February 13, 2007

You Hear That? That’s Studio Silence

mic150.gifI think I may have dreamed this, but I would swear that someone told me there was something called “studio silence”.

I asked Google if it new what it wasYoo hoo, Yahoo? … and even MSN, but none of them could confirm what is in my brain. Was it all a strange dream?

Basically, it goes like this. There is actually something that studio musicians and people who work in recording studios call “Studio Silence” and it is the actual recording of silence from within a recording studio. Since that time, whenever a song like The Cars “You Might Think” is on and Ric Ocasek gets to the lyric:

But you kept it going
‘Til the sun fell down
You kept it…

I’ll say with confidence, “You know that silence in between those lyrics? That’s what they call studio silence.”

And people look at me and seem impressed like I know what I’m talking about. They really do.

I’m somehow convinced that someone really knowledgable told me about this and I’m thinking it may be my friend and college roommate, Matt, so perhaps he’ll chime in and back me up or confirm that I’m losing my mind and have been lying to people for years about studio silence. He’s such a good friend, that he may be thinking the latter but say the former just to protect me.

I guess if it’s complete B.S., at least I looked really smart to a lot of people and that’s something, isn’t it?

Post Details


Music Technology



February 13, 2007



Comments (4)

  • Matt February 13, 2007 

    I am television producer and music composer. I’ve have worked in television studios and recording studios for years. I’ve had my own home recording studio for a couple of years now, so I can tell you from experience – you’re right. (let’s visit the sanity issue over the phone where we have a little privacy)

    In even the best recording studios, there will be noise. No matter how thick the walls are, there will be noise from outside that gets into an open mic. Also, studio equipment produces heat and that heat will cause audible broadband noise in the system. These and other factors produce a very low audio signal called a “noise floor” – in other words, the quietest that a studio with an open mic can get.

    If you were to remove the noise floor completely, you’d hear it. Here’s an example, I went to D.C. to shoot a lawyer for a documentary. We shot at his office, but I was very pleased to find out that his office was a very quiet place – very much like a recording studio with great accoustics. Between sentences, he would sometimes lightly cough with his mouth closed. When I was editing it, I took those coughs out – the problem was that when I took them out there was “pure electronic silence” in the gaps – that’s not good because you can realy hear perfect silence. So, I had to cut little pieces of room silence out of other parts of the video tape to fill those gaps. The coughs were gone and the illusion complete.

  • Ausbury February 13, 2007 

    Yes! I am not insane and it definitely was Matt who told me about “studio silence”.

  • dorsey March 1, 2007 

    I’m with Matt, although I’ve never heard the term “studio silence.” We always called it “room tone.” It’s especially noticeable when shooting video. Cut from a shot in one room to a shot in another and you’ll hear the difference. When shooting something to be edited later, I always recorded a minute or so of the room tone to have a place to grab from while mixing down audio.

    I believe this was the topic of the popular Simon & Garfunkel song. ; )

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