The Official PowerPivotPro Sound Booth
(Yes, all Good Sound Booths Have Primus Posters)

Even though today’s post is the first time you’ve seen a video from me in a long time, I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of video recording lately – stuff that pays the bills while I spin up my new (unannounced) company, and stuff that supports the launch of said company.

Recording some guest modules for Chandoo’s PowerPivot training course is one example of this (I am finishing those today, so for those of you who enrolled, look to see those show up sometime in the next week).

As part of this process I realized that I needed a better setup for sound.  A home recording studio on the cheap. 

It wasn’t that expensive, so I thought I’d share what I got:

  1. Microphone ($33.99) – My research indicated that this was the sweet spot mic in terms of quality vs. cost, and it works well without having your face super close to the mic, which is important when you’re recording demos and not focused on the microphone itself.  I use the USB port on this mic but it also has a plug for the “real” microphone cables used by musicians.  I also got the foam ball-shaped cover for it, the one that Amazon says “frequently purchased together.”
  2. Microphone stand and filter kit ($58.99) – includes the antivibration mic holder and the disc-shaped “pop filter” you see pictured above.  I wanted an elevated swingarm so I don’t have to hunch over my desk.  This was the cheapest swingarm I could find and it works very well.  Like people said in the Amazon reviews, I removed the built-in non-USB cable and secured my USB cable to the mount with black electrical tape.  It even passes the “wife doesn’t hate its appearance” test, which is a tall order.
  3. Sound dampening wall blankets ($39.50 each) – My office is very “bright” in acoustic terms – all hardwood floors, smooth walls, a huge shiny whiteboard, etc.  These come with grommet rings so you can hang them quickly from hooks you attach to your walls – that way I can remove them quickly too.  Which is important because these do NOT pass the wife aesthetic test.  I got two, hung them from opposing walls, and it’s CRAZY how much difference they make.  Even my keyboard sounds 3x quieter, it’s bizarre.  (This just in:  Erika Bakse says she uses these in the room with her birds, to dampen the squawking).  If you already have a nice quiet little cave in which to record, obviously you can skip this.
  4. Camtasia Screen Recording and Video Editing Software – (Free for MS MVP’s – lucky me, $299 for everyone else).  Great software and a generous longtime offer from the manufacturer makes it free for Microsoft MVP’s.  I have grown addicted to its features – particularly noise removal and volume leveling. 

Anyway, if you’re thinking about starting some sort of video demo or podcasting recording projects, hopefully you will find this useful.  And if not, well I enjoyed sharing it anyway Smile