No Woman, No Cry

Due to space constraints at the current time, I’m going to go with this as my “studio:”

I found a good deal on these:

I know they’re not Auralex, and they’re “wedge” instead of pyramidally shaped, but they should suit my purpose, yes?

Also, I’ve heard that acoustic foam can be difficult to cut, but that an electric bread knife works really well. I can get a Black & Decker model at WallyWorld for $12.97. The Whitmor 14" collapsible cubes are cheap there, too.

Am I missing anything? The more permanent furniture blanket studio is going to have to wait for a few months, but you guys have said my current room is pretty close, noise-wise, and that almost anything would get me over the top (or, actually, under the bottom :slight_smile: .)

BTW, is there a limit to how many forum bookmarks users can have?

Thanks as always,

The USP of the collapsible-cube design is portability.

A stool / chair / ironing-board / drying-rack (clothes-horse) / luggage-rack, etc, on a desk*,
with a quilt/duvet draped over it, would be as good as one of those cubes, (if not better), just less portable.
The advantage is you probably already own the items.

[ * a rug / doormat(s) would protect the desk from scratches, and absorb sound ].

If you have to buy that, the total-bill is about the same as a ready-made 12" cube, (which do sound boxey).

[ If your TBI has affected your coordination, IMO don’t buy an electric bread-knife ].

Turns out that that USP is a salient point. I can control most of the sounds in my apartment, but I cannot control the kids in the upstairs apartment; when things get wild & wooly, it can sound like the inside of a bass drum in here. I might need to travel to a quieter place to record at times.

So. I built a micro-studio with the Whitmor 14" cubes and some Ultimate Acoustics foam. I do appreciate the concern re: my TBI. I don’t have much difficulty with my manual dexterity, but better safe than sorry, right? I bought a manual Farberware bread knife from WallyWorld for less than $5 and it worked fine, with the aid of my trusty GF. Having someone hold the far edge of the 24" foam when cutting across the ridges definitely helps. Electric knife is unopened/unused and will be returned this weekend.

I now have a much more stable tripod and a decent wind muff. The moving blankets I still have budgetary room for, as well as a setup that is more as you describe, Trebor.

I’m also going to need a set of good headphones and I’ve been shopping around, but those are going to have to wait.

I’ve recorded a couple RT samples, both with and without the box. The differences, to my Mk.I ears (and what I see in Audacity) anyway, are a lower sound floor, and, yes, a somewhat boxy, flatter tone.

Here’s the sample without the box.

Here’s the RT sample with the box.

It makes absolutely no difference which way you record. The noise is identical. That’s impossible, so now we get to figure out what happened.

My first thought is you’re not recording from what you think you’re recording from. Without digging back through the posts, what’s the computer?

You could have made a mistake in the postings. There should be some acoustic signature in the box clip. There isn’t.

How do you get what is almost certainly machine noise into a recording—particularly if the microphone is in a mini-studio…???


I’m recording from a Zoom H4n Pro, standalone, then importing into my Win7 x64 desktop via a USB cable, into a “Raw Recordings” folder (my “vault” or failsafe folder. Then I copy the raw files into a “Mixing & Renaming” folder, where any work that is necessary, if necessary, is done, then Export them to 16-bit Windows .wav, and thence into a “Finished Cuts” folder, which is where I post from.

I was in a hurry when I did these; pilot error is entirely possible. I didn’t listen to the files in Audacity with 'phones on.

I’m almost certain the fridge was off when I made the recordings, which would be the only other source of noise from inside the apartment. Are you hearing something I’m not?

I’ll go back tonight and revisit these, but these recordings are in all other respects the same raw sample files as those I’ve posted before. No effects or post-processing or Audio Mastering 4.

Pilot error is certainly possible. Again, I’ll check them a bit later and get back with y’all.


It does sound like you’ve got a fan/motor nearby, like a computer or air-conditioning.
It’s visible on the spectrogram : particularly a constant ~400Hz tone …

The first two seconds of room tone show little or no change between the clips, and as Trebor above, there’s definitely a motor back there somewhere.

Even if the noise level didn’t dive inside the mini studio, I would expect to hear some change between the clips.

One acoustic trick. What’s behind you? The H4 is pointed at your head and everything behind you. Do you have a plain wall back there? Is it close?

Start a recording in the box as you have been. Two seconds in, slate it (“This is James…”) and then hold up a heavy towel or doubled-over blanket in front of the H4. Close the open wall between you and the H4. Stop after five or six seconds of that and post the clip.

The voice is perfect. We’re nibbling around the edges.


Send a pix of the setup. The H4 is an end-fire recorder, last I checked. You should not be able to easily see the screen and record at the same time. Did you get a shock mount with it?

Those white spidery things on the back of the microphone are rubber bands to keep table or mic stand noises away from the microphone. You don’t need that, but if not, you have to put a heavy pad underneath the mic stand.

It’s a cousin of this.


If absolutely nothing works, you have a portable recorder. Pick it up and walk around the room pointing it different directions as you go. “This is pointed at the north window.” I expect the noise to get louder and softer as you go. It’s best if you can hear it in headphones as you walk around. Turn the volumes all the way up.

I finally got fed up with a background hum that just would not go away. It got so crazy that I had one particular place and one particular direction that didn’t pick up the hum. So I recorded everything there.

I have neighborhood power lines over the house and so I cranked up the conspiracy theories of 7,000 volt high tension hum fields bouncing off the neighbor’s swimming pool, etc. etc. etc.


I put a microphone on a stick and waved it around as I listened with the volume turned up and it turned out to be the music performance bass cabinet that didn’t go off when I turned it off and projected a very low volume hum into the room all the time. So I pulled the plug.


I expect you to find buzz coming from the fish tank pump or something like that. It’s not very loud, so you could live there for decades and not notice it, but it’s just enough to mess up your performances.


Found it. It was the fridge, just as I’d suspected. It’s in direct LOS of where I read from.

I folded up my tripod into a monopod, turned on the H4, and walked straight into the kitchen with the recorder pointed directly at the fridge. Recorded that for ~20 seconds, then turned around and walked back to my seat on the couch and turned the H4 back to its normal position.
Here’s the spectrogram: (Note that none of this noise has been present in my previous recordings, that I can tell.)

Fridge Noise 001b.jpg

Later this weekend I should be able to post some fore- and aft-facing pics of my recording environment.
Now, when I am gonna do some reading, all I need to do is turn off the HVAC (which I have already been doing), turn off the fridge, and teach the kids upstairs how to levitate.

I’m still thinking about picking up a pair of the furniture blankets, to deaden the wall directly behind me and the one in front; maybe try some other configurations. I’ve seen them in 3 different weights: 35, 40, and 65 lbs/dozen. I’m guessing the 65-pounders are what I’m looking for?

Thanks mucho, as always,

Heavy is good. You’re not shipping a gift where they charge for each ounce. You want the sound to have to move the most mass.


You’re already close. We could probably force your existing readings to work with clever use of filters and effects, but that’s desperation method. Filters affect the sound quality and you have to remember to use them each time and for every shoot. That and the fridge goes on and off. Much better to start clean.