Unless your recording room is acoustically treated, you probably capture “room sound” in your recordings.
This isn’t necessarily bad: Some rooms have a great ambience which adds natural depth to a mix. But the room sound in smaller spaces, like most bedroom and basement project studios, usually hurts rather helps a track. Ethan Winer outlines the main issues – comb filtering and room modes – in his article on recording spaces.
For several reasons, small rooms are especially harsh on vocals:
- Vocals tend to need compression, which raises the noise floor of a track and makes the room sound more obvious.
- The best vocal microphones have omni and cardioid polar patterns, so they inherently capture more ambience.
- Many singers like to stand a few feet from the microphone, allowing more of the room sound to leak through.
Enter the DIY portable vocal booth:
Douglas realized that for a microphone to sound good and tight you didn’t need to be inside a sound box – the microphone did. So, he built a simple 16” by 16” four-sided box out of foam core, lined it with acoustic foam (usually sold in 16 x 16 inch tiles), stuck his microphone inside, and recorded with it. Dubbed the VO Box, the results were stellar even in a “bad” room.
While the project as described is easy to build, you could probably simplify it even further by using a plain old cardboard box and rockwool or stiff fiber insulation.