Hacking together a studio in your home

Look, we’re all stuck at home unable to go to an office, a venue, or a studio.  But business, networking and interviews must go on. 

The need for people and brands to produce a high quality podcast has skyrocketed, but the challenges to do so have too. 

High quality audio starts with the room and mic. Today I’ll share some hacks on turning a spot in your home into a popup studio.

Here are the things that make a sound studio sound great. 

Sound’s absorbed and diffused:

In a sound studio you’ll notice how your voice reacts is very different than in normal rooms.  In a studio the sound dies where it is, it doesn’t travel or bounce around in the form of an echo.  Room echoes cause many of the recording audio issues.  To avoid this in a studio, sound’s diffused and absorbed throughout the room by pads, foam and blankets.  The whole point of this is to remove any room noise from entering each mic.  So that the mics only pick up the voice talking into it. 

Mics are cardioid and directional:

Most bluetooth, laptop and phone standard mics are omnidirectional microphones.   Which means they pick up sound with equal gain from all sides or directions of the microphone.  So an echo will be at the same gain level as your voice.  Whether a user speaks into the microphone from the front, back, left or right side, the microphone will record the signals all with equal gain.  This becomes problematic, because you can’t remove echoes since they are at the same audio level as your voice 

Studio mics, are usually cardioid microphones, which are microphones that pick up sounds with high gain from the front and sides but poorly from the rear. This is important for a few reasons, because the guest and host are usually facing each other. Since cardioid mics are poor at picking up sounds from behind it, and most room noise’s absorbed and diffused. Each mic separates the tracks from each person and any room noise is not picked up or removed in post-production.  What you get is a crisp sound from each person, from each mic. 

Equipment’s meant to measures decibel levels:

In a studio there’s equipment to measure decibel levels, mixers and other sound measuring tools.  It’s important to get the audio levels right because if they’re too low it’ll sound like audio from a clock radio.  Too high and the voices will crackle.   

Most homes don’t have this setup and equipment available, because it’s expensive. 

Here are some hacks to replicate this without a huge investment.

Absorbing sound:

Here’s a post I wrote on removing room echoes. Here are some points from that post.

How to reduce echoes in your room with everyday items:

    • Shut your window shades.
    • Avoid rooms with wood or tile floors, if you can’t put a rug or a fabric mat underneath you.
    • Cover any hard objects such as counter tops or desks with a blanket or a towel. 
    • Make sure all doors are shut and a heavy towel is placed on the floor between the door and floor.
    • Soft fabric furniture is good such as couches or beds at absorbing echoes. 
    • Place pillows or soft bags in each corner of the room.  
    • Place towels or moving blankets on the wall directly behind you by hanging them on the back of a few chairs.  

Purchase a directional cardioid mic:

This is the one I use.  It’s better than many of the mics at twice it’s price.

Measure decibel levels with software:

I wrote a post on free software I use to measure mic levels directly from each mic.  

Here’s the free chrome extension software I use.  

Do these three things and you will improve your recorded audio levels 10 fold.  

We’re here to help.  

Learn more about the ListenDeck audio production system.