In 30 minutes with things you find around a hardware store.
And a fabric store.
You’re gonna have to do a little shopping, is what.
But since even a small amount of sound baffling can improve the quality of your audio recordings significantly, if you’re serious about putting out a podcast that gets noticed, this is a quick way to make some big improvements.
Don’t believe me? Listen to this recording of the opening lines of Henry V’s “muse of fire” speech once in a quiet but otherwise unbaffled room, and then a second time inside the podbox:
Same device, same microphone, but it’s amazing what a little egg-crate foam can do when it puts its mind to it.
Things you’ll need:
That’s right: a sturdy hard plastic tub, a twin mattress’ worth of egg-crate foam*, 4 rolls of double-sided mounting tape (we used 3.75 rolls total), a utility knife and a tape measure. Not pictured: a permanent marker for marking measurements on the foam.
Oh, and a friend. This is definitely much easier with two people, but the second person only needs basic motor skills to control the knife.
*I know that link says the foam is $34.99, but if you sign up for the mailing list of that particular vendor, they will make it rain coupons. Big coupons. And you can always unsubscribe later…
Measure twice, cut once
What you’re aiming to do here is cover all the hard plastic surface inside the box with the sound-absorbent foam. We did it by cutting out a piece to line the bottom first, then two longer strips for the sides.
Once we had all our pieces, we began taping up the inside of the tub. And in the interests of having a pretty durable podbox, we really went for it with the tape:
It made things a lot easier to tape the bottom piece of foam in place first. After that, put the two long strips in place around the walls:
With 3.75 of our 4 rolls in there there was very little chance the foam would be getting away from us, but just to make sure, we padded, punched and prodded it all the way around, paying special attention to where the tub curved.
For the record (ha!) that’s a 13″ MacBook Pro with a Blue Microphones Snowflake USB mic. And the recordings at the beginning of this post were done directly via Soundcloud.com, where you can record and store up to two hours free or — and this is kind of awesome — you can record and download unlimited sounds. (And in fact, the first time I recorded in the box, my Henry V voice was just way, way too loud and I had to tone it back a couple clicks.)
Are you a podcasting educator? Are your students podcasters? We’d love to hear from any educators who build these for their classes — literally!