Home Studio Q&A:
Newcomer's Basement Home Studio:
Running Water, Dogs ... What To Do?
By Dan Lenard
Voice Actor & Home Studio Master
Dear Home Studio Master,
We are following the home studio dream and have acquired the equipment and the basement space. However, it is readily apparent that the ambience of the space leaves much to be desired.
The mic is picking up the water running through pipes, the neighbor's dog, the dehumidifier, hot water heater, etc.
We have moved around the basement, looking for a better sound (or lack of sound ), adjusted the sensitivity, and still have the issue.
Before we are ready to post auditions, I'd rather not have the toilet flushing in the background audio.
I have been looking into the various soundproofing solutions, the roll of 1/2" or so rubber sheets, the sound mats, the possibility of finishing a small room with sound proofing insulation, etc., and the cost of the sound proofing solutions.
Pricing out soundproof booths may be the way to go in my case, as I am not of the carpentry bent, and would rather have something not so permanent - yet something that works well in preventing the ambient noise from finding my mic.
We live in Ontario, so if you come across any decent VO booth manufacturers/distributors - if possible, in Canada - that can eliminate the sounds of the washing machine and the kids in the basement, we would thank you immensely for your insight. -Jeffery
DAN REPLIES ...
Thanks for this very important question, Jeffery!
This is most the most common question I get. And the answer is very simple: Be patient.
Look, if you've been investigating soundproof booths, I'm sure you are aware that you could spend upwards of $10,000 to get the isolation you desire.
For a beginning voice-over venture, that seems like an investment that could take years to recover. So here’s a few things to think about ...
TIMELY, NOT SLOPPY
Your perception that "time is of the essence" is misplaced. Being in a rush to get an audition out before someone else does is a faulty strategy.
Perhaps you've seen audition notices for "I need this now!" That should key you in to the fact that this seeker was unprepared and did not plan ahead. Not someone I would do business with.
The myth of getting your audition in "first" is ridiculous.
Yes, you need to be "timely," but not sloppy.
HOME IS HOME
If your home is too loud when you need to record, tell the kids to go play down the street. Make sure no one uses the bathroom, and make it known to all at home to respect your space.
This is the beauty of a home studio. It is an opportunity to support everyone at home. They need to support you at the same time.
Sure, you can spend $10,000 and spend time in the "Cone of Silence" feeling claustrophobic.
Or you can patiently wait for your neighbor to stop cutting his grass. You can shut off the furnace or A/C for a couple of hours.
I do it all the time and save money at the same time. Just remember to turn it back on!
What's more important? The laundry done at 1 p.m. or at 10 p.m.? You're throwing money at a solution that is not worth it.
At a big studio where they need to isolate someone from music, yeah, that's fine.
But you're doing it at home because its cheap. And you can create excellent audio with a few inexpensive, isolation techniques, such as using Auralex foam or a big heavy quilt!
ABSORB THE SOUND
The idea is to absorb the sound passing the mic, and not bouncing it back around the room.
These are inexpensive but very effective methods to acoustically isolate your mic.
You can't totally keep the outside noise from coming in without major investment.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Here's what I recommend. Get training for your vocal delivery style.
Have a professional demo made at a studio.
Take your time in learning how to record. Learn the basics.
Learn the acoustic signature of your studio space. Learn how to compensate for it physically, by moving things around or using software to filter out the noise AFTER you have recorded it.
Don't over think this, and be patient!
ABOUT DAN ...
Dan Lenard is a veteran radio personality, educator and voice talent - accredited by Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists (SaVoa), and serves on the SaVoa Advisory Board. As the Home Studio Master, he is a sought-after consultant - often solving problems by phone and email correspondence, and teaching in VoiceOverXtra webinars.