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Has anyone had experience / success with insulation or other means of minimizing noise (footsteps etc) from upstairs by doing the work in the ceiling of their apartment?
No, but good luck! I lived in a super loud apartment a few years ago and it wasn't worth the dirt cheap rent.
you can use genie clips to get rid of the footstep/bass noise http://www.soundisolationstore.com/pliteq-genieclip.html
then you need to use egg crate foam for high pitch sound http://www.foambymail.com/acoustical-eggcrate-foam.html
finally, you can put on quiet rock, even the thin one, to give the extra boost. all of this works best if your ceiling are higher than 8 ft and you don't have architectural details (moldings) where the wall/ceiling meet.
Be a little cautious with the foam -- remember that nightclub fire in Rhode Island a few years back -- the fire was started by pyrotechnics but the problem escalated when the foam-covered walls caught fire and it spread fast. (I doubt the linked product was the exact foam in question; just be sure a professional evaluates the plan from perspectives beyond just sound absorption.)
Also, you've started with the basics, right? (i.e. making sure the upstairs neighbor is compliant with your building's regulations on floor coverings, typically the 80% carpet rule)
You could have “quiet rock” applied to the ceiling
you will lose about 2” of the ceiling height
Knock on the ceiling with a broomstick.
Worked for Fred Mertz!
Oh wait a minute...that could backfire bigtime.
Don't know if you ever saw the I Love Lucy "Break the Lease" episode, but it's on YouTube in case you didn't.
It's truly hilarious!