DIY Vocal Booth – Make a Booth like a Pro

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Written By Tanya

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Vocals are the most important thing. It’s possible to get away with poor drums and guitar, or any other backing instruments. Vocals are the focus, so there is no room for compromise.

Recording vocals for music, podcasts, narrations, voice acting, and audiobooks is a great example of this. You must produce flawless recordings wherever your voice is the focus.

Let me tell you about the dangers of clear recordings and why an enclosed environment is necessary. Next, I will show you six options for building a booth at home.

Finally, I will point you to articles on LedgerNote which can help with post-processing. Mixing your tracks is just as important as recording them properly.

Are Vocal Booths Really Required?

You do indeed need one. Clear recordings are not possible without a good acoustic environment.

Your mouth sounds send sound waves outwards that reach the microphone. However, they bounce off walls and enter the mic. This is a form of reverb that “smears” your recordings.

The sounds reflect off walls, and back into each other. Waveforms can experience constructive and destructive interference.

Interference is when they combine their energy in different frequency ranges. This can either build up or cancel each other out. This results in a boomy, muddy recording that is most often recorded indoors.

Six creative ways to create your own vocal booth are presented to you. They are arranged in order from the most cost-effective to the easiest. As you progress down the list, your results will improve. You will find compromises in cheap recording booths.

The goal of your entire project is to eliminate wave interference and reverb. Also, you want recordings that are clear, not muddy. You will see better results if you work hard to build a better booth. I’ll be explaining why as we go. You’ll also learn how professional studio vocal booths work by the end.

DIY Vocal Booth #1 – The Clothes Closet

  • Strength It’s not expensive and it’s already set up.
  • Weakness In such a small space, the ceilings, floor and door are all too low.

The closet is where you keep your clothes. To get the maximum benefit, it must have clothes on at least two sides of the small space. The more clothes you have the better. A rack of shoes, or something similar, is even better.

The clothes will be a form of acoustic treatment known as absorption panels. These absorb the sound waves’ energy, convert it into energy, and stop it from bouncing back into the mic.

Your clothes may not be thick enough to prevent bass waves from bouncing around. Although you’ll be able to eliminate most of the “smeared-out” sound from your recordings, they will still sound muddy and boomy. You’ll find additional tips to help you fix this issue in the section below.

You want to have a rack of clothes hanging in front of and behind you. You can absorb any vocal sounds by having your clothes pass through once, hit the wall and then back through. For a quadruple absorption attack, the sound waves that remain behind you will pass through your clothes once more, hitting the wall and then back through.

Shoes racks or any other storage that you have near your head can diffuse and scatter the waveforms, which will reduce their volume and energy so they don’t sound as loud in your recordings. Book shelves and other storage items can help tremendously with this.

It’s great if your closet has a carpeted floor. If your closet is not carpeted on the floor, you should place a thick shaggy rug there. This will prevent reflections from bouncing off the ceiling and floor in a large loop. It is a good idea to leave the closet door open as it will be on your side and allow sound escape.

To keep expectations realistic, I will tell you that the results won’t surprise you. Although it will be much better than recording in an open space, it won’t be as good. Unfortunately, you’ll still have amateurish recordings.

DIY Recording Booth #2 – The Pillow Fort

  • Strength This is a small room that you’re making just for your microphone.
  • Weakness There will still be bass waves.

This is where you take some decorative pillows from your couch or bed to make a little fort at your desk. This is similar to shrinking the closet method above to the size your mic can fit in and placing clothes on five surfaces.

Problem is that bass waves can pass through pillows, just as with clothes. The memory foam, polyfill material, and cotton are not dense enough to absorb long wavelengths of bass sound.

This is a better way to record vocals than in a closet. It’s also easier to set up because you can do it at your desk. You can also place the microphone on the bottom pillow if you don’t have a mic stand. It will work just like an upright microphone.

You don’t have to use long cables or headphones to get from your computer to your closet. Your desk will be ready for you. This method is extremely easy to set up and take down.

DIY Sound Booth #3: Reflection Filter

  • Strength Very affordable, lasts forever and can stop the bass.
  • Weakness A microphone stand with a tripod leg or a large base is required.

This is the best method for most people who are reading this article. The microphone reflection filter was created by professionals in the industry to be used as a portable voice booth. Although it isn’t perfect, it is as close to the real thing as you can get with minimal effort.

These shields have real acoustic treatment inside. It curves around the microphone to prevent reflections from bouncing back.

They can stop most of the bass waves getting through, which is a great thing for those who are struggling with the “muddy” part. Your final results will be better if you don’t have to correct your vocals too late in post-processing.

These will help you get there, and they’ll provide better than average results if you have a high-quality microphone and preamp (or an audio interface). Professional studios often use reflection filters in combination with more complex methods to improve their recording quality. This reflection filter is what I recommend.

DIY Isolation Booth #4 – Acoustic Blankets & curtains

  • Strength: Will transform your entire room into a singing booth.
  • Weakness – Your recordings will still have bass problems.

This was #3, but I wasn’t sure if it should be #4. This is a great advantage because you can record groups of people without having to create individual booths for each mic. You can hang them permanently with acoustic curtains and blankets.

These curtains are common in theaters and auditoriums. You’ll see thick curtains hanging from the walls for seemingly no reason. This is why they are there. They will stop high-frequency and mid-frequency sound waves from bouncing about.

You can diffuse the bass waves if you have enough space with bookshelves, wall decorations and a bed. However, you will still struggle to hear them.

This is a very appealing way to use your voice. This is how professionals do it. If you don’t want to do this, you should not hang the blankets up on your walls. Instead, make a tent from them that you can enter.

DIY Vocal Booth #5 Acoustic Treatment

  • Strength You will get the best audio quality every time.
  • Weakness This can be costly and take a lot of work.

This is how real recording studios, such as Brewery Recording Studio (pictured above), stop sound from reflecting around in a room. Acoustic treatment works in the same way as curtains, pillows, or clothing, but they are thick enough to absorb bass sound waves.

My own acoustic panels were built by me, which was both expensive and tedious. You can buy them if you have the money (I recommend GIK Acoustics), however, they are heavy and large so you will hate having to pay shipping.

They come in many sizes and shapes, including absorption panels. This is a great way to get lost in the rabbit hole and can be very addictive. This is the main method used by real recording studios, as well as soundproofing their rooms during construction.

This article is a monster guide to acoustic treatment. You’ll learn 90% about it, and be able to decide if it is the right treatment for you.

Homemade Sound Booth #6 – The Legitimate Booth

  • Strength Each recording can be recorded with perfect audio quality.
  • Weakness This takes the most time, effort, and money.

This was something I did once, and it helped me to produce several albums. It was so successful that local bands began paying me to use my equipment and this booth. They didn’t want the hassle of building it themselves and so you won’t have to.

You can build a vocal booth in your own home. It can also be used as a temporary fixture. It is similar to building a room, but more difficult because you will need a floating floor, ceiling, thick walls, insulation, sheetblock for soundproofing, as well as acoustic treatment on all the walls.

It’s not something I will be able to talk about much. You can read other articles on construction if this appeals to you. After having done this, I recommend that you choose acoustic treatments. This allows you to record in any room, and can even hold full bands. It’s easier and cooler.

Other Tips for Cleaning Up Vocal Recordings

This article is for you if you are looking for top-quality vocal recordings. While you should build your own vocal booth, or buy a reflection filter to enhance your recordings, there are many other things you can do. You are already an expert at recording, but you can improve the quality of your recordings by learning vocal mixing techniques.

These articles are chock-full of useful information that you can use to create better vocal recordings or clean them up afterward.

These links will provide tons of tips and tricks to help you polish your vocals once you have recorded. These links include our recommendations for the top three essential items that affect vocal quality. They are the microphone preamplifier and microphone, respectively, as well as the audio interface.

This is how to build a vocal booth!

There is nothing worse than buying tons of gear and then trying to figure out how to connect them all to your computer. Then, when you get home, your recording quality drops. You’ll soon discover that it’s not your equipment’s fault.

Your room and the acoustic environment are responsible. You can fix it by building your own DIY vocal booth. Your final result will depend on how much you are willing to put in. You have two options: go all-out or do too little. Or, you can choose to compromise and get a reflection filter. You have the option to choose!

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