When VO Artist, Anne Ganguzza, moved to Orange County two years ago she had to adapt her home for audio recording. That led to building a professional sound booth from scratch. Nothing fancy, but great acoustics. Here’s how you can do it too.
By Anne Ganguzza, Voice-Over Artist & Founder, OC VO Peeps
When I first started my journey in this wonderful world of voice-overs, little did I realize just how important sound acoustics would be when delivering my files to clients or submitting for that crucial audition. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a client tell you that you sound like you are in a "tube" and that they cannot work with your files. And if you think sound quality is not so important for your audition files, think again. That file is the first impression you will make on a potential client! Remember you are selling your voice, not the sounds of your computer fan or the lawnmower outside!
Now, I am by no means a sound expert or a sound engineer to any degree, but I have learned some very basic principals. Experiences with my own home studio might help those of you looking to set up your own recording environment. The goal is to try and eliminate issues from parallel surfaces which reflect sound waves, as well as stopping unwanted sounds from entering your environment.
The first step is to try and find a quiet area of your home, preferably someplace where you can try to shut out extraneous sounds, e.g. the television blaring, kids screaming, etc. (You get the picture.) Once you are in this room, be aware of the things inside of it. Is the room carpeted? What type of furniture exists? Do you have windows in the room? All of these will affect how sound will travel in and around the room. More than likely you will need to add some type of sound absorption material to help you reduce and control the echo and reverberation. Sound absorption materials could be acoustic foam such as Auralex, acoustic foam, blankets, movers padding or furniture wraps, etc.
When I first moved into my new townhome, I quickly realized that it was definitely not constructed with good acoustics in mind! I first set up in my office closet and quickly realized the fact that it had all sorts of untreated surfaces that created a nasty echo in my microphone. I hung some extra carpeting to help deaden the sound, which worked OK until someone flushed the toilet upstairs! Now I am fully aware of the plumbing flow in my home! Although the carpeting worked OK, I couldn't get to anything stored in my closet without taking down the carpeting every time. Needless to say, I had to find another solution. I enlisted the help of my father, Robert Lucey, who promptly sat down and starting sketching away plans. We came up with a basic plan for a 3'8" x4' booth which sits in the corner of the office.
Now the good thing about this is that firstly, it is an isolated room enclosed in another room, which helped to eliminate a lot of the extraneous noises. And secondly, it is not a perfect square, which is helpful in deflecting some of the sounds from within the booth. The walls are insulated and covered with the carpeting that we saved from the closet, and in addition, I have sound adsorption blankets which also hang in the closet over the carpet. The floor and ceiling are also covered in carpet. The door to the booth (a mere 15" wide - which keeps me on my diet!) is made out of half of a bi-fold door bought at hone depot, and covered with 2" egg crate. There is a small cutout in the booth that gives me access to the electrical outlet right outside in my office. I even have a fiber board built in shelf in the booth to house my recording hardware!
If you want to see the step by step construction being done by my Dad and husband, Jerry, click here.
Here is an excellent article about acoustic Treatments for Voice Over Production Environments by the Voiceover Coach.
Nell known VO artist, Harlan Hogan, has a portable sound booth he designed for those of you who want to work on the go. I happen to love this solution - this will even help if you are in a pinch with your home studio until you have the resources to properly soundproof your recording area.
Suffice to say that the engineering behind sound acoustics is no simple task, and one that you could devote your life to studying. My small amount of knowledge came from lots and lots of trial and error, and the luck of having some very good sound engineering friends who were willing to critique my files every time I made a small change in my booth. There is a multitude of information on the Internet about creating a home studio and I thank all of those wonderful people out there who helped me along the way.
--Anne Ganguzza, Voice Talent
This article was originally published on the blog for OC VO Peeps and is reprinted here with permission.