“Mysterious and Persistent Bass Noise in Brookland”

by Prince Of Petworth April 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Thundercheese

“Dear PoPville,

For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing a bass sound (like a stereo at low volume but with the bass turned up) in and around my house on the southwest end of Brookland. I chalked it up to house parties for a while, but finally grew so annoyed with it that I went out looking for the origin late tonight, when traffic and other noises would be low and I could get a bead on where it was coming from. Needless to say, I did not find the source. The rain probably hampered my pursuit, since I’m sure my umbrella was causing some echoes.

I know I’m not going mad since I’ve recorded the sound electronically and listened to it on playback to confirm that it does exist. I even went up to a couple cops parked nearby while on my walkabout and asked them if they heard it (they did, but didn’t know where it was coming from). I have literally no theories…there’s no construction/recently finished buildings nearby, no new bars/clubs, etc.

So, is anyone else hearing this, and do you know where it’s coming from? Again, I’m in the southwest end of Brookland, and could hear it, at varying intensities, from Girard to Evarts, from 13th to 10th, on my walk (that was basically my whole walk) looking for the source tonight. The cops I spoke to were in the parking lot next to Menomale and the medical building.”

  • Jeff
  • wdc

    I hear something in Columbia Heights that sounds like a fully-loaded freight train going by at low speed. Been hearing it for years, never identified it.
    But I HAVE confirmed with others that they hear it too. I’m not imagining it! :)

  • NorthByNE

    I had a similar experience when I lived near U Street years ago. Low frequency (10-30 hz) sounds are incredibly difficult to pinpoint, but also don’t travel very far so the source is probably within a block or two of your house. In my case, it turned out to be a failing HVAC chiller at the Howard Univ. mechanical building.

    • LW

      Thinking this may be it. The timing is right – started just a few weeks ago as the weather warmed up enough that nearby commercial buildings probably switched to AC. If it is, I hope it dies a quick death!

  • Tom

    FBI basement, ask for a guy named Mulder. He worked a case in the second episode of Season 6 where some dude who plays Bryan Cranston heard the same noise, then proceeded to freak the hell out and go on a big high-speed chase. But act fast—when the the Nevada cops stopped them and tried to arrest his wife, her head exploded!

    • Rachel


  • 11th St.

    I live in Columbia Heights and have the same problem. I’ve heard it intermittently for years, have wandered around the house, (politely) asked neighbors, had neighbors change, and it still comes and goes. I’ve just chalked it up to one of life’s mysteries.

  • KaloramaRama

    I’m all about that bass. No treble!

  • Rukasu

    Isn’t there a jazz club near 12th and Franklin, Alice’s?

    • LW

      They only have performances on Sundays and Wednesdays, they end around 9:30, and they keep the noise level reasonable (I live very close by, and can only faintly hear it outdoors during performances).

  • LW

    I did some research and found this online white noise generator where you can create custom “white” noises. I made one using the lower frequencies, and disappeared the noise (with my laptop in front of me…need to get some wireless speakers so I can broadcast it from both sides of my bed)! It took a bit of fiddling with different levels for the different frequencies, but I finally found one where the outside noise was eaten away. Bass noise (and potentially broken chillers) shall no longer bedevil me! :)


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