Secret To Success – Do Whatever It Takes

All too often, I see those who could create a fantastic future for themselves and their family (if only they were fully committed) failing. Why? Because they are not “All In”.

If you want to succeed online, if you want to build something that generates a good income for you and your family, you must be fully, totally, 100% committed. Do whatever it takes to achieve what you need to achieve.

I’m going to share with you my own experience, in the hopes that you will come to understand that sacrifices must be made, effort must be invested, if you want to achieve your goals.

How A Problem Arose

I’m currently working on a massive project, in which I will require numerous voice actors to record a multitude of scripts I am currently preparing. The original plan was to use one of the recording rooms at the Bass On Top studio in Amemura (an area in Osaka).

Bass On Top recording studio in OsakaHowever, after executing a few test recordings, I found the quality of recordings not up to the standards my project will require. After some investigation, I found that the recording booths are optimized for bands – not vocals.

I did find a recording studio in Namba, Osaka that had a special booth for vocal recordings. However, not only was it prohibitively expensive, but also rarely available for use as it was booked solid.

Do We Give Up?

Not a chance. I am 100% committed to this project, so no obstacle will stand in my way.

Henry Ford quote - Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goalInstead, I decided that the best alternative (albeit a large up-front investment of money and energy) was to build my own recording studio. So, I hit the books (or the online sites) and studied vocal booth designs and specifications.

Going “All In” And Building A Studio

To build a studio, I needed a tiny apartment. I also wanted it to be close to my home office and near a train station (for ease of getting voice talent to my studio). Off to my usual standby (Kinki Shouji – a small realtor beside my train station, who specializes in cheaper rentals).

They had a listing for a one-room (actually, one room plus a kitchen/entrance) that was only 25,000¥ per month (about $250). No bathroom, but who needs to take a bath when recording? And, it was in a small building only steps away from Teradacho Station (my own local train station) – very convenient.

Up a flight of stairs, and here is the unassuming entrance to my new recording studio.

Door to studioStep inside, and through a tiny kitchen (now being employed as my storage area) and here’s the 6-tatami-mat room that’s about to be transformed into a recording studio.

6-mat room

Pulling Out The Wallet – It’s An Investment, Not A Spend

OK, building a recording studio was not going to be cheap. I knew that going into the project. However, this isn’t money being spent on something frivolous – this is money being invested in a project that will make me a ton of money for many years to come.

Are you investing in your business?

First, there was a trip to a large home center (Homes in Minamitsumori) and an outlay of 110,000¥ (about $1100) for wood, drywall, plywood, and miscellaneous materials. The home center then lent me their 1.5 ton truck to haul it all to my new studio location (Yes, it is a lot of fun to drive a big truck in the city – King Of The Road).

Of course, the building site is tiny, so everything had to be jammed into the tiny kitchen – which would be my cutting room for the next week.

The kitchen become a materials storage and cutting roomOn top of the construction materials, I would also require sound insulation and acoustic materials. Fortunately, I was able to find everything I needed at the Japanese online giant Rakuten, who had a store for Sonorize products. I ordered large sheets of 40kg/sq.m glasswool sound insulation sheets, and a large package of acoustic tiles.

Building For Sound Isolation

Since I live in a crowded urban area, with lots of noise pollution (and, in this case, a commuter train rumbling into the nearby station every 5 minutes) sound isolation was a top priority.

Fortunately, the room had tatami mats (50mm thick mats of rice straw that provide good insulation. These would give me my first-line defense against any noise from the beauty salon below. On top of these mats, I laid down a base of drywall boards for some mass. And the foundation for the walls was built from 1×6, glued down with lots of silicone sealant. (Final count – I went through 4 cases of silicone sealant building this room)

Building foundationSilicone sealant was used wherever any member touched another member, in a bid to reduce sound transmission as much as possible.

Isolating sound transmission with siliconeThe base of the wall is 1×6, and 1×4 studs were used to build the wall – with outside studs and inside studs staggered, to avoid conducting sound from the outside world. Two layers of rockwool sound insulation were fitted into the wall.

Staggered-stud wallsLots of silicone sealant was used on the studs before applying drywall. This is first layer of drywall.

Applying drywall sheetsTo isolate the floor from the original floor, rubber isolators were set in silicone sealant. 1×4 joists were then laid across the isolators.

Rubber insulators to isolate floorTwo layers of rockwool insulation were laid between the floor joists, to deaden the space between floors.

Rockwool sound insulation between floor joistsOne layer of 12mm plywood was set in silicone on the joists and screwed down solidly. Then, silicone was liberally applied to the top of the plywood and a second layer attached.

Double-ply floorThe gap between plywood flooring and drywall wall was well caulked with silicone sealant, as were all other gaps.

Caulking all gaps to stop sound transmissionTo avoid a boxy sound, a pitched ceiling was built.

Pitched ceilingAs with all other parts of the recording booth, the ceiling was built for maximum sound isolation. Two layers of rockwool were fitted between the rafters. Each rafter was liberally coated with silicone, and drywall was screwed to the ceiling.

CeilingWith both ceiling and walls, silicone sealant was floated across the drywall and a second layer of drywall applied. This greatly increases the sound isolation value, with a large mass deadening sound waves.

Silicone between layers of drywall

Building The Door And A Window

Of course, a door is needed, and I also wanted a small window for visual communication with voice talent – also to avoid claustrophobia for said voice talent. In the one wall, I framed for a doorway and a small window at eye level.

Door and window framingThe door is a basic bathroom door from a builder’s supply store. However, the doorjam had to be custom made. As ordinary door seals would not do much to cut sound transmission, a special frame was built to hold thick pipe insulation. Strips of small-dimension wood were attached and a heavy bed of caulking applied along each side.

Making the special doorjamPipe insulation was cut and fit to the doorjam, to create a large seal. The insulation was beaded in a heavy bead of caulking.

Pipe insulationThe finished doorjam (with pipe insulation around four sides) was installed in the doorway, and heavily caulked.

Doorjam fitted into doorwayWith the new door seal in place, closing the door creates an airtight (and soundproof) seal.

Well-sealed doorTo insulate the door itself, a frame was built on the outside surface, and filled with two layers of rockwool.

Insulating the doorA layer of drywall covers the insulation and provides mass to the outside of the door, cutting down on sound transmission through the door. Without this and the insulation, the door would become a large vibrating soundboard.

Adding mass to doorAs the recording computer and operator will be outside the booth (for sound isolation) a window is required. Two different thicknesses of glass were used (12mm on outside and 5mm on inside) and separated by as much distance as possible. Glass was bedded in silicone caulking and isolated from walls by rubber isolators.

Building the window - lots of caulkingAfter placing glass, more caulking was piped around glass for full isolation.

Liberal caulking around glassAs Osaka suffers from high humidity, I placed a large dessicant between the glass panes (obviously going for function, not looks).

Finished window with dessicant placed between panes

Wiring The Recording Booth

Electricity will come from an existing plug outside the booth. Here, one wire feeds in the electricity, one goes to an outside plug (for the recording computer), and one goes to the switch which will control the booth’s lighting.

Studio-11Surface-mounted switch and plug installed and wired.

Switch and plugOn the ceiling, a wire protrudes through caulking. An LED light will be installed here. The LED fixture will keep heat to a minimum, while providing good lighting for the script.

LightingThe recording computer will be outside the recording booth, so a USB cable for the mic has been permanently fixed through the wall.

Keeping It Cool And Workable

Osaka summers are nasty – hot and humid. To keep the room temperature and humidity under control, a small window-model air conditioner was installed in the back wall.

Air condiioner in back wallSpaces around the air conditioner were well insulated and caulked to reduce sound transmission from outside.

Insulating and caulking around a/c

Improving The Acoustics

With any small room, acoustics will be terrible – unless you use the proper materials to deaden the bouncing sound waves. Also, one must do something about the low-frequency bass tones that can wreak havoc with recordings.

To kill the low-end bass, three bass traps were built in the corners. These began as wooden frames with chicken-wire backing.

Studio-34A batt of rockwool was cut to fit snugly in each frame.

Rockwool in bass trapBlack cloth was stretched and fastened over each frame.

Cloth front on bass trapTo combat the bouncing sound waves, 50cm x 50cm urethane acoustic panels were attached to ceiling and wall with contact cement.

50cm x 50cm urethane acoustic panelsHere, the ceiling is completely covered with acoustic tiles. The wall came next.

Ceiling with acoustic panels32cm x 32cm carpet tiles (which come with foam backing) were laid on the floor, to create a comfortable recording space and avoid impact sounds.

Carpet tiles

The Finishing Touches

The microphone is an Audio Technica AT-2020 cardioid condenser studio mic, sitting in a shock mount. A tabletop microphone stand was bolted to a small shelf on the booth wall. A pop screen is attached to the stand. To provide a holder for scripts, an ordinary clipboard was attached to the stand with a metal strap.

Mic standA stool was obtained for voice artists to sit on.

StoolOutside the booth, a shelf (with vibration-isolating carpet tile) provides a surface for the recording laptop computer.

Platform for recording computer

The Total Cost

I spent a total of 5 days building this recording booth. The cost for all materials, not including the microphone (which I already owned) came to the equivalent of about $3500.

When I calculate the amount of time that will be required for recording all the future voiceovers that my new project demands, this booth will pay for itself with the amount I save on studio rentals. Plus, this eliminates all the headaches of trying to coordinate available studio times with voice talent availablity.

Was it worth the blood (yes, there was some Riley blood spilled), sweat (OMG, it was hot in June), and tears (my wallet crying)? Well… shortly after completing this recording booth, it paid for itself. In July and August, I recorded all the voiceovers for the Summer Biz-Builder Challenge in it, and sales of that workshop more than paid for the recording booth. From now on, it’s all profit!

So… the moral of the story. Be committed enough to do whatever it takes.

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