What do a catcher’s mitt and a good sounding studio have in common? Anne Ganguzza and VO Tech Guru Tim Tippets discuss the Science of Soundproofing! Sound is energy in the form of vibrations. Stopping these vibrations before they hit your microphone is one step in helping you produce great audio that is necessary to move your business forward. Listen and learn the science, materials, means, and methods to use to achieve BOSS Audio!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode
When building a booth, it’s about mitigation of noise, a.k.a. soundproofing
When Anne hired Tim to build her booth, she wanted it in the noisiest part of the house
Tim knew that with a combination of construction materials and again the means and methods that we were going to use, that the job was going to get done
Acoustics is the response of your space
Soundproofing is done in response to noise on the outside of your space trying to get in
This is your career on the line, and you need to bring the best that you possibly can to the table for your clients
When you do have proper soundproofing as well as proper acoustics, your confidence level goes way up, because you are not worried about your sound quality
You can be more vulnerable and real with a character read when you’re not worried about your sound quality
During the time of COVID, having a quality home studio is more important than ever
A lot of us are producing better audio at home than we’re getting from brick-and-mortar studios
Sound is energy in the form of vibration
If Sound allowed to hit a structure and then vibrate that structure, those vibrations will travel through the structure and into whatever space you’re in
There are sciences, and materials, and means, and methods we can use to really disconnect a space from the space within in order to eliminate a lot of noise with very little mass.
Building a soundproof booth is about stopping vibrations from bounding back, using materials to absorb the sound, just like a catcher’s mitt absorbs a baseball
It’s the reason why 100 mile-per-hour fastball does not break a catcher’s hand. It’s the exact reason why. Is mass the answer, yes. Is science the answer, yes. Are materials the answer, yes. And is mechanical isolation the answer, yes. It’s a combination of all of these things.
At the end of the day, you want to try to find the quietest place you can in your home. Make sure it’s acoustically sound, then just go for it.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Learn more about audio by taking Tim’s Courses!
Follow Tim’s Instagram where he posts all of his builds
Find out more about Roxul Soundproofing Material
Go to Vocalboothtogo.com and use code votechguru-5 for 5% off
Recorded on ipDTL
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my exciting, wonderful, special guest cohost, Mr. Tim Tippets. Hey, Tim. How are you?
Tim: How are you, how are you, Anne? Good to be here.
Anne: I’m good. Hey, I have a pretty cool story to tell you. As you BOSSes out there might know, Tim built me this amazing, amazing studio a couple of months ago, thankfully right before we all had to go lock ourselves in our studios. So I have a really lovely space to hide out in. But the other day – you know, they have been doing a ton of work, because I’m in a new community, and you’ll be pleased to know that there was this big, huge construction truck, or I’m not quite sure what it was, but they were like jack hammering outside my window. Now if you remember, Tim, I’m like literally, like how close is my booth to the window?
Tim: Yeah, your booth is around, if I remember correctly, around six feet from the window. The front of your yard is pretty short. I’m going to say around 10 feet. The truck was sitting right there, so I would say that your booth is about 16 feet away from that.
Anne: 16 feet. And it was making so much noise. I had my window open at first. I closed my windows, then I was like of course I still hear it. I’m sure everyone does, when, you know, the leaf blower is out there. And I was like oh gosh. And I have to record an audition. So I went in my booth, and I closed my door, and I’m all proud of the fact that I have two doors. So not only did I close one door, but I closed two doors. [laughs] And lo and behold, I had a most amazing quiet booth. So I think we should talk about what, you know, how were you able to stop that noise from getting into my booth? You know, so well? Because I’m just amazed.
Tim: Yeah, so normally people will bury the lead in a story. I’m glad that you started with the lead, because we can kind of turn things on its head, right? So, so for people who don’t know, I have a very strong construction background. I grew up in the trades in L.A. Normally if you’re a musician, you’re in construction, it’s just they go hand in hand. I became a tradesman and later went on a tour to fulfill a recording contract and all that, but then decided I was going to be a family man. I jumped back into construction and went through the ranks and eventually, you know, ended up at a fairly high position until I got the hell out of there and decided to get back to my roots. But because of that, I have a ton of experience with construction. I used to actually build developments like the one that you’re in, right? So I understand –
Anne: Lucky for me. [laughs]
Tim: Yeah, and I certainly understand what it’s like for people to be dealing with noise, not even voice artists, just dealing with noise waiting for homes to be finished and then turned over to them, right? It means everything to you obviously that you get in there as soon as possible.
Tim: And as a result of this, the way that it works out is, they’ll start building homes based on the models, right? You go and you see the model, and you go, I want that one. I’ll take this lot. Now unfortunately you have a lot of empty lots next year. So what you’re going to be dealing with for at least the next few months if not the next couple of years are a lot of these homes being built relatively close to your home. Now even as someone who owns a home, that’s pretty irritating because you’re dealing with jackhammers and all sorts of other stuff all during the day, but as a voiceover artist, it just seems like a nonstarter, right? Since we’re starting with the extreme version of what we would do to mitigate that noise, which is really what this particular episode is all about, is it’s about mitigation of noise, a.k.a. soundproofing. Okay? So what you had when you sent me that video, Anne, of you looking at the large compressor – this is a thing that’s about as tall and wide as the truck itself, it’s huge.
Tim: And what was actually happening there is they were pumping concrete into a lot that was close to you, right?
Tim: Right. So now those things are incredibly loud. It was almost an uh-oh moment for me, until I realized that I built, until I realized that I built your booth exactly the way that I built my booth, right, which people have heard that I’ve had chainsaws literally 40 feet from my booth, and nothing got in, right? So when you closed the window and then I heard that, I was like okay, still pretty loud. You walked into the booth, then you were like it’s quiet. As I told you earlier, I smiled and it almost brought a tear to my eye. It was a very proud moment.
Anne: You know, I should have it be known for the people out there listening that I had a choice, when I was talking to Tim, about where to put my booth, because I could not decide whether I wanted it upstairs, towards the back of the house, or in the front of the house. But I personally wanted my office to be somewhere where it would be very light. So I chose to be closest to the road, and probably to give Tim, I don’t know, more work to deal with [laughs] because I was going to be closer to the road. Ultimately it’s supposed to be quiet here because I live in a community that’s just quiet. I’m kind of in a cul-de-sac. Tim, did that have any effect? I remember when we would discuss like, did I want to have it upstairs, like what kind of noises I would be dealing with if I were upstairs versus downstairs in the front of the house?
Tim: Well, my concern was not so much what we could or could not achieve with your booth. My concern was, well, where does Anne want her booth? What is the ultimate, you know, location for her so she feels comfortable, when she gets out, she’s got daylight? And we did not have those options upstairs because –
Anne: True, true.
Tim: – you have this big picturesque window out there, which is lovely, and you want to let all that light in. So I had enough confidence in the materials and the means and the methods, and the science behind it all to just go ahead and I guess for lack of a better way to put it, boldly move forward where no man or woman has gone before, right?
Anne: So I picked the noisier part of the house, which had more windows and was closer to the road.
Tim: Right. No, you didn’t pick the noisier part of the house.
Tim: You picked the noisiest part of the house.
Anne: Okay, there you go. [laughs]
Tim: So. [laughs]
Anne: Just to make your job fun. [laughs]
Tim: Yeah, I just didn’t want, I just didn’t want to say that at the time. But no, I moved forward with confidence with me and my team because I knew that with a combination of construction materials and again the means and methods that we were going to use, that it was going to get the job done. I think it’s good to work backwards from there and just kind of talk about the different levels of soundproofing. And by the way, guys, not to be confused with acoustic treatment. I’ve had many people ask me –
Anne: Good point.
Tim: – if you install, you know, Roxul panels – because we do use Roxul in between the voids of the framing because it helps quite a bit. But that’s not the answer. I just want to make that clear because I’ve had so many people tell me, well if I just hang Roxul panels all over, then that sound proofs it. No. That’s not true at all. All you’re doing is dealing with the acoustics, which is the response of the space, not the response of noise on the outside of your space trying to get in. Those are two completely different things. And people understandably get them mixed up all the time. As I always like to say, you don’t know what you don’t know, okay?
Tim: And that’s fine that you don’t know. But it’s not fine if you don’t go find out, alright? Because this is your career on the line, and you need to bring the best that you possibly can to the table for your clients, right? And you also need to bring the best that you can for yourself because when you do have proper soundproofing as well as proper acoustics, your confidence level goes way up because you’re not sitting there wondering if you sound good or not. So as a result of that, you get to be more confident. You get to be more vulnerable when you need to be as a character and so on and just not have to worry about it.
Anne: Yeah, and if I can interject and say that during this time of the pandemic, I felt super confident that I had a quality studio, where I didn’t have to worry about – that was one last thing I had to worry about, especially in this time now where there’s such a call now for talent to have studios that really produces a great sound with all the other studios being shut down. So this was super important to me to have this in place, and I’m really grateful and thankful that I did have it in place during this time, so.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And as a result we’re producing, a lot of us are producing better audio than we’re getting from brick-and-mortar studios anyway. That’s just the reality of the situation. Maybe not all of them [laughs] okay, but we’re definitely meeting and/or exceeding in many, many ways. So that’s the great news. Now the bad news is is that everyone and their mother, who is used to being on one side of the glass and not the other, they don’t deal with tech, was suddenly put in a position where they needed to get their spaces together.
Tim: And you know they had to do it right now. So of course the last five months for me has just been a flood of emails and all that.
Anne: Oh, I’m sure. [laughs]
Tim: Getting people set up. Yeah, it’s been pretty brutal. I love helping people get in that position and watching them succeed. I’m more than happy to help. That said, let’s [clears throat] excuse me –
Anne: I will say to that end, Tim, literally, like this whole thing was coming down [laughs] the pandemic. And I’m thinking to myself, Tim might need to leave like soon. [laughs]
Tim: Yeah, no, I wasn’t – I didn’t care about Covid.
Anne: He really didn’t, guys. He really didn’t. I just want you all to know that, and I was starting to get concerned. I’m like okay, so I have to send my father – my father came, so I had to send my father back. I’m like, Tim really needs to go at this point, not because I wanted him to, but because it was, you know, people were starting – I think you left the day before lockdown in California, if I remember correctly.
Tim: I left, I left the day of lockdown.
Anne: The day of lockdown in California. Yeah, so.
Tim: And Bob was a great help in assisting us. He helped us build the booth as well.
Anne: My dad. Aww.
Tim: Yes, and I was really concerned about him as well.
Anne: Me too.
Tim: Making sure that – yeah, making sure that he got out of there in a timely manner.
Tim: But even then as you remember I brought in that big thing of hand sanitizer for the people installing blinds –
Tim: – just to make sure that we didn’t – yeah, just to make sure we didn’t have anything that we really needed to be concerned about and kept travel to a minimum, which is what we should all do.
Tim: But at that point, we had gotten that far. There was no way in hell I was turning back. So this is a good place to start, because right now we have the ultimate, as you’ve dubbed it, the beast, right?
Anne: Yes, I have the beast.
Tim: Yeah, now, we recently did a build which is, the details are in the class at votechguru.com/courses for anyone who is interested in that. So all the details of building these booths – we do quite a few projects in there aside from teaching people EQ compression, downward expansion, all the other stuff they need to win. What I’m currently doing is I’m kind of posting shortcuts or versions of what’s going on with the build on my Instagram, which is @timtippetsakavotechguru. You can check it out if you want to. People seem to be enjoying it. It’s just cuts –
Anne: Oh yeah, a lot of people followed, when you were here.
Tim: Yeah, great, awesome. Well, in this particular build that we’re doing for Laura Keenan, she’s on the 14th floor of a downtown Los Angeles apartment, right?
Anne: Oh, I thought she was in New York for some strange reason. She’s in LA, got it.
Tim: No, she’s in LA. She’s got sirens and all sorts of stuff. We start off the video showing what it is that she has to do, and she’s five foot nothing, right? She’s a sweet gal. But she goes, in the video she shows you what she has to do. She has to pull her fridge all the way out, unplug it, unplug the water cooler, close the balcony door, turn the TV off, turn the AC off, and as she says in the video, tell her husband shhh.
Tim: And this is just to audition. Okay?
Tim: So, and she had a makeup booth with blankets which was acoustically very sound, but you can only go so far with those, right?
Tim: So what I agreed to do is I said hey look, if you document all of this stuff, the actual build, then what I will do is I will guide you through the process, all right? Well, we’re going to have some more videos released here – probably this weekend more than likely will be part three, so people can take a look at that. And today is, what, August 29, so I’m not sure when this will post. We might even be finished with all the videos by then. But the point is is that we went from a noise floor of -38, which is unacceptable – you can’t voice with a noise floor at -38. By the way, that’s with everything turned off, okay?
Tim: With it turned on, it was just ridiculous. It was a total nonstarter. Now she’s in that finished booth, and Steve, her husband, who built the booth, keeps coming in and can’t seem to thank me enough. He’s a great guy. I love him. But he’s so proud of it, and he likes to keep telling me that when she’s in there, he can’t hear her at all, and she can’t hear him while he’s watching TV, right? So that’s – by the way she’s calling that the she-beast booth.
Anne: The she-beast.
Tim: The she-beast booth. [laughs]
Anne: So I have the beast, and she has the she-beast.
Tim: You have the beast and she has the she-beast. Yeah.
Anne: So then what’s important then, Tim, in terms of noise mitigation that the BOSSes out there can at least start to understand the concepts of what needs to happen?
Tim: Okay. Fair question. So this could be a two-hour conversation. It’s not going to be, so I’m just going to touch on some things that we can kind of help get people’s heads around. So sound is energy in the form of vibration. Low frequencies are far more powerful than high frequencies. We had that discussion in the acoustics episode, right? But the thing about sound is since it is vibration, if it’s allowed to hit a structure and then vibrate that structure, those vibrations will travel through the structure and into whatever space you’re in. A lot of that vibration, a.k.a. sound, okay, is very low-frequency vibration. So a lot of the times much of it can be handled by rolling off at 80 hertz. The layman’s version of that is hertz are related to pitch, so the lower the hertz value – hertz means one cycle per second, okay, for a waveform, with again, without trying to get too deep into it – but the point is that you can roll off at 80 hertz, and that’s going to get rid of a lot of low-end rumbles.
Tim: That may not have anything to do with building a booth, but it’s something that people should understand. They’re typically called high pass filters, which is a name from – I don’t know what they were thinking when they said high pass filter, but the idea is to only let the highs pass through. Okay?
Anne: That makes sense.
Tim: Yeah, but we more commonly refer to it as rolling off the low-end, okay? Now in Laura’s case that did not help a whole lot, because a lot of the noise that she was experiencing, by the time it got to her apartment, a lot of that low-energy had kind of just dissipated. But she’s got a refrigerator not 10 feet from her booth, and her watercooler four feet from her booth, so she’s dealing with the noise floor as a result of things that are around her that are making noise right now in real time, right? So on that note, the first key is what we call mechanical separation, which means getting your booth as disconnected from the rest of the structure as possible. And that doesn’t take a whole lot. If you were to build, like let’s say, a typical wooden framed booth, you would want to put padding underneath. In your case, we did not do that, Anne, because you had carpet. We just went directly to that.
Anne: Right, right.
Tim: So it was isolating, so the vibration – vibration does not do a real good job of traveling up through carpet material.
Anne: Got it, got it. And we’re on the base floor.
Anne: I’m on the first floor.
Tim: And you’re slab on grade, right? So the slab is literally right there. And while concrete can transmit that vibration, it doesn’t do a very good job of it, right?
Anne: Well, that makes sense, because in my previous home, when I had my other booth, I had to have a filter take care of – I used to, if trucks would pass by, let’s say, because there was a lot of construction going on there, if trucks like miles away, a couple of miles away would pass by, I actually would hear it – I would get it in my booth, because the booth was up on the second floor. And so the filter that I had took care of that noise, which makes sense.
Tim: Yeah, and it would, and it might take care of planes unless of course you’re in Burbank and the plane is going to be flying very, very closely to you.
Anne: But now that I’m – right. But now that I’m here and I’m on the ground floor, I don’t have that so much to worry about, is that correct?
Tim: Well, it’s not so much that as much as it is, first of all you have a concrete floor, and –
Anne: Got it.
Tim: – it’s going to be more difficult for that vibration to come up through the ground into something with that much mass. So this is another – it’s not controversial for me, but it is for a lot of other people because you’ll hear this all the time, the key is mass, the key is mass. And that is not true. Mass certainly helps, but there are sciences, and materials, and means, and methods we can use to really disconnect a space from the space within in order to eliminate a lot of that with very little mass. We saw this in your booth, Anne. Right? I mean, we don’t have concrete walls in your booth.
Tim: It’s drywall with green glue, and Roxul insulation, and mechanical isolation. And we’re getting amazing results.
Tim: So if it’s done the right way, the way I like to put it is like this. If you were to hang a four by eight sheet of plywood from your ceiling, four foot by eight foot plywood from your celling, and you did the same thing with a duvet cover that’s four feet wide by eight feet long, if you threw a 100 mile-per-hour fastball at that plywood, what would you expect it to do? It would react, that ball would bounce off –
Tim: – very quickly.
Anne: And hit me in the face. [laughs]
Tim: Right, but if you through the same 100 mile-an-hour fastball at that duvet, what would happen?
Anne: It would hit it and then it would drop.
Tim: Drop to the floor.
Anne: Drop to the floor, down the duvet.
Tim: There’s no way it’s going to make it through the duvet cover.
Anne: Yeah, it’s not going to ricochet back either.
Tim: Right. And so the idea is if you do this correctly, and I’ve done this in an incredibly busy areas – we did it with my larger booth build. We had a cabinet shop right across the alley from us, we had a foundry behind us, we had the fire department right up the street, which was very fond of turning their stuff on right before they left the station all the way down the street, and we had a warehouse on the other side of the street, and we never heard any of it just because we applied the sciences. What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to create a giant catcher’s mitt. It’s as simple as that.
Anne: Got it, got it.
Tim: It’s the reason why 100 mile-per-hour fastball does not break a catcher’s hand. It’s the exact reason why. Is mass the answer, yes. Is science the answer, yes. Are materials the answer, yes. And is mechanical isolation the answer, yes. It’s a combination of all of these things. There’s never, ever, ever just one thing unless you build a bunker 30 feet underground out of concrete, then okay, you have an argument. Okay? But the reality is we have materials and means and methods and understandings we did not have before that we can put into play in real time to really help the situation.
Anne: So –
Tim: So – Go ahead.
Anne: I was going to say, so then my booth downstairs, right, that you built for me, which is constructed of drywall, and Roxul, and green glue, and all of that, versus the temporary studio that I had from Vocal Booth To Go, which had the blankets, which was awesome, it was lucky that I was in a quiet area. I remember when I was recording up there, I would have to tell people to be quiet. Because, right, there just wasn’t as much I guess mass, and material, and construction to prohibit that sound from coming in. However if it was quiet, it was an amazing booth. Right? And it worked really well. Versus when you’re constructing a booth, and then I’ve got different materials, you’ve got to like add to those materials to make it so that there’s less a chance the noise can come in.
Tim: Right, and their blankets, what’s so great about their blankets is not only do they cut 10 DB of noise, but they also have great acoustics. You’re getting this two in one type of thing, which I suppose I should mention again that you can get a discount from them, 5%, votechguru-5. And if you can’t remember that, go to votechguru.com, and then look for recommended equipment, and you’ll find them. Now this is a great transition into what I wanted to talk about next, because what will happen a lot of the times is people will get them in a situation, get themselves in a situation, where they’ll go in a closet, and they’ll put foam on the walls or blankets or whatever. And then on the other side of their exterior wall they’ve got, I don’t know, a swimming pool pump. That seems quite common, especially in apartments. They have to wait for the pump to turn off. I understand and sympathize with that, but here are some key pieces of advice that I can give people to maximize the soundproofing of your space if you don’t have options to build an actual booth, okay? First of all, Vocal Booth To Go for instance does sell prefabricated booth at all levels. And they’re excellent. They have just the blanket versions which have an unfolding frame like the one that we had at your house, Anne, which kind of just articulates like a spider. It’s really easy to take apart and put together. I want to say that was a three by six, if I’m not mistaken, four by six, whatever.
Anne: I think it was four by six. Yeah.
Tim: If you have a place, especially if you’re not living near a busy street or something, that might, that alone might get the job done. I’ve heard many people, as I said in the last episode, who have built PVC booths with just the blankets and everything sounded great. Right? So when you are in that situation, what you want to do is you want to look for the usual suspects that are going to cost trouble for you. That consists of what’s happening overhead. Is it a busy traffic area? If you’re in a basement, same thing. Are you right underneath the foyer, are you right underneath the living room? Because obviously you’re going to have a lot more traffic, hopefully, in your living room than you will in your foyer. Those sounds come through the ceiling. When you don’t have too many choices in that regard, what you need to do is you need to number one, look for a space in your house where you’re going to have the least amount of activity or traffic above you. And the other thing is watch for mechanical devices. For instance you would not want to put your booth right next to the air handler in your basement. Because when that thing turns on and off, it’s going to be very loud. There’s going to be a ton of low-frequency coming through. Another thing would be if you’re in a closet – I know people need ventilation. I understand that. For me personally when I’m in a situation like that, I just throw a fan in there on a switch, and when I’m not talking, I turn it on to cool myself off, and then I’m ready to go. There are ways as we did with yours, Anne, not to get too detailed, where we were able to incorporate air into the booth without it being noticeable. But that’s another story. A closet can be a great place to voice, again last episode, as long as it’s acoustically sound, and as long as it’s quiet enough, your environment is quiet enough, and this has a full spectrum. I’ve dealt with so many people who were living in the city, and they’re choosing a closet in order to just try to mitigate as much noise as possible, and sometimes it’s doable because that closet is far enough away from the street, or they may be living in a building that’s just made out of solid concrete, okay? And so it’s doing a really good job aside from the windows of course of keeping most of the noise out. So again if you have an air vent inside of your closet, that’s going to be one of those usual suspects that I talked about because that air is going to come through, but I want to make a point. It may be that by using RX Elements, which we’ve succeeded setting these racks up many, many times where RX actually did handle that, it handled the computer noise with the fan kicking on –
Anne: Right, that’s good to know.
Tim: Yeah, so even if you’re in that type of a situation, it may be that you’ll be able to, you know, get rid of it and you’ll be fine. If you want to send me some of your audio and you need help, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do offer a free 15-minute consultation, check out your audio, give you some advice, and then if we end up working together, great. But yeah, at the end of the day, you want to try to find the quietest place you can in your home. Make sure it’s acoustically sound, then just go for it.
Anne: Good stuff, good information there, Mr. Tippets. Thank you so much. Guys, we have so much – I’m so glad that I’m going to have you for a few episodes. We could probably talk for the next year at least [laughs] about all things audio.
Anne: So yeah, again, you guys, Tim has mentioned multiple, multiple nuggets of wisdom for you guys. If you need help, definitely look him up at votechguru.com. I’m going to give a big shout-out to our amazing sponsor ipDTL, so that Tim and I can get together, and network, and communicate, and record, and do all sorts of things BOSS. You can find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have a great week, and we’ll see you next week, thanks.
Tim: See you. Bye.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.