“Gritty Guitar Soloist,” Martin Fisch/Flickr , under CC BY-SA 2.0.

TechnologySo I'm building a VO sound booth, Pt 2

Last week, I discussed building a sound booth. In that conversation were elaborate plans and schemes. The Bible says “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” So it is with me. I thought a quick update was in order.

Story So Far. I’m sure you’re dazzled by my prose so you want to read the previous article. Rather than explain, I’ll sum-up: I’m considering adding audiobooks to my catalog by narrating my own books. Last weekend I did a lot of introductory research into the field, and decided to build a small booth.

Pivot. The important part of any project is flexibility. Sufficient agility allows one to pivot. In my case, my wife encouraged the idea, but was not committed. My research continued to uncover substantial problems that were not easily remedied in a small room. With a rather small house, finding a place to take away 20-30 square feet was inconvenient. All of these screamed of a need to pivot. And pivot I did.

What I’ve Learned. My new plan is less audacious and a little more portable. It’s more incremental, which feeds into a budget plan. My office is roughly 10’x10’, which is a good size for a sound booth. I bought a cheap sound meter (URL below) and used it to get some data about my office. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Average room = 35 Dba
  • With fan on = 42 Dba, it’s presence is noticeable on sample recording.
  • Window = -25 Dba on external sound (e.g. lawnmower)
  • Interior door = -10 Dba on internal sound (e.g. radio, kids)

I did pick up some acoustic tiles and a sound blanket. The tiles are supposed to help deal with some of the echo/reverb. The sound blanket is supposed to help with exterior noise, reducing by up-to 20 decibels. I also bought a B001U1IVBI instead of the B004XJDCMC I bought in February. The Shure feeds directly into the laptop, whereas the MXL requires an intermediary connection (I chose MBOX because of the editing software that came with). The Shure has mic gain and a -15 Db cut-off, as well as a setting that will help cut base.

New Vector. My plan now is not to build a sound booth, but to treat my office. Many of the sound professionals (at least, they pretended to be on various fora) were adamant about the cons of a small space for voice over/isolation.

One suggestion is to buy/make a Microphone Reflection Filter. At my desk, I can hear the reverb in the playback. I experimented just by stacking a few of the acoustic tiles. The sound difference was notable. So, I may start with the Reflection Filter. However, a lot of the “experts” suggested this was only a half- (or quarter-) measure. The blanket will likely be insufficient. I can make one fairly readily to experiment with…all it takes is a bit of rigid backing and time served.

One treatment I will likely go with is a DIY gobo…which is a sound-deadening approach. Think cubicle side-walls, rockwool in wood frames to help kill sound. Could be used either in a Reflection filter context, or as a room partition.

Next Steps. So, what to do next? I need to spend some time with the microphone and recording software to get a little better at recording. I may look into a few 2’x4’ gobos (Rockwool can be used in my attic or HVAC space if the effort fails).

Items Discussed:

  • B00ATP5KF6
  • B009LPT9SO
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