Anyone who has tried to record vocals at one point or another understands just how important a good, quality soundproof booth can be. There is always the option of going to a professional studio to use a booth, but that starts to add up pretty quickly.
Building a soundproof booth at home might be a better solution. It takes some time, energy, and a minor investment, but it can pay for itself in a short amount of time. If it’s good enough, it might even be something a person can rent out to others.
The biggest challenge? Figuring out where to start. Taking on an entire booth is a challenge for sure, but one that most people will find for filling. That’s a lot of labor out of love, and it makes financial sense for most.
Getting Ready to Make a DIY Vocal Booth
The majority of people who have put together their own soundproof booth thought that the process was easier than they originally expected. That’s good news for anyone who takes a look at a professional set up, and has doubts on whether or not they can do it themselves. Sure, it might not end up winning any beauty awards, but if it is functional enough, most will gladly take it.
Thanks to affordable materials, plenty of tips and instructions online, and more, the days of needing a professional are over. There will always be people who would rather leave it up to professionals, but the much more affordable option is to do it yourself.
Cheap Options to Consider
For people who might still be on the fence about investing in an entire booth, there is the option to try out a smaller vocal booth or shield that surrounds the microphone. In many ways, this is a smaller booth made for impromptu recording sessions. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not going to be the same as a booth.
The biggest difference will be the issue of not having full protection. These shields only protect the microphone from ambient sounds coming from limited angles.
The issue relates to the setup of each shield. It does its best blocking in an area that usually produces the least amount of sound. The null point behind the microphone is not where a lot of ambient noise comes from. It would be better off if it were somehow able to protect above and behind the person using the microphone. That’s simply impossible with just a shield, which is why the design feels limited.
Enclosed Areas Around the Home
Everyone has at least tried this once or twice, and probably had less than stellar results. Doing recordings in a closet or some other temporary enclosed area might seem like a smart idea at first, but it doesn’t do much to enhance a person’s sound. Vocals won’t sound the same, and even a lot of clothing, pillows, and more won’t act the same way that specifically designed soundproofing material will.
If you haven’t tried it yet, go ahead and give it a try. It doesn’t hurt anything, but it shows just how important an actual both are. No professional quality is coming out of an unmodified closet.
Cheap, DIY Soundproof Booth Methods
1. A Blanket Vocal Booth
This do-it-yourself option is inexpensive, relatively easy to construct, portable, and best of all, excellent at this job. It might not be the prettiest looking booth in the world, but it gets the job done and allows people to save so much money in the long run.
The basic concept is to create an enclosed area that will not only make sounds inside sound the best but eliminate sounds from outside.
The first thing a person needs to do is buy the proper materials to set everything up. A blanket booth is pretty simple, as all that is needed is some acoustic blankets, PVC pipe, some joints, curtain rings, and a saw. Every person needs a slightly different size, so people can mess around with the scale a bit before jumping in.
Cutting the beat BC pipe and building a frame
The PVC pipe and joints used to put together a frame is sturdy enough for recording use. Remember, it doesn’t need to be strong enough to withstand high winds or a ton of wear and tear since it’s mostly used as a barrier. Just be careful a little with the booth, so it isn’t damaged by carelessly using it.
Make sure that the booth is tall enough to stand in, or at least sit in, depending on the use. There could be recording opportunities for hours and hours inside, so no one wants to feel extremely uncomfortable during the entire process.
After the frame is built, use as many acoustic blankets as necessary to block out all the noise coming in. Acoustic blankets that are high-quality used to cost a decent amount of money, but they’ve come down considerably. For less than $100, a person can buy a decent amount to use.
The final step is to add a blanket or two at the top of the booth. Since the booth is not that big, it’s not going to sag as much as some might think. Make sure that the blanket is big enough so that it hangs over and fits somewhat properly. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit, as the blankets can be cut or folded in certain ways.
Design the interior
The final step is to put in all the different items needed so that it is a nice workshop area. Make sure there is a proper amount of lighting, a chair/stool to sit on, and recording gear.
Why this works
Having something that is enclosed is going to provide quality sound more than anything else. For all the other cheaper options, it’s hard to get pure isolation. Usually, at least something can leak through, but these blankets provide the edge.
Some frames are more ready-made for people who want to skip the PVC pipe process, but it is going to cost a little bit more money. As long as it is put together the right way, even a PVC pipe frame is going to last years and years.
2. Soundproof an Existing Closet or Small Room
Another do-it-yourself option that some people consider is soundproofing an area that already exists. This is a more permanent solution since the room can’t move around, but that can save some people money and time if it has a pretty good framework to go off of.
Making the necessary adjustments
A closet usually is the best option to go with, simply because it takes less material to close off everything and make it sound really good. There is the issue of getting rid of shelves, racks, and more built into the closet, but it is easier to do that in a smaller area than a huge room. Ideally, the soundproof booth needs to be completely clear of anything besides the walls and ceiling. This opens up a small area as much as possible and reduces the chances of unwanted sounds.
Just about every closet already has lighting in it, so that’s a positive. Keep that around, and that eliminates the need to do something that is usually pretty tough when building from scratch. If it has a light inside, it is that much easier to use an existing outlet or put one in for future use.
Instead of using soundproof blankets, it’s better to use some combination of drywall and foam panels to isolate the room from everywhere else in the home. There are some really good options available online, as well as locally at general and hardware stores.
Installing drywall takes a little bit of knowledge, but it’s nothing that the average person can’t pull off on their own. Keep in mind that adding foam and drywall is going to effectively shrink the room a little bit if it’s stacked against an existing wall. A small closest can become super tiny if enough layers are added.
Make sure to pay attention to the floors and ceiling of the closet. It’s especially important to soundproof a closet or room that is on a floor with a story above it. Sounds from above are much easier to pick up than sounds from below, so treat the ceiling much like the walls to make everything look and sound great.
Why some people love this option
Building a soundproof booth out of PVC pipe and blankets is pretty cool, but turning a room into a recording area is a step in the right direction. It has a truly professional feel that can be customized in a lot of different ways. It’s something that visitors will be very impressed with, and it usually provides better overall sound.
People who own their homes will have more of an opportunity to make an area like this into something special. Renters might need to clear everything first before they get started. Investing a lot of money into a closet, only to have to tear it down completely and waste the material a few months later, might not be worth it.
Other than building an addition onto a home, this is the most professional way to build a true booth in the home. A lot of people who record for a living have gone this route, and even when spending a lot of money on premium material, it’s still very affordable.
The negatives of an existing room booth
The biggest negative when trying to turn an existing room or closet into a booth is that not everyone can afford to do it. It might not cost that much, but taking away that amount of space for recording is a challenge. People with bigger homes can usually get away with it, or those people who record a lot.
Before starting, make sure that there is enough room to put everything that used to be in that area elsewhere. Don’t just clear out the closet and leave all the stuff out before finding a new home for it. This is going to make a home feel very crammed and not all that enjoyable. If there simply isn’t enough room, the PVC frame option is the better way to go.
Why It’s Important to Have a Vocal Booth
No matter what type of recording is being done, vocals are the main attraction. In music, it provides the melody, and every listener needs to hear what a person is singing about. From a voice recording or podcast, vocals are very important, as well.
The one thing every person is trying to avoid is any type of reverb. Whenever a sound is accompanied by just a little bit of reverb, it sounds like it is far, far away. Many people strive to have very little or no reverb whatsoever so that the sound is clear and dry.
A vocal booth can do exactly that. It takes in all the surrounding noise and absorbs it so that it is not cluttering up the main vocals. Professionals have been using very expensive vocal booths for a long time, and they used to be the only way to get this type of sound.
As technology has improved, materials needed for something like this has come down in price significantly. It’s still very easy to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on an expensive place to record, but there are do it yourself options that work for the vast majority of people.
What If My Soundproof Booth is Not Performing as it Should?
The first thing to look at is to see whether or not there are a lot of leaks where sound can enter and leave the booth. A good booth will have everything completely sealed off when the door closes. Since the door is constantly being opened and closed, this is where a lot of issues start to show.
The two most common ways to close up any if use is to use caulk or weatherstripping. Caulk works just about anywhere on the booth, and it helps to seal up any gaps or holes that might be showing. Sometimes, these holes are pretty small, so examine the entire booth if possible.
Weatherstripping is originally meant to help regulate temperature as much as possible inside a home. It works for soundproofing a door a little bit more as well. There is usually somewhat of a gap between the base of the door and the floor.
A Few Additional Tips on Using and Building a Soundproof Booth
The good news for a lot of people is that there is not a reason to go to a professional recording studio any longer with all the available tools for people to purchase. Recording music at home, doing podcasts, putting together videos, and more is easier than ever without having a huge budget.
The best suggestion is to try a few simple products first to see just how much soundproofing is needed. Depending on the project and how important it is, some people can get away with pretty basic soundproofing strategies.
If the booth is only used sparingly, the do-it-yourself methods are the way to go. A booth can be torn down relatively easily and stored for later use. If it’s an existing closet, there is nothing wrong with storing a few things in there when it’s not needed.
Hiring a handyman to take care of the building process is always an option as well if a person feels overwhelmed. Even though a lot of people claim it is easy to put together something like this, not everyone is completely comfortable doing basic construction.
Above all else, take the extra bit of time to make the booth unique. There is a good chance that hours and hours will be spent in the small area, so have some fun with a do it yourself design. It doesn’t always need to be as plain as can be. As long as it performs well, adding a touch of flair or color can enhance the mood.