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How to build a voice over booth at home for under $30

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Voice over booth

Building a DIY voice-over booth is easier than you think…

Recording high-quality audio at home can be difficult if you don’t have the right environment to record in.

High ceilings, polished floorboards and big windows are great for aesthetics but terrible for acoustics.

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 not that intimate.

How to record high-quality audio at home

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Where’s the best place to record?

When you’re recording at home the toughest challenge can be finding a room where the sound is ‘dead’ enough.  That just means a room that has as little echo as possible, preferably none.

If you’re only just starting to familiarise yourself with audio you might not notice it when you’re actually doing the show.  But when you start to edit it’ll sound like you’re a million miles away from the person listening.  That’s not great because you want the show to sound as intimate as possible in order to build a connection with your listeners.

Recording in an echoey room also becomes a nightmare when you’re editing because you can’t get a clean cut.  This is because everything you say comes with a little audio tail that’s basically the sound of your words bouncing around the room.

How to make editing easier when you’re recording your podcast

Read

So how do you fix it?

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, floorboards and a ceiling that’s halfway 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 heading straight to the fabric store because after asking 97 bedding store workers if they stocked it, I got the feeling that wool was the underlay material de jour.

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

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

7 Comments
  1. Daren Lake says:

    This is absolute GOLD and can be built upon (no pun intended) to do even crazier things for bigger setups/more mobile setups.

  2. Jeanne Ann says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing the information.

  3. Phil says:

    Great article. What is the digital mic you’re using in the pics. I’m looking for a high quality mic with a built in A/D converter. I bought an Apogee but if the sound is inferior, I’ll upgrade to something else. Thanks so much for your post!

  4. Emily says:

    I’ve just discovered your podcast and listened to the episode where you mention this. Thank you! My question is, how do you arrange this set up if in addition to the microphone and laptop, you also need to have talking points on a sheet of paper in front of you and take notes during your interview?

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Emily, I just take my notes on a piece of paper into my little box…or I have also placed my computer in there with me to. But it got REAL hot in there! Now I’ll often just put 3 couch cushions together if I need to record on the run and in that case I write notes on a page and just use that.

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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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