The terrible sound that plagues your recordings is a combination of reverberations, echoes, reflections, and other room noises such as laughter, air conditioning, or traffic picked up by the mic and seeping into your recordings. As long as these noises are audible, the sound quality will be hard to salvage, regardless of the amount of editing you are capable of enduring or the number of plugins you use in your digital audio workstation (DAW) software.
A soundproof vocal booth eliminates or drastically reduces external noises so that they’re not prominent enough to be picked up by the mic. It also absorbs reverberations, ensuring the recorded vocals are dry, which gives your original voice and instruments prominence. Although they are much cheaper than full recording studios, quality vocal booths come at a premium and may burst your budget, especially if you are only starting or your venture is not income-generating.
The notion of building your own DIY vocal booth or soundproof recording booth at a fraction of the price is therefore enticing and very practical while on a budget. Recording at home can, however, make you a nuisance to others using the space and your neighbors, so you need to mitigate the effects your activities have on them. Keep reading for our easy-to-implement DIY soundproof recording booth ideas that you can safely try at home.
DIY Ideas for Building a Soundproof Recording Booth at Home
1. Converting The Walk-In Closet into a Recording Booth
This idea is quite easy to implement because the enclosed space already exists, and no assembly is required. The vocal booth also comes separated from external sound sources, allowing you to focus more on ambient sound dampening. It is small and enclosed, so reverberations will be limited.
One misconception people have about the closet recording booth is that the clothes will absorb any unwanted noise. They are not sufficient for the sound absorption required for the booth to be effective at blocking external noise. A mic will pick up a considerable amount of reverberation and external noises. We advise that you remove the clothes to create room for recording and apply actual acoustic materials to soundproof your closet recording booth. You can always return the clothes when you are not recording.
You can use moving blankets or egg crate foam to line the walls, the floor, and the ceiling due to their noise-deadening qualities. An area rug or acoustic carpet is adequate as alternate floor insulation because it will reduce vibrations and impact outside noise.
These TRUE NORTH acoustic foam panels come highly recommended for taking the clutter out of your sound so you can hear and record clearly.
2. Taking Advantage of a Secluded Corner to Set Up the Recording Booth
The idea of setting up the soundproof recording booth in a corner of the room is motivated by the fact that you will already have two walls, so you don’t need to install these. You will save on costs, and the two walls already have the structural density required for soundproofing.
Choose an area with minimal traffic and noise (a basement will be ideal if you have one) and set it up at the corner farthest away from the entrance. You should distance it from the furnace, HVAC ducts, plumbing pipes, or any other source of airborne and impact noise.
The ideal vocal recording booth is not too big so you can keep reverberations to a minimum. Provide enough space for 2 to 3 people max. We also advise that the booth’s footprint be no more than 20% of your room if you are still using it for other things; otherwise, the space will feel choked.
The ideal density of the rest of the walls and the ceiling depends on the soundproofing needs, including the intensity of the sounds that need drowning out and the quality of sound desired. You can combine metal studs and dry walls, and the inside can be lined with acoustic foam or another soundproofing material.
3. The Soundproof Blanket Recording Booth
This booth is basically an acoustic blanket tent that can be easily deployed and taken down as the need arises. The fact that you can dismantle, fold and store the booth in a compact form is this solution’s greatest selling point.
Hang several acoustic blankets over a frame made of PVC pipes to create an enclosed and insulated space for performances. These blankets soak up the sounds from all sides of the room, leaving your vocals nice and dry. This solution costs less than a third of a professional vocal booth, even with all the additions.
Determine the size of booth you need so you can get a sufficient length of PVC pipe and acoustic blankets. Build the frame based on the size of the booth you want. Let the blankets overlap instead of poking holes in them or using grommets as sound tends to escape through these holes, reducing their insulation capacity.
If you can’t afford acoustic blankets, you can use packing blankets which are not as thorough in soundproofing but will have a huge impact nonetheless. Hang the blankets on the outside of the frame to conform to the frame shape. The entry should be made of overlapping blankets so that the booth seals up once you are inside. You can use clamps or pegs to tighten up whenever you feel too much slack. There is an option of double walls depending on the level of insulation you require.
Label the pieces so that it is easy to assemble the next time you need to use them as this will save a lot of recording time. Use shower hangers on the frames so you can hang extra acoustic materials like mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) with grommets or your light source to make work easier.
4. Convert The Extra Room into a Permanent Recording Booth
This option gives you 4 dense walls, a floor, and a ceiling, and all you need to do is prime the space for recording. You need to ensure the noises produced are not transmitting outside the room and disturbing the peace as much as you are barring outside noises from interfering with your work.
Start by decoupling the interior of the room from the rest of the building. You can add drywall on the inside supported on metal studs because metal isn’t good at transferring noise. Line the walls with acoustic panels to soak in ambient noises and reduce reverberations.
Seal all possible entry/exit points through which sound might transfer. Weatherstrip doors and windows and install door sweeps to ensure the gap between the door and the floor is watertight. Use acoustic blankets to cover the doors and windows if they’re too thin to keep out airborne noise. Your priority at this point is soundproofing as opposed to natural light and aesthetics.
Use acoustic material to dampen sounds within the room by ensuring all hard surfaces that can echo sound are covered. Cover the floor with a soundproofing rug or acoustic carpet and mount acoustic panels on the walls.
5. Portable Recording Booth Box
These are smaller recording booths that you can carry with you and use wherever you want to. With 4 layers of acoustic panels, you can make it yourself at home. Attach the acoustic panels using glue so that they form an open box.
They are mounted on a surface like a table or a microphone stand and cover the mic as you speak into it, barring interfering noises while absorbing reverberations. Their shortcoming is that they don’t cover the direction from which you are speaking into the mic, which is important for isolating background noises.
They will not be effective against ambient noises coming from behind the speaker, so you have to select your position carefully while using them. Users like voiceover artists will not be affected by this drawback because they don’t need the thorough insulation of music recording. Factory-made options are also available in case the DIY work is off-putting for you
The insides of this recording booth have been treated with 2-inch acoustic egg crate high-density foam, which absorbs reverberations. Consequently, echoes and reflections are eliminated for a dry, clear sound recording.
6. Reflection Filter
This filter is also known as an isolation shield and works the same way as the recording booth box. It doesn’t have top and bottom panels, leaving them open for interference from more angles. They, however, still prevent reverberations and keep the sound dry, which makes them useful for many recording purposes. They are often used in conjunction with an acoustic background, limiting the probability of interference by outside noises.
7. Forming a Mattress Shield
This temporary solution may come in handy if recording needs to be done and there is no time or resources to get supplies. You surround yourself with mattresses on all sides so they can insulate the space from outside noises as they absorb reverberations from ambient sounds.
Mattresses are thick and soft, meaning they can capture a wide range of frequencies and absorb more vibrations. You can use the room corner if the mattresses are insufficient to take advantage of the existing walls.
What’s Your Take Away?
Recording booths are used by more than just musicians. These diverse usages determine the features that are most impactful for each situation. People use them as broadcast booths, for recording translations and voiceovers, and to practice playing musical instruments.
A soundproof recording booth is a highly effective solution for isolating your recordings from the environment. Different applications of the booth call for different degrees of sound insulation and acoustic management. The more professional the vocals are expected to be, the more sensitive the process is, and the more elaborate the soundproofing needs to be. The materials mentioned in our methods are used interchangeably and can also be combined for better insulation.
We expect that, by now, you are open-minded enough to achieve the quality standards your recording requires using a homemade soundproof recording booth that has been forged from resources at your disposal. We aimed to help you regulate the application of these resources based on actual acoustic requirements. There is no need to blow extra cash if you are on a budget when you can achieve the desired results at a fraction of the cost.