Setting Up Your Home Studio
The first thing I would like to explain is why Professional Recording Studios do this and how you can do this as well. Professional Studios usually have two areas where they will apply sound treatment. 1. Where they record. 2.Where they mix and master their audio, commonly refereed to as a “Control Room or Sound Room”.
We can instantly achieve the required sound treatment for the second area by simply using headphones as we will be dealing mostly with the “Spoken Word”. This not the best way for mixing music, but it is better than if you did it in a room, that has bad acoustics that are masking certain frequencies.
Since high quality studio monitors can exceed $60,000 and they want to make sure that there are no unwanted sounds coming into their control room and that the sounds coming out of their monitors are not bouncing all over the room creating artificial reverb or providing false information that is going into your ears. That is why most studios will hang or install “Bass Traps” on the ceiling and corners as well as certain areas on the walls that the sound will reflect off of.
Try this for yourself. Walk around the room you plan to record in and simply clap your hands. Make sure you do this in several locations within the room. You should notice certain areas will sound louder then others. This is a very simply way to show you where you would apply sound treatment for LISTENING to your recorded audio. Once you understand this, it is easy to see how a good set of headphones can work to do the same thing.
Setting up your room for recording is very similar to this process with some distinctive differences. First of all, microphones are better equipped to picking up sounds then the human ear. From very low volume to higher frequencies, the human ear just can not compete. So what do we do? We do every thing we can to keep unwanted noises out of our room as well as doing everything we can to help keep our voice from reflecting off of any surfaces.
You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on sound treatment and you can also build your own. However, we want to use what you may have around the house and use some basic sound theories to keep the cost down to a minimum. The following recommendations may even allow you to make a great place to record if you have the following items or areas.
The best place you can record in is a walk in closet that does not have an exterior wall that leads to the outside of your home. This is the best case scenario as it will help keep unwanted noises from outside from coming in and gives you a added layer of protection/soundproofing and the cloths will do great for absorbing your voice to stop it from reflecting.
Everything you do concerning sound treatment should always start with “will this help absorb my voice to keep it from reflecting off of hard surfaces”? That is why it is not recommended to record in any unfinished rooms in your home. If you have ever walked into a room with nothing in it such as furniture, you should remember how it sounded. If someone else was with you and you were talking, it should have sounded very “empty or echoic”. This is what we want to avoid.
If you are going to be recording in a bed room, then you will want as much “soft furniture” in it as you can. You can use heavy curtains that will cover the windows when you close them. You can place bookshelves in the corners, filled with books or decorative pillows to help as well. If you will be using a desk to set up your recording gear then you will want to place something like a heavy moving pad or thick beach towel over the top of it before you set up your mic stand if it is a desk stand.
Tapestries or quilts work GREAT for this purpose and you can find these at yard-sales or someplace like Craigslist at a very reasonable price. You can even build your own sound booth for less then $30.00 using PVC pipe and moving pads.
You can also build your own voice box for around $30.00 using a piece of acoustical foam, (not egg crate foam used for mattress padding, acoustical foam) and a box. THIS TYPE IS NOT RECOMMENDED! This is really the worst thing you can do. This little box will remove most of the life out of the sound you are recording regardless if it is speech, vocals or instrumental. You would only use this as a “last resort” and then, it should never be used for anything else but podcasting. NO ACX OR MUSIC WORK!
As you can see, there are many things you can do to REDUCE your voice from reflecting off of hard services. Myself, I prefer the FIRST EXAMPLE as pictured above. They are cheap to make and they work very well. Not only do they help absorb your voice, they also help keep it from reflecting off of anything else in the room. If possible, you also want to make sure your track/recording area has concrete, tile or hardwood floors. The main reason for doing this, is carpet will remove the higher end frequencies out of your recording and it will sound dull.