As the Audiobook industry adjusts to the new normal due to the worldwide COVID19 pandemic, many publishers and their suppliers are adopting the (work from home) model. Narrators are tasked with recording from their home studios more than ever before. Along with this new mode of operation comes the potential for inconsistencies in the audio quality delivered to the post-production houses. Here are three things to keep in mind when recording from home.
- The acoustic treatments you see in most professional recording studios are designed to control the room reflection. Room reflection is the hollow room sound caused by your voice bouncing off the walls and coming back to the mic. It is ideal to have as little room reflection as possible in your recordings. One way to keep the room reflections minimal when working in a home studio is to record in a room with plenty of furniture and if possible a room with a rug or carpet on the floor. The furniture diffuses the sound and minimizes the reflections returning to the mic. If you have a big enough closet and don’t mind reading in it for hours at a time this would be the best option. The clothes absorb the sound and drastically minimize the room reflections.
- Mic placement also plays a key role in reducing room reflection. An easy rule of thumb to keep in mind is, the further you are from the mic, the more room reflection the mic picks up, the closer you are to the mic the less audible the room reflection becomes. This can be a challenge when reading a book from a laptop or tablet, but with a bit of creative mic positioning and trial and error, you can find the sweet spot. Ideally, you want to be no further than 8 inches from the mic, and if possible 4-5 inches is best. Keep in mind this will cause your P’s to create plosives. Plosives are sudden bursts of air that hit the mic and create unpleasant low-end frequency pops. So you’ll need a pop-screen. The pop-screen is a screen that is placed in front of the mic designed to filter out any plosives caused by close proximity recording.
- Consistency is key when doing long-form recordings. It’s important to take the extra time at the top of the project to get your setup exactly how you want it. Record a few test takes and make sure you’re getting a clean signal with as little room reflection as possible. Once you’re happy with the results you’ll want to use visually ques to measure your proximity from the mic. A simple trick we use in the studio is to hold your thumb up to your bottom lip and point your pinky finger towards the mic. This trick will help you keep a consistent 4-5 inch distance from the mic. We use this technique to reset after breaks or for the following day recording session.
Most of the time you can make or break a recording during the setup process, the key to a good recording is minimal room reflection and a signal that is recorded at a medium volume, not too loud and not too soft. Following these basic rules will ensure you get a pro-quality sound out of your home studio and give the post-production house the quality files they need to create professional-quality masters.
Like many in the industry we are having to adapt to a new normal. At Booktrack we have currently adopted a hybrid approach having half our team work from home and half in the studio. We look forward to the time where we can have everyone back in the studio in a safe, productive and happy environment.
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