott in Allston we such a bunch of delicate snowflakes?
Here's what you do: Boot the business or lower the damn rent in said buildings, letting prospective tenants know what they are in for.. We all know which will actually happen....

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You're going to make me side with people in Mandarin Oriental condos, aren't you?

I don't know about the Melcher Street situation, but the people living on Boylston were there first. When they bought their units, there was no Earl's. So it's really incumbent on Earl's to do its frickin' due diligence and not let itself get pushed around by people with $45,000 checks and a nine-piece band.

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and the music is bothering you that much, that tells me the problem is with the building design, and not the band.

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... I thought people moved to the city for peace and quiet...

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made Earle's forget.

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It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.

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Where did you find that one?

:-)

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...he and his wife actually called police twice that night - overcoming their reluctance to dial 911 over something like loud music.

They didn't really dial 911 for a noise complaint right? There has to be a non-emergency number to report things like that to the local authorities.

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For whatever reasons (record keeping?) BPD actually prefers people to call 911 for stuff like this.

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Wow, weird. I stand (ok, sit) corrected in that case.

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They didn't really dial 911 for a noise complaint right?

Just to confirm what Adam says, you call a nonemergency number and BPD will just transfer you to the 911 call center and it will be answered exactly the same as if you had called 911...

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