What floor of a typical highrise apartment or condominium escapes traffic noise completely?

talking LA, Chicago, New York, etc.

Basement Level 2

Not sure there’s a definitive answer to this, because it depends on the quality of the sound insulation built into the windows.

Last summer, my wife and i spent a couple of weeks in a high-rise apartment building in New York City, on 9th Avenue in the 50s. It’s a very new building (only opened a few years ago), and has plenty of high-priced apartments.

We were on the 14th floor, and while the noise was not at all disturbing or annoying to us we could definitely hear a low background hum of traffic, and if a loud car or truck or motorcycle accelerated, we could hear it quite easily. The blaring of horns also made it up there, even with all windows closed.

Open windows obviously let in considerably more noise. It seems to me that, with all those high-rise buildings, it’s quite easy for noise to bounce back and forth between the buildings.

or, who lives in a highrise apt or condo where its dead silent with respect to traffic, and what floor are you on?

For this reason, I suspect that the answer is highly dependent on the relative architecture of all the surrounding buildings. A building that rises well above all its neighbors is going to be pretty different than the same building surrounded by still-taller ones, right? The textures of the buildings will also come into play.

I don’t think it actually depends on height at all. A taller building will be further from traffic, of course, but it’ll also be collecting sound from a larger area, in the same proportion.

That’s assuming uniform traffic density. A sufficiently taller building than anything else around is going to create its own bit of traffic, due to the number of people coming and going to that particular building.

I used to live on the 47th floor of a new building (with double-pane windows) on a major avenue in NY, and I can tell you that it was not high enough to escape traffic noise. With the windows closed, routine low-level noise was muffled to the point of not being noticeable, but you definitely heard sirens, horns, loud trucks etc. With the windows open, you could hear pretty much everything. I’d have to second the “basement level 2” answer. Always much quieter down there.

The sound still dies down. If you were at a sufficient height - say they built a building in Manhattan that was two miles high - you would hear effectively nothing.

I agree that sound gets weaker with distance. But I suspect that if you can hear a freeway 2 miles away horizontally, then you can probably hear the same freeway if located 2 miles vertically above it.

I know I can readily hear freeway noise more than 2 miles from my current suburban ground-level location. And this sound is filtered by trees, low hills and other houses. Unlike the direct line-of-sight-and-sound I’d have to a freeway if located 2 miles above it.

I also know that the 16th floor condo I used to have was high enough that we heard no traffic on the 25mph single-lane residential streets surrounding us. But we could, when the wind was rght, here the elevated freeway 3 miles away.

We were about 4 city blocks from a major hospital and we heard noise from sirens & helicopters at least hourly all day & much of each night. Not loud, but clearly audible & recognizable.
Back at the OP: By the time you get high enough to escape city noise, the average windspeed will be 20+mph. Which will have a sound all its own. Also, were you talking about the sound outside on a balcony or the sound inside? If inside, the building’s construction & surroundings matter a lot.

I’d like to escape the car horns, wind is not a concern.

Does construction still make a big difference with windows open but not quite a balcony scenario?

Can anyone confirm the two-story basement suggestion?

Solid walls aren’t a concern. Crappy windows are. If you have good windows, any level should be okay. If you have crappy windows, well then that depends on how crappy they are.

Yeah, we moved a couple of times, doubling our height each time. Still traffic noise. A little less, and a little different. Escaped minor noises (cars cruising by at speed limit), but still got loud stuff (accelerating cars, motorcycles, yelling, barking, gunshots).

We finally did make one move that worked: Wisconsin.

rural I’m presuming?

No, I’d rather have traffic noise than the smell of manure.

But even one block off a main street, it’s almost silent. We laid awake the first night because it was just too quiet, and I finally said “Want me to go down to the street and break a few bottles?”

I’ve been to the observation deck on top of the Empire State Building and I don’t recall any traffic noises. That’s one-fifth of a mile. So I’d set the bar much lower.

The top of the Empire State Building is not silent. There’s sort of a white noise coming from all around.

It’s strange to look down on the streets below on a clear day and see all the taxis and buses and police cars (and maybe even a private automobile or two) and you can’t really hear anything that sounds like traffic.

Major city or burb? Really? No car horns ever?

Believe it or not, there are many areas where car horns are discouraged and you almost never hear them even in traffic. In my residential area, it must be years since I heard a car horn. And I’m a block from an expressway.

I read an article in the Utne Reader a couple years ago that really stunned me. It stated that there are only about a dozen places in the entire North American Continent where one can experience true silence. True silence being the complete absence of man made sounds for a 15 minute period. Even in your rural location Digs you probably won’t last 15 minutes without traffic noise or a jet flying overhead or your furnace kicking in, or the refrigerator humming. Having always lived in cities I thought the lack of boistrous noise when visiting rural areas was eerie. But after reading that article it dawned on me that I have never in my entire life experienced real silence. Relative, yes. Real, no. Kinda depressing. :frowning: