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To build a recording booth or not...

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Tom Galli
To build a recording booth or not...
on Feb 26, 2016 at 1:22:22 am

Aloha all!

Beginning in August, we're going to launch a daily poetry segment on our college radio station. As such, we expect to be doing a fairly consistent business in audio recordings.

I've got a space. There's a long, rectangular room attached to my computer lab. At some point in the building's history, it was a restroom. The room is about 5'6" wide and 9' deep, with a raised concrete floor for the last almost 4' where the toilet used to sit. I've got an audio workstation on a narrow table on the lower part of the floor, but have been thinking about configuring that 5'6" x 4' raised area as a recording booth of some form.

The long side of the room is on an exterior wall of the building, which is over 2' thick concrete. There is a single window with double-paned glass. The floor is carpeted concrete. The skinny wall that would have been behind the toilet is 2x4 and drywall, fronting a hallway. The other long side separates it from my office. The remaining short side has the door to the computer lab. The ceiling is drop-tile, and above us is a classroom.

All in all, the sound isolation in there isn't too shabby, but it is a far cry from soundproof. The walls are all flat, hard, and parallel, so reflection is noticeable.

Now, I could get some foam and cover the three walls of the "stage," add some foam to the ceiling, and maybe use a curtain rod to drape a heavy piece of material as a "door". Little effort, little expense, and some return.

Or, I could build a little free-standing room, just using 2x2 for a frame and 1/8" paneling, then foaming the interior of that. Build it with its own ceiling and an actual door. A bit more expense, a lot more effort. Would the improved sound isolation be worth it?

Mahalo,
TOm G

The difference between theory and reality is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and reality.


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Ty Ford
Re: To build a recording booth or not...
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:49:46 am

Hello Tom and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You did a great job of explaining your situation.

A lot depends on, how sticky you are for details and little sounds.

If nothing's outside the window making noise, that great. If not then you need to think about covering that window with a built out frame with more glass to provide a dead space that will hopefully be enough to knock down the exterior noise.

Or create your booth in a space that doesn't look out the window,.

All foam makes for a very foamy sound...sproingy, especially with loud voices our loud moments, because the voices will be exciting the foam. A balance of foam and diffusion works best. The glass shouldn't be too big because it's just a large reflective surface.

The skinny side with the wall between the room and the hallway; is it carpeted? Hard soles shoe sound will likely transfer right under the wall and into your space.

5'6' x 4' is not a bad size. You will also probably want to look into re directing the HVAC in that space. If you don't and anyone is in there for any length of time, it'll get hot and stuffy. Small ducts increase the noise of air moving though ducts. That's bad. I don't know what your HVAC noise situation is right now but that's something else to think about.

There's another approach; use a frame upon which to hang sound blankets that surround the talent, including something to block the ceiling bounce and don't forget to put a light in there so they can see to read.

How noisy is your computer? Present day machines can be pretty quiet. Unless yours is, a good mic will pick up that noise.

Regards,

Ty For
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Tom Galli
Re: To build a recording booth or not...
on Feb 26, 2016 at 4:30:14 am

Unfortunately, outside the window is the compressor for the split system A/C that cools my office. Beyond that is the smoking area; beyond that, parking and an access road. But that double-pane window really does block a LOT of noise. Also, only about 4" of it overlaps onto the toilet area, so the amount of window that needs to be blocked by the booth is small.

I was mistaken about the skinny wall; it's actually concrete. On the other side of it is a staircase leading to into the building. There are double steel doors there, it is a primary point of access to our floor.

As far as HVAC, the closet itself is lacking. We have a small fan above the door that pulls air from the computer lab. According to official plans, the area is classified as a closet, so it doesn't merit oxygen. :(

The equipment doesn't generate much noise, but it's not 100% silent. Neither is the fluorescent lighting.

The sound blankets are something I hadn't considered, and would certainly be easy to do! Do you have a particular brand/material in mind?

As far as how much tolerance I have for little sounds, I'm looking for the ability to record something that sounds clean and professional. I'm not afraid to use Audition to remove room tone, but I am lazy enough that I'd rather not have to bother! Plus, the easier the process is, the more successfully I can train students to manage it.

The difference between theory and reality is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and reality.


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Ty Ford
Re: To build a recording booth or not...
on Feb 26, 2016 at 2:46:32 pm

not all HVAC splits are loud

the block wall won't necessarily stop high heel foot traffic.

Get blankets with grommets so you can hang them properly. The denser and thicker the blanket, the better the protection.

Check the size and the weight to determine that.

Here's a good place to start: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/140104-REG/Matthews_329040_1_Sound_Bl...

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Richard Crowley
Re: To build a recording booth or not...
on Mar 8, 2016 at 4:40:21 pm

Be sure to use absorbent materials (foam, blankets, etc.) which are FLAME RETARDANT! Else you are building a crematorium if there is a fire.

Remember that the closer you get the microphone to the subject's mouth, the better your SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) i.e. proximity greatly increases the amount of speech sounds the microphone picks up, and that makes any ambient sounds MUCH lower by comparison.

That is why you see sports commentators wearing those big headphones with a boom mic right at the corner of their mouth. The headphones let them hear themselves and each other while blocking much of the acoustic noise from the crowd, etc. And the microphone is VERY close to their mouth which gets them a nice "hot" signal from the mouth to overcome the ambient noise.

I would strongly consider using a "headset" type microphone which puts the tip of the mic tube right at the corner of the mouth.


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