Acoustic foamy goodness

10 Dec 09 07:00AM EST
Post by Laurence Grayson
I’ve always found it rather ironic that poor video with good audio always comes across as a lot more professional than good video with poor audio. And frankly, getting a decent audio recording at CHOICE is a real pain in the proverbials - particularly since the recent renovation replaced the tatty old sound-absorbing carpet with noisy wooden floors.

To make matters worse, the area set aside for the video/podcast studio is a wall’s width away from all of the heat exchangers, pumps and arcane mechanical paraphernalia that serve the test labs here in darkest Marrickville. The walls are close (and thin), and the ceiling is low. All of which makes for largely unimpressive acoustics.

Part of the solution here is to ‘close-mic’ the talent, using lavalier (lapel) or stand microphones placed as close to the audio source as possible, which keeps the ambient noise down to an acceptable level. But even then, the acoustics still sound a little too much like the inside of a toilet for my liking. This is because the microphone is picking up the audio as it bounces off the adjacent surfaces, causing unwanted reverb and echo (neither of which can be effectively cleaned up in post).

In an attempt to fix this, I’ve taken the popular DIY option of cladding the walls with sound-absorbing foam. To keep things as cheap as possible, I’ve sourced a locally-produced foam from Dunlop, rather than buying the more popular imported brands like Auralex, which would have cost over twice as much.

It’s not a professional job, by any means - I’ve not used bass traps in the corners, and the edges of my cuts really don’t bear up to close scrutiny, but I’m pretty happy with the end result. Check out the video to see for yourself.

And if you’d like to hear the difference it makes, this podcast was recorded in the new location.


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