Probably the major difference between a professional studio and a home setup is the acoustic space. Controlling sound to behave the way you want is a very difficult job. The space where the sound is generated influences the properties of it in a big way. Two major issues for you to address when you are looking for clean good quality audio are preventing unwanted sounds reaching your microphone during recording and treating the room not to modify the sound source with too much of reverberation or echoing.
Acoustic Insulation for Better Sound Home Recordings
Sound insulation is the way of preventing outside noises being transmitted to your acoustic space. In effect, you are acoustically isolating your recording space from the rest of the neighboring areas. This is a very complex job if you are looking at achieving a very high level of sound insulation equal to professional studios. Professional acoustic spaces for recording are ‘rooms within rooms’. The material used to construct and the method of construction can run into huge costs. Usually multiple layers of gypsum or wooden sheets are used with Rockwool or similar material in between to arrest the walls vibrating and transmitting sound inside. However, for our small set up there are a few things we can do to achieve some level of sound insulation. Choose a room that is comparatively quite which is away from other sound sources. Find areas where there is a possibility of sound leaking in and close the gap. You can use sound isolation panel to eliminate unwanted sound reaching your microphone.
There could be sound transmitted through floor which can reach your mic. The ideal solution is to have a ‘floating floor’ – a multi-layer floor consists of wood and rubber so similar which arrests the noise from floor transmitted to the microphone. There are portable type vocal booths are available which may fit in your room. Another challenge when you want to isolate quite place – the HVAC system. Air-conditioning / heating equipment can have its own noise constantly when it is running. Also, if you are making a booth for voice, keeping the air inside at the desired temperature and ensuring circulation without A/C or heater hum going in along with the air through the both ventilation.
Acoustic Treatment to Eliminate Unwanted Reverb
As sound insulation is dealing with outside sound getting into your recording space, you need to do something with your recording space if it is not sounding good enough. Different types of surfaces behave differently in terms of reflecting sound waves. A carpeted floor reflect sound less than a wooden floor and a tiled floor. Sound reflects from walls, ceiling and floor of your room create reverberations which gets mixed with the original waves and result in unwanted reverb in your input. The common methods used to overcome this is to defuse and absorb the sound. If the walls of your sound space are of reverberating nature, this can be dampened using dampening material. Defusing material can be used on the wall from preventing sound waves travelling straight and hitting back on the mic generating reverb.
The shape of the room also plays a role in the amount of reverb a room has. Typically, the shape of rooms is rectangular. This will help waves hitting wall and bouncing back to the opposite wall and repeating this. This cause higher amount of reverberation. The so-called coffin box shape will help reduce room reverberations or echoes.
Home Recording Sound Better - Diffuse the Sound
Using diffusers break the journey of the sound waves and change their direction so that it is diffused and reduce the chances of hitting back to the microphones. Gobos can diffuse sound waves as not leaving the walls plain can diffuse sound.
Avoid Dead Acoustic Space for Your Home Recording Studio
Treating your acoustic space takes away the ‘reverb’ effect of the room. However, sound waves feel dry and without life in an overly treated space. This can affect the performances, especially for singers. If you are going in for a booth for vocals, ensure not to take away the room’s natural reverb completely and turn it into a dead space.
Materials for Sound Absorption
There are many types of material available in the market to treat your acoustic space. Some of them are very effective for certain frequencies while other are good for different range of frequencies. Fiberglass boards are good sound absorbers. A popular form of sound absorbing material egg crate forms. There is also acoustic curtain made up of fabric as well as minerals laden material. Acoustic partitions are also known for its effective use as sound barrier and absorber. Bass traps are another kind of material used to control low frequencies.