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You think you have noise problems? Not like this...

It is a rare home studio that has no problem with outside noise. But how bad can it get?

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Many Audio Masterclass students and website visitors work in home recording studios with no sound insulation treatment. Obviously it would be better to work in a purpose-designed studio with good sound insulation, but the cost can be well outside the budget of anyone not earning a significant income from their audio business.

Some years ago, I enjoyed the privilege of having a purpose-designed studio at the bottom of my garden. I had been lucky enough to buy a house once owned by a successful producer, and the studio building came free with it. It looked like a big shed from the outside, but the walls were lined with concrete blockwork, overall some 60 cm (2 feet) thick. The ceiling and roof were treated with similar thoroughness.

I have to say that noise from outside did not trouble me in the slightest. I couldn't hear a thing. Except the occasional thunder, and the time that a neighbour's tree, around 6 metres in height (20 or so feet), fell down into my garden. I heard that.

But in the present day I live in an ordinary house like many Audio Masterclass students and website visitors. I use professional studios when I need to, but for a quick video commentary I work at home.

And my worst noise nuisance...

Yes, it's in the photo above. What you see here is a Boeing Chinook military helicopter. It's big, and very impressive to see and hear.

And it flies over my house. Every day.

What I've worked out from publicly available information is that close to me is a training base where helicopter pilots are trained to fly Chinooks. (I doubt if they start on the Chinook - that would be like starting audio on an SSL instead of a Mackie.) My guess is that their flight plan is to fly to a clearly-obvious landmark that is close to the village where I live, turn around and fly back.

They don't always fly directly over my house. But I can tell you that when they do, and they are flying low, then there is no sound insulation in the world that would screen them out completely.

But to be honest, it rarely happens more than once or twice a day and I quite enjoy the spectacle.

And the experience reinforces the advice I give to Audio Masterclass students. That is if you have a problem with noise that happens only occasionally, and you don't have good enough sound insulation, then if the noise spoils a take, go for another take when the noise has gone. Or, to give an example that is more commonplace than military helicopter training, if you live by a busy road and you need to make an important recording, then work at a time of day when the noise is at its lowest.

Of course we would all like to have perfectly quiet studios to work in, but real world considerations often get in the way. If you can't make recordings with a perfectly quiet background, then don't let that stop you recording. But try and minimize the noise so that your work is the best that it can be. When you achieve the success that you aim for, a purpose-designed studio at the bottom of your garden will be the answer to all of your dreams.

By David Mellor Monday October 2, 2017
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