Reduce room reverb in your home studio

Hi, and welcome to the podcasting Made Easy podcast. My name is Steve Hart, author of Podcasting Made Easy.

Today I would like to talk a little bit about reverb. You can do a quick test for reverb by clapping your hands in your home studio. Clap and listen for the reverb.

Now reverb is something most of us who podcast from a spare bedroom or a room in our home can suffer from – when we’ve got hard flat surfaces. This might be the ceiling, the walls, windows and the door. And perhaps you might have a hard floor instead of carpet.

And these hard surfaces do not absorb sound, they bounced the sound right back at you and into the mic.

I know nothing about the mathematics or the frequencies or anything like this. All I know is that I’ve done my level best at home to put stuff on my walls, and put heavy curtains across my windows, so that when sound hits them, the vast majority of it is absorbed into the material, and therefore doesn’t bounce around the room.

So what can you do to help yourself short of spending a king’s ransom to reduce the reverb and improve the acoustics of your recording environment.?

I guess the first thing you should be looking at is what can you do to break up the hard flat surfaces in your room. You could put a bookshelf in there and fill it with books.

And just the fact of a bookshelf being in there with ornaments on the top and books in the bookshelf…they will disturb the way sound is reverberating in your room.

And the paper of the books would even absorb some of the sound. It’s a way of dispersing the sound so it doesn’t go onto the wall and come straight back.

And any ornaments you might have on your shelves will all help dissipate the sound a little bit.

Now I know some people poo poo the square foam tiles you can buy. Some people will say ‘They only really work or help the very low frequencies’. And yeah, I’m sure they are right as I am in no position to argue.

But I would say that if you’ve got a hard a flat surface and you pin up a few dozen of these foam tiles then it’s got to help. Sure the shape of the foam might reduce certain frequencies because that’s what they are designed to do. But the fact they are there means you haven’t got a hard flat surface.

Something else you could do is hang material on walls. That again will just stop one more hard surface being in your room.

If you’ve got blinds across your windows then they’re not really going to help you too much, so you ideally need to put heavy curtains over your windows.

Now just go off on the tangent slightly here as is my want. There is a difference between improving the acoustics of your room, and soundproofing. And if you’re at home in a domestic environment, there’s probably not a lot you can do to reduce the amount of sound that’s coming in to your space.

So if you’re worried about the birds tweeting outside, or the planes going over, or next door’s motorbike or lawn mower or the dog barking…yes, heavy curtains will help a little bit. But it’s very hard to keep those sounds out because they come in from under the floor from above via the roof.

And if anyone’s got a window open elsewhere in the house, it’s going to come in there and come through your door. It’s hard to have a soundproof environment. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a basement and you can go down basically into the earth and have a quite a room down there.

But if you’re above the above ground, you’re probably on a loser trying to keep the sound out; but you can go a long way to improving the recording acoustics of your room.

Okay, any questions about making a podcast? Do let me know just use the contact form – I’m always happy to hear from you. And always happy to answer your questions. Okay, that’s it for this week. Have yourself a cool weekend. See you next time around.