As we start the New Year, you are gunning to up your radio game and achieve a more professional sound, all whilst feeling like a pro in your own designated space. You have acquired the SAM Broadcaster software, you have stream hosting, and you are DJing for an internet radio station. Now you have finally decided to take the next step in your venture by improving your home radio studio.
Perhaps you have been contemplating it for a while, unsure of whether or not you could swing it. As it turns out, this next pursuit doesn’t have to be too much of a hassle, though it will require some work. We are here to share some nifty tips and cost-effective ways for you to improve your basic home radio studio.
Location and Equipment
When you initially set up your home studio, did you keep in mind things like size, noise, and acoustic quality? If not, here are a few things to consider:
Ideally, the room you are using should have ample space to comfortably house all of your studio furniture, gear, and gadgets, as well as all the hosts or guests that might be active at any given moment. Though larger rooms may have a higher chance of echoes, it is important not to skimp on your own comfort by being in a cramped space for hours. If the space you are using is a bight cramped, perhaps it is time to relocate?
We have put together guides for microphones and headphones that will suit your online radio needs. There is a plethora of other radio gear that can improve your online radio performance. Though some of you may already have a few of these items, others may be missing a few items. So, let’s take a look at some handy studio gear:
It’s important to keep your mic up and away from any surfaces where it will pick up sound vibrations, like on your desk. That is the magic of boom arms; they keep the mic away from surface vibrations, whilst holding it at a comfortable position for you to speak at.
Having a shock mount on your studio microphone aids in isolating your mic from sound vibrations that may travel up the boom arm. It is also a handy tool to protect your mic from external damage.
When you speak into your mic, the fast-moving air tends to hit the microphone and the impact results in ‘popping’ sounds. Pop filters are a great tool for preventing popping sounds from reaching the microphone whilst you speak into it. It will also add a level of protection to your mic whilst improving your sound quality.
External Sound Cards
If you plan on having multiple hosts or guests at any given time, you may need an external sound card. You will use one of these to plug in any extra mics or headphones that you will use during broadcasting. Sound cards are a good option for beginners and smaller stations, but if your station is on the rise and growing you may need a mixer, which we will look at next.
A step up from the aforementioned sound cards, mixers, or mixing boards, also allow you to connect extra mics and headphones while giving the added extra of being able to control sound, volume, and EQ. They are also useful as a pre-amp and a source of phantom power for microphones.
You should keep the future growth of your station in mind; will you be adding more hosts or extra equipment in the times to come? Having extra space in your home radio studio for later expansion may come in handy as your station grows.
Sound, Noise, and Acoustics
We live in quite a noisy world, and while you might automatically drown out the sounds of everyday life, your microphone won’t. Your studio should ideally be the quietest room you could find, with the least amount of outside noise. You want to share your own thoughts and ideas and music with your audience, sure, but not so much the sound of traffic, pets, or roommate squabbles. Hopefully, you were able to find a space where you are able to make as much noise as you like without being disturbed or disturbing anyone.
The acoustics of the room you work from is also important; that is, simply put, if you speak or clap or otherwise make a noise, there should not be an echo. Hardwood floors, windows, and high ceilings are all factors that would negatively affect the sound quality in your studio. Rooms with softer materials, like carpeted floors, are generally better when it comes to absorbing sound. But if the room you are using is not carpeted, with no windows and a low ceiling, don’t fret! There are relatively simple ways to work around these issues and improve the sound quality of your studio, without making too big a dent in your budget.
Soundproofing / Sound Treatment
As you speak into the mic, the sound is picked up and recorded so it’s all good, right? Well, when you speak into your mic, the sound you make travels outwards in all directions. The portion of sound that goes directly into the mic remains unaltered in frequency and tone. The remaining sound, however, bounces about the room reflecting off of random surfaces and has the chance to hit the mic on its journey. The reflected sound changes in frequency with each new surface it bounces off of.
There are ways to deal with the reflected sound in your home radio studio to achieve a more professional sound, like soundproofing and sound treatment. Although people often use these terms interchangeably, it’s important to understand that these are not the same thing.
Soundproofing refers to blocking all outside noise from reaching your microphone. For a do-it-yourselfer on a budget, soundproofing may be a bit of a hassle. It generally requires quite a lot of effort, building materials, and cash.
Sound treatment, on the other hand, simply refers to reducing sound echoes, reflections, and reverberations in the studio space. This is a lot simpler and more cost-effective than soundproofing, especially for hobbyists, beginners, and folks on a budget.
We’ll be focussing on sound treatment for the purpose of this article. There’s a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to sound treatment for your home radio studio. Let’s take a look at a few of these options:
Having carpeted floors is a great way to absorb sound in a room. That way if you move around there won’t be any creaking or loud reverberations. If your studio room has hardwood or tile floors, lay down some loose carpets you have laying around the house. Alternatively, you can invest in some self-adhesive carpet tiles for your home radio studio room.
Dense drapes or even blankets can be nifty tools for at-home sound treatment. If your studio room has large windows, you can hang heavy drapes or a dense blanket in front of them. This will absorb reflected in-studio sound, as well as outside noise. If there is still a slight echo after you’ve completed your sound treatment, try hanging a blanket behind you and your mic to absorb the extra sound.
By placing some of these foam panels strategically on your studio walls, you could significantly improve the studio acoustics. These foam panels will not make too much of a dent in your budget and they can make your studio look pretty cool too!
Be sure to test your audio after you have completed the sound treatment; do some recordings to test the waters, and adjust your sound treatment if necessary.
These are simply easy and cost-effective ways to achieve smoother, more professional audio delivery in your home radio studio. As you grow your station and expand your internet broadcasting horizons, you can look into upgrading the sound treatment or even dabble in soundproofing. It’s all up to you. Either way, SAM Broadcaster will always be here for you with the best radio automation software for your internet radio needs. If you haven’t tried it yet, get our free trial of SAM Broadcaster Cloud and start your online radio adventure today.