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  • Terry Wigmore

Reducing the Noise

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

May 19, 2018

I record a lot of music in my little Hobbit Hole room in the basement. When I first started recording using a microphone, I noticed a lot of reflected sounds appearing in my mic'd tracks. Not only was the sound I wanted to record bouncing all over the room (it is a small cinder block space ), but the drain pipes and furnace noises also showed up as unwanted sounds in my recordings.

I knew there had to be some changes made to both the recording environment, and to my recording process, in order to better separate and manage the sounds that I wanted from those that I did not want.

In terms of the recording space itself, I chose to add some foam tiles to the walls in order to absorb and not reflect (bounce) the sounds. This solved only part of the problem. Next, I was further able to isolate the microphone using a clamp-on acoustic foam recording booth surrounding the microphone and isolating it from the computer noise, and other room intrusions.

I also had to manage my time in order to eliminate other sources of unwanted sounds. I record mostly in the early morning hours or late at night. In both cases, there is no washing machine whirring, or dryer spinning, no pumps running and no toilets being flushed. Of course this limits the "creative moments" to more planned events but, as with most of life, it is managing what we can control that leads to most successes.

​The images below are of the software plug-in for my cakewalk DAW (digital audio workstation) called the Sonitus Noise Gate (fig 1). By setting the threshold of my input I can eliminate most unwanted room noise. The second image (fig 2) shows the mic screen (in front of the microphone), and the acoustic foam recording booth that clamps onto the microphone stand.

Every effort to eliminate and manage unwanted noise is a plus when you are recording. The same is true of your life. We are always recording terabytes of data every moment of every day. This is mostly through our five senses. Of course, spirit, is an input source too, and each of these sources can be overwhelmed by overloading our sensory input. We can manage most of the things we encounter in our daily lives, in terms of sources of input. We can put down the phone, set it to "silence all", or leave it at home once in a while. We can choose who we want to speak with and for how long. We can choose where we would like to spend time, and where, within that environment ,we wish to be located (in the seats by the fireplace at the local Tim Horton's, for example, or in one specific place at the top of the one specific hill in the context of your morning hike).

By taking more control of the factors we can manage, we can improve the quality of the recording we call, "my life." Eliminate the unwanted noise.


Figure 1 Noise Gate software
Figure 2 my microphone enclosure - a gift from my kids - an effort to reduce noise.

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