Building A Vocal Booth

The vocal booth is an integral part of a recording studio. If you are planning on building a vocal booth for yourself, start off by giving careful consideration to where and how you will build it.

When it comes to building a vocal booth the construction of the vocal booth has a huge implication on the quality of the sound recording.

The basic purpose of the vocal booth is to give a soundproof environment to the vocalist so that any kind of external interference as well as internal echoing is completely eliminated.

The vocal booth also works to isolate the amplifiers and the acoustic instruments from the recording singers. The booth can be constructed simply, using just timber walls, but careful consideration should be given to insulation of the room, and doing so on a budget can be a real challenge.

Where to Build Your Vocal Booth?

If you have a studio control room, the back of the room is the ideal place to start building a vocal booth. In a vocal booth, you need a physical line of sight to the vocal performer as well as soundproofing. Plywood and glass are both cheap options for building a vocal booth.

Depending on the space available, you can mark out the measurement of timber walls that you will need. The booth should be as far away from the door as possible. When you use a corner, you can save money on the timber. Try and avoid building a completely rectangular room, as these are bad for vocal booths.

Insulation of the Walls

Once you have erected the basic structure of the walls of the booth, comes the real challenge of insulating it. A lot of people use carpeting on the walls to keep the sounds from bouncing off. However, there is a basic flaw with carpeting and soft padding. Such padding and carpeting only absorb the high pitched frequencies, which mean that the medium and low pitch frequencies still travel in the same manner and bounce off the walls.

The resulting sound may seem a little boxy. Rockwool is another item that is frequently used for building a vocal booth, but this does not really work well with vocal booths. Unless you are using a very thick layer of Rockwool, the low frequency sounds still leave the room and the resulting recordings can seem very flat and oppressed. Thin acoustic foam will give you almost similar results.

An appropriate mixture of reflection and absorption is what is required to have the right kind of acoustics inside the recording room. If you can get your hands on hanging barrier mats, you can have the perfect solution to your soundproofing woes.

Barrier mats are high density mineral loaded vinyl mats which appear a lot like linoleum. The wall behind where the singer will stand is usually the ideal place to place these mats.

When a singer sings into the microphone, the sounds are reflected from the back wall, and head straight back to the mic. An absorption layer behind the singer can take care of this problem permanently, allowing you to have a great recording studio where you can eliminate all the noise completely.

On the wall behind the vocalist, start insulating by first installing a layer of high density Rockwool. Once that is installed, place a hanging barrier mat next to it and finish it up with two layers of felt carpet.

Depending on the depth that you have available for use, you can leave the felt linings hanging so that they can move to absorb the low frequency noises as well. The heavy barrier mat, which is hung from the ceiling, should be screwed well to the wall against which it is placed. This allows the barrier mat to be in place.

The remaining interior of the booth also needs to be dressed. Of the four walls, the wall behind the singer has already been insulated. The rest of the room can be insulated suing egg boxes and foam. Together, egg boxes and foam make an excellent surface which both reflects and absorbs, giving the sounds a new life. You can glue and staple the egg boxes and the foam to the walls of the vocal booth.

For the glass part of the walls, use a thick glass instead of a double paneled one. The thick glass allows the right kind of insulation, while a double paneled one is reflective.

Insulation of the Floor

The next part in the insulation is the floor. When you are building a vocal booth inside a tiled room or a room with wooden flooring, the floor needs to have proper carpeting for insulation.

Two layers of thick felt carpet can be installed here to isolate the sounds for recording. The thick carpeting also eliminates the noise of the shuffling feet of the vocal artist. For rooms that are already carpeted, a further layer of thick rug can be placed.

Setting up the Microphone

Once the basics of insulation have been finished, you can move on to other things. Set up the vocal microphone and the pop shield. If you want, you can set up the stand in the booth as well. You can fashion an old coat hanger into a loop. Attach old panty-hose to it to make a pop shield for the microphone to be place in.

Other Considerations

There are some other things to consider when building a vocal booth in the recording studio. To reduce the dead spots, allow the wall ratios to be irregular. The there is space between the surfaces sounds can escape, thus creating the effect of dead spots.

If the surfaces are irregularly shaped, the sounds will reflect much less. This is one of the reasons it is advised not to make your walls in rectangular or square shapes.

Vocal booths cannot have much ventilation since that would defeat the real purpose of insulation. Since you are not able to install ventilation into your vocal booth, allow the singer frequent breaks to get fresh air from outside.

Well that's the end of the article. Hopefully these tips will help you with building a vocal booth of your own. Good luck.

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