Work With What Ya Got

I am the biggest culprit of the “I need something better, flashier, more expensive!” when it comes to my profession and hobbies. I always have to stop myself and think, will this actually help me? Or am I just wanting it cuz it looks new and snazzy and I don’t have it. Usually, it’s 50/50: Yes, I do need some newer equipment, especially when it comes to audio mixing and recording. But, do I need it right this second? Probably not. I’ve been dealing with Audacity for years, so one more year won’t hurt me, right? And even when I do get what I need to further my mixing journey, there will be a huge learning curve just because it’s going to be a new system, new tech, and new frustrations because, let’s face it, the learning curve when you’re blind is far steeper than when you’re…not blind, lol.

Recently, I was dealing with this issue. In my new place, my room doesn’t have a lot of furniture. Is that really a big deal to me? No, is it a big deal to my recordings? Yes! Because lack of furniture = lots of room echo that makes my recordings not sound as good as they can. So what did I do? Silly me, I assumed what I did in my hotel would work for here – making a pillow fort to use as a recording booth for my mic. It canceled out a lot of the ickyness from my hotel room recordings, and I could EQ out the rest, but in my new room? Just boxed all of the bad sounds into my mic and made it really, really infuriatingly hard to mix. After
A lot of “You’re mic sounds like crap” comments (worded far nicer than that but ya know) on a singing forum I frequent, and a lot of help from my audio-savvy friends, I realized….I was setting up things wrong! That I needed things spaced out a lot more than I had them in this room to get an ideal recording space. My first instinct, was “Yes, I need to buy everything to make a portta-booth to isolate my sound!” But then, after suffering from recording withdrawals, and knowing I wouldn’t be able to get the supplies to make said booth for a while, I decided to work with what I have and try to emulate what a porta-booth would be: a box with about a foot or two of space between the sides and the mic, so the sound could be absorbed and give me a clean, as crisp as I could get recording. What did I use, you ask?

Some things…a bit outside the box. I took a dresser that was full of things easily movable out of my nightstand, and covered it with a blanket. That way, I had something hard to lean the pillows against that I was using for my pillow fort. With the dresser drawer covered by a blanket, And the pillows on each side, I put a little throw rug under where my mic would be for more sound absorption. Then, I put the mic in the middle of the entire thing: A foot away from all sides respectively. Lay a blanket over the mic, and what did I get?

Better recordings, with no cost to me! Yay!

I mean, this setup is really tedious to make: But it does the job: It gets rid of the bad things in the recordings I was making that I couldn’t remove. Has a teeny bit of echo, but that is an easy fix – just add less reverb. Will it be my forever setup? Of course not! I plan to make a little booth as soon as I can afford the materials. I’m glad I did this though, because knowing this setup will work, now I know that making a portable recording booth will work for me. Something that I wouldn’t have normally thought unless I tried to do this.

So in short, working with what you’ve got is hard sometimes, but it totally works!

Have you ever done any out of the box DIY projects? Share some in the comments!

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Author: Crystal

A California based musician who is as passionate about music as she is video games,, Crystal (or ValkyrieCeles around the interwebs) loves to gush about her various nerdtastic loves, rant about anything currently catching her fancy, and generally just express herself in any creative outlet she can get her hands on. An avid reader, writer, and dreamer, Crystal has been leaving pieces of herself around the internet since 2006.

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