Acoustic treatment for voice over artists, podcasters and audio presenters

One of the first obstacles many voice over artists come across when trying to set up their own personal vocal studio is the unsuitability of the environment in which they are recording vocals. The change in working arrangements since the pandemic has meant many voice over artists who would normally rely on fairly well equipped office studios and spaces are having to make do with what they have at home.

Producing vocal content in a space or room that is not effectively acoustically treated can result in poor quality audio being captured which in turn affects the professionalism of any audio content being created. In a world where first impressions matter it is important that your audio content hits the spot in terms of clarity and quality.

Many voice over artists will have a fairly good idea of the gear they require to start recording from home. Microphones, monitors and sound cards have come down in price that you can get a starter kit for a few hundred pounds which will have good response curves and should create good sound.

Investing in high quality gear

When audio equipment is designed, manufacturers spend a lot of time measuring the response across the frequency spectrum. Professional equipment is designed to accurately capture or replay sound that is being produced without distorting in any way or form. The closer the equipment is in reproducing the audio captured the higher the quality and hence price.

Audio equipment is tested in multi million dollar facilities with anechoic chambers and suspended floors. Speakers are placed on solid plinths to ensure that the surface they are resting on doesn’t colour the sound produced.

Unfortunately these test conditions are far from the typical listening or recording space. So a microphone with the flattest response rate in a test facility could sound mediocre in a room that is not sufficiently treated.

 

Using acoustic treatment to improve your sound quality

The best way to tackle sound quality in voice over recordings is by considering the influence your room has on the sound you capture. The sound that is recorded by your microphone consists of a combination of sound waves hitting the microphone directly as you speak and reflections, echoes and reverberations of sound waves that have bounced off walls and flat reflective surfaces of the room you are in. This resultant sound is what is captured and converted into a digital signal ready for processing in your  Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

In order to reduce the influence of the space you are recording in on your content, every attempt has to be made to negate the effect of reflective surfaces around your recording space. Introducing acoustic treatment is the quickest and easiest way to do this.

Acoustic foam for Vocal Booths

There are a number of materials that are used for acoustic treatment however acoustic foam is by fat the most popular for a number of reasons.

  • Acoustic foam can be easily machined into various shapes.
  • Acoustic foam is  a light material and can be mounted without damaging walls using removable solutions like isotack removable strips
  • Purpose designed acoustic foam is combustion modified and unlike the old “egg crates” will extinguish once a flame is removed making it safer to use.
  • Unlike fibreglass, Acoustic foam doesn’t contain fibres and means the air in your enclosed working space is free from potentially harmful fibres found in poorly manufactured fibreglass panels.

Finally and most importantly,

  • the vocal frequency range is  1500hz - 3000Hz, very seldom do you find commercial vocal recordings on the extreme low end of the audible frequency. These frequencies are effectively attenuated by acoustic foam of a suitable thickness and density.

 

Acoustic panels or bass traps or both

As mentioned above, the frequency range of vocals means that panels of suitable thickness and density should be sufficient in improving the quality of vocals being captured. There is absolutely no need to purchase bass traps, diffuser panels or fibre glass panels when recording vocals. The traps would only use up space that would be better used for panels at a cheaper cost.

The ideal vocal recording space

If you are recording vocals for voice overs, jingles and narration you almost certainly want to deaden your vocal recording space as much as possible. We would recommend 100% deadening for recording vocals. Digital effects such as phasing, echo and reverb can then be applied “in the box” once the audio has been captured.

Completely deadening your room will ensure you have a great audio recording to start with on which to carry out your post capture editing.

Care should be taken to take into account the deadness of the room if you decide to carry out your mixing in the room as the deadened surfaces will almost certainly result in a mix that is not portable and will be distorted when played on different players/speakers in the typical untreated room.

For vocal booths, the patterns on the tiles are mainly an aesthetic choice as is the arrangement of tiles when placed on the walls or ceilings. All the acoustic tiles in our voice over studios section will work well, with thicker tiles giving greater absorption.

 

Portable adjustable acoustic filters for voice over artists and podcasters

If you are stuck for a dedicated room to acoustically treat of are looking for a solution to  use when you have to travel to meet guests then a portable acoustical screen or set of screens will work well.

The flexisorb acoustical isolation filter and privacy screen is one such screen designed to sit on your table top and wrap around your recording equipment, be it a laptop, workstation or microphone. By adjusting the wrap around your device you can vary the acoustics in the area immediately surrounding the microphone, resulting in content that is comparable to that produced in sound deadened rooms.

The isolation wraps have another advantage over box type filters in that you don’t have to fiddle trying to get your head into a box and does away with the otherwise unwanted boxy effect that a box creates which colours the sound you are capturing.

That's just about it on acoustic treatment for voice over artists. There is obviously a lot more to take into account but I hope by the end of this article you can tick off one thing that needs to be sorted to get that professional sound audio content.