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$40 of bed pillows + tall rack of clothes

studio test results

View is logarithmic (dB) waveform, zero crossing midline set to -60dBFS, normalized to 0 dBFS.

We popped a balloon in this small no-closet bedroom 18″ behind a sensitive LDC microphone before and after treatment. Untreated, the reverberation of the popping sound lingered for well over a 1/4 second. After adding pillows and clothes, reverberation time to -60dBFS (modified RT60 test with low cut) was just over 1/10 second. This was a more challenging room than most, needing more pillows. A bedroom with a wide reach-in closet is easier.

Why Does This Work So Well?

The Echo Erase setup is smart placement of thick sound-absorbing material. The goal is to absorb much of the sound of the voice before it can echo, and aim the cardiod pattern of the microphone at a thickly baffled space, in this case a rack of clothes with pillows on top.

Microphone

The $35 Fifine K670 USB mic includes the essentials: volume control, direct monitoring headset jack, decent condenser technology. Later, you’ll want to invest in a full-featured preamp and more sensitive microphone for $200.

 

What Matters: Click Here

For every octave lower in pitch, you need to double the thickness of sound absorbing material, or multiply the area by a lot. For the lowest frequencies of the human voice you need material that is at least a foot-and-a-half thick.

We have certified dozens of studios in recent years. We have found if you don’t follow these principles, your studio won’t test well, or it will be a lot of work or expense, or you won’t sound good.

Get away from hard surfaces

Walls, hardwood floor, windows, doors, desk, etc., or cover them with thick material (pillows, bunched up towels, comforters, sleeping bags). Small spaces are bad because they bring echoing walls closer. Spaces near walls are not great. Corners are especially bad.

New acoustic foam is bad. Blankets are bad. “Vocal Isolators” are bad. Get THICK absorbers!

Cheap foam doesn’t do much, good foam is way, way too expensive. Acoustic foam that is 3″ or more inches thick and is acquired free or at low cost is good. Blankets, including “acoustic moving blankets” are ineffective.

Get close to the mic.

The farther you are from the mic, the worse your studio sounds, because you have to turn up the gain to make your voice loud enough, and that makes echoes and background noise louder too. Expensive mics generally push you further away, and so are bad for home studios. The closer you get to the mic, the more you can turn the gain down, which makes echoes and background sounds quieter.

Get inside a pillow fort.

Put 18- to 24-inch multi-absorbers as close as possible in front and behind your head, and if needed, to the side as well. This is incredibly effective as shown by stringent testing. Absorbers on the back of the mic (pillows in an Echo Erase Silent Stand), and behind and above your head (pillows with hanging clothes are best). If you can’t back up to hanging clothes, generally you’ll need to modify a rolling clothes rack to hold pillow up above.

Script and preamp go in front

NOT to the side or anywhere else. This means you must see OVER the pillows behind the mic, which means you will need to tweak your setup until it works.

Get away from noise sources

Windows, vents, computer fan, etc., or cover them with thick material (pillows, bunched up towels, comforters, sleeping bags).

Results are only good when tests prove it

Don’t spend a lot of time setting things up until you have started testing. Don’t guess what is needed, find out by testing.

Why overstuffed pillows are such a great bargain (the orange bracketed areas at bottom are the range of human voice frequencies):

For every octave lower in pitch sound goes, sound absorbing material needs to double in thickness to absorb it—the lower frequencies of the human voice require material nearly two feet thick to be effective.

These thicker materials (like pillows) absorb ALL frequencies, down to the lowest frequency they are thick enough to absorb. Materials 18″ thick or greater (like three stacked pillows) are called multi-absorbers.

You need multi-absorbers behind your mic to absorb some of your voice before it can echo, and more behind your head where the mic is “listening”.

Click for pics from Don Gonyea/NPR:

Because your microphone is pointed behind you,

have thick sound absorbing materials behind your back. Here’s how:

 

BEST CLOSET TYPES:

Type 1A or 1B: Wide or double-door reach-in closet, stand outside.

Type 2: Typical walk-in closet, stand outside.

Type 3: Walk-in closet larger than 7’x7′ standing inside

 

PROBLEM CLOSET TYPES:

Type 4: Narrow door, reach-in closet

Type 5: Corner door, walk-in closet

 

No CLOSET (examples):

Clothes on a modified rack with pillows above.

The most important thing you can do to improve your home studio acoustic baffling: Absorb your voice before it can echo. Absorb as close to the mic as you can. You need to absorb the sound of your voice because of two types of echoes: flutter and room modes.

The problem with room mode echoes

The smaller the space, the more room mode echoes become a problem. Click below to hear a voice recorded and played back in a room, then played back and re-recorded in the room over and over until the words become unintelligible, replaced by the characteristic frequencies (room modes) of the room itself. This is demonstration of how sound we hear can mask the source of sound in inside spaces with parallel hard surfaces (e.g. floor and ceiling).

YouTube Video Example

The ideal space is deep enough that you can place the mic directly under the door frame, and the doors are wide enough that you can stand inside and wave your arms around a bit without hitting things. Some double door reach-in closets are too shallow, and so you can’t back in as far as is ideal. This means the mic will pick up echoes (“reflections”) from the wall around the outside of the door, and you will benefit from absorbing some of those echoes with pillows around the door frame, as shown below.

Type 1A: REACH-in Wide Closet

Stand nearly under door frame:

Type 2: WALK-in Closet, regular door

Stand inside, pillow inside door frame:

Type 4: Shallow Closet • Narrow Door

Stand outside, pillows around door:

 

Type 1B: Shallow Closet • Wide Doors

Stand outside. (1) Remove doors, or

(2) Hang absorbent material on doors:

Pillows on
Copy Stand:

Convert a second copy stand into a stand for the pillows (vs hanging or PVC stand).
Click any picture to enlarge:

Pillows tilted back to make seeing over easier:

Overstack pillows before tying together:

• Stabilize stand from tilting with duct tape on back
• Be sure to be able to move hands around underneath closest edge
• Do not rely on built-in tightening adjustment

 No Closet Stand: Clothes + Pillows

The taller the stand, the better. RT60 tests show a big advantage to having pillows on top reach the ceiling. Standard height clothes racks are mostly too low. Standard cardioid pattern mics (99+% of VO mics) “listen” to the space behind you from your chest up to the ceiling (when the mic is placed just below your lower lip and angled up slightly). Here are some alternatives:

$22 66″ Rack, Added Vertical Rods

Link to this product from June, 2024 (price and availability likely to change) (alternative link)

$21.50 63″ Shelf, Added Crosspiece

Link to this product from June, 2024 (price and availability likely to change)

Hang DIY Panels

Like building giant pizza boxes. At the back in a warehouse store (Costco, Sam’s Club) ask for uncompacted pallet cardboard. Fill with insulation, shredded fabric, towels, fiber fill. Lightweight fabric wrap. Mount on 2×4’s jammed between floor and ceiling.

Pillows on
PVC Stand:

Hang/Mount Pillows:

Pop Filter On Arm

Click any picture to enlarge: