Home studios are a convenient and cost-effective way to record voiceover recordings.
In today’s day and age, most professional voice actors record at the convenience of their homes.
It’s not that commercial studios are obsolete, but they are used far less frequently than home studios.
At the same time, it’s vital to fully soundproof your home studio in order to recreate the same recording quality that you would expect from a professional recording environment.
In this article, we’ll go over the key steps you need to follow to soundproof a home recording studio.
Many people confuse soundproofing with acoustic treatment.
While you’ll need to deal with both when building your home studio, let’s explain the difference:
With the right equipment and layout, you’ll be surprised at how much you can improve the audio quality in your home recording studio.
That being said, you can’t create an ideal recording studio if you start with a room that isn’t up to the task.
First, make sure to pick an area of your home that is insulated from kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and any other rooms that could end up being noisy.
Similarly, you should try to avoid rooms with windows, especially windows that face the street (or your loud neighbors).
Of course, it isn’t always easy to find a space that is free of both internal and external noises.
Even if there’s no perfect location, you should look for the part of your home that has the lowest amount of noise and is easy for you to use to create recordings.
No matter what room you pick, you should expect the door and windows to create the biggest problems with respect to soundproofing.
You won’t be able to get good soundproofing without minimizing the impact of noise entering from outside.
First, consider if there are any glass doors in the room you’re planning to use.
While you can work around glass, it can make the soundproofing process more costly than it would be in a room with more solid doors.
If you do opt for a glass door, make sure it’s double-paned and has an STC (Sound Transmission Value) of 50+ at the very least.
Similarly, you’ll want to use a room with doors that go as close to the ground as possible — even a small gap will have a negative impact on sound quality.
If there’s a gap that’s causing noise issues, you can address the issue by installing a door sweep to act as a barrier between your studio and the rest of your home.
Along with doors, windows are another area that can lead to complications with soundproofing.
This is especially relevant for windows that face the street, particularly if you live in a busy area.
Fortunately, you can remove a lot of ambient noise with the right equipment.
Soundproof windows are the most effective tool when it comes to minimizing interference from the windows in your studio.
The specific characteristics vary from one provider or model to another, but soundproof windows typically “surround” the primary window with an extra pane on both the inside and outside.
One key aspect of soundproof windows is that one of the panes is angled in order to prevent unnecessary reverberation.
General providers like Home Depot may not be able to cater to the specific needs of soundproofing, so you’ll most likely be better off with a specialty provider that has experience with soundproof windows.
Doors and windows are responsible for the lion’s share of noise interference, but sound can also bleed through your walls.
This is especially frustrating for people who live in apartments that share walls with other tenants.
Fortunately, you can block out most of these sounds with insulation.
Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) is the most effective way to insulate your walls for sound.
MLV is a vinyl-based barrier that blocks a significant amount of noise despite its relatively thin frame.
It can be installed on walls as well as ceilings and doors.
You also have the option to add a second layer of drywall on top of the original.
Use a thicker sheet of drywall such as ⅝” in order to maximize the soundproofing effect.
We also recommend placing a soundproof substance like green glue between the two drywall layers.
Check out the video below to get more soundproofing ideas for your walls.
Naturally, the three tips above assume that you’re working in a basic room in your home.
That solution makes sense for many enthusiasts and professionals, but you should also be aware of the benefits of a dedicated isolation booth.
Isolation booths are pre-built structures that offer high-quality soundproofing and acoustics in a small space.
As with soundproof windows and other types of acoustic equipment, isolation booths come in different shapes and sizes.
Shown below, the StudioBricks isolation booth is only slightly larger than a phonebooth, and it comes with a sleek, professional design.
With an isolation booth, you won’t have to worry as much about soundproofing or treating the room itself.
As long as you have enough physical space to fit the booth, you’ll be able to start recording as soon as you get it.
At the same time, this option also comes with some clear downsides.
First, you’ll have to find a place to fit the physical booth.
It could be the size of a large refrigerator, and you will need to store it somewhere even when you’re not recording.
On the other hand, your recording space will also be determined by the size of the booth.
With a soundproof studio, you’ll be able to use the entire room. If your only recording area is a small booth, you’ll have to fit all of your equipment into that limited space.
Ultimately, the best way to set up your recording space depends on many different factors such as your budget, level of ambient noise, and the amount of available space in your home.
If you want to be (or you already are) a professional voiceover artist, you can’t afford to have background noises appearing in your recordings.
With that in mind, soundproofing is an absolutely critical process for anyone who’s interested in advancing in this industry.
Still, soundproofing is just one of many tasks you need to complete in order to optimize a home recording environment.
Even if there isn’t any interference from background noises, there are a variety of other acoustic issues that could have a negative impact on the finished product.
While soundproofing and acoustic treatment should be your number 1 concern when building your home studio, you’ll want to invest in the right equipment to get high-quality audio recordings.
While you can start out with entry-level gear to save money, you’ll need to upgrade to high-quality recording equipment if you’re serious about succeeding as a voice actor.
Of course, the first thing you should think about is your microphone.
Some voice actors rely on USB mics as a budget option, but mics with XLR connectors are better for professional use.
Depending on quality and whether you opt for a used or new model, you can expect to spend anywhere from one or two hundred dollars to $1,000 or more on a professional microphone.
Software is nearly as important as hardware when it comes to maximizing the quality of your voice over recordings.
Audio recording programs, called digital audio workspaces (DAWs), streamline various aspects of recording such as editing tracks, removing background noise and other unwanted sounds, and connecting different audio sources.
The right voice over software for you depends on a number of different factors including the features you need, how much you’re willing to spend, and which programs are used by your clients.
Check out our list of the best voice over software for 2022 if you’re looking for more information.
While noise filter plugins are a popular method of minimizing unwanted noise, you should be very careful about how you use these tools.
Even if they successfully remove some noises, when overused, they add unnatural artifacts that negatively affect the quality of the recording.
Soundproofing and acoustic treatment should always be your primary tools, with software only used to fill in the gaps.
Keeping external sounds out isn’t the only thing to worry about when prepping a room for recordings.
The internal acoustics of a room have a dramatic effect on the way sounds resonate inside.
Even after soundproofing your space, you still need to optimize the acoustics of the room itself.
For example, rooms that are small, symmetrical, or have lower ceilings are more likely to lead to issues with acoustics.
Keep in mind that hard, smooth surfaces tend to reflect sounds much more strongly compared to soft, textured surfaces such as carpets and rugs.
Furniture as well as household items like lamps, TVs, and computers can also have a distinct effect on a room’s acoustics.
Nowadays, you can buy absorption panels and diffusers at relatively affordable prices in order to minimize acoustic reflection.
Absorption panels are built with specific materials and different densities to absorb mid to high frequencies and minimize sound reflections from the room’s walls.
Diffusers are used to prevent sound waves from building up in certain areas and disperse them throughout the room to provide a wide sense of openness to a room.
Bass traps are extremely important when it comes to improving the acoustics – especially in smaller rooms.
Low-frequency sound waves have different properties than higher-frequency waveforms, and conventional absorption panels won’t be as effective for lower ranges.
Given their higher energy and longer waveform, they require absorption panels with a much higher density.
Strategically-located bass traps help prevent low-frequency build up and help acquire a more balanced sound.
Setting up your first home studio is a major step, and it can feel overwhelming if you don’t have much experience.
Fortunately, modern equipment has streamlined this process more than ever before.
In 2022, you can create professional recordings at home with a relatively small investment of both time and money.
With these tips, you’re ready to build a home studio that fits your needs and allows you to pursue your career as a voiceover artist.
If you’re looking to hire a professional voice actor with the ability to produce broadcast-quality audio recordings, don’t hesitate to visit our website and take a listen to our fully-vetted, professional voice talent.