So there you are, struggling to figure out a place to record, a place to set up your first studio!
Try this: keep it simple. If you have a carpeted walk-in closet, golden! Is it full of clothes? PERFECT. Leave them there. Don’t empty the closet!
Your clothes will absorb sounds bouncing around and save you a ton of money that you’d otherwise spend on foam or acoustic panels.
Look for ways to break up whatever space you’re considering. Can you improvise a moving blanket hung like a curtain? Can you create a space where you can stand or sit and spread your arms out but isn’t so large sound bounces? Can you create a space with no right angles, no square corners?
Now put mic in there. Test your room tone (AKA “noise floor.”) (My what?) Hit record, talk. Try to get your “gain” (volume on your mic) so your talking comes in AROUND -4 to -6 dB. (Somewhere on your recording app or DAWS—digital audio work station—you can see a measurement of decibels (dB) for the sound that plays.)
Note I emphasize the word “around,” as in “about,” “more or less.” Got that set. OK—now, stop recording. Open a new file and hit record again. This time, leave the room, and let the mic record the sound of the space without you in it for 30 seconds or so.
Then come back in, stop the recording. Edit away the sounds of you coming and going. Now play that part of the audio audio when you were gone. That’s your room tone or noise floor. Make sure other noises aren’t in that piece of audio—the garbage truck, your toilet flushing, the neighbor’s dog, a quiet cough.
What’s the volume of your room tone in decibels? If it’s below -55 dB you’re probably OK for commercials. For audiobooks and elearning, you’ll need to be below -60 dB.
Not there? Call in a professional audio engineer. We know two right here in Las Vegas: John McClain and Jesse Estrada. They make house calls. And there are options online, too.
But, what if you don’t have a closet? What about a portable fabric recording box? There are several on the market. The whole point is to keep your mic from hearing anything but you. And we want the mic to hear you just once, not repeatedly, bouncing off hard surfaces.
Think simple. Use what you’ve already got readily at hand. Call in experts to finish the job. And once your sound meets basic specs, go to work in the space that works for you