Loud Boombox to Discourage Bad Buskers?
April 3, 2015 3:10 PM   Subscribe

My neighborhood is full of buskers in the summer. Some are excellent musicians. Some are easy to ignore. Some of them can't hit two notes in a row, and sing the same five songs over and over. I generally ask them nicely to move a block away, but some won't do it. Unfortunately, I can't work in the presence of off-key singing. I would like a powerful boombox to play Louis Armstrong at them until they move away. Recommendations? Bonus points if it pairs easily with an iPhone.
posted by musofire to Technology (10 answers total)
Are there laws about busking where you are? If so, call the police. If not, this is 100% your issue, and the solution is not to be a dick to everyone around you (not just the buskers -- you'll also be playing really loud music for all your neighbors). Look into good noise isolating headphones or better sound insulation on your building.
posted by brainmouse at 3:13 PM on April 3, 2015 [50 favorites]

Listening to music with noise-cancelling headphones works really well...I would try that instead.
posted by three_red_balloons at 3:17 PM on April 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

When a similar problem plagued me (eff you Feast of San Gennaro, just STFU already!!) I used to play ocean surf on 2 stereos -- one at the front of the house, one at the back.
posted by jbenben at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Playing Louis Armstrong at them? If your problem is with your ears and the way they're affecting you, how does it make sense to add to the neighborhood's noise pollution issues? Additionally, I can't imagine this wouldn't attract some off-key buskers that couldn't resist a good backing track.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:27 PM on April 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Noise canceling headphones only really work on continuous droning noises like airplanes, at least all the ones I've tried.

The loudest and most badass boom box ever commercially produced is this, with over 50 watts of bi-amped power. I've used it outdoors and its noticeably loud a block away. It's deafeningly loud in any indoor space, and can fill a whole bus/rv with a wall of sound. I paid about $60 for mine, don't pay like $400. The older pre-iPod/iPhone models are superior(and have several line in jacks anyways)

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that the cops don't care, or that they shuffle these guys along and new ones instantly take their place.

Businesses in my city have used this solution to drive off hobos and buskers. Just blast loud classical or Jazz on waterproof mounted exterior speakers. It's not some novel or horribly passive aggressive idea.

Your place better be locked down though. Prepare for some oogle to throw a bag of shit or a half full 40 of piss in your open window. Or just garbage. Or try and bean the boom box.
posted by emptythought at 4:18 PM on April 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Does Montreal have busker licenses like Chicago or designated busker spots like NYC( in NY one has to pass an audition for them )and London?
posted by brujita at 5:00 PM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is your main goal not hearing them, or driving them off? Can you tolerate things in your ear? You could consider custom earphones. That is probably less likely to provoke retaliation from the buskers or irritated neighbors, and I've found them to be better than noise canceling headphones with non-airplane noise, although I've not had a lot of experience with high end noise canceling headphones. Just make sure they're fully occluded so they physically block external noise (some have a vent for comfort/ sound awareness if you're using them when out and about) and be careful about cranking the volume too high.

They aren't necessarily cheap, though, and some people just don't like things in their ears. It also won't give you the satisfaction of driving them off.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:46 PM on April 3, 2015

If buskers are within their rights, you can try organizing an effort to regulate their presence. It might make you the local asshole, but you'll have the weight of the law behind you.

Blasting them out with your own noise, will absolutely make you the local asshole, not only to buskers but your neighbors as well, and probably put you on the wrong side of the law to boot.

Though to answer your question, a cheap, small guitar amplifier and a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter will be loud enough to do the trick. If you are really determined to go there.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:01 PM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consider whether you'd like to be featured in this future AskMe:

"Hey, hivemind. My jerkface neighbour down the street is blasting Louis Armstrong at window-shaking volume all day. What do?"

Montreal police will absolutely arrest buskers. Call the non-emergency number for the cops and ask them how to handle the noise pollution. Here are results from the city website regarding noise bylaws.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:33 AM on April 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

I, too, question whether or not you want to go this route, but if you do, the Samson XP150 might be your new best friend. It's an extremely small, extremely loud 5-channel PA system. I picked mine up used for $150US.

Again, I'm not sure this is a good idea. If it was me, I don't think I'd "go to battle" by playing loud music. What if it just played a continuous single note? Or a random sample every 90 seconds? But if it was me, I'd call the police.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:34 PM on April 4, 2015

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