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Old June 11th, 2014, 12:09 PM   #1
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Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Hi all,

Due to some home improvements, I am losing the quiet room I was using for recording voice-overs. What I am looking for is ideas to help avoid extraneous noise and keep echo to a minimum.

I know regular noise like fridges and computer fans can be removed quite successfully using audio suites like Audacity, but not so irregular noises like bangs, passing vehicles or aircraft noise.

I have tried close mikeing with low gain and it's quite effective at reducing the extraneous noise, but not good enough and not effective for echo or loud noises.

A sound proof recording studio would be ideal but hey, I'm an amateur! I can't sit in the car, I don't have one during the day. Anything I use would need to be able to be packed away when not in use.

Dave
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Old June 11th, 2014, 12:22 PM   #2
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

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Originally Posted by Dave Baker View Post
I know regular noise like fridges and computer fans can be removed quite successfully using audio suites like Audacity,
I strongly disagree with this theory. Firstly, unless you spend an obscene amount of $$$$ on premium software, the "noise reduction" function of most ordinary consumer software causes significant trauma to the remaining audio and renders it sub-par for even decent amateur recording.

Second, reducing these kinds of steady-state noises should be within reasonable reach of even temporary, amateur setups.

Quote:
but not so irregular noises like bangs, passing vehicles or aircraft noise.
Many people wait until the middle of the night or very early morning hours when the neighborhood is quietest.

Quote:
I have tried close mikeing with low gain and it's quite effective at reducing the extraneous noise, but not good enough and not effective for echo or loud noises.
A sound proof recording studio would be ideal but hey, I'm an amateur! I can't sit in the car, I don't have one during the day. Anything I use would need to be able to be packed away when not in use.
You don't mention the frequency or length of your recording sessions. Some people who need to do even broadcast-quality voice-overs in hotel rooms, etc. find it useful to use bedding materials and/or go into the clothes closet with lots of sound-absorbing materials hanging around at close range.

Also, as you say, using a headset type microphone (or any technique that gets the microphone a very few inches away from your mouth) greatly improves the SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) where "noise" includes both random sounds (traffic, gunshots, etc.) as well as ambient acoustic problems like near reflections, etc.
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Old June 11th, 2014, 12:59 PM   #3
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

I agree with Richard: the sorts of filtering and affecting you are talking about should be only used for emergencies and not as an anticipated part of your everyday setup.

Intelligible voiceover audio is (to me) the single most important part of a narrated video. I've actually outsourced nearly all of my voiceovers to a trusted professional colleague to record now that I've heard the difference. I USED to record my own v/o talent in my live-work space after hanging some sound-deadening materials and once I heard the difference that the right room with the right acoustics and a superb operator brought to the production, I started adding his fees to my budget proposals.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old June 11th, 2014, 01:26 PM   #4
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

I concur, noise reduction should not used as part of the 'recording chain'.

"I have tried close mikeing with low gain"
- Close mic'ing is common and generally a good practice, however reducing the gain 'seemingly' lowers the noise, (along with the good sound) but actually make things worse. The recording will be at a reduced resolution and has to be brought back up later.. which now includes more system noise from post gain make-up as well as the low resolution audio
They are many low cost ways to lower extraneous noise w/o resorting to artifact generating noise reduction..
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Old June 11th, 2014, 01:58 PM   #5
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Closets full of clothes can be great, as Richard wrote.

Lots of other tricks for this, like:
Auralex MudGuard Microphone Isolation Shield MUDGUARD B&H Photo

But all this is for controlling reverberation. You absolutely need isolation from external noise. As others noted, post noise reduction is for fixes to location sound, not VO, because it adds artifacts and detracts from those nice qualities we're trying to get.
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Old June 11th, 2014, 07:05 PM   #6
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Build a $21 Portable Vocal Booth - O'Reilly Digital Media Blog
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Old June 11th, 2014, 09:31 PM   #7
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

I built myself a small enclosure for my NT2-A using acoustic foam and plywood. Check this thread: Tips for voice over recording

It works well at eliminating external noise. I find that male voices get a bit "boomy" (for lack of a better word) but a bit of tweaking in post cleans it up nicely. I've been told the mic has some frequency cut-off settings that may help also, but I haven't experimented yet.
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Old June 11th, 2014, 09:48 PM   #8
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Mic type can also be a big factor when you close mic. Directional mics close up can give you a VOG ("Voice Of God") by boosting lower frequencies due to proximity effect. If you want to sound authoritative you might like it. But it might also sound "boomy" to some.
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Old June 12th, 2014, 01:30 AM   #9
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Thank you all for your input, there is a lot of information I need to digest.

I like the idea of the mini booth, I will have a look around and see what materials are available this side of the pond.

These recording sessions are quite short, an hour, maybe two until I get it right and infrequent, once or twice a year, so maybe the middle of the night is do-able.

I have yet to try noise removal, I'd prefer not to use it, but if I do it will be as a last resort.

Dave
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Old June 12th, 2014, 11:06 AM   #10
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

For news voice overs we used to record inside a car, it works pretty well.
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Old June 12th, 2014, 11:51 AM   #11
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Thanks Brian,

If I record in the middle of the night, that is possible as well.

Dave
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Old June 12th, 2014, 06:05 PM   #12
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

For post ADR, I built a 5 ft by 5ft frame from PVC pipe, and had my wife sew moving blankets purchased from Harbor Freight to create a tent with flap door. I can set it up in my living room, and hang a mic and run a monitor into the tent and repeat the shot over and over again in Vegas to allow the actor several shots at synching. Using a Rode M3 mic, I can get pretty decent isolation.
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Old June 13th, 2014, 02:24 AM   #13
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Hey Chris,

That's an excellent idea. I guess I was being a little pretentious in asking for ideas for a studio, but that's pretty much what you have provided. Thanks.

Now it's decision time.

Dave
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Old June 13th, 2014, 06:28 AM   #14
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Hey Dave

All you really need as already mentioned is a booth and not an entire studio (which would be great of course) ...A simple DIY booth made from MDF board (cheaper than plywood) and on a work light stand worked well for me. My secret was to glue egg boxes inside the panels on all sides...the ones that hold 30 eggs are the nicest and the shape kills just about all noise. I bought some from a packaging company as I wasn't going to try and eat 500 eggs in one sitting. Great sound deadening material and light too!!

Chris
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Old June 13th, 2014, 07:54 AM   #15
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Re: Ideas for an inexpensive home voice-over studio?

Hi Chris,

I hadn't thought of egg boxes. I am going to start with a cardboard box (free) and some best quality carpet offcuts which we are about to chuck out (so also free), working up from there. Sadly I will have to buy some adhesive!

One thing is for sure, nothing I do will stop the noise of those F15s from RAF Lakenheath!

Dave
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