Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing and podcasting is one of the best ways to market audiobooks, since you are already in people's ears, but both require good quality sound recording. In this article, I'll outline how I (finally) built my own audio sound booth.
I've been podcasting since 2009 and recorded my first audiobook in 2015, when I hired a professional studio and audio producer.
I found the process exhausting and decided to work with pro narrators for my books, but of course, you have to find a good ‘voice' match for your work, and I believe voice brand is going to become even more important as time passes.
[Here's why you should consider narrating your own audiobooks.]
In late 2018, after voice coaching for improvement, I started recording more audiobooks — The Dark Queen, and A Thousand Fiendish Angels, both in my walk-in closet at my old flat. [Links to all my audiobooks here.]
Then I decided to double down on audio and make it a significant part of my author business, so when we moved house in May 2019, I wanted a proper audio booth so I could record better quality sound. Of course, it can be cleaned up later, but the base level sound quality takes the files a long way towards the finished product.
There are options for your home studio, including a full-on professional self-contained booth with ventilation and fan installed (basic starts at US$5000 on VocalBooth.com), all the way to putting an audio blanket over your head in a closet.
I thought I was going to go for the expensive pro setup, but then my wonderful audio producer, Dan Van Werkhoven, sent me this article on the best DIY vocal booth from Musician on a Mission, which includes some basic options as well as some more developed ideas. We decided to build a variation of the blanket booth, option 4.
Once in my new house, I called a local carpenter who measured up the available space and built a simple timber frame for £320 (around US$400). It's sturdy but I can still lift it, and it can be disassembled if we move house again.
I covered the frame with 4 audio blankets (£250, around $310) and linked them together with shower curtain rings so they hang down either side of the booth as well as around both ends.
[Specifically VB72G Sound Absorption Panels Producers Choice – White- Black. Size 200 x 243 cm, with Grommets from Vocal Booth To Go, who also have other options.]
It's perfect 🙂 I can go inside and seal the door behind me with a bulldog clip and the sound is brilliant. It's incredible how much difference the blankets make.
I've been using this new booth for my podcast introductions for the past month and have also recorded Successful Self-Publishing as an audiobook, with 3 more audiobooks on the way.
The process is much easier as I just move my laptop into the booth, plug in the microphone, close the door and start recording. Since my energy is variable during the day, I can do a couple of hours and then work on something else.
Here's a list of all the equipment for the whole booth with prices in USD:
- Wooden frame – $400
- Sound blankets – $310
- Curtain rings – $6
- Bulldog clips to hold the door shut – $5
- Microphone stand – $45
- Blue Yeti microphone – $90
- Pop filter – $10
- Light – $20
- Small fan (although obviously, you can't have that running when you are in the booth, only in between sessions) – $5
- Music stand – $9
- Barstool to put my laptop on – $30
I have had different setups over the years in rental property but now I have my own office in my own house, I am really happy with this booth and it will last a while.
Considering my audiobook sales have doubled twice in the last 2 years, I am anticipating doing a lot more audio, so the investment is already paid for.
Do you have a home audio setup? Any recommendations or tips? Please do leave a comment and join the conversation.
Pamela Dennis says
My son does podcasts and teaches online classes, too. He has a new infant in the house now! Will this structure block out the baby’s crying?
Joanna Penn says
It will go a long way to doing that. He should look to order ‘sound blankets’ – but they can be quite hot so for a short time only!
Also, check out https://krisp.ai/ which can remove background noise for recordings, so even if he can hear it, others can’t.
I love this, its a great and affordable option. Im planning on doing audio dramas of my book series, so I would love to take coaching sessions. What course or coach do you recommend on this regard? Thanks!
Joanna Penn says
I have a book, Audio for Authors, https://www.thecreativepenn.com/audio-for-authors/ but it doesn’t cover audio dramas specifically.
Cara Charles says
JOANNA PENN is such a magnificent lovely and generous helpful person. I listened to her for years. Then Mark Dawson came along after he met Joanna and he went from there. Joanna will always be my FAV.
I stopped listening after she coached me via her soul building podcasts, to create my own e-book in 2017 after yrs of writing in another genre, just bcz I was a little blue.
I did all their tricks and still not as successful as I’d hoped due to my missing a marketing trick, somewhere…
But… when I thought about turning it to an audio book, here is dear Joanna again, all set to help.
Much love dear Joanna.
Writer who rehashes historical events into thrillers…