Isolation booths seem to be the most popular approach to building a Voice Actor’s home studio. In Zoom Session after Zoom Conference after Skype Meeting I have seen hundreds of homemade booths in converted closets or made from PVC. And then there are any number of VO Artists with their Studio Bricks, Whisper Rooms, and VocalBooths. They are all awesome, creative and with excellent sound proofing, isolation, and low noise floors. As practical and suitable as are all of these kinds of studio builds, I knew I’d be spending hours in the studio and needed a bit more capability, so I decided on a different way.
My studio is a remodeled 11’ x 13’ office just inside the front door of my house which sits on 1.5 acres in a suburb of San Antonio, TX. The location alone accounts for more than half of my sound proofing in that there is just not much sound to keep out. I hear the occasional leaf blower or garbage truck rumbling by, but that’s it. I was in the middle of a session once via Source Connect and heard the local High School Marching Band practicing on my street. But the people on the other end of the session heard nothing at all. It’s a good place to be…it’s quiet.
But to be sure, I had a custom sliding glass, soundproof studio door built by Sound-Proof Windows and added AcoustiCurtains inside the studio to cover the door and the room’s one window. From there I built and suspended six 2’ x 4’ “sound clouds” from the ceiling, hung 75 UA-Acoustics sound diffuser tiles on 3 walls at 24” square each. One wall has built-in shelves full of books and vinyl records that are quite effective at sound absorption. Finally, I laid oversize yoga mats on the hardwood floors.
The result is a tested and proven ~62 Db Noise Floor. And no one in the house ever hears me, even when I am engaged in vocal combat for a Video Game or yelling at my partner during a remote acting class scene!
The one downside is that the studio is just air resistant enough to prevent the air conditioning vent from delivering air without a return in the room. I have a plan to fix that and hope to get it done soon.
When I first fired up my studio equipment, my PC fan was the noisiest thing in the room…and the mic picked it up very well. So I ordered a standard build, Silent PC with Windows 10 that is a marvel! No fan noise at all. It is rack mounted along with a USB Hub, a Power Conditioner / UPS combo, and an Aphex Channel (which I don’t currently use. Maybe someday I’ll do Radio Imaging).
To the silent PC I connected a Yamaha AG03 USB sound mixer, a 2-to-1 microphone combiner with two microphones, a Sennheiser MKH-416 that I generally use for commercial, narration, and promo, and a Neumann TLM-103 that I generally use for animation and video-game acting. It’s all connected to a 1-GB hardwired Ethernet connection with Source Connect Standard and ipDTL for remote studio sessions. And I am fluent in both Audacity and Adobe Audition with a beginner’s knowledge of Reaper.
My physical desktop supports two 27” monitors, 2 studio monitors (speakers) along with my mixer, microphones and a camera & ring light…and it’s a Varidesk adjustable height desk, so I can sit or stand at the touch of button. I stand to perform & sit to edit.
And if any that fails, I have a complete back-up & travel studio with my Dell Inspiron Laptop w/ Windows 10, A Harlan Hogan MXL Signature VO 1-A Cardioid Microphone, a Kaotica Eyeball Portable Sound Isolation System, and a CEntrance MixerFace R4 Audio Interface.
The other thing about my studio is that is designed for more than just voice acting. It’s set up for music recording as well. I’m a fair singer and I have two guitars and baby grand piano (though I am not a very good player on any of them). And there is room to have drums for a session but not to keep set up full time.
After 25 years in corporate life, mostly Information Technology, I knew I needed a workspace I enjoyed spending time in…oh, and I keep all my equipment clean, secure, updated, and patched. It’s reliable. All I am missing is a hot standby solar powered generator….it’s on the list 😊
In the end, I’m just not one to spend hours at a time in a small space, so I made sure I had the funding to build the size, and type of workspace I really wanted. I doubt it’s better than the booths & studios built and used by my colleagues. Their setups look pretty cool too! But my studio reflects me…my “all in” and immersive approach to everything I do, including voice work. It’s an extension of my personality and my brand.