My student Karl wrote to ask how he could soundproof his noisy apartment, offering me various materials to comment on.
I get this question a lot. And it’s important to understand these very major differences between sound-proofing and sound-deadening.
Here’s what Karl asked in his email:
I am setting up my home studio, just in terms of the sound proofing. But due to the small size of my apartment, and the one PC for many uses, I would like to have moveable “isolation booth”. that surrounds me and the desk, that is low priced and uses little space and easy to use.
I found a piece of 3″ 4′ x 9′ foam pad from Foam Mart, ($91) that curls around just right, to enclose me and my desk in a 3 sided foam cave.
I also have two empty metal shelf racks ($120), that can stand on either side of me, with blankets draped over them.
any thoughts suggestions?
None of these options (and he had some others I edited out for space) will help.
These foam and blanket options won’t keep outside sounds from entering his noisy apartment (the -proofing part of sound-proofing) – they’ll only stop sounds from reverberating within his room (the -deadening part of sound-deadening).
That’s why I send people into their closets to do this work – they are enclosed spaces with air around them to help prevent outside noise leakage, and the clothes do a great job of dampening the noise if it gets in, and lessening the reverberation of his voice.
What do you use to both sound-proof and sound-deaden your recording space? Let me know in the comments below.
Hope this helps!
I am one of David’s “CLOSET CAPERS” haha I took Davids classes and learned so much about AUDACITY and ACX, I lived in Seattle 2 years prior and was hired to do some voice overs and believe it or not-I was recording in my bathroom-there was no street noise because the bathroom was located in the middle of the house and hardly any acoustical problems :-) I made a little money here and there and even was hired to record some cartoon voices for a comic book cd.also I became the ongoing voice for SkyTap Virtual Labs.
Cut to- somewhere outside of Studio City Cal the year is 2012 I take Davids class,sign up for ACX that evening and within a week I started negotiations with SAG-AFTRA and ACX and a great rights holder with an amazing 10+ hour book to voice with 55 chapters and as many voices! My hubby and my drummer turned our broom closet into a little padded room- with DEAD SOUND! we live on such a busy street it sounds like the waves crashing on Malibu! but inside VOICE CANDY STUDIOS I am productive and happily producing, I have learned some amazing tricks of the trade as I go along and the notes that I took in David’s class give me the “AH-HAH” factor all the time! My little padded room was even used to help a friend get a vo tv gig and her AGENT said we did a great job and she loved the sound quality of VOICE CANDY STUDIOS- so yes GO INTO YOUR CLOSETS DAVIDS STUDENTS!! there is work to be done in there! you can contact me through David if you need help designing your “lil’ padded room”
Thanks for addressing this David! I wonder how to make my VO space more sound proofed, as I do not have a closet I can use. But here is what works for now: In the corner of my bedroom which has carpet, I have 2 pieces of foam on the walls and one above, with the mic in the corner. I do have to listen for noise, which slows me down, but thinking of getting a heavy curtain to surround me. It works for now!
A great resource for all things sound-proofing and sound-deadening is Audimute.com
I just recently purchased some “blankets” that have transformed the sound AND quite factor.
The more I use the new acoustical device called the eyeball, the more I agree with this seasoned VoiceOver chap from England:
Glad that works for you – it would keep me way to far away from the mic for intimate promo and trailer work. I prefer a red athletic sock.
I don’t have a closet that will work. My master bathroom would be great, but my partner likes to use it. So, I’ve taken over the office-bedroom. We saved egg cartons, filled them with the lint from the clothes dryer and stacked them in the window in the office. Then we repositioned our giant Ikea shelving unit in front of the window as well and I filled it with books and stacks of scripts and… I’ve always wanted the excuse… stuffed animals. Then my partner built a frame around my desk and we hung a couple yard sale comforters. Now, my dogs hang out in the Sound Cave with me so I occasionally have to pause for their dream barking or for really low planes, but otherwise most retakes are my fault.
Fantastic! Just one note – your master bathroom would have been horrible, not great. No bathroom has the appropriate acoustics for voice over work – bathrooms are the exact opposite of deadened sound. (Even for singing, there’s no controlling the amount of reverb you’d get in there, so it’s not good for that either.) Be glad you didn’t waste any time setting up next to your bathtub.
I used to use my walk-in closet, but the lack of insulation in the floor made it rough whenever my downstairs neighbors came home. Not to mention the fact that the pipes for their bathroom ran right behind the wall of my closet. So I took my Christmas presents (A DeWalt Circular saw and DeWalt Cordless Drill), got about $100 of lumber and $100 of Roxul Mineral wool, and built myself a free standing 4′ x 4′ x 7′ room. I lined the inside with acoustic egg-crate foam for sound deading, and the Roxul does a great job for proofing. Majorly reduced the frustrations of frequent holding for sound when working a long audiobook.
It’s still not perfect – Airplanes, Helicopters, and revving engines still break into my sanctuary, but the next project is to use a denser material like sheet rock or plywood for the wall backing (currently I’m just using cardboard, because it was free).
Not for everyone, I guess, but if you like a good construction project it’s not a challenge to put this thing together.
Why the closet, of course…..David’s right. There is so much padding with the clothes, and since it’s a small walk-in I have clothes hanging from every wall, even a hanging scarf holder on the back of the door. Perfect! In addition I use a prototype small box setup lined with pyramid foam per Harland Hogan’s book. Have turned in broadcast quality from my studio :)
And remember, except for really loud noises like sirens, planes, helicopters and rattling motorcycles/trucks, the whooshing noises usually don’t translate onto the recording (depending on mic type). Just because you can hear it with your ears doesn’t mean it is on your recording. Try recording dead room noise in your “booth” during the day and then listen back (maybe later when there really is no traffic noise outside) and see for yourself.
Dan Lenard, cohost of EWABS (East West Audio Body Shop) has a remarkable product he has made from quonset hut material he found at his local army-navy surplus outlet. It can be found at:
I only wish he was selling it when I was putting my closet booth together. It sounds great with NextAcoustics foam I purchased from NextAcoustics.com. It’s a less expensive foam treatment put out by a guy who used to work for Auralex. It also looks way cooler.
Well, I’m in the closet as well. I don’t to the yearly DIY suggestion of “clean out your closet” (I kind of do the opposite). I use the $9.00 moving blankets from Harbor Freight and a thick rug on the floor, mic stand and music stand for my iPad. Done. Easy. Less than $250 set up complete. Only drawback, I don’t have my computer in with me because it’s old and the dinosaur poop remnants make it louder than I care for. So a finger snap, goofy noise or claps mark mistakes, pauses and chapter starts and stops. Primitive, but with over 50 titles and a “best narration” nomination under my belt, I’ll stick with my Flintstone closet existence.
There is a much better editing system than clapping or snapping…
Recording for ACX With Audacity – Part 1
Recording for ACX With Audacity – Part 2
Oh. And yes.
I use a sock, too, only mine is purple.
I’ve got a nicely large walk-in closet in the upstairs back corner of my house. I even added some clothes from the coat closet to increase the soundproofing. Then, I have my mic in a “Monoprice Pro Audio Desktop Adjustable Acoustic Microphone Isolation Shield” a portable semicircular foam structure that ‘sound deadens’–=I like what it does for my voice. I don’t consider this a very fancy solution and it works just fine for audiobooks. :)
When David came to deliver the AT2020USB+ I won in his contest 2 years ago and do a private consult on my recording closet, he explained to me that foam won’t keep noise from my street or neighbors out. Finally I understood, it merely prevents my voice from bouncing around in my closet. In my case I objected to the dark, ugly foam, so I hung drapes over it. Upon seeing it, David said it was the drapes, not the foam hidden underneath that was successfully dampening the sound.
My full story and photos on building a great sounding and fabulous looking booth here.