The Audio Recording Booth

Three-time “Booklist Top 10 Author of the Year” M. L. Buchman (wearing his Buchman Bookworks, Inc. corporate logo) does his own voice work for his 150+ titles that he’s now moving into audio.

His first studio doubled as a 4’x7′ walk-in bedroom closet (or is that the other way around). Hanging clothes, stacked sweaters and quilts, and an old blanket that he hung across the inside of the closed door provided an excellent, acoustically-dampened recording studio. Though he admits it gets a bit warm and must flap the door open occasionally.Equipment (intended to be setup and stowed in minutes): Chromacast folding music stand as table for laptop with a towel as an acoustic dampener, On Stage Tripod Boom Stand with a Symphaudio shock mount (boom gets folded down and hides between his shirts and pants when not in use), FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 studio (pre-amp and mic [large-diaphragm condenser particularly likes his low voice]), Dell Inspiron laptop (very quiet) running Adobe Audition CC. On the split screen you can see the final PDF of the story he is currently recording. Though he started with a pop filter, by positioning the mic at the height of his forehead and angling it down, he doesn’t need the filter as he’s breathing below the mic. Total cost of recording booth: <$300 + Audition subscription and laptop.

His second recording booth had to fit in an short-term apartment rental with no particularly adaptable spaces. So, he bought a clothes rack, a piano stool, and draped it in quilts. Other than having to adjust the processing settings, this worked very well.

His present recording booth had to be inserted into a bathroom because of, curiously enough, a particularly loud heating system. Forced air can be quite loud, but there is no vent in the small bathroom. A quick run of clothesline to create a square in front of the shower. In a matter of minutes he can hang blankets from the line and create a fine standing booth.

Other solutions:

  • M.L. helped a friend design and build a full-on 6′ x 6′ recording booth that had to compensate for a nearby highway and the heavy trucks that climbed the hill past his office. They set down a 6″ thick wall, but framed it with staggered 2x4s (one to the inside then one to the outside). This made a disconnect between the inner and outer walls so sound wasn’t carried through by vibration. The wall was then packed with insulation before screwing on drywall on the outside and sonic standoffs on the inside, finally adding the interior drywall (the highway was close enough to actually shake the building at times). Then they covered the interior with sheets of “egg crate” acoustical foam. A whole cavalcade of motorcycles could go by without disrupting a recording. The one place his friend went cheap (and regretted) was not doing an isolated ventilation system. Every thirty minutes the booth must be opened and aired out.
  • If you live in a quiet area, one of the best recording setups is actually the foot of the master bed. Hang something soft (a quilt, batik, pretty blanket…) above the head of the bed. Close the curtains (floor-to-ceiling) is better. Fluff up the pillows, etc. Then set up the microphone so that you’re standing at the foot of the bed and speaking toward your pillows. Surprisingly good. Remember again, it requires different final processing settings to get the best sound.

For more information about the technical setup, check out his blog post at Findaway Voices:

https://blog.findawayvoices.com/what-ive-learned-from-recording-25-of-my-own-audiobooks/

M.L. writes (and records) romance, thrillers, and SF/F. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.