Having a home studio isn't as expensive as you think it is, especially when it comes to good acoustic treatments! Gabby goes over some simple things you can be on the look for to DRASTICALLY improve the sound quality of your recording space.
Cheap DIY Soundproofing For Your Booth – 8:30
Hey guys, it’s Gabby. So I want to talk you about soundproofing. Now technically the title of this video and what I just said is really like a huge misnomer. There’s no such thing as soundproofing. Ok? That’s like NASA stuff. Really what we use in voiceover is acoustic treatment or acoustic dampening. But everybody just calls it soundproofing anyway, which is fine. If you’re just getting going, there’s a lot of confusion about equipment and probably even more so about building a room or a space in which to record your voiceovers. There are some outstanding do-it-yourself ways to get going. You can basically forego aesthetics and instead build a space to record that isn't going to look the best but is definitely going to get the job done. So I want to talk to you today about some of the alternatives and the things that you can do.
First of all understand that a studio space doesn't have to be very big. A standard regular size closet, not a walk-in, can be a suitable recording space. The smaller the space you start out with is, the less acoustic treatment you’re going to need. And the acoustic treatment is where a lot of your money comes from, so don't go too, too crazy. You can also build a modular or a portable type of setup using PVC pipe, or if you’ve got a little bit of basic carpentry skills, just some two-by-fours and not whole lot else, because really sheet rock and walls are kind of optional. You’re going to use other materials to make up that soundproof barrier.
Quite possibly the easiest and the least expensive way to go ahead and get a booth space started is with pillows. Pillows, and blankets toppers, and mattress pads, and anything that you can think of that is squishy and dense, ok, because this is what creates your sound barrier. This is how simple this is. Right now I’m talking to you and I’m speaking into an open-air space, and as soon as I put this pillow in front of me, my sound is cut, probably by half if not more, because the pillow is doing what’s supposed to do or intended to do in that situation. It’s stopping the sound, it’s absorbing it, and that’s what you want to have happen. So old pillows, blankets, couch cushions, quilts, you name it, and honestly one of my earliest voiceover booths was built by going to a Goodwill type store and buying up every single squishy, cushy type of material that they had, taking it to a Laundromat, and then placing it inside my little closet. And it can be quite effective. And so really inexpensive, and as far as how to adhere into the wall, anything you want. Liquid nail is the most permanent, but you can use Velcro. You can nail them depending on what it is. Sometimes you can just take some basic nails and tack them especially if it’s quilts or blankets and things like that.
Other thing that works really, really well is carpet padding. It’s ugly as sin, but [laughs] it really, really gets the job done because carpet padding's primary function is sound absorption. It’s sound dampening between the floors of your house. So remnants from a carpet shop can do wonders to create a really, great sound absorption process, and then you can just cover it over with a fabric or something that you like that doesn't look all hideous and speckly like the soundproofing material does. Then you get up into more professional things from there.
This is what most people know as Auralex or an Auralex type material. Now Auralex being the brand name is pretty expensive. Don't get me wrong, it’s a great product and I love it, but if you can't yet justify the expense, you don't have to. You can buy knockoff versions of this stuff from overseas that can be just as efficient, just as effective. You’re just gonna need a little bit more of it than you would if you were purchasing Auralex, but it’s very, very cheap, very economical, and its shipping is reasonable because it’s light. I mean, this stuff practically floats. It’s great. Auralex on the other hand, just a few sheets like this one, this comes in like a kit with four sheets bass trap that runs like $100, and it doesn't get you very far in terms of coverage. But sometimes what you can do is use sort of a combination. If you’re doing the DIY method, and maybe you invest just a few hundred dollars into some Auralex, and use that to spot treat over your DIY sound treatment.
So if you have basic carpentry skills, and you’re not afraid of a couple of power tools, you can up the ante and create what are known as baffles. So baffles, the name is kind of funny because what it’s related to is the baffling or the confusing of sound. A baffle can be made of any number of materials, and basically what you’re talking about is a basic wooden picture frame. These were made using two-by-ones, and taking a dense, sound dampening material as the guts, and then wrapping it in a fabric layer that just kind of holds it all together. And in this case it was just staple gunned right down the side, no big deal. The guts of this particular piece are actually old cubicle walls.
So you can find this stuff in droves at recycled furniture centers and any time an office building is renovating, and they’re getting rid of their old cube farm, it’s really, really common. And a lot of this stuff heads for dumpsters at big companies. So keep your eyes out, do a little bit of research. You don't need the frame. The metal frame that the cubical walls come in is actually really, really heavy and clunky and not at all what you want to have happen. Instead what you want to focus on is the squishy, foamy middle [laughs] that makes up its guts and the fabric outer layer, and then you can take them home and kind of reconstruct them. This was also reinforced with Auralex, but here’s the benefit of baffling. This piece overall is very lightweight and can be attached to the walls in the room that your studio sits in. So outside of the closet, just around the space, to add an additional sound layer, an additional barrier for the kinds of situations we all encounter when we record from home, you know, the neighbor’s dog barking, maybe a little bit of noise from traffic or from streetside. It helps tremendously to have baffles in and around your space. You can make them with a variety of materials too. Cube walls is just one option. You can literally stuff them full of pillows. You can make them using mattress toppers. Again quilts, fabric of darn near any kind will also get the job done.
Eventually you get to the point of moving up to being able to afford actual acoustic treatment, and the stuff gets pricey. Currently in my primary booth right now, there’s about $2000 worth of that material in and around the walls, but it’s what gives me the sound that I have every day, and the sound that my clients come back for time and time again. You can move into things like studio bricks. There are other modular companies out there that you can purchase from where you can basically create a booth customized to your space. The cost varies, but don't expect it to be cheap. Those things are going to be expensive, but you build your way up to that. It’s not something you have to worry about right this minute. For now shop smart, keep your budget limited, make sure that you are DIYing, and go get yourself a bunch of squishy, foamy stuff. Make a booth.
Hey guys, thanks for watching. If you want more advice from me, please go to my website, GabrielleNistico.com, or you can subscribe for my monthly videos. And if you want to see some more, here's a couple to take a look at.
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