Portable Vocal BoothUnless 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.

Tags: ,