Room Echo? How You Should Position Your VO Home Studio

Record from home and make big $ !

Reverberation diagram

Eliminate that dreaded room echo!

OK, you’ve decided to be the next Don Lafontaine or Nancy Cartwright.  And you’re convinced that, just like selling Amway, you can do it all at home from your kitchen table. Well, not exactly.  One of the biggest problems with home recording is “room echo”.  I preach this constantly.

Room echo is the natural reverberation or echo that occurs in a room when you talk.  The sound moves from your talented mouth to the microphone. But not all of it.

Much of the sound goes rogue, and after bouncing off a variety of surfaces, returns to your recording spot as a delayed smear of smaller sounds.

And then they say, “hey! We can go into the microphone too!”   The result is a recording of you and this faint echo.

How can I tell if I got it?

You can’t listen back with speakers to determine if you’ve got room echo in your recording because the sound from your speakers will reverberate also!  The only way to hear it is to use headphones.  Headphones isolate the sound going to your ears from the outside world so you can concentrate on what has actually been recorded.

If you have trouble hearing room echo then record a paragraph in your bathroom.  Take out all the towels and other soft items.  That leaves you and the tile walls.  It will be obvious in the recording.

How do I get rid of it?

The only way to rid your recording of room echo is to absorb those renegade sounds bouncing around.  This means surrounding yourself with soft surfaces.  To paraphrase Phil Hartman’s Frankenstein:  Tile BAD!  Carpet GOOD!  Table BAD!  Couch GOOD!   WALLS BAD!

Wait! You can’t get rid of your walls!  But you can cover them.  A cheap and effective wall covering is moving blankets.  Get the real, quilted kind… they’re only about $15 each and they cover a large area.

OK, up against the wall!

And here’s an important recommendation if you can use it.  Most people set up their workspace on a desk facing the wall.  Then they cover the wall with sound absorbing material.  But remember, the mic is unidirectional.  And it’s facing away from the wall towards that vast expanse of drywall on the other three walls.  Remember: WALLS BAD!

Don’t worry, I got your back!

So, if you can, turn your setup around!  Move the desk away from the wall and position yourself facing out into the room, with your back to the blanketed wall.  If you combine this with something like my Home Voice Over Studio Vocal Booth around the mic, you’ll be in acoustic heaven.

The booth will block the sound from spreading into the room and it will block any returning sound from the mic.  And the blanketed wall in back of you will snuff any sound attempting to enter the front of the mic.

I’ve seen many setups that face toward the wall, or into a closet, or into a corner where your back–and the front of the mic– are toward the biggest source of room echo.  So move the desk out, get your back against the wall, and face the room.

Book more jobs… and make big $ !

Clients judge your auditions according to sound quality! If the audition has background noise, they assume the final job will have it also.  And bye bye job! If you try this positioning trick, you’ll have quiet recordings… just your dulcet tones and dead silence in the background.  And you’ll impress clients and book more jobs!

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2 Responses to Room Echo? How You Should Position Your VO Home Studio

  1. jd martin says:

    Hey thanks Aliso creek for the continued great advice I am still listening and still talking. Ran into a few bumps but am still trying to get things moving. In case you don’t remember i’m the one from Moreno Valley with the Tribe of kids. Anyway keep the advice coming and when I do get my break you’ll be the first to know and be thanked! Oh wait i’m thinking too far ahead. Talk to you soon on getting in on 1 of your improv classes. Ok take care! dave I mean jd. lol

  2. Leer Leary says:

    Very simple, effective (application and cost) tips! Truly SOUND advice (sorry…couldn’t resist)

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