Moving soon...what is the ideal type of space for home recording VO?

I've posted a bunch here on my challenges recording VO from my current apartment. I live in San Diego county next to a freeway AND the main road in town and there are a lot of unmuffled motorcycles, big diesel trucks, blaring music etc and now my neighbors are doing something where they are running their shower all day and the noise from the pipes bleeds into my recordings.

Aside from those noise issues, I also record in a converted closet that I've heard many people here say is not ideal.

So, I'm going to be moving sometime soon. What is the ideal space for recording VO at home? Is it a larger closet? a small room? Obviously something away from freeways and main roads and in a less popular part of the county, but as far as the living space itself, what would you recommend I look for for my next VO space?

Thanks!
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
A well-controlled space -- Bigger is almost universally better (closets, unless that closet is rather huge and again - really well-controlled).

On the plus side, VO isn't nearly as demanding as an instrumental space. You still need plenty of broadband trapping, but it's much more effective in the vocal ranges, so the space "tames" much more easily than if you were trying to record loud guitars or drums in the same space. And it's easier to "cheat" (for lack of a better term). If you were in a "bedroom" (let's just say 12x15x8), with all four corners trapped floor-to-ceiling and a "dead" wall, you can usually get away with having your back to that wall and some sort of surround-type "isolator" (still not ideal, but actually workable). Especially if you're using something along the lines of a SM7b or RE-20 or 27.
 

whyseye

Well-known member
Treating a large room will give you a good sounding sonic space, but will not isolate you from intrusive outside noises. Another possibility to consider is a recording booth like StudioBricks, Whisper Rooms, etc., in whatever your new space might be. They are a big investment, and will need to be treated for the best sound as well, but will save you tons of aggravation in the long run. If you absolutely can't afford a full booth for isolation, there are a variety of PVC-and-sound blanket booths that will at least give you controlled sound quality without picking up major room noise. If you haven't already checked them out, try the Booth Junkie videos on YouTube for lots of info about recording spaces. I'll also recommend the site iwanttobeavoiceactor.com by Dee Bradley Baker. Lots of really good free info and advice about the industry there as well.
 
Treating a large room will give you a good sounding sonic space, but will not isolate you from intrusive outside noises. Another possibility to consider is a recording booth like StudioBricks, Whisper Rooms, etc., in whatever your new space might be. They are a big investment, and will need to be treated for the best sound as well, but will save you tons of aggravation in the long run. If you absolutely can't afford a full booth for isolation, there are a variety of PVC-and-sound blanket booths that will at least give you controlled sound quality without picking up major room noise. If you haven't already checked them out, try the Booth Junkie videos on YouTube for lots of info about recording spaces. I'll also recommend the site iwanttobeavoiceactor.com by Dee Bradley Baker. Lots of really good free info and advice about the industry there as well.
Thanks for the tip, I really want to get a whisper room.

Though I am a bit confused... what makes a sound treated closet bad and a recording booth good? The advice I got recently was to try to open up my recording space (move from a smaller closed closet to a larger open closet with a quilt hung behind the open door). Would a recording booth not have that same coffin-y effect my old small closet had?

Thanks!
 

whyseye

Well-known member
Thanks for the tip, I really want to get a whisper room.

Though I am a bit confused... what makes a sound treated closet bad and a recording booth good? The advice I got recently was to try to open up my recording space (move from a smaller closed closet to a larger open closet with a quilt hung behind the open door). Would a recording booth not have that same coffin-y effect my old small closet had?

Thanks!
In a perfect world, a good-sized, well-treated, isolated room is the ideal. Not so live that it sounds boomy or echoey, not so dead that it sounds like you're in a tiny foam-filled box.

The challenge is that for most of us, creating the kind of isolation that allows us to keep recording without picking up traffic noise, plumbing sounds, leaf blowers, etc. on the scale of a full room is not possible due to renting and/or because the cost of making a fully mass-isolated decoupled and treated recording space is prohibitive.

Recording booths like a Whisper Room, StudioBricks or something similar are a compromise that allows some degree of isolation at a slightly more affordable price point than full construction. However, because they are usually smaller spaces they also need careful treatment with bass traps, etc. to keep from sounding like a small box or coffin.

If you don't need isolation from outside noise, you can create a pretty good sounding environment with a booth made from a PVC frame and acoustic blankets within your bigger room that doesn't sound like you're trapped in a little foamy box. However, if you need to be sure that your work session (especially if you're being directed live) isn't interrupted by the neighbor's gardener or construction or laundry, you need the isolation that an actual booth provides (and even a single-walled Whisper Room doesn't eliminate all outside sounds, it just diminishes them to a more workable level; a double-walled booth might be needed if your area is loud).

Technology has made actual recording easy and accessible to everyone, but the limitations of one's home recording space is the single biggest problem that I hear in their recordings, and there are no cheap, one-size-fits-all solutions that I'm aware of. There's a lot of random advice that I see on various websites and groups, but there's a reason that every professional home studio designer and engineer that I know is overwhelmed with demand for their services right now. There are lots of ways to waste money on trial and error solutions, but there are times when it makes sense to invest in help from the pros, and I feel like the specific knowledge needed to do this right isn't in the skillset of most performers, so it's money well spent and aggravation and wasted time avoided.

I completely understand the desire to want to have everything in place right away, the DIY ethic, and the lure of the work; but I'm also very familiar with wasting money, shooting yourself in the foot by committing to work that you're not professionally prepared to take on, and making a less-than-stellar impression based on inadequate equipment and/or information. It's hard to be patient, but some things are worth the time that they require. Just my two cents, your mileage may vary, yada yada yada. I wish you success in your endeavors.
 
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