I was at a colleague's home recently, and he showed me his home studio. There was all sorts of fantastic equipment, great mics and preamps - and then I took a step.
Don't get me wrong - hardwood floors are great, and they are very common in nice apartments here in New York, but they have no business being anywhere near recording equipment. The guy looked at me: "is that bad? I mean I try to take off my socks before I record..."
I stopped him right there.
"Let me explain how your studio should work," I said. "You should be able to abduct me and hold me captive in that room. And if the cops come to your door asking if you've seen me, they should not be able to hear me shouting. You are your own audio director, and you need to have quiet on the set."
His setup has been working for him - barely - because he mostly does :30-:60 spots, relatively quick and basic stuff that doesn't require a lot of studio time. But that room was not equipped for audiobooks, or e-learning, or anything substantial.
All of that great equipment is going to waste if you haven't set up your studio's room acoustics. I gave my friend a ton of advice for optimizing his studio, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these tips with my readers.
Now I'm just scratching the surface - a home studio is hugely important, and I will probably write a comprehensive book on the subject at some point. But in the meantime, if you're having noise issues, here are some techniques and studio accessories which you ought to be implementing ASAP.
If you've got hardwood floors, squeaky linoleum or anything on the floor of your studio that creates sound, cover it right now. Start with a product designed specifically for your problem, like the FloorMuffler Flooring Underlayment Acoustical and Moisture Barrier for Wood and Laminate with Self Sealing Overlap System.
Lay this down, multiple layers if need be, and this will kill a creaky floor. Even if you find you need more for your floor, this will damp enough noise that you can go into your studio with your shoes on.
If you have any space between your door and the floor, that needs to be fixed pronto. You're getting a ridiculous amount of errant noise and it's an easy fix.
There are inexpensive, effective solutions available, including the Soundproofing Custom Cut Door Sweep by Super Sound Proofing Co. It's available in custom sizes, it works great and I've been using it sine 2014 without a single problem.
This should go without saying, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the obvious: your studio walls need to be covered with noise-dampening acoustic foam panels.
There are plenty of great sound absorbing blankets, including the excellent, very affordable 72"x80" blanket made from US Cargo Control. Buy enough sheeting to hang outside your studio door on a taught exercise or shower bar, and listen to the sweet, sweet silence.
Baffle Your Mic Stand!
There is no reason on earth to not have a baffle for your microphone stand. It's a very important, and super easy, acoustic enhancement to your studio. There is a huge selection of affordable, unobtrusive mic baffles. I would only urge you to look at reviews, because factors including weight, shape, and type of foam used can make a real difference in how effective a baffle can be. Some are so heavy that you'll need to compensate for the load it puts on your mic stand, and others come integrated with mic stands of their own.
These are the bare essentials, an extended set of home studio basics. As I said, I have at least one book in me, and I might teach a course on the subject at some point, and I am continually updating my own studio. As I learn about new products and techniques, I'll share them here and on Medium.
If you have any questions, or suggestions of your own, or just want to add your two cents, feel free to leave a comment.