Noise ordinance laws exist, but they were not designed to make sure you don't ever have to hear your neighbor. They are standards put in place to allow people to make acceptable amounts of noise.
Zoning does affect the allowable decibel level. In residential-only areas, a typical noise ordinance sets a "sound curfew," or period of reduced allowable noise, between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays, and midnight to 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. on weekends.
This applies to the dog that barks all night and your neighbor's carpool buddy who lays on the car horn every morning.
The rule of thumb is that if the noise is loud enough to keep a reasonable person awake, then it is probably illegal. A police officer can use a device to read decibel levels to verify whether your neighbor is breaking noise ordinances.
If you live in a rental unit, odds are there is something in your lease that covers "house rules," which includes something like this: "Quiet Enjoyment: Resident shall not commit nor allow to be committed any nuisance or other act which may disturb the quiet enjoyment of any other resident at the community."
Should you talk to your neighbor before calling your landlord or the police? Not necessarily. Trust your instincts and what you know, or don't know, about your neighbor. Property managers and police officers can put an end to a rowdy party without telling anyone who called in the complaint.