Have you ever tried to create a recording only to discover the sound is scratchy and uneven? You’ll probably catch hints of external noises, not to mention echoes inside the room. All that clamor prevents you from creating top-notch recordings.
The best way around this problem is to use a vocal booth. Many of us have seen these booths in music videos and movies, but few of us know how they work.
This post is dedicated to DIY vocal booths for dedicated music makers. I’ll tell you how you can make your very own DIY vocal booths for your home studio.
What Is a Vocal Booth?
Vocal booths serve two primary purposes. The first is preventing outside noise from interfering with the performance.
Microphones can be highly sensitive. They quickly pick up external dins, like the humming of the air conditioner or a chair squeaking. Vocal booths prevent that from happening.
The other job of a sound booth is to preserve the integrity of the instruments or vocals. When a performer sings or plays an instrument, sound waves create reverberations. Reverbs are caused when these waves bounce off walls and cause an echo in the space.
The mic picks up these echoes, which muddles up the recording and reduces sound quality. This interference is what the professionals refer to as ‘smears.’
The way a vocal booth is designed helps dampen and absorb these reverberations. So, the microphone only picks up the authentic, dry sounds of the performer.
4 Ideas for Your DIY Vocal Booth
Even if you’re not a professional musician, vocal booths are an efficient way to create great sounds. I’ve talked about how surrounding noises are the biggest factors that can ruin your work.
This is where most of the reflections and reverbs take place. Eliminating them will drastically improve the quality of your recording.
So, how do we do that? We build a DIY vocal booth!
A basic booth may not offer the same premium options as professional studios. Still, it can offer better quality than a room with no sound-dampening features at all.
Check out the four booth designs we rounded up. They’re all budget-friendly and easy to set up in your home studio.
Turning your closet into a vocal booth is a cheap and straightforward way to get a mediocre acoustic treatment. The best part is that it’s already set up for you.
Line up your clothes on either side and stand in the middle, facing one side. The clothes will act like absorption panels. As a result, they’ll reduce the energy emitted by sound waves and prevent them from bouncing back to your mic.
If there are shelves in the closet, stock them up with shoes, bags, or books. They, too, can help scatter and diffuse sound waves, especially if they’re at the level of your mic.
Now, look at the floor. Is it carpeted? If yes, then that’s great! The carpet will stop echoes from bouncing off the floor and into the mic.
If there’s no carpet, consider covering it with something dense. You can use a thick rug or heavy blanket to help reduce reverbs.
All that’s left is the door, which you should leave open. It may seem counterintuitive, but leaving the door open reduces reflections.
Using mattresses as a DIY vocal booth is ingenious. The only drawback is that they can tire your back, carrying them back and forth. Other than that, you’ll actually be impressed with their echo-absorbing powers!
To pull this off, you’re going to need about three to four mattresses with memory foam. They provide better sound dampening than box spring mattresses.
Pull each of them upright, so they’re standing around you. If you only have one mattress, place it behind the performer to reduce as many of the reflections and reverbs as possible.
With two or three mattresses, position them in a V-shape or C-shape behind the performer. If you’re able to get four mattresses, then you’ve hit the jackpot!
Arrange them to build a four-sided booth for optimal sound dampening. You can also use the fourth mattress as an overhead panel on top of your C-shaped design.
The only thing left to think about is the floor. If it’s carpeted, then that’s settled. If it’s not, cover it with a thick blanket or fabric for boosting noise isolation.
Desktop vocal booths are lightweight and portable. They’re ideal if you’re constantly on the move or have to travel often.
It’s worth noting that they won’t offer complete isolation. Yet, these portable booths can still provide great results. They do an impressive job of reducing echoes and reverbs.
The idea of a portable booth is that it’s a box lined with thick, sound-absorbing materials. Many are designed to sit on a desk and act as a reflection filter.
First, get a cardboard box or plastic container. It has to be big enough for the microphone and stand to fit inside.
Next, find some memory or acoustic foam. Measure the box and cut the foam accordingly.
Then, Secure the foam to the inner lining of the box. You can use double-sided tape, adhesive velcro, or nuts and bolts.
The blanket DIY vocal booth is the most effective. It’s guaranteed to offer complete sound isolation on all sides. Plus, it’s easy to set up and dismantle, which makes it somewhat portable.
The downside is that it’ll cost you more than the other three booth designs. Here’s a brief rundown of the things you’ll need:
- Four dense packing blankets (80 inches long)
- One mini hacksaw
- 7 PVC pipes (20 feet long)
- Eight 90-degree PVC elbow joints
- Clamps or shower curtains
Start by cutting the pipes slightly longer than the length of the blankets. Then, slide the curtain rings through the pipes.
Next, connect the pipes using the 90-degree elbow joints to make a square-shaped booth. You can also use tee joints for joining them side-by-side.
Finally, fold the blankets over the pipes. To keep them in place, you can use clamps or shower curtain rings.
As you can see from my guide on how to build DIY vocal booths, it’s important to understand how sound works. Once you’ve mastered that, you can create any type of booth you want to suit every space and situation.
The trick is to experiment with different materials and layouts. As you gain more and more experience, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. That’s when the real fun begins!