Pro Tools Blog - Pro Tools Expert by Russ Hughes
Some members of our community own or work in top recording studios or are producers who have the benefit of working in amazing recording spaces. We also have many who work in their bedroom, office, cellar, in spaces they may double-up for other uses. In this situation then being able to create permanent isolation is costly and hard. Here are our top 5 ways to try and create a much quieter space to record in, that won't break the bank or trouble the your family.
Get your computer out of your recording space
If you use a desktop, like a Mac Pro or a tower PC, then get it out of the room, the fans on most produce more noise than you would think. With the advent of bluetooth and USB extender cables you can move your computer to another room or inside a cupboard. You can get powered USB extension cables on Ebay for around $10. Instead of buying a lot of them, simply use one and then attach a powered USB hub on the end in the studio. Then all your USB devices can go back to your computer down this one cable. A DVI extender will cost you around $20. If you want to know how much noise your computer is making, then wait for a quiet moment and then turn it off.
Turn off external drives when you don’t need them
Just as with computers, some external drives produce a lot of fan noise. These can often be whines, or hisses, which all can end up down you microphone - when you are not using them, then turn them off. If you can’t turn them off then put them in a cupboard, just shutting the door makes a huge difference, but make sure there is some air in their to keep them cool.
My drives live in a cupboard with a door. Air enters at the bottom and is removed out the top rear behind the drives. The noise reduction is huge and the drives stay cool.
If you can’t move them then improve them
There are some very good kits - particularly for PC owners that can help reduce the noise from your PC. 3M make items like foam shields for within the case, or better fans that create less noise. You can also make a huge difference simply by sitting external hard drives on foam to reduce their rattle, or induced fan noise through other surfaces. WARNING - Do not turn off or try and stop your fans that’s a fast way to kill you machine. There’s an excellent article from Tech Radar here
Create Temporary Isolation
Find ways to isolate when recording, some people use duvets hanging from the ceiling, or blankets. However, be careful, don’t use hard objects to create isoloation as these will give you odd reflections and make your recordings sound odd.
I spent time making a temporary vocal booth in a walk in closet using acoustic tiles, hanging a curtain and using carpet on the door of the room. Total cost around £100 but the difference is great. It offers a lot of isolation and the sound treatment has prevented it from sounding like I'm singing or doing voice over in a cupboard. I use an iPad app to control the DAW and headphones levels. If you need to control your Pro Tools rig from another room, then check out something like the Neyrinck V-Control Pro
A surprisingly good result from a closet. Great for vocals and voiceovers.
Make Good Position Choices
If you have the space then try and get as far away from noise sources as possible and make sure that any mics are pointing away from devices that are making the noise. A quick way to test this is to set up your mic and then put on some good headphones and move the mic around the room listening for the ambient noise. Of course if you can’t get the computer out of the room, then you may be able to move to another space using a long mic and extention cable.
5 Cheap Ways To Deal With Noise In Your Home Studio
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Take some time to consider the things that are making noise in your studio and with a couple of hours work and less than $100 in total, you can have a much quieter recording space.