My Studiobricks Mods!!
I'm going to start this post by saying that I love my Studiobricks VO Plus and I've had amazing support from Nik at Black Cat Music. But when you, as an excited narrator or VO, take delivery and subsequently construct your beautifully thought out Lego-like construction booth, it is at this point not quite ready for use.
There are still too many reflective surfaces, the booth sounds boxy, the perspex copy holder is too big, most VO's do not record from actual papery copies. On top of that I found it almost impossible to get the mic at the right angle.
I've had my booth now for about 18 months, I've worked with some great sound engineers to get it sounding really good, notably Jim Edgar, my editor Jeremy Munns and the good folks over at Blackstone Publishing. I've learned a lot about creating a great small space for recording audiobooks and I would like to share what tweaks I made to my booth in order to make it production ready.
So What Exactly Did I change?
The door is probably the biggest single source of reflections so I added Vicoustic panels to the door to stop reflections. Someone suggested to me hanging moving blankets over the door and I tried it for a while (actually I used a quilt I made) but I just couldn't find a satisfactory way of fixing it up. I also felt weirdly claustrophobic having a curtain to wrestle with when I wanted to get in or out... Prob just me... :) .
Nik at Black Cat Music sent me some acoustic panels. They tend to be a bit floppy so I stiffened them by spray gluing the foam to 5mm White Foam Board (hobby board) from Hobbycraft and then attaching clear plastic suction cups from Amazon through the foam and board at the corners. I made 2 of these boards and then stuck them to the inside of the door.
In addition to the single Vicoustic bass trap provided in the VO Edition of the booth I added a second identical trap above my head on the front wall of the booth. Initially I had tried to get away with smaller flat bass trap panels from GiK Acoustics that I had made the exact width of the booth minus a bit to accommodate the existing foam at the front top of the booth. I had high hopes for these but they did not work as I hoped so I got the extra matching round bass trap for this front position. I have kept them in the booth however. They sit on the floor on the wall behind the chair.
When I first got the booth and I wanted to record standing up in it there was a problem with a creak in the floor. Yes we had tried to balance all the turns and the heights of the screw in feet properly and with a spirit level. We sat the booth on a massive anti-vibration mat. We even turned the floor round but none of these solutions worked. I went back and forth to Studiobricks in Spain and via Nik at Black Cat and they did promise to send me a new floor but it didn't ever turn up. Thanks to a tip from an esteemed colleague who also had a similar issue, she recommended removing the feet altogether. This fix solved the creak.
At a later point I added a nice plushy rug too (which my dog loves!)
I covered every visible wall space with Vicoustic Foam panels to reduce and chance of reflections. I used Command double sided sticky strips for this.
I also baffled out two diagonally opposite corners at Microphone height, using more foam panels just friction fit placed on the walls of the booth. They seem to just stick there, magically, so I haven't needed any adhesive for this. The back right corner has two panels
More Yellowtec Kit
I bought an additional iPad mount (Pad Dock YT3275) from Yellowtec to replace the enormous perspex copy stand.
I bought a second Yellowtec wall pole, much longer than the first to give me more options for the height of the Mic Boom arm and the monitor Arm that my Ipad Mount was fixed to.
I switched the original pole to the left hand side of the front panel of the booth and mounted the longer pole on the right side, where the original was.
Then I fixed my super small Lenovo 15" HDMI Monitor to the shorter pole with a Yellowtec XS monitor mount (YT3207). The Lenovo only has 2 mount screw holes so I have to be careful not to tilt the monitor but in practice I don't ever touch it, so that is OK.
The Mic Boom Arm
No matter which mic/shockmount I used I didn't seem to be able to get the mic to sit upright, at the right angle on the end of the Mic Boom Arm. I have a bunch of Mics - A Lewitt LCT540S, Lewitt LCT 440 Pure, Audio Technica AT4033a and this Austrian Audio OC818 which I use the most. None of them sat right.
Finally, I added a quilt to the desktop to absorb any reflections from there, and covered that with a desksize neoprene mouse mat to make the mouse roll better.
There are definitely more tweaks that I can make but I'm going to leave it at that for the moment. I'm pretty happy with my booth as it is - it's such a great space for creating audiobooks!
Want to know what it sounds like? Check out my samples at https://www.deborahbalm.com/
Other equipment pictured but not mentioned:
2018 Mac Mini outside in desk cupboard
Razr Kiyo camera
Ipad Pro 11"
Beyer Dynamic DT770 PRO 80 Ohm Headphones