Portable Mini Vocal Booth

Written by Durk Kooistra on Saturday the 15th of August, 2009
Introduction

Usefull Resources:
Download this tutorial as a PDF via Instructables

Portable mini vocal booth
In this tutorial we will make a DIY portable mini vocal booth that can be used to record your voice on the road (on a flash disc recorder). But there's more that can be done with this easy to make project.
You can cancel background noise when doing Foley recordings in your project or home studio, or have a portable mini deadroom, ideal for specialized field recording.

The DIY Portable Mini Vocal Booth is ideal for podcasters, DIY filmakers and sound designers alike. My personal motivation to build this, was a desire to have a mobile mini deadroom to make foley recordings and recordings for my music.

Why a  mini dead room enviorment?
While a recording session with live played instruments might involve one or multiple 'room' mic's to enhence the sound, some recordings need to be as small and 'dead' as possible.
In Short: If you dont have a treated room your audio quality gets comprimised by the reflections of  soundwaves on hard surfaces in your room.  A deadroom or treated room, ensure a clean recording with as little  'room' or 'echo' as possible. Once you have the perfect recording you can treat the audio with any reverb, effect processor or VST you come up with. Its better to add things later than not being able to remove things later.

IR reverb
A common practise in sound design is applying an Impulse respondse (IR) Reverb to a recording. A IR reverb uses the actual reverb of a room. like the name suggests, an impulse, like a loud clap or a starters pistol,  triggers a  decay. The charactaristics of a room can be applied to any sound source this way. The less room in a recording the better the results will be when you use a IR reverb. There are IR kits featuring crazy rooms like a pharao's tombe chamber in a pyramid, but you can also choose what seat you'd like to have in carnegie hall.


Things you'll need:
  • Sharp boxcutter knife.
  • Sound Isolation Foam  (1 , dependig on the size of you box)
  • 2 durable Cardboard boxes (In this tutorial I use an old box from my notebook and a generic one)
  • Bolts (12 bolts) and or a (indsutrial) stapler. (20 staples)
  • Mic
  • Mic stand
  • Marker
  • Bag with handle (or just the handle)
  • Ruler

It cost me about 10 euros. I bought the foam at a hardware store. Be sure to get foam made for sound isolation.

I use one cardboard box that is long and slim (so not square). I chose for this shape because it leaves  me some arm space, hence it is set up in a V position. (
When placed in a V shape, in a upright position, the cardboard box is stable leaving enough room for my hands to move objects i want to record) Its also makes it nice and slim, great when your traveling or doing field recordings. The other box is only used for the top/roof.

I used a handle from another box, nice sturdy plastic one.  You can use any plastic handle thats sturdy enough. Want to know what type of microphone to use? see the wiki page.



Step by step:

Cut one of the short sides of the cardboard , leaving you with 2 long sides and a short side in the middle. (when you use a square box you can make as many folds as you like, be sure to cut the foam accordingly, see follwing steps how to)


put the box flat on the ground. Put the foam on top of it and check if everything is covered. (I had
1 , which was plenty for my 2x 40x40 cm  and 15x40  box)

Start by marking the foam where the folds of the cardboard are using the marker. 

Now measure the short side of the cardboard and the thickness of the foam (in my case 2 cm). Make sure you leave twice the thickness (in my case 4 cm) of the foam as spare space so the longer sides of the cardboard have space to move around. (see picture)


Draw lines with the marker to guide you before cutting the foam

We now have 3 pieces of  foam. Two even arms and one short middle part. Staple and/or attach the foam with bolts. Do not attach the foam to the middle part just yet.


Time to put a roof on there. fiddle around until you have a nice position of the arms.  Cut the second cardboard box to a size so you can lay it on top of the upright mini vocal booth. Use a marker to mark the position of the arms of the booth and use it as guidelines to cut the carboard.



Just like before, remind to leave (in my case 4 cm) enough space. This time so that the cardboard leans on the V construction



Now place the handle on the middle of the middle part of the cardboard box. Depending on your handle you should try to make the 2 ends of the handle to entry the cardboard box and attach them on the inside. Otherwise make it as sturdy as possible.



Time to place the last piece of foam in the middle and attach it. As a finnishing touch I've put a strap on it so you can close it for traveling.



 

Mic Placement
Different applications call for different mic set ups. Please read the Mic Wiki carefully.
I attached a Mic holder to the cardboard:



Done!

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