I’m on a mission to help people like you make better learning videos. After sharing, The Audio Gear You Need to Make Learning Videos, I received several detailed comments and suggestions about sound dampening and acoustic treatment. So, I’ve aggregated my friends’ and experts’ comments along with some curated links to offer you How to Soundproof Your Room for Learning Videos.
I like to record sound.
Only the sound that I found is often the sound that bounces from the ground.
This is the sound that I do not like to found!
Instead, I suggest, that you keep this close to your vest.
Only the sound that you want should be the sound that you found.
~ Chris Karel
How to Soundproof Your Room for Learning Videos
As I said in a previous Top Three Things post, “The single greatest differentiator between amateur and professional video is audio. If the audio is bad, the whole video is bad.” Remember, the purpose of video for learning is to improve knowledge, skills, and behaviors. If the audio is bad, learning will be challenging.
Voice Actor and eLearning/Educational voiceover expert John Kissinger had this to share:
The quality of your audio really matters. And the number one factor in delivering quality audio is the sound of your room, not the brand name or price point of your microphone. Do everything you can to record in the quietest room you can. The more walls you have between you and exterior walls or high-traffic areas the better. Once you find that quiet room, treat the hell out of it.
Nicholas Rubright explains the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment. He says,
Soundproofing is the process of making your room quieter by blocking out external noise.
Acoustic treatment involves absorbing excessive ambience to make your room sound better on recordings.
Now let’s jump into some practical steps you can take to soundproof your room.
Buy a good microphone
In my post about the audio gear you need, I recommend a variety of microphones you need to make learning videos. Check out that link for more information on the four types of microphones you may need for any of the six types of learning videos.
Find a quiet room
If you are recording voiceover, the quieter the room the better. Try to choose a room without an outside wall. If this is impossible, try to find one that is carpeted and then move to the acoustic treatment suggestions below.
Stick acoustic tiles to the wall.
These tiles are perfect for dampening soundwaves on your walls. They will reduce echo and provide noise reduction. For about $20 you will get 6 pairs of foam tiles that will instantly improve your sound quality. You can easily hang them up (and not worry about lasting damage if you need to remove them) by using Command strips.
A “Furni” is a quilted blanket that is common on film and video sets. You may even recognize these blankets from your last move – furni is short for furniture. You can purchase them for $5 to $10 apiece and hang them on the wall with hooks (more Command strips!). They will turn any hard wall into a sound dampened space instantly. If you rig it up properly, you can make them temporary so that you can use your room for things other than making kick-ass learning videos. You can even cover your desk with them to reduce the bounce. My pal John Kissinger says that if you do not want to purchase furnis, “You can also hang heavy drapes or comforters, too.”
Create bass traps
On the high-difficulty end of the spectrum, you can build bass traps. By placing “bass traps” in the corners of your room you will essentially create a place that will let low-level bass waves enter, but not leave. According to Acoustical Solutions, “They stop standing waves, which add a warbling noise to the bass within the room.”
Use Rugs (even on low-pile carpet)
If your only choice for a quiet room has a laminate, wood, or tile floor, then you’ll need rugs. If you can place a carpet pad under the rug you’ll generate even more absorption. Some commercial or apartment-style carpet is very hard. Even though a hard carpet is better than hard substrates, you can greatly reduce the amount of bounce and echo with some area rugs. And, as an added bonus, they might even really tie the room together.
Turn off HVAC during Recording
Once you dampen the sound in your room, then you can work on controlling unwanted sounds throughout the rest of your space. Turn off your heating and air conditioning unit while recording. Depending on your climate, you may be able to turn the heat/cool off and on to keep the room temperature appropriate while reducing the extra noise generated by the whirring air.
Weatherstrip doors & windows
Obvi you need to close your windows and doors during recording to keep unwanted sounds out. To make sure that zero pesky sound waves find their way to your microphone, block the gaps in your doors and windows. By adding a draft stopper to a door, you will cut out sounds that can travel under it. Using weatherstripping on your windows will cut down on unnecessary sounds from the outside finding their way through the gaps.
Decorate with Textures
A simple yet elegant way to improve your sound dampening is to choose paintings or tapestries that will absorb sound. Throw pillows and the aforementioned area rugs will also help reduce bounce while also making your recording space cozy.
Use an Isolation Shield
For around $70, an isolation shield will reduce ambient and reflected sound. It can help block sounds from reaching your mic too. There is a challenge involved: you’ll need to learn how to read your script while using the shield, but it can be a fast and easy way to dampen the sound. On a DIY note, I’ve used a dog/cat bed behind my mic to accomplish a similar function. No matter what you use, the key is to reduce the reflected sound.
When it comes to good professional audio for learning videos, think of your priorities in this order: improve the performance, soundproof the room, use a good microphone. These ten ways to improve the soundproofing in your space will not only make you sound more professional, but they will also make you more professional. Start with a few free strategies like choosing a quiet room, using rugs, hanging blankets, and turning off noisy things like the HVAC. If you have the budget, start with some acoustic tiles and a good microphone. However you demonstrate your professional audio skills, remember to focus most of your time on delivering the promise of learning video. It doesn’t matter if you soundproofed your room and purchased a pricey microphone if you deliver a bad performance from a bad script.
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