Technically, there isn’t a “right” way to record your sounds. There’s just a load of methods that work (admittedly, some better than others)! One of the most significant aspects of vocal recording is the vocal booth. The question is, why? Are they actually necessary? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- Why Use a Vocal Booth?
- The Pros and Cons of Using a Vocal Booth
- What Should be Inside my Vocal Booth?
- So, Should I Use a Vocal Booth or Not?
The majority of bigger studios will have a vocal booth. Generally, this is because they have the room for this professional addition. Plus, larger rooms tend to have more echo that many recording artists do not want on their track. After all, a vocal booth’s primary purpose is to isolate the person in the room, allowing the track to be far crisper and more flexible to play with later.
Why Use a Vocal Booth?
You should use a vocal booth to isolate your vocals, particularly for recording narration and voice acting for audiobooks. A vocal booth is also essential for other voice-only work like commercial voiceover and podcasting.
Usually, each vocal booth will have the same aspects inside. A microphone, headset, and soundproofing panels. These work to reflect, absorb, and negate extra sounds that add to the recording’s quality. Regardless, this space aims to acquire the purest performance possible and eliminate any outside sounds or disruptions.
However, you might not want this for your project.
Some producers find it absurd that people want to isolate the vocals. Why? Because the natural sounds in a room can make the recording sound more authentic.
Wanting the “room noise” is more typically associated with recording music or bands. In this case, using a vocal booth may be entirely unnecessary, as it will only take away those noises from the outside world.
If, however, you are doing clean voice work like audiobook narration, voice acting, or commercial voiceover, then you should seriously consider using a vocal booth. Also, consider the type of microphone. Here’s a guide to the best mics for female voice work.
By now, you’ve probably already answered your “should I use a vocal booth” question. If you have decided to use a vocal booth, check out my article here about how big it should be and other considerations.
But if you have decided against using a vocal booth, you do have to consider your microphone’s polar patterns.
Outside a vocal booth, you should be aiming for the cardioid microphone pattern. This pattern minimizes the sound collection from the back of the mic and only registers sound from the front portion (i.e., the singer or speaker).
But, if you want to pick up a lot of the room’s natural noises, you should opt for a figure-8 polar pattern. This pattern will then pick up the authentic vibrations of your environment.
As you can tell, you have to be a bit more technically minded if you don’t have (or don’t want to use) a vocal booth.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Vocal Booth
|The ProsThe ConsYou achieve the purest vocal recording with no vibrations or background noise. This can be a disadvantage for some producers.||You don’t pick up the room’s natural sounds. This can be an advantage for some people; it depends on what you are looking for.|
|You only have to set up your microphone once.||It takes up space that smaller studios don’t have.|
|You don’t have to worry too much about polar patterns.|
|It takes the hard work out of mixing.|
What Should be Inside my Vocal Booth?
There are some items and materials that should be inside every vocal booth. Here’s a list of the bare minimum. See my article about how these things all work together.
- Large-diaphragm condenser microphone
- Mic stand
- Pop filter
- XLR cable
- Audio interface
- Laptop (with DAW software)
- Soundproofing absorption material
Also, consider what it might take to cool a vocal booth.
There are also other considerations when building or working inside a vocal booth. If constructing your own DIY vocal booth, consider the following items.
- Non-parallel Walls (to prevent standing waves)
- Sound Proofing
- Door placement
- Window placement
If you want to learn more about these considerations, I discuss each of them in much greater detail in my article here.
So, Should I Use a Vocal Booth or Not?
It truly depends on the type of recording you’re expecting. For those who want a crisp, pure vocal performance, using a vocal booth is the only way to go. However, if you want natural-sounding audio, you can scrap the vocal booth!
Here’s some useful information if you just wanna set up your studio on a desk instead.
I hope you found this article helpful. Until next time, I’ll be on the mic.
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