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Creating the Right Recording Environment (Part 1)
Written by Scott R. Garrigus - © 2005, Scott R. Garrigus. All Rights Reserved.
A friend of mine recently had a new room added to his humble abode, which now houses his personal home recording studio. He actually hired someone to help design and build the room including the raised floor and soundproof walls. I have yet to see this masterpiece of carpentry but if it sounds as good as he describes, then my friend is in for some very cool recording sessions.

But what about those of us who just donít have the cash to be putting up additions or even remodeling an existing room for that matter? Well, to be honest, youíll never truly achieve the recording quality that a dedicated soundproof studio can provide, but there are some things you can do to make your current environment more appropriate for acoustic recording.

Location, Location, Location
The first thing to do is find the right room for the job. Depending on your home, you may have a few choices. A spare bedroom is always a good bet. Bedrooms are usually located in a quiet area of the house, perhaps on a top floor which is less prone to noise leakage from other rooms. The only drawback is that you may get some noise from outside creeping in especially if you live on a busy street.

An alternative may be the basement, since part of it is probably located underground, (which provides good shielding from the outside) but again the drawback here is that you may hear noises from the floor above. You may also have a problem if you have a furnace or other noisy machinery located down there.

In any case, the place to avoid is the middle (or street level) floor, which is also probably where the kitchen is located. This is the level of your house that is prone to the most noise and since you canít very well turn off your refrigerator, it only makes sense to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible.

Peace And Quiet
After youíve found your ideal location, youíll want to make sure that the room is as quiet as it can be. The most obvious thing is to close all doors and windows in the room. But donít just close them; make sure they are also locked or latched. The added pressure can cut down on airborne noise. If you have storm windows in addition to the regular windows, be sure to close those too. Oh, and donít forget the bottom of the door(s). Most doors have a small amount of space between their bottoms and the floor so that air can circulate throughout the rooms of your home. You can block this opening by stuffing a heavy towel or rag in there or you can get a Draft Stopper. A Draft Stopper is basically just a long sealed tube made out of heavy fabric that is filled with sand. They are made especially for this purpose and you can find them in many local thrift stores or even make one yourself.

Another thing to do is to check for any hidden sound leaks such as an open closet door and especially vents. If you have a ventilation system, youíll probably want to turn the air off during your recording time and maybe even stuff something in the grill as well. If turning the air off isnít an option, then try removing the ventís grill to reduce any air turbulence that may occur.

Finally, be sure any electrical devices that may produce hum or interference are turned off. That goes for any fluorescent lighting as well. A microphone can easily pick up noise from those sources.

Eliminate That Echo
In addition to keeping your recording room quiet, you also have to watch out for echoes. Rooms with straight parallel walls that are at right angles (this includes rooms in most houses that I know of) are very reflective. This can cause a lot of echoing, which in turn can make the room (as well as your recordings) sound hollow. There are a number of things you can do to remedy this situation even in the most reflective of rooms.

For more information: Creating the Right Recording Environment (Part 2)

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