Home Studio Setup with Andrew the Audio Scientist: Part 2

WelAndrew_250x320come back to the second half of my two-part home studio setup series. Last week I covered where to place your home studio, how to properly soundproof it, and the basic equipment you’ll use in it. Today, I’d like to share real-world examples from three Audible Approved Producers. Let’s look at (and listen to) the great results a home studio can produce.

Visible Sound Audiobooks

Visible Sound

 The controlling and deadening of acoustic reflections in her bedroom and specifically around the microphone is one of the main contributing factors to the professional audio quality of her recordings – Ben Glawe of Visible Sound Audiobooks.

This home studio photo comes to us from Visible Sound Audiobooks, an Audible-Approved Producer whose operations primarily take place in a Brooklyn bedroom. How does this team achieve their professional sound quality in the midst of the country’s busiest city? House-narrator Christine Papania explains:

The biggest noise problem with my bedroom was my window, which overlooks a a noisy street in Brooklyn as well as a park. I bought special blackout curtains which block out light and sound from windows, which lowered the outside noise to acceptable levels. My laptop fan was also leaking noise into the microphone, but the addition of a silent laptop cooling pad fixed the problem.

Now we’ll hear a recording from Visible Sound’s space. You might be surprised how good it sounds!


kate udall



Kate Udall got her start as a narrator at Audible Studios. After working on her production chops and securing some great ACX titles, she earned herself the Audible-Approved Producer distinction. Kate’s studio is a great representation of an effective DIY home recording setup.

According to Kate

We call it Fuzzy Jail around here. It is made of blankets, the size of a cell and I am often inside in locked-down solitary confinement.

Kate uses thick packing blankets to isolate her recording studio from the rest of the room’s noises, which also provides the added benefit of reducing sound reflections that may otherwise occur on the side wall to the left. Her microphone is situated in front of an Auralex Mudguard, a great tool that can further reduce sonic clutter that occurs in home recording environments. She is also wise to set up an external monitor and other necessary components so that her laptop, which sits outside of the recording environment, does not introduce more artifacts and noises into the recorded signal.

Lets listen to a recording from Kate’s Studio:

Stephen Bel Davies

Bel Davies

Our final example shows the upper limits are of home audiobook production. Yes, you are looking at a home studio! This photo comes to us from veteran narrator Stephen Bel Davies.

Located in his Manhattan bedroom, this Studiobricks* installation is the top-of-the-line option for home recording due to its incredible noise-blocking capabilities and reflection controlled environment. Acoustic treatments on all walls, as well as the ceiling, guarantees a deadened recording space with extremely dampened artifacts and reflections. While Stephen is able to achieve a stunning -60dB of sound reduction with this setup, it doesn’t come cheap. These installations will set you back about at least $4,000 before factoring in installation costs. Still – one can dream!

Here is a bit of audio produced in Stephen’s studio.



While Whisper Rooms are an ideal recording environment for any audiobook narrator, they are not necessary to produce a great recording. The most important consideration during an ACX production is consistency – both in practice and in aesthetic. For this reason, after you’ve installed your home studio, I strongly encourage you to read up on my four-part series, How to Succeed at Audiobook Production, which goes over methodologies to ensure success with your new audio production system.

How do you achieve a professional recording? Leave your feedback in the comments below.

(This section originally misidentified Mr. Bel Davies home studio as a WhisperRoom.)

25 responses to “Home Studio Setup with Andrew the Audio Scientist: Part 2

  1. Could we get some more details about the “sound proofing” curtains used by VISIBLE SOUND? Where were they purchased? What are they called? How much do they cost? How many dBs do they block (if you know)?

  2. Hi, Mhari, thanks for your interest! The curtains Christine is using are the Eclipse Blackout Curtains.

    Here’s the product page on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B002LARQU4

    I’m afraid they’re not terribly fancy or expensive, but they do a great job at blocking out the sounds coming from outside, such as cars, trucks, kids playing outside, ect. I checked around and unfortunately couldn’t find an exact dB measurement. They do however enable Christine’s mastered recordings to have a noise floor well under -60dB RMS as specified in the ACX audio submission requirements.

    I hope this was helpful, please don’t hesitate if you have any more questions.

  3. Of course, building a home studio takes more than just user-friendly software. Your house is the biggest gadget of all.

  4. My setup as of now …

  5. This information is really helpful. I am on my way to building my own booth in my closet and becoming an “Approved” narrator myself since I am almost at the 20 or so titles required. Thanks for the tips. – Amanda Leigh Cobb

  6. I’d like tom learn more about the desk I the Studiobricks picture. I have a 4×4 booth that sounds great, but I’ve yet to find a desk that fits inside. Right now I just have a music stand and mic, but would like to be able to have a monitor and keyboard so I can explore Punch and Roll.

  7. I’m on Oahu where it’s way too hot even on the lanai with a fan! How do you guys stay cool (quietly) in your booths? (Kate Udall)

  8. Great advice. Thanks to all this advice, I was finally able to get my home studio perfect! May not look the best, but it works GREAT!!

  9. Author DeAnn DeVille

    I didn’t get to read the home studio equipment needed can u please resend part 1

  10. What recording software do you use? I have used twistedWave..

  11. This is great information for a beginner like me. Thanks so much for this post!

  12. I’m also in Brooklyn. My principal concern is airplane noise. Did the curtains help that?

  13. Agree with Author DeAnn DeVille…..can you please repost s resend part 1? Thank you.

  14. Hi there!

    I’ve recently built a “vocal booth” in my home after booking 4 audiobook gigs off of my first 4 auditions on ACX. I sound treated a former coat closet by mounting 2 inch acoustic panels from FoamFactory and got every item on the ACX Wish List. I also taught myself to edit and master in Pro Tools, Logic and Twisted Wave. However, I now seem to encounter a problem I can’t solve: my noise floor remains around -50db, with various car/bus/motorcycle/helicopter/tourist sounds coming in through the 9 floor to ceiling windows of my gorgeous but noisy Hollywood loft.
    Here are my questions:
    -will I have to soundproof every window and what’s the most practical, inexpensive way to do so? Or
    -is there a chance that if I replace the Blue Icicle interface with a “proper” interface like the frequently recommended Scarlett 2i2 I will be able to block out some of the traffic noise? In other words, could the Icicle be the problem?

    Thank you in advance for your answer i

    Photos of my setup in this album: https://www.facebook.com/inakopp/media_set?set=a.481199565306675.1073741825.100002499084125&type=3

    • I have a Scarlett 2i2. The MBox on the wish list was phased out when I went shopping. I tried an Avid interface and returned it because it was malfunctional, at which time I also questioned why it did not have a line/inst switch. This affects gain. It’s a classic switch that tells an interface whether you have a louder instrument input or a quieter microphone input.

      I just took a look at the Blue Icicle product, which I was not familiar with. Having not used one I could not tell you whether the gain is inferior on that. It definitely was inferior on the Avid unit, and I had to boost it way up to get a strong enough signal. I bought the Scarlett 2i2 at Guitar Center, and I was told I could return anything that did not perform to my expectations. I’m keeping git. You might want to try another interface out. If you do get the Scarlett, it comes with Ableton Live, which is easy enough to adapt to for recording and post.

  15. I believe that first and foremost you need a decent noise gate. Most compressor units have them included in. I hear so many recordings with room ambience in between phrases and I can’t help but think that using a gate would easily clean up the inbetweens. Also, make sure to ‘roll off the lows’ on your recordings (usually everything under 100hz). I also do not record next to my computer (I built a booth down the hallway from my living room!) here is a picture if you want to see it:

    I started recording as a musician first, so I had a head start on gathering equipment so I am probably running with more equipment than most of you guys, but I just recently started getting serious into VO about 6 months ago. I love it. I have auditioned for a few books but have yet to land a gig. That’s ok… the auditions are good practice, right? I am doing some narration work for a company that does government training applications/websites. I am the voice of a few FAA training programs, as well as the federal bureau of prisons training. I record on Adobe Audition CS6… it is great for recording/editing/sound design.

  16. Thanks for the great suggestions! An off topic question, what is the controller to the left of Visible Sound Audiobooks laptop????

  17. Taylor Michaels

    I ran the two audio samples through the ACX Check app on Audacity and both failed for peaks and noise. The second failed for RMS level (and peaks and noise). Numerous people have said similar things about their own recordings. What is the reality? Are these standards enforced???? Do they matter?

  18. I’m stuck on the -23Db & -18Db requirement. If I do that, then I can’t even hear the playback. What are your suggestions?

  19. Thanks so much for the two home-studio sessions. I’m guessing the three samples from the three recording studios were not mastered. My room sits at about -65, unless it’s raining. 🙂 I am very happy with it, but, I am looking for better mastering software. I will try fre.ac

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