Thursday, February 13, 2014
Noises in the Studio
After several years of makeshift home recording solutions, I finally spent a summer, about 4 years ago, creating my current recording space. I found a place in the lower level sometimes called a basement. Our home has as much living space in the basement level as there is above ground. So, there's a family room, a workshop for my “home improvement” tools, a storage room, office, full bath and a 6 x 8 space that I converted into a home voiceover studio. I bought the half inch thick sheet rock, and layered them with Green Glue (r) in between. I treated the room acoustically and added the necessary lighting. Since the space faces a foundation wall I don't get any outside noise, except for the weekly trash hauler truck with the faulty muffler whose vibration resonates through the earth. The draw-back to this space is that it is near the main heating/air conditioning plant and the water heater which have to be dealt with come recording time. The room has a nice tone for recording. I'm happy with the results.
Like most people doing their voiceover work from home, I also need to come up with solutions to common problems. So here are my problems and how I deal with them:
1. HVAC – I have a forced air system that supplies heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. It happens to be on the other side of the wall of my voiceover booth. It was unavoidable. The layered sheet rock blocks out most of its noise but if the HVAC is running my noise floor rises to about -45 db, not acceptable in my book. So I either warm up the house to a higher higher temperature than normal or cool it to a lower than normal temp before I start a recording session. Then I simply shut the system down (on/off switch) for the next hour to hour and a half. I record for that period then turn the system back on and use the next hour to edit my work. The house stays relatively warm or cool during that period until I re-energize the system. It works pretty well.
2. Water Heater – It's located in the same space as the HVAC. The water heater runs on natural gas. So, when it's heating water it sounds like the exhaust of a rocket ship. This is not good. The water heater has a thermostat dial on the front. If I am impatient and don't want to wait for the cycle to finish, I simply adjust the dial to a lower temp to shut it down. I have to remember to turn it back up after the session so no one gets a cold shower later.
3. Washer & Dryer - Both of these appliances are on the upper level and at the far end of the house, as is the refrigerator. The only appliance noise from upstairs that I have to deal with is a faint low frequency groan of the dryer that vibrates through the floor above when it's running. The simple solution - we do laundry when I'm not recording.
5. Noisy Clothing – I learned very early on that nylon wind pants are a no-no in a voiceover studio. As a matter of fact anything nylon seems to make a noise that is simply unacceptable. So I keep the the clothing to functional soft cotton fabrics. Fleece, cotton t-shirts and well broken-in blue jeans work best for me. I suppose cotton pajamas will work too. Hmmmmm.....I don't have any of those (ha ha).