If you are looking to start recording sound professionally in any format (podcasts, voiceovers, music, etc.), you will want to set yourself up in a place where your sound can be isolated and sound good when you record.
This is why having a vocal booth can be incredibly handy, and you do not have to spend an arm and a leg on a professional setup to get started.
Table of Contents
- Start by finding your recording space
- Building your vocal booth
- Extra factors to consider
- Things you’ll need
If you utilize some of the space and materials you already have and maybe add in just a few more things, you can get yourself set up in a fully functional vocal booth for under $100!
Here are the materials that you may need:
- Acoustic Foam Panels (~$18)
- Moving Blankets (~$28)
- PVC Piping (~$35)
- Exercise Foam (~$19)
Start by finding your recording space
Before doing anything else, you will want to find the best space for yourself to record. Ideally, you want to find somewhere where you and the sounds can be isolated and where the sound does not have a lot of room to travel around.
Good places to record in your house.
1. The closet
If you are recording in your own house, you might have a closet that would act well as a recording booth space. Closets are useful because they are small, and they are isolated. There is not much room for the sound to bounce around inside a closet. And usually, there is not much outside noise coming in.
2. Your bedroom
While recording in your closet is great, I understand that your closet might already be occupied. And it also feels a little weird sitting in your closet to do work.
If your closet doesn’t feel like the best option, then your bedroom would be an excellent second option. While the bedroom is bigger and gives the sound more room to travel, it is still often a good choice because usually, the bedroom won’t have a lot of outside noise coming in. After all, that is where you sleep.
Another good thing about the bedroom is that you usually have a lot of stuff in there, including some big cushy furniture. That will help deaden any sound and get rid of a lot of the echo that could potentially happen in another room.
3. Any office space or other small area you can find
If neither of the first two options work, just try to find any small or isolated space in your home that you could use for recording. Remember, mainly what you are looking for is somewhere that does not have a lot of echo or room for the sound to travel around.
This could be an office space, spare bedroom, or even under your stairwell if you have that option. Depending on the room itself, you may need to do some extra sound conditioning, but that shouldn’t be too difficult. The first step is finding the best space in which you can record.
Bad places to record in your house
1. Your garage
It can be tempting to record in your garage because it is isolated, but for most people, the garage is a bigger open space, which leaves a ton of room for the sound to travel around. Garages also typically have no sound conditioning since they have hard floors and rigid walls.
2. Your living room
If you have to record in your living room, then you can make it work, but if you can avoid it, you should. This is because the living room is probably one of the bigger rooms in your house, which leaves a lot of space for the sound to travel around.
Your living room is also more likely to have other noise coming in, either from outside of the house or from other members of your household.
Building your vocal booth
Once you find the best space to be recording in, you can start to actually build out your vocal booth.
If you are recording in a space like your closet, you may not need to do much building at all. You will just want to take some extra steps toward sound conditioning the area that you have to get the best results possible.
On the other hand, if you find yourself recording in a larger room in the house (in your garage, etc.), you will want to build out a pretty solid vocal booth and just set it up somewhere in the room.
Here is precisely what you will need to do that.
Start with the framework
Determine how big you need your vocal booth to be, and then layout the blueprint for building it. You should be able to create this booth with some simple materials like PVC piping and some moving blankets.
Your booth should just need to be big enough for yourself, your microphone, and a little bit of extra space for maybe your laptop to be setup or a stand on which to place books or scripts.
Remember that you want your recording space to be as small as possible. The smaller the space, the less you will have echoing issues.
Once you have the details figured out, go ahead and grab some PVC piping and try to build out the frame. What you should end up with is essentially a big box that is taller than it is wide or deep. You can accomplish this with some PVC pipes and PVC elbows.
Use moving blankets for sound conditioning.
After you have the framework built, you can start to drape curtains or blankets around the four sides of the booth to close it up and actually make it feel like a booth.
Moving blankets are an excellent choice for closing in your booth because they are relatively inexpensive, and they do a pretty good job at dampening sound. You might even have some moving blankets around your house already that you can use!
If you do not have any moving blankets and are looking for an alternative, just remember that thick and soft cushioning is really what you are going for.
If you don’t have moving blankets, then regular blankets might be the next best option. Anything thinner than that probably will not help you much, if at all, with sound conditioning.
Extra sound conditioning
Building the framework with PVC piping and blankets to deaden your sound should give you everything you need out of a vocal booth.
We can go even another step further, though, and add more sound conditioning so long as it is still in the budget. When it comes to recording sound (particularly voice) professionally, you can’t have too much sound conditioning.
Use foam mats on the floor
If you decided to set up shop in your garage, your basement, or even in your house where you have hardwood flooring, then you should consider sound conditioning your floor just as well as the four walls around you.
An excellent option for this is purchasing some of those foam “puzzle mats” that lock together. Put those inside of your vocal booth. These mats are inexpensive and will do a much better job at absorbing sound than any hardwood floors or concrete.
Using acoustic foam inside of your booth
You can also add extra conditioning to your booth by putting up acoustic foam panels inside of it. You might need to get a little creative to do that, and you do not want to just stick acoustic foam panels to the blankets you have draped around you.
You could do this by having PVC piping being used as “crossbars” inside of your booth. Meaning, have a pipe on each of the four sides that runs horizontally across, connecting the legs together.
Then you can duct tape a piece of cardboard or something similar across that bar and then stick the acoustic foam panels to that.
Extra factors to consider
All of the information given above should provide you with everything you need to build your own vocal booth, and you should be able to do all of that with less than $100.
Now you may still have some money left over, or you may be looking to upgrade your vocal booth over time. So, here are some extra factors that you can consider when building out your vocal booth or eventually even building out an entire studio for yourself.
If you are doing work as a voice actor, a podcaster, or even a musician, you will probably need to read a manuscript while recording.
Hopefully, your booth will have access to the light of whatever room you are in, seeing that there doesn’t need to be a ceiling on your booth.
In either case, it wouldn’t hurt to get a small lamp, stand light, or something similar for you to have to make sure that you can see well inside of your vocal booth.
The nice thing about having a DIY vocal booth is actually that the booth should be reasonably mobile, even if you have to break it down and then put it together again somewhere else.
Consider this when you build out your vocal booth. What will happen if you need to travel and have vocal work that you need to get done while traveling?
Depending on how you build your booth, you might find yourself easily able to break it down and take it with you on the road.
Your other option would be to find a way to set up inside a hotel room for the best sound conditioning possible, which is usually doable (just go in the closet, like mentioned before).
The nice thing about having a mobile vocal booth, though, is that you will be able to achieve much closer to the same sound as you usually get with the rest of your work, and you don’t have to deal with too many variables.
Things you’ll need
Here are some of the materials that you may need:
- Acoustic Foam Panels (~$18)
- Moving Blankets (~$28)
- PVC Piping (~$35)
- Exercise Foam (~$19)
While doing any voice work, it is nice to have a booth in which to work. The booth will help you isolate and condition your sound, which will lead to much higher quality work.
Thankfully, you do not need to spend much to get a vocal booth that works. With a little ingenuity and just a few materials, you can have your booth up and running in no time. Now you’ll have to consider how to keep it cool. Here are 5 different ways to cool a vocal booth.
If you really get rolling and want something a little nicer down the line, you can also buy mobile vocal booths outright now.
Don’t let the cost barrier of having one prevent you from getting your project up and running.
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