Not “good vibrations” in the RV campsite

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We were in a campground in the Panhandle of Florida recently. Parked next to us was probably a 40-foot trailer. After quiet hours my wife and I went to bed – notice I didn’t say “went to sleep.” At first I thought it might be an earthquake or a tsunami. It wasn’t a sound as much as a vibration. It was much like feeling a kid go by in a low rider with the bass turned all the way up on his sub-woofers tucked in the trunk.

It didn’t take long to discover it was the neighbor watching a war movie on his big screen TV. Every time there was an explosion in the movie, which was often, a vibration would ripple through our campsite. We usually do not complain but I think a new campground ruling may have to be enacted: “No vibrations after 10 o’clock.” Or maybe they should have a “No big screen TV” section. We are trying to be open minded, but is this really camping? —All shook up in the campground

Dear Shook up:
It won’t do any good to plan a shopping spree at Best Buy and arm yourself. Returning fire with 15-inch sub-woofers and 130,000 watts would give you fire superiority, but it will just lead to sound retaliation and escalation.

As for the camping question, not everyone is looking for the same experience. Camping, as once defined, has become very generic. The popularity of high-end RVs has created an evolution in camping that will continue to morph into things we can’t even imagine yet. If you are not comfortable with discussing the problem with your neighbor and trying to resolve the issue, your only choice is to relocate.

We camped next to a guy with an electric piano once. He used earphones. There was no sound but we could still feel some of his tunes if he cranked it up too high. We made a joke of it and he was shocked that we even knew he had a piano. We never felt his music again.

In this case, perhaps they don’t realize the effect their entertainment system is having on you. It sounds like they were not actually making much noise, so perhaps they do not realize the reverberation is traveling out to those around them. The next morning you should have asked your neighbor who won the war. That could stop many future battles for other neighbors retiring for the evening. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



21 Thoughts to “Not “good vibrations” in the RV campsite”

  1. Sherry Dawson

    Thanks, Mike, for your explanations. If I have to ask someone to reduce the noise level, I like to have a solution to offer. I didn’t know about night mode, or turning off the sub-woofers because I don’t watch TV. I like to be outside at night watching the stars (the kind overhead).

  2. Gregory Illes

    Mea culpa — I learned the hard way about how bass travels (see Mike’s comments above).

    Not that we use the TV much while traveling, we’ve gone six weeks without switching it on — but occasionally a DVD is a nice entertainment of an evening.

    We were watching a movie inside our motorhome, not particularly loud but I do have a small subwoofer to enhance the bass. Nearest camp site was over 100 feet away in our BLM campground. In the middle of our movie, an irritated neighbor came up and knocked on the door, complaining about the noise. We of course apologized, and immediately turned it down and switched off the subwoofer.

    The next day, I went outside and “tested” the audio signature. For sure, the regular sound could not be heard outside the coach, even at fairly high volume. But the bass could be heard even 50 yards away or more.

    So now we are much more cognizant of when/where we watch a movie.

  3. TravelingMan

    There should be Public Service Announcements about this feature. I would bet that less than 1% of America even knows this. I’m certainly one of them. We fight about how loud it gets. It’s ridiculous that movies are made like this. What is the point? Is it some kind of shock value or scare tactic during a movie? WE find it annoying at best. And we always thought it was just a sorry recording of the movie and have lived with it. We CONSTANTLY have the remote in hand to adjust the sound the entire way through.

    Thanks Mike. We are going to give this a try!

    1. Gosh, I didn’t know I was going to start a revolution. Viva la Night Mode!

  4. Joanne Tiki

    One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of movies these days as well is that you really have to crank up the volume to hear the quieter parts of the movie…and then when something does explode it’s twice as loud because you had to turn up the volume to hear the talking.

    1. That’s what “Night” mode is supposed to correct. It will make the loud parts of the movie softer, and the soft parts louder. This is part of the Dolby standard and included in the Metadata of each audio stream or movie, so the mastering engineer can control how it works in your home theater system. I was Dolby certified in the early 2000’s and I taught this in hundreds of seminars around the country, so I’m sure this is how it works.

      1. RV Staff

        Dang, Mike! Is there anything you don’t know?! 😀 —Diane at

        1. I’m not just a pretty face…😀

      2. Joanne Tiki

        Whelp, I finally got around to trying to find night mode on my new ‘smart’ tv, purchased 4 months ago. There isn’t one. I’ve searched through every setting available, there is nothing anywhere labeled “night”. Is this mode being called something else on new tvs?

        1. Not sure. The soundbar on my television has a night setting. Sometimes it’s called “DRC” or “Dynamic Range Compression” or possibly “Normalization”. Here’s a pretty good article on how to find this “hidden” setting on your television.

  5. KC

    I was parked next to a very old, very noisy Prevost once..they came in late in the evening, knocking over their power pedestal in the process of parking in the dark. They proceeded to fire up their generator and a/c. It was cool at night, and no one else in the whole park had their a.c. running. It ran and ran and ran. Finally, about 2 a.m., I went over and knocked on their door. When they finally answered, I very politely asked them to turn it off and open their Windows like every other camper.

    Thankfully, they changed sites the next morning, going way back into the park, away from everyone else.

  6. Keith Manne

    I’m feeling very “unmodern” now… none of my equipment has a night mode that I know of!

    That said, I’m not nearly as offended by an occasional muffled sound (when I’m out walking my dogs or whatever) as I am with newer RVs featuring external large screen TVs and booming speakers for an outdoor theater. …Or the jerks with Harleys showing off how manly the lack of a working muffler is at 2AM…

    1. Mike Sokol

      There’s a class of wireless/bluetooth headphones that include “shakers” so you can feel the bass. My kids have played with them for video games where you need to feel the explosions. That would be a great solution for RVers who have outside large screen TVs and want to binge watch Die Hard all night long…

  7. Since I AM an audio engineer, let me clarify (amplify?) a point about bass sounds. Bass will travel through and around most anything in its path. The only way to really get rid of bass transfer through a wall is to use something like lead or barium loaded wallpaper that weighs 1 pound per square foot (no kidding). And while higher frequencies can be absorbed and stopped by most anything fuzzy, such as a carpet, bass traps are enormous, typically more than 6 feet across. So there’s no practical way to stop the bass once it gets started. However, every modern home entertainment system will have some sort of “night” mode that will reduce the peak volume of the explosions and big orchestra crescendos. Maybe ask them to the engage “night” mode at night?

    1. Angela Krause

      That’s very interesting, Mike. I love how you pass along all kinds of useful info. Maybe you can develop some kind of remote device that will lower other people’s loud whatever. I’m sure there would be some good money in something like that. 😉

      1. Oh how I’ve wished for a “cone of silence” like Get Smart. Of course, I would like my version to actually work…

      2. Wolfe Rose

        I’m not saying I would write a “universal remote” app that sends out the codes for MUTE and POWER to every brand of TV known, because, you know, I wouldn’t want to INTRUDE on my neighbor enjoying their war movies all night.

        I can say, hypothetically of course, that the outdoor TVs around me tend to malfunction a lot… I don’t know why that is.

        1. Clyde Riddle

          Check out
          Already done.

          1. Wolfe Rose

            I hadn’t seen that product before, so great minds (peeved ears?) think alike!
            Of course, many phones have this ability built in, but it only works at room distance. My $5 gizmo (arduino and focussed highpower IR LEDs) works at any proximity I care to. Maybe I should go with a laser next and mute TVs in the next town?

    2. Jeannie

      No, not every modern home entertainment system will have a night mode. I just bought a TV (the only in the 40″-43″ range I could find that had 1080i resolution, three HDMI inputs, and was NOT a so called smart TV) that doesn’t have a night mode or any other kind of dynamic compression.

      1. IIRC, every 5.1 surround home theater system does indeed have a Night mode. It’s built into the Dolby Digital AC3 specification. But there’s nothing that requires a Night Mode on a big flat-screen TV that’s someone has hooked up to a big subwoofer. Technically, that’s not a home entertainment system. However, I’m curious as to the make and model# of your 40″ television. Let me know and I’ll check it out, just for my personal enlightenment. Email me a with the info and I’ll take a look.

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