how to set up a “sound booth” at home

Other than your choice of hardware, particularly your microphone, the surroundings in which you record audio are the most influential factor on the quality of recording you can ideally produce.

In a studio, a sound booth or session room is “treated” to create an ideal environment.  At home, you may not be able to recreate as perfect a circumstance, but you can do simple and easy things with available materials that will make a world of difference in your output.

There are two basic enemies of good recording that you want to try and eliminate from your recording environment at home.  The first is ambient noise, the second is echo.  An excellent location to defend against these nuisances is a bathroom or large closet (bring a light if there isn’t one in there).

Gather up all the extra bedding and towels you have in your living space.  Hang a heavy blanket over the curtain rod and hang towels from any towel rods or window dressings available.  If your space is not carpeted, line the floor with towels and bedding.  Think of this as a great excuse to reuse your childhood “fort” building skills.

In a small “booth” space, the surface area of your own body is actually a significant portion of the surface area capable of reflecting sound.  Wear an old hoodie and some sweatpants and you can add to the dampening effect (no kidding this really helps).  Also, the relatively small size of the space will decrease air volume.  You’ll notice that you can speak much more softly and still get great levels on your equipment.  This will allow you to use a much calmer sounding narrative voice with more intonation.

When you record in a space filled with dampening materials like these, you will notice your vocal qualities sound more clear during playback and that you have far less background noise to eliminate in post-production.  To see the difference try recording the same dialogue someplace like your kitchen where the fridge is humming and the floor and walls are all hard…you’ll be amazed at the difference.

Drew Wallner

~ by atw17 on February 21, 2011.

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