Why and How to Make a Live/Dead Room for Recording October 18, 2007Posted by Jeff in Podcast Instruction, Podcasting.
A lot of studios pride them selves in having a ‘dead’ room. What’s that mean? 1 – it’s free and clear of ambient noise and 2 – it has enough treatments in it to soak up any sound made in the room (so as not to hear an echo).
When recording at home, sometimes it’s hard to get a dead room. Heating/AC vents, windows, neighbors, etc. all contribute to those ambient noises that you’re trying to keep out of your recording. You can also be the culprit with loose clothing, watches, a squeaky chair, computer fan, and even things like moving papers around.
I get questions all the time around the subject, and want to talk about how to make a live/dead room.
A completely dead room is great if you have a lot of equipment to put live sound back in (depending on the level). In most cases, it’s good to have a little bit of presence in your room to make the recording sound alive. The trick for making a live/dead room is curtains.
Hang curtain rods at the wall ceiling joint all around the room (like crown molding). Get the bar type that you can just thread rings onto. Buy curtains that extend from ceiling to floor, and buy enough curtains to wrap all the way around the room and buy them thick enough that they will trap sound coming at them, and keep sound from getting through to you (like say from a window or door).
“Open” the curtains and tuck them in the corners of the room when not recording or recording and needing a live room. The curtains in the corners will act as bass traps, but will leave the walls open for some genuine reverb. When you need a dead room, close the curtains… pulling them over doors, windows, wood furniture against the walls, pictures, etc. Once you understand your room a little better, you may want to close just one wall, partially close another, or open opposite facing walls depending on your microphone placement.
Of course, I always recommend auralex room kits for recording studios… but if you’re a home studio and use your room for multiple things like live recording, dead recording, and a game room :)… curtains are an easy and a relatively inexpensive way to treat your room.