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3 Simple and Useful DIY Studio Hacks: Frugal Tips for The Home Musician


This is a guest post by Damian Burke the editor of The Doughnut music magazine. Please read the guest post guidelines if you wish to contribute.

I love home recording (for the record, that’s not my studio in the photo). I don’t claim to be any good at it, but that doesn’t make it any cheaper. Here are some tips that may help when money is short…

DIY Pop Filter

A pop filter can mean the difference between a hit or a hiss. Good mic technique is important, especially for a harsh or aggressive style such as metal or rap, but a single hard consonant can ruin an otherwise flawless take. Luckily, with a wire coat hanger, a nylon stocking and a clip or clamp your plosives will go “un-ploded”.

Re-work the wire coat hanger into a circle, leaving length at the base to clip onto the mic stand. Wrap the stocking in around the circle and position it in front of the mic. Presto!

“Soundproofing”

If you’re putting together a new home studio on a shoestring, installing drywalls, fancy insulation and dampening panels are probably beyond your budget – but acoustical sealant (or caulk) might help plug initial sound leaks in your space. It’s cheap and it’s a great start.

It’s time to start collecting. Anything from corrugated cardboard and egg boxes (the two dozen kind cover a lot of surface area), to rolls of foam – from wherever you can get ’em.

Make a day of it. Scout around thrift shops, car boot sales and auctions in your area and you’ll likely find large old blankets, carpets and heavy curtains. These are great for controlling acoustics [in the high-end], and nothing says cosy studio like Persian-style rugs.

Recording Vocals

Sometimes soundproofing an entire room just isn’t feasible, a cupboard (with clothes still inside) is often more than adequate for recording vocals and other acoustic instruments. Shift those heavy coats aside, but don’t dare take them out.

Those are my three DIY studio hacks off the top of my head, what are yours?

– Damian

Image: Plat


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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LEAVE A COMMENT

  • soundofdcm

    This post is bullshit. There is no better way to waste money than gathering carpets, egg boxes and foam. If you want to make your room boomy and sound like shit, go for it! Acoustic treatment can be done cheaper, but it has to be done with the knowledge of physics basics and I assume that author of this article doesn’t have it writing about EGG BOXES…. Considering soundproofing and sound insulation this post has just one thing that is right, all “holes” to the room should be plugged, but not with the f***ng EGG BOXES!

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      I did pause when I read the egg boxes, but what I think the author means is that you can reduce the reflections in your room. Thick carpet and foam can work well to absorb the higher reflections, hence my edit there. Soundproofing is a massive undertaking, especially if you’re in a rental and aren’t even allowed.

      Anything is better than bare walls, even egg boxes although they don’t do much. I have both DIY absorbers/bass traps and Auralex foam in my studio but not everyone has the DIY skills or money to purchase that.

      And you don’t have to censor your words. It reflects poorly on you either way you write it.

  • soundofdcm

    This post is bullshit. There is no better way to waste money than gathering carpets, egg boxes and foam. If you want to make your room boomy and sound like shit, go for it! Acoustic treatment can be done cheaper, but it has to be done with the knowledge of physics basics and I assume that author of this article doesn’t have it writing about EGG BOXES…. Considering soundproofing and sound insulation this post has just one thing that is right, all “holes” to the room should be plugged, but not with the f***ng EGG BOXES!

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      I did pause when I read the egg boxes, but what I think the author means is that you can reduce the reflections in your room. Thick carpet and foam can work well to absorb the higher reflections, hence my edit there. Soundproofing is a massive undertaking, especially if you’re in a rental and aren’t even allowed.

      Anything is better than bare walls, even egg boxes although they don’t do much. I have both DIY absorbers/bass traps and Auralex foam in my studio but not everyone has the DIY skills or money to purchase that.

      And you don’t have to censor your words. It reflects poorly on you either way you write it.

  • I live in a rental house with a garage that I converted into my home studio, and I’m not privy to a deceased relative’s trust fund, so I had to be creative with my soundproofing. I have a carpeted floor and I’d tried carpeted walls with used carpet and egg cartons and such in the past, but I found these methods not so practical. It took time to amass enough egg cartons from restaurants, and most of the used carpet available was stained with animal urine!

    Here’s an idea I got from a friend with a home studio for making sound absorbing panels, corner traps, clouds, etc., very cheap to make with comparable results to those expensive room treatment packages. Here’s the recipe I used, and I’ll go through it in steps so that if you like, you can try it as well…

    Ingredients:
    1/8″ Masonite paneling 4×8′
    R-13 fiberglass insulation rolls 14″ wide (standard) with paper backing
    1 1/2″ lath board, 1/4″ thick
    thin clothing fabric (sheeting)
    contact cement
    picture hangers that can be tacked on
    small nails, 3/8″ long

    Tools needed: saw, hammer, paintbrush, scissors, box cutter to cut insulation, gloves

    For a 4’x14″ panel:
    1. cut the Masonite to 4’x14″ (you can get 6 this size from an 8′ panel, with a 12″ panel left over for a corner trap)
    2. tack a 14″ piece of lath board, using small nails, to what will be the top edge of the panel, on the rough side (the inside)
    3. spread contact cement evenly with a brush on the rough side of the Masonite panel
    4. take a piece of fiberglass insulation (cut to 48″ long, on a 32′ roll you should get 8 of these) and attach it, paper side down, to the prepared side of the Masonite, lining up the edges (and make sure you’re using gloves when handling this stuff)
    5. cut the fabric so that it will hang over the edges of the panel at least 3-4″ on all sides (for this size panel, you should cut fabric to 22×56″). Cover the insulation with the fabric so that the fabric edges hang over evenly on all sides. Now flip the whole thing over on your work surface.
    6. apply contact cement around the edge of the Masonite panel, about 1-2″. Wait until the contact cement gets tacky, then attach the edges of the fabric to the surface, pulling taut and folding the corners in neatly. After attaching the fabric, another layer of contact cement over the edges of the fabric should help hold it into place. Let dry.
    7. attach picture hangers to the corners of the top edge of the panel to hang. On an 8′ wall, hanging these 2′ from the floor and ceiling do the trick. Hanging several panels around the room, and in the corners will do wonders to break up the flat wall surfaces and absorb the echo and reverberations.

    I made 24 of this size panel in a single day, and the material cost was about $100. They are extremely lightweight, and can be used anywhere.
    And these panels will suck the reverb and the slapback out of your room. Depending on your room and your preferences, the sizes of panels you make is up to you, and you can tweak the design anyway you like.
    I also made 4×4′ clouds, hung from the ceiling with fishing line, using lath board around the entire edge of the panel for reinforcement.
    I hung 6 of these tight to each other, 3 on each side of a room corner for a vocal recording area, and position the mic about 1-2′ away from the corner, pointed out at 45 degrees toward the singer.

    If you’re into sound recording and mixing at home, you already have the creativity it takes to tune up your home studio room on a tight budget. Hopefully this post will provide some inspiration.

    (Permission to repost at blogger’s discretion)

  • I live in a rental house with a garage that I converted into my home studio, and I’m not privy to a deceased relative’s trust fund, so I had to be creative with my soundproofing. I have a carpeted floor and I’d tried carpeted walls with used carpet and egg cartons and such in the past, but I found these methods not so practical. It took time to amass enough egg cartons from restaurants, and most of the used carpet available was stained with animal urine!

    Here’s an idea I got from a friend with a home studio for making sound absorbing panels, corner traps, clouds, etc., very cheap to make with comparable results to those expensive room treatment packages. Here’s the recipe I used, and I’ll go through it in steps so that if you like, you can try it as well…

    Ingredients:
    1/8″ Masonite paneling 4×8′
    R-13 fiberglass insulation rolls 14″ wide (standard) with paper backing
    1 1/2″ lath board, 1/4″ thick
    thin clothing fabric (sheeting)
    contact cement
    picture hangers that can be tacked on
    small nails, 3/8″ long

    Tools needed: saw, hammer, paintbrush, scissors, box cutter to cut insulation, gloves

    For a 4’x14″ panel:
    1. cut the Masonite to 4’x14″ (you can get 6 this size from an 8′ panel, with a 12″ panel left over for a corner trap)
    2. tack a 14″ piece of lath board, using small nails, to what will be the top edge of the panel, on the rough side (the inside)
    3. spread contact cement evenly with a brush on the rough side of the Masonite panel
    4. take a piece of fiberglass insulation (cut to 48″ long, on a 32′ roll you should get 8 of these) and attach it, paper side down, to the prepared side of the Masonite, lining up the edges (and make sure you’re using gloves when handling this stuff)
    5. cut the fabric so that it will hang over the edges of the panel at least 3-4″ on all sides (for this size panel, you should cut fabric to 22×56″). Cover the insulation with the fabric so that the fabric edges hang over evenly on all sides. Now flip the whole thing over on your work surface.
    6. apply contact cement around the edge of the Masonite panel, about 1-2″. Wait until the contact cement gets tacky, then attach the edges of the fabric to the surface, pulling taut and folding the corners in neatly. After attaching the fabric, another layer of contact cement over the edges of the fabric should help hold it into place. Let dry.
    7. attach picture hangers to the corners of the top edge of the panel to hang. On an 8′ wall, hanging these 2′ from the floor and ceiling do the trick. Hanging several panels around the room, and in the corners will do wonders to break up the flat wall surfaces and absorb the echo and reverberations.

    I made 24 of this size panel in a single day, and the material cost was about $100. They are extremely lightweight, and can be used anywhere.
    And these panels will suck the reverb and the slapback out of your room. Depending on your room and your preferences, the sizes of panels you make is up to you, and you can tweak the design anyway you like.
    I also made 4×4′ clouds, hung from the ceiling with fishing line, using lath board around the entire edge of the panel for reinforcement.
    I hung 6 of these tight to each other, 3 on each side of a room corner for a vocal recording area, and position the mic about 1-2′ away from the corner, pointed out at 45 degrees toward the singer.

    If you’re into sound recording and mixing at home, you already have the creativity it takes to tune up your home studio room on a tight budget. Hopefully this post will provide some inspiration.

    (Permission to repost at blogger’s discretion)