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Constructing A Studio That Keeps Out
Motorcycles & Planes ... Hear Demo!
 
By Karen Commins
Voice Actor
 
When I started my voice over career, I recorded in a tiny closet with accordion doors.
 
The room is upstairs on the front of the house and faces the street. The only entrance to our subdivision is about 150 yards away from my house.

Consequently, 99% of my 200+ neighbors must pass my house every time they enter or leave.
 
To make matters worse, we live at the top of a hill. The neighbors step on the gas to get up that hill. So I constantly had to stop my recordings every time a car passed.
 
BIGGER CLOSET
 
Moving to a walk-in closet across the hall helped to alleviate some of the car traffic noises.
 
However, it didn't help with the air traffic, leaf blower, lawnmower, and other noises around here. The county airport is not far from our house, so planes with small propellers are constantly flying overhead.
 
WINDOW BUFFER
 
We decided to take drastic measures to reduce the noise.
 
We started by replacing all of the windows on our house with triple-pane, casement windows.
 
Instead of the common double-hung windows, which have two pieces that open by sliding them up or down, casement windows are one piece, which opens outward.
 
The movement forms a better seal to the house, and the three panes of glass with kyrpton gas between them significantly buffer outside noises.

SOUNDPROOF STUDIO
 
We also built my stunning soundproof studio employing the following techniques:
  • 2 layers of ceilings with R30 insulation between them
  • 2 layers of 5/8" drywall (instead of the usual single layer of 1/2" drywall) in each of the ceiling layers,
  • all 4 walls 2x6 studs instead of 2x4, to provide additional space for insulation sound barrier insulation under the siding,
  • R30 insulation in the wall air pockets between the garage and the studio,
  • 2 entrances, each with an air pocket between 2 doors,
  • no windows, and
  • built on a concrete slab
ADD WHISPER ROOM
 
I also bought a 6'x8' WhisperRoom sound isolation booth.
 
The WhisperRoom adds more density and air pockets in my quest for silence.
 
And since the floor is on wheels, it can eliminate the low, rumbling noises that could be generated by passing trucks.

HEAR A DEMO ...

What a joy to record in this room! I can't remember a time when I've had to stop work due to a noise outside the studio.

Here is a short demonstration of the effectiveness of my updated studio.
 
Using my iPhone4, I made a little video of Drew starting his motorcycle, and me walking into my silent studio.
 
The video is not edited, so I apologize in advance for any jerky movement. Turn your speakers up to really hear the difference!




IF YOU BUILD ...
 
If you decide to build a studio like this, consider using a detailed book as a guide for you and a contractor.
 
Also, learn from my mistakes with my free report, Karen's Crash Course in Avoiding Ca$h-Poor Contractors.

Best wishes for peace and quiet through all your recording projects!

ABOUT KAREN ...
 
Karen Commins is a voice actor based in Atlanta specializing in narrations, e-learning modules and audiobooks. With two decades of experience as an information technology professional, she enjoys “rattling off the endless series of initials found in educational scripts written for high-tech audiences.” Her website offers demos and photos of her Whisper Room soundproof studio, and she writes A Voice Above The Crowd, an insightful and entertaining blog about working and marketing oneself in the voice-over profession.
 
 
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Comments (6)
Linda Ristig
4/3/2011 at 9:58 AM
Thanks for sharing the video and the article, Karen. What a difference between listening to the Harley and the soundproofing accomplished in your studio. It makes all the difference in producing quality, professional voiceovers! Well done!
Trey Thomas
4/2/2011 at 11:11 PM
Great job, Karen! I enjoyed reading about your quest for silence. I want to be like you when I grow up.

Currently, I still have to wait for passing traffic and airplanes to pass in between sessions. I also live in the Atlanta area. I'll have to contact you once I'm ready to invest in some real soundproofing. Cheers!
Laura Branch Mireles
4/2/2011 at 4:02 PM
Nice job, Karen. I'm working up to getting a whisper room. I've heard such great things about it. This video will definitely help my case when I show it to my husband!
Jane Ingalls
4/2/2011 at 2:00 PM
Hi Karen,
I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing it. There's never enough silence to do this kind of work!
Derek Chappell
4/2/2011 at 8:08 AM
Clearly yours is a story where your passion (for voiceover) creates a necessity (silence) that is solved by your ingenuity (finding a way to solve the problem). Thanks for sharing.
Paul Strikwerda
4/1/2011 at 6:41 PM
I'm glad you didn't keep this project quiet. Thanks for sharing, Karen. It looks and sounds terrific!

Those who believe that becoming a voice-over professional can be done on the cheap, should learn something from your story. I'm sure your soundproofing projects required some serious investment.

Even with a handy hubby, the cost of the materials alone is quite significant. WhisperRooms come with an impressive price tag and - as you clearly point out - having such a booth is not always enough to keep the noise out.

I'm sure that your talent combined with an ideal recording environment, will guarantee that this investment will pay for itself many, many times over!
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