Annoying Trifles


Before I complete this series on setting up your sound booth, I should describe the ‘other’ important issues you will discover using your booth.  Some of these you can expect, the others will sneak up on you and manifest themselves by surprise in your finished work.

I’m largely speaking  about extraneous, unwanted sounds which creep into all our works. For instance, squeaks of the narrator’s or singer’s chair.  You know, the comfortable, heavy and expensive one you installed, foreseeing years of constant use.  Pay attention early or regret it later.  It will squeak, or worse, clunk at critical times, producing sounds which are hard to erase.  Tightening up may help but most important is to have your narrator recognize body changes which cause noise. And that also goes for static produced by some clothing. Soft cotton is best.

It took a long time, but I finally found the source of a small, audible voltage spike which was bedeviling me. Don’t put your cell phone on a charger inside the booth.  Best to turn the little devil off completely.

You wouldn’t expect it, but I’ve found that stomach gurgling can easily be heard on the recording and is hard to eliminate (excuse the pun).  I don’t have an answer for that problem.  You are on your own.

Fixing distance from the mike and setting any volume controls prior to each recording session is a must.  Even so, the time of day, your narrators state of energy and mind, and who knows…phases of the moon, have input.  Some things you can’t fight. Another obvious and mood changing dynamic is an upper respiratory infection, however mild, which will morph your narrator or singer into another person.

Be careful to avoid any page turning.  We  use an iPad which is noiseless and handy and can be prepped with emphasis, if needed.

However good your booth is, outside noise is hard to eliminate.  One of my own problems has come from remote fan noise from an air conditioner or furnace.  It was startling the first time I was able to compare two tracks, one with the noise and one without.  Yes, I was able to nearly eliminate this low frequency noise with the DAW software, but my opinion is that something in her voice is lost in the process.

In our set up, Janel uses the mouse to start and stop her recordings.  Needless to say, I usually have to edit out the soft mouse clicks later.  I could probably ignore them but I am cursed with a perfectionist nature. I may switch over to a input pad for her,  which should be noiseless.

The point of all the above is that you should listen carefully and intently to your recordings for errors such as the ones I mentioned so that your sessions will continue to improve.  After all, we should strive for perfection even if it is impossible to achieve.


Alexander Francis