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How to build a voice over booth at home for under $50

 

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How to build a cheap recording studio

Thanks to the brains of people smarter than I, recording and editing equipment is so good these days you don’t need to be in a professional radio studio to produce a high-quality show. However, while you might have everything you need to get your dulcet tones down on tape the one thing that can be hard to replicate is a professional recording environment.

Since most homes don’t come with walls covered in acoustic foam and we all seem obsessed with polished floorboards, your home can turn your recording dreams into a nightmare.

How to make a voice over booth at homeThe set up before I started channeling MacGyver

Unfortunately, I found myself in this very predicament the other day.

I’ve recently moved house and while the high ceilings and wooden floorboards are great on the eye, on the ear they’re a bloody nightmare.  In fact, when I set up my microphone and pressed record, I realised it sounded like I was broadcasting from a toilet.  A podcast is supposed to be intimate, but perhaps not that intimate.

When you’re recording at home the toughest challenge can be finding a room where the sound is ‘dead’ enough to record.  If you’re only just starting to familiarise yourself with audio you might not notice it but when you go to edit you’ll realise it sounds like you’re a million miles away from the person listening.  That’s not great if that person is a member of your podcast audience because you want to record in a way that creates an intimate connection and the only way to do that is if you sound like you’re right in their ear holes, not trapped at the bottom of a well.

Recording in an echoey room also becomes nightmare when you’re editing because you can’t get a clean cut.  Everything you say comes with a little audio tail as your words bounce around the room.  How to make a voice over booth at home

So what do you do?  Well, you could purchase an expensive voice over booth online or hire a studio to record in.  Or you could do what I did and buy some mattress foam, stick it to the inside of a cardboard box and put your head in it.

It doesn’t look terribly pretty but it works so I thought I’d take you through how to make your own voice over booth at home for the bargain price of $29.95.

Sure it’ll look like you dragged it out of the trash but one of the great blessings of working in audio rather than video is that no one will know.

Step 1: Find a box that’s big enough to stick your head in

I saw a few tutorials where people were making small voice over boxes that just sat around their microphone.  I tried that but my office is so echoey I needed to be basically buried in the thing to hide from the reverb.  If you’ve got carpets, curtains and a low roof you might not need something so all-consuming but if you’re in a space like mine that’s full of windows, floor boards and a ceiling that’s half way to the stratosphere, you’ll need to bring out the big guns.

Step 2: Find some cheap convoluted mattress underlay (yep, that’s what it’s called)

How to make a voice over booth at homeThe only thing convoluted about this stuff was the process of finding it.

I’d suggest you head straight to the fabric store because after asking 97 bedding store workers if they stocked it, I got the feeling that ‘woollen underlay’ was the underlay de jour.

However, when I finally did stumble across it, it’s lack of popularity meant it was on the discount rack so I picked up a king sized underlay for $29.95.  Not bad considering how much acoustic foam costs (and it basically does the same thing).

Step 3: Buy spray adhesive

Because foam has absolutely no interest in sticking to a cardboard box of its own accord.

How to make a voice over booth at home

Step 4: Measure your foam and test it before you stick it

Resist the temptation to start spraying everything the minute you get it out of the packet.  It takes some trimming and faffing around to get everything snug so make sure it’s the right fit before you start sticking.

Step 5: Lay the box open to attach the foam

I tried to stick the foam on the walls of the box while it was in one piece but it was a bit of a nightmare, so I just cut one side to lay it flat.  This way I could also pile everything I could find on top to apply pressure to make it stick.

It also made a great conversation starter with my roommates, although most of the conversations started with “what the f&$% is that and why is it in the middle of our floor”

How to make a voice over booth at home

Step 6: Read the instructions on your adhesive spray

It’s amazing how it can take something not working 9 times before you realise there’s a paragraph of text on the product that tells you what not to do.

Step 7: Tape up the side of the box and test

Because my mic is attached to a boom arm on my desk, I needed to keep the back of the box open but if you didn’t have to worry about that it would be best to create an enclosed box.  I managed to get the same effect by making a curved wall at the back with the extra foam I had.

How to make a voice over booth at home

Step 8: If you’re still hearing reverb empty your linen closet of every towel you own, grab all the pillows within arms reach and bury yourself in that thing

I had a towel draped over the back of the box, a pillow on my lap, extra mattress foam wrapped around my head and shoulders and a towel over my head.

I looked ridiculous but I sounded professional, and that’s the main thing…right?

How to make a voice over booth at homeNo one said it had to be pretty

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WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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