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Setting Up Your Voice Over Vocal Booth - We All Want One

Jun 01, 2020

There’s a point in every voice over journey when we’ll need to move from one recording space to another space and the reasons are endless…

The noisy neighbours, a better suburb, a different town or city, a new daytime job, the variables go on and on, but sure enough, at some point you’ll need to create a recording space, whether it be a permanent arrangement or just a solution in a hotel for the weekend…

If I was to ask you what was the most important aspect of the quality of your voiceover recordings, what would your answer be? 

  • Your Microphone?
  • Perhaps it’s your audio chain and the way it’s configured?
  • Your DAW? (Digital audio workstation)
  • Interface?

Let me preface my next statement with a big, fat, resounding NO!

Listen closely: The most important aspect to the quality of your recording is:

Your recording space!

Your recording space needs to be:

  • Quiet
  • Free of reverb or echo…
  • Free of refraction
  • Treated 

So, let's go through what’s required:

Quiet is probably the easiest aspect of audio quality to understand, as any space you work in when recording your voiceovers needs to be a quiet space, free of distraction and ambient noise. No trains, trucks, lawn mowers, air conditioners, motorbikes etc etc and the easiest way to fix this issue, is to find as quiet a spot as possible…

Don’t worry, if you can still hear some noise, we can deal with any residual sounds with plug ins or gates and filters… We’ll get to audio tools later in this article.

No Reverb or Echo:

So, now to Reverb and Echo and it’s major causes… the major culprit is:

Flat shiny surfaces… Walls, Glass, table tops, desks, filing cabinets and anything ‘hard’ in your environment that will bounce sound around your room… 

Wall configuration, size of your recording space, geometric layout, and the list goes on and on. 

Free of Refraction: 

As with our mortal enemies Reverb and Echo and their major causes… once again, the shape of the room and flat shiny surfaces all have their respective impacts on the refraction in a room…

A Treated Space - The Clap test:

Q: An easy way to pick up echo or refraction in a room?

A: Clap your hands!

No seriously! You’ll be amazed at the difference if you clap your hands in an untreated space and then clap again in a space you’ve treated…

Your ‘clap’ will have a muffled characteristic to it because the sound has nothing to bounce off, and that’s exactly what you want… no bounce!

* These 4 examples are by no means exhaustive and there are many other options, these are just 4 well-known applications. 

  1. Homemade ‘Hobo fort’ 

Let’s go back… way back…. to when you were little, playing forts or cubby houses with your siblings… remember how it was all pillows and blankets? 

Well, A Hobo fort is just that, a frame of pvc pipe with blankets, duct tape, clamps and pillows creating a room around your microphone to absorb the refractive characteristics of the room you’re situated in. Make sure you do the clap test to check for refractions.

This is a great method to ‘treat’ a space, especially when you are starting out on your VO journey, as it’s cheap and easy and the things you have around you at home work just as well as anything you’d buy for the same purpose. 

Still hearing refractive qualities or ‘bounce’ in your audio?

Grab another blanket or pillow or another blanket, and throw it over the top of your fort or corners, etc. and keep adding these until you are happy with the result… Oh and take your sweater off Ace, it gets warm in your fort pretty quick…

  1. Renovated cupboard space or room

A renovated cupboard space can be a more permanent arrangement to the building of your voiceover empire and it can be a lot less annoying to the family and the way you’ve commandeered the dining room with your hobo fort… It can be ‘your space’ most of the time… at least until someone wants a jacket… a great way of treating a cupboard space is by using acoustic tiles on the doors and walls… you can also use what’s already in there... clothing!

And don't forget, you can make a hobo fort in your closet as well. Just modify for the space. 

  1. A ‘whisper room’ or ‘vocal booth’

Basically, A Whisper Room, which is named after the company, Whisperroom, is like a big portable closet. 

They come in all sizes and are meant for recording vocals, music, etc. 

You must still purchase acoustical treatment when you buy a whisper room, but they are an industry standard. 

A whisper room generally starts retail at approximately (4000 USD) so, fair to say, things need to be ticking along pretty well in your VO Journey before a whisper room becomes a consideration, however, bargains can be found if you keep an eye out on ebay and the social media markets..

  1. An ISOVOX box type of booth

A more financially viable alternative to a whisper room (900 USD), but still mainstream,  is the ‘Isovox’ style of foam booth.

This is effectively just an insulated booth or mini studio that you stand up into and close a treated flap behind your head into to record which is supported by and connected to a floor mic stand....

ISOVOX is probably the most popular style of the booth of this kind and is a quick and convenient way to set up something both permanent and also very portable if you travel with your voiceover gear.

A word on Audio Tools? 

Ah yes, we mentioned them earlier…

There is all manner of filters, gates, compressors, plug-ins, and different methods and techniques to clean up your audio, before delivery to your constantly evolving client list…

To your continued voiceover success,

Anthony Pica