One of the best things about voice over is the option to work from home. If done right, you can build your workplace in the living room, bedroom, or a walking closet. The point is, you don’t need to own or rent a studio.
So in this article, we will look at cheap and not so cheap options of how you can record better sounding audio from home.
Choosing a room
To get the best acoustics, you will have to choose the room wisely. Easy if you live in a one-room apartment.
If you live in a multi-room apartment/house, then look for a room furnished with soft furniture. Couch, beds, carpet, soft armchairs will absorb a lot of the sound, which means less sound bouncing off the walls and ceiling back into your microphone.
Sometimes, a walking closet could be your best bet if you own one. They are usually tiny, so it is easy to treat them acoustically, and you probably already have a lot of clothes in it which absorb sound.
The kitchen is usually the worst place to set up your recording as it often has a lot of hard and reflective surfaces, so if possible, avoid the kitchen. Not too mention that fridges often cause a lot of noise.
Also, when choosing the room, consider the shape of it. Irregular diagonal walls will do better than square-shaper rooms. Irregular shapes will help to avoid static waves, which cause major audio interference problems.
Choosing the right microphone is very important. If possible get an XLR microphone, it will give you better quality audio and you will be able to record with multiple microphones at the same time if needed.
Besides that, for a home environment, I suggest picking up a dynamic microphone instead of a condenser. Dynamic microphones will pick-up less sound from afar which is very useful when recording in a not so perfect environment.
Condenser microphones while superior in a studio environment, are very prone to picking up every sound around and that includes noise. Hence, for a home environment, dynamic microphone will most likely do better.
Here is another article that will help you immensely when choosing the right microphone.
One of the easier and more practical ways to improve room acoustics is by adding some carpeting. Look for heavier fabric, the thicker the better. You can get a nice fluffy one. The one in the picture is perfect and will trap sound well.
Any sound that is bouncing against the ceiling and then goes to the floor will be absorbed, meaning less echo coming into your microphone.
If you live in an apartment, your neighbors will also be happy as it dampens the sound of your steps.
Acoustic panels are effective, even cheap 1-inch acoustic foam panels will greatly reduce echo in your room. The thicker the better, but for starters, 1-inch foam is alright and won’t cost a ton.
You can check this video where it compares ‘no acoustic treatment’ vs ‘1-inch foam’ vs ‘pro panels’ to see what is the difference and what you can expect with each product.
You can hear a significant difference when comparing ‘No acoustic treatment’ vs ‘1-inch acoustic foam’. The ‘pro panels’ also give significantly less echo than 1-inch foam, but considering it comes at an inadequately higher price, the 1-inch foam solution seems to provide better value.
How much will it cost?
The cost depends on room size and ceiling height a lot, but I will give some estimations so you can roughly understand the pricing.
We are leaving some gaps between the panels to save up some costs, plus usually, people have windows and doors, so we are covering only about 50% of the walls. We are also assuming the ceiling is at 10ft (3m) height, which is slightly higher than a standard.
Adhesives or commando strips will add about another $10 to the total cost and I am not including shipping costs.
The pro panels here are not the same as the ones in the video. These are cheaper and better value in my opinion.
Small room 10x10ft – 14x14ft (3x3m – 4x4m)
1-inch foam – $400 – $560
2-inch foam – $600 – $780
2-inch pro panels – $700 – $980
Average room 14x14ft – 20-20ft (4x4m – 6x6m)
1-inch foam – $560 – $800
2-inch foam – $780 – $1000
2-inch pro panels – $980 – $1400
Large room 20x20ft – 25x25ft (6x6m – 8x8m)
1-inch foam – $800 – $1000
2-inch foam – $1000 – $1250
2-inch pro panels – $1400 – $1750
Microphone placement is important when avoiding plosives. You might be using a pop-filter to avoid plosives, but they are not going to eliminate all of them.
To get the best results considering placing the microphone away from your mouth. The principle here is that when you are talking, the air coming out of your mouth shouldn’t be hitting the microphone, that’s what actually causes plosives.
Hence, you want the microphone to point to your mouth, but not face it directly.
If you have big windows that take up a lot of the wall space, acquiring sound-absorbing curtains could be a game-changer.
Daytime curtains are usually quite thin and lightweight so they won’t work too well. You will need to be looking for specialized curtains made for sound, that is coming from outside, dampening as well as echo reduction.
Have you checked out vocal booths, but then realized they are way out of your price range. It happened to me as well.
But there is a much cheaper solution, that will give you comparable results for a significantly smaller cost. You can probably fit in $100 to get it done if you already own some blankets/quilts you can use.
Here is a video on how you can get it done