Today I'll be showing you how you can make your own audio recording booth from trash and stuff you have laying around!
Recently I tried my hands on making videos to go along with some of my instructables. I wanted to record voice overs and this presented a problem. How do I get crisp, clean audio when I have no equipment? To make the challenge harder, I live in a dorm room. That means a tiny space with a lot of echoing and outside noise.
After trying a couple different technique I made a really good recording booth! And as a plus when it's not it use it will fold away and takes up virtually no space.
I made this short test recording to show you the difference in audio quality! You can listen here.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Parts and Tools
These items are regularly found in the trash. And if you cant find them tossed away you can likely find them somewhere in your house!
You are going to need the following:
- Cardboard box
- Between the size of a moving box and a filing box for papers
- Empty masking tape roll
- Old pair of stockings
- Old towel
- Or a bathrobe, or a rug. Some fabric with soft fibers. Just use whatever you find!
- Two cores from toilet paper rolls
You'll also need a recording device. Luckily you already own a great recording device, your phone. The microphone and audio processing on the phone is likely built to register the crispest audio it can. That's great news for us so we wont have to buy anything!
Step 2: Dampen Echoing and Ambience
What's great for removing echoing in tiny rooms is to hang something up on the walls. This will help absorb the noise and not reflect it back. However that's a big hassle and most likely not possible if you're renting a place. Whats awesome is that we can recreate this effect on a tinier scale!
Take your cardboard box and fold it up if it comes flat packed. This will be our tiny room. Now take the towel, bathrobe, rug, or tablecloth and drape it over the opening of the box. Push it into the corners and tuck it into the cardboard flaps. Now if your box doesn't have flaps you can just use a couple of tacks to tack your fabric in place.
Don't tighten the fabric. It helps if it's loosely draped and hangs from the sides as this will help absorb more sound.
When you're recording set the box up on it's side and face the opening of the box. That way your voice will be directed into the box where it get's recorded by the phone before it dissipates by the fabric.
Not only does this help on echoing, but it muffles the ambient noise and sound in your room. You know the kind of humming and whirring you don't really pay attention to. Your phone does. So all that ambient noise becomes apparent in your recording. Now we've removed that!
Step 3: Remove Vibration Noise
If we just chucked our phone right into box now we would hear a great improvement, but we can still do better! Small movements of the box or the fabric you draped the box with will be audible in your recording.
The solution is to raise the phone. If you have a tiny tripod with phone grip that's perfect. Otherwise I'll show you how you can get the same results by making your own stand!
To make the stand take your toilet paper core and cut two slits on both sides of the diameter of the core, like in the picture. Fold down the tabs you created and you can insert your find. Perfect for raising the phone and microphone from the floor of your recording booth.
Step 4: Tuning Down the Harsh Tones
Now you've got a setup that will give you a great recording. Believe it or not there's one more way to improve on this tiny, recycled recording booth!
There are certain tones that are spoken with a greater force of air. These harsh increases in air pressure when you speak are more discernible in a recording. In the English language these tones usually come from audible B- P- or K- sounds.
There's a low-tech way to smooth out these sounds and it has been done for decades. Speak through a pantyhose. You may recognize this in pictures from inside big recording studios.
Take your pair of stockings and thread it over the empty roll of masking tape. This will be the air membrane that softens those harsh tones.
After making the membrane create another stand just like the one we made to hold the phone. The tabs needs to be a bit wider, but tight enough that you need to press the masking tape core into the slits. This lets you adjust the angle of the membrane so you can direct it towards the microphone.
Now place the membrane a few inches in front of your phone and lean towards the phone when you speak. You just got a crisp and clean recording easy as that!
Step 5: Finished! Final Thoughts
This project is great for creating high quality recordings in environments you don't have much control over! There are a couple things to think about to reduce what noise you can. That may include closing the window and door. Turning of your AC, oven, dishwasher.
Also, if you're reading a script try reading it from a tablet if you have, instead of your computer. The computer will generate fan noise while a tablet is completely silent. It's also a great idea to turn off all audio notifications and vibrations on your phone!
You can just use whatever recording app you have on your phone or download one. If you're editing your audio on your computer I recommend the free program Audacity if you're new to audio editing.
If you want to listen to a test recording of the difference you can click here.