Thursday, July 8, 2010

Acoustic Treatment and Sound Proofing

Setting up your professional voice over home recording studio can feel like an impossible feat. Nearly every single house has at least one unique challenge: from noise up/downstairs to cars driving by, air conditioner vents to plumbing sounds, not to mention the ordinary conundrum of how and where to set up.

As you do your research, you'll hear two terms pop up quite frequently: acoustic treatment and sound proofing. What does this mean?

Acoustic treatment is used to:

1) To prevent standing waves and acoustic interference from affecting the sound of the recording studio;

2) To reduce the "echo" sound in small rooms and to lower the reverb time in larger studios, churches, and auditoriums;

3) To absorb or diffuse sound in the room to avoid ringing and flutter echoes, and improve stereo imaging; and,

4) To keep sound from leaking into or out of a room. Meaning, keep your voice over jobs inside the booth, and keep the passing trucks outside your studio!

The acoustics of your home recording studio will affect both your recording and the sound going in and out of your studio. Despite all your voice over training, there is no way to make a bad recording sound great in post production if the acoustics aren't up to par.

If you need help sound proofing your home recording studio, you should know that there are only three things that effectively stop noise:

1. Space -- a commodity that most voice-over actors don't have a lot of! Simply put, the further away you are from the source of a sound, the softer you'll perceive the sound to be.

2. Mass -- a solid thick wall of concrete that is six feet deep will stop just about all sounds! Again, that's not something that is realistic for most people's home recording studios, but it is certainly something to think about when you are looking potential rooms as a recording studio.

3. Dampening -- a way to absorb the noise by stopping the reverberation and reflections. Voice-over artist can effectively reduce noise by using household items, such as carpets, blankets, sleeping bags, and mattresses. Check out how professional voice-over artists record on the road!

One challenge of becoming a professional voice actor is figuring out the home recording studio. Don't let this task daunt you! Figuring out your studio is a learning process of trial and error, but the payoff of getting your professional studio up and running is well worth your efforts!


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  2. Wonderful article on soundproofing. I agree with you. The main elements to sound isolation are mass, damping, absorption, decoupling and sealing. The other most important aspect is to completely reduce and eliminate the level of noise in the room is by sealing all areas where noise may enter with seal or sound proof windows and doors. We can also use soundproofing drywall like Quietrock which has more mass and damping capabilities and provides a higher STC.

  3. Thanks for the comment! Have you had any challenges to sound proofing outside noise, etc? Any creative solutions?