How to setup home recording studio. We get a lot of questions from new voice over talent about how to setup and build a home recording studio. In this post from the how to become a voice actor series, we take a look at this in more detail.
How To Setup Home Recording Studio
Recording technology today is not only more accessible than ever before, it’s also more portable. So many voice over talents produce professional quality work from the comfort of their own house recording studio. The basic home recording studio needs to be good enough to digitally record and send auditions to a casting director, agent, or potential client.
Creating a home studio may seem technically challenging at first. But don’t worry, this is a short guide for beginners to help you setup a home recording studio from scratch.
The setup of a home recording studio isn’t as difficult as you might think. The goal of setting up a home recording studio is to produce appropriately loud, clean and noise free, high-quality vocal recordings, with no sound reflections.
To help you understand a bit more about sound here is a FREE VIDEO taken from our course on how to
In an earlier post we covered the main voice over equipment you need. What we are going to focus on now is to give you the information you need to make the right decisions.
Home Recording Setup – What You Need To Know
In this short FREE VIDEO Hugh Edwards gives you some important pointers about creating your own voice over recording environment.
The Main Points In More Detail
Sound Travels and Bounces Off Surfaces
Starting at the source, sound projects outward in all directions. A small portion of it (known as direct sound) travels in a straight line to the microphone. The remainder (known as reflected sound) bounces off the surfaces of the room. These reflections then reach the microphone. The reflected sound then changes the original sound. How much it changes the original sound depends on the size of the room and the type of surfaces.
Why Sound Absorption Is Vital
Modern sound absorbing materials are incredibly efficient at absorbing sound reflections. By using these materials that acoustically absorb, all that gets recorded is your voice.
The main priority in the setup home recording studio is to eliminate outside noises such as people, traffic, weather, plumbing, computer fans, footsteps and many more sounds, even in some instances planes.
The 4 Methods of Soundproofing
The process of soundproofing a room is accomplished using a combination of 4 tactics:
- Adding Mass: Making sure your walls let as little noise in.
- Damping: Dissipates kinetic energy from sound waves
- Decoupling: Blocks the transfer between contact points of objects. As an example if you have a microphone stand that is wall mounted you would use a rubber seal between the wall and the mic stand.
- Filling Air Gaps: This is about making sure there are no holes or gaps that introduce outside noise.
It’s extremely common for voice over actors to set up their first studio in a closet. Within it contains many useful sound absorption items, such as linens and clothing. If you’re building your studio space in a closet try leaving most of the contents but situate them far enough from your body so that you won’t brush against them while recording. If you create your recording space in a closet, remove the existing door and replace it with a heavy fabric secured with Velcro to create the best sound absorption for the doorway.
Setup A Home Recording Studio – Room and Space
The first thing is to consider is space. Ideally you want a completely quiet room. This gives you your outer room or conditions for creating your voice over recording studio. If you are fortunate to own a house or apartment big enough to dedicate a small quiet room for recording, you will limit ‘noise’ and control the acoustics of your space more easily. Most voice overs build a room within a room or in fact convert a wardrobe or closet into a recording space.
Take a look at the rooms in your house. The ideal room is cozy but comfortable to stand in and you should be able to move around a bit. A room without windows and a heavy door are best. If it has doors and windows, these areas are the most important parts of the room to treat as those are where the majority of the sound quality will be lost.
Setup A Home Recording Studio – Soundproofing
The importance of proper acoustic insulation or dampening for recording your voice over work cannot be understated. Make sure that you budget money to do this to a high standard. If you don’t, you may find that you spent all your money on the best voice over equipment, but you still can’t get a professional sound.
Treating a room, even a booth, is very much a science. Professional studio companies that provide the acoustic treatment products often over sell what is actually needed in a home recording studio. Soundproofing is all about keeping your voice in the room, and all other noises outside of the room. Acoustic treatment is making your voice sound as professional in the room itself. That means minimising sound reflection for instance.
There is no doubt that a custom built booth with insulated walls and foam to absorb sound will produce almost studio level recordings. For most beginners though this is a later investment. Remember, any soft material can deaden noise.
Small spaces tend not to need as much diffusion as larger spaces, but if your audio plays back sounding dull, throw some corners into your room. Again, acoustic panels work well, but anything with some angles on it will do.
Insulating On A Budget
Install insulation over windows, walls and the ceiling. Cork, rubber, or foam insulations are good options and are readily available from your local home building store. Large pieces of PVC piping strung up around the edges of the room also help to absorb sound.
Alternatively, hang heavy fabric around the room that you may find in your storage room such as thick moving blankets or you could use several layers of heavy old curtains. If the room is cubic, hang fabric in the corners to create more of a triangular shape to the ceiling to lessen echo and boom. It’s also a good idea to hang a duvet or quilt behind your mic to soften ‘esses’ and absorb sound.
As Hugh mentioned in the earlier video about how to setup a home recording studio, there are lots of more resources on the internet. If you want detailed advice though we have our own expert Rob Bee. Contact us if you want to discuss having a custom built home recording studio.
For more information on voice acting visit our series of posts on how to become a voice actor