Listen to your room

One of the key elements that will affect the final quality of a narration recording is the sound of the room in which the recording is created. Many program developers record in an office that has heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) noises, computer fans, street  noises, or excessive reverberation.

While these problems can be masked to some degree using processing tools, the optimal solution to select or create a room that provides a suitable environment for recording audio.  The characteristics to address include:

  • HVAC, computer fan and other noises – these are always present, and can be difficult to address.  If possible, select a room without a heating vent, and move your PC into a separate room (using long cables for the monitor, mouse and keyboard).  If not possible, then find a location in the area that is least affected by these noises.
  • Experiment with mic placement, and some soundproofing elements.  For computers, get extension cables for your monitor, and wireless keyboards and mice so that you can move the CPU fan as far from the mic as possible.
  • Reverberation – listen to your room to determine the level and characteristics of the reverberation.  Clap your hands sharply, speak loudly, and listen to how long the sound remains.  Many room have excessive reflective surfaces that will be noticeable on recordings.  In some cases, this can be addressed by a combination of microphone placement, and use of sound absorbing materials (either commercial sound absorbing surfaces such a acoustic foams, or ad hoc approaches, such as placing pillows or curtains around the recording area ).
  • Manage noise as much as possible – Be sure to close doors and windows to reduce external noises, shut down nearby PCs that are not in use, shut off overhead lighting that may have a noticeable hum (such as some florescent fixtures), ask nearby coworkers to keep their noise levels low, etc.
  • Move around  – in some cases, moving to a different position within the room can eliminate the major issues.  For example, moving from a corner or wall location to the middle of the room may eliminate some of the more problematic reflections.

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