As recording software becomes more affordable and easier to use, people are setting up home recording studios on small budgets. The vocal booth is integral to the quality of the recording. Its purpose is to provide an environment in which echoes are eliminated, sounds do not rebound from walls and exterior noise is removed. It's possible to construct a low budget vocal booth in your home that can be used for recording singers as well as isolating amplifiers and acoustic instruments. Walling in the corner of a room with two free standing timber walls is an inexpensive way of constructing a booth.
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Things you need
- Door hinge
Cut two pieces of wood so they are 6ft high. Plywood is good choice as it is cheap and sturdy. You only need two plywood walls and both should be different widths. Your booth should be in the corner of the room furthest away from the door, facing the wall. Using the corner saves money on timber and saves space. Make one wall 3ft wide and the other 3.5ft wide You may need to reduce these sizes depending on the size of your room. Equally sized walls or worse, completely rectangular spaces, are bad for vocal booths (see "Tips"). Attach a hinge to each piece of timber at equal height so that the two pieces can be fitted together later.
Construct your interior booth walls. Nail or staple an old sheet to the timber and then glue on the padding material. Aim for an even depth of 1-inch worth of foam. Foam or insulation material are good padding material. Cover the padding with another sheet and glue or staple that on to the wood. On top of the sheet, glue irregularly sized foam pieces. The ideal foam pieces will be shaped like the interior of an egg box, with peaks and dips.
Furnish your floor. If you are building your booth in a tiled or wood floored room, lay carpet where the booth will be. This helps to isolate sound and makes the shuffling of a singer's feet less audible. If the room is already carpeted, you can lay a rug down to make the booth more comfortable and to prevent wear on your carpet.
Dress the remaining interior of the booth. Your booth will have four walls. Two are made from timber are the other two are your room walls. Cover the room walls with foam or egg boxes. Use Blu-Tac to attach it if you intend the booth to be temporary. Use glue if the booth is permanent.
Set up the vocal mic, pop shield and stand in the booth before putting up the walls. Connect the mic cable to the mic.
Lay the timber walls flat and join the hinges. Then lift them up into a standing position, at approximately a 60 degree angle to each other. Position the widest timber wall flush again the room wall. This partially encloses the corner of the room that is the booth. The other wall can be moved on the hinge to allow access to and from the booth.
Drape a sheet over the top of the booth to further insulate the sound.
Tips and warnings
- The wall ratios should be irregular to reduce dead spots. Dead spots occur when sound is reflected between surfaces. Sound reflects less between irregularly spaced surfaces.
- A coat hanger fashioned into a loop, covered with a pair of pantyhose makes an affordable DIY pop shield for a microphone.
- If you'd prefer to not use foam on surface of your timber walls, the bottom half of an egg box is a suitable alternative. You'll need lots of egg boxes to cover the wall.
- If necessary, place some sturdy furniture behind the timber walls to secure them further.
- Take regular breaks to allow the singer to get some air. Vocal booths have poor ventilation by design.
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