Letting Off Some Steam

But maybe you can help

Well I’ve only just got my first decent mic and was using it today. It’s also the first time I’ve really used a microphone in my flat (I’ve not lived here long).

After doing a vocal track it was horrible. The acoustics of the living room have this strange high pitched flanging reverberation. It obviously comes through on my condensor and completely sets the vocals out of place in the recording. And of course it sounds horrible.

Any suggestions? It’s a flat so I can’t just put up acoustic tiles that I need to deaden those highs. I’ve moved around the flat a bit and checked rooms. The kitchen sounds possibly the best, but it has all the humming etc… The laundry room/bathroom is tooo cold to be in and not 2 great, the hallway sounds ok, but sounds very middy and boxy. Grraa!!

Seems almost useless recording now. And ive just splashed out so much money on two condonsers in just this week!

Do you have all of your curtains closed (to stop the sound hititn gthe windows)?

Also maybe try hanging some blankets or towels from the ceiling or on the walls.

What type of floor have you got?
If its not carpet maybe get a large rug

I record in an apartment and find it best to record in the bedroom.
Loungeroom sounds too big and boomy/echo-y.

Bedroom is smaller, has a large soft bed in the middle of it and it I open the wardrobe doors lots of clothes to not reflect sound.

Also how or you micing up?
Maybe try pointing the mic a bit differently… Like have it higher and pointing down or something and see if it makes a difference


The acoustics of the living room have this strange high pitched flanging reverberation

Make sure you've got it pointing the right way. A friend of mine got the same result and he couldn't work out why, but it worked for that song and people were asking him how he got the cool vocal sound!

Yeah I have the curtains closed.

Blankets no good since this is a flat and I share with 3 other people. I’m already encroaching the shared living room by having a desk, 5 guitars, guitar amp, and stuff in the living room.

Carpet is on the floor.

My bed room sounds like the living room, except more enclosed.

Dont think changing mic position makes to much difference since it’s an ultra sensitive condensor, and I also walked around singing into the mic with it in my hand trying to see where sounds best.

Nah willy, I’m all for zany… but no way! Don’t want this in the recording. It sounds like balls. Gonna have to play with the sound of it big time

Hey Dyers,

Have you thought of setting your mic in a small acoustically treated box, something like what Mwah did here?:

(Stolen from the “show your studio” thread–thanks, Mwah!)


That box is padded like a freight elivater I was in Fri. Everything but the door and floor were padded like that, my voice stood in the air a few feet from my face. It was cool, I got the feeling that I could reach out and grab it with my hand.

You might try a closet! :D

First of all try moving in close on the mic. As you go closer you should get more voice and less room in the mic.

Make sure you've got it pointing the right way.

Good point Willy; this caught me out once. I'd borrowed a mic to complement mine and was recording a number of characters for a radio play of sorts. I'd recorded several of the acts before I'd realised I had the borrowed mic round the wrong way.


Out of curiousity, what mic is it?

I too like Mwah’s solution, but that foam will not take care of low end stuff, will it?

A good sounding room - the biggest problem home recordists have, no doubt about it.

You don’t have a closet you can use, do you? All those coats and shirts do a great job at deadening.

Hi Dyers,
it seems to me that you have one exact idea about what do you want in terms of environment vocal response (what is wonderfull because I never had) so my suggestion would be to expend some time looking for the place where do you have this expected accustic result. Don’t need to be inside your house and you don’t need to use the mic. Just your ears. (For sure some people will think that you’re a crazy guy singing around the world but however…). The other activities are obvious. Observation (measurements, photos and recording if possible) and adaptation (as much as possible) of your recording space.

I find that the best way to get an idea of how a room sounds is a sharp handclap. Of course, this ignores the effect of the mike direction, which is definitely important. But it does give you a pretty good idea of a room, and also different locations in a room. Not as good as walking around with the mike, but more portable!

Get some A-frame step ladders and throw packing blankets over them so there is a air gap between them. Then move around some more - them and the mic placement. They are great temporary sound treatments - easily stored. Even one in the right place can do wonders. Nothing wrong with using three or more. Your room looks large enough (picture in another post) that it shouldn’t take much to get a good sound.

record those vocals as “hot” as you can… you want to be able to set the preamp gain lower by either singing louder, or getting closer to the mic (don’t forget, the mic will respond differently if you get TOO close). i really try to get this the best i can because there always seems to be SOME kind of noise in the background (my computer is fairly close to the mic too). this should give you a better ratio of vocal level to bg noise/room reflection. then it may not be as noticible once it’s sitting in the mix.

does you mic have one of those graphs that tells you about it’s directional response? that might help you place it in such a way that the reflections and background noise are lower.

Thanks for all the replies. Like I said, I live in a flat so hanging stuff up etc… is completely out of the question. I can’t alter the room, and I’m already using more space then I should. I was using a t.bone Retro Jr which is cardioid, but I’ve just got an MXL 990 and it sounds much better in this room (the Retro sounds good on a guitar amp). However I need to do much more testing and recording before I come to final opinion.

Considering your space and design restrictions how about folding screens? They can provide incredible results and usually fit well with any interior design.

i’m pretty sure most of these suggestions were intended as temporary/portable solutions… ie. the ladders, hanging blankets, etc… the idea is you set it up when you’re recording and put it all away when you’re done. is THAT a problem for your roommates?

do you have a futon or anything with a somewhat moveable mattress? try standing it up or leaning it against something to create a cusiony barrier?

edit: for reference, the pics are on this page:


mmmm… duck hunt…

I have two matresses against one wall, but the microphone still picks up to much of the room sound. And to have a ladder or anything like that would mean I’d need somewhere to put them when I’m not using them and that is a problem in itself.

Quote (makako @ April 14 2005,09:07)
Considering your space and design restrictions how about folding screens? They can provide incredible results and usually fit well with any interior design.

Folding screens? Any pictures of what you are talking about? I'm lost in what you are referring to.