DIY Vocal Booth

I’ve been wanting to do this for years. I work for the US Government,  I had a three day weekend this past weekend, so I took the opportunity to clear out the closet in my studio room and using about $400 USD, I converted it into a highly functional vocal booth.

Basically, once the closet was cleared, I hung a big box of twenty-four 2″ x 12″ x 12″, and some 2″ x 24″ x 24″ Ultimate Acoustics foam I purchased from Guitar Center.

I ran a 25′ XLR cable from my patchbay into the booth.

I placed a mic stand in there. I’ve been trying out different mics, the one pictured is an MXL CR77 (my favorite for my voice).

 I also ran a 25′ USB cable in there to hook up my Nektar P1 as a remote controller for Bitwig Studio. I have it set for tracking, so I can adjust timing from in the booth, but more importantly, I can utilize the P1 for transport control. In other words, I can start and stop recording from a specific place within a track from inside the booth. The P1 has a brightly lit and highly detailed LCD screen, so I have a very good idea of where I am and what I’m doing without leaving the booth. I can also mute and solo individual tracks from inside the booth. Let’s just say I wasn’t content with just having a vocal booth – I wanted a remote work station in there with considerable control functionality.

I managed to hang a light in there, too. So I have a bright, 60 watt LED bulb illuminating the little room.

To top it off, I ran some adapter cabling from my board for critically important headphone monitoring. Since I’m not mixing anything at this stage of the game, I have a couple of sets of Numan DJ headphones. They’re very comfortable, and provide excellent sound isolation to cut out any potential bleed.

The final touch was an On-Stage keyboard bench I had sitting around.

The results are night and day in what can be accomplished recording a human voice!

I’m also finding out that being isolated in a little booth while I’m recording vocal stuff has a great psychological impact on me. I can “get into character” a lot more easily and I feel a lot less self-conscious than when I would sitting at my desk to record vocal stuff. Also, being in a little room with foam-covered walls makes me feel much more focused.

I’m still utilizing the closet’s top shelf for storage, but it’s mainly studio storage now. I have stuff up there like less frequently used microphones, some guitar necks – I could’ve easily taken the shelf out (and I might go that way), but I feel as long as I have some stuff packed up there, it’s okay sonically/acoustically. I dunno, so far, it sounds good.

I feel the shape and location of the closet helps out a lot. I’ve found the best results are sitting in the back and singing/speaking out into the room. This keeps the back of the cardioid-pattern, dynamic microphone to the main room, so I’m not getting nearly as much noise as I did when the mic was next to my desk. Actually, my noise floor is pretty damned low with this set up.

I’ve read a lot of cons against a set-up like this one, that is, using a closet as an isolation booth in general. All I can say is it works very well for what I’m doing. The room is about 8′ high, about 2-1/2′ wide, and about 5′ deep. With keeping the foamed surfaces to my back and sides, singing or speaking out into the main room, the results are perfect. It gives me a nice, flat response, and a good starting point for iZotope’s Nectar2 to take over and give me the results I’m after.

I’ve seen similar projects on the web and on YouTube over the years, and I have to say: If you’re into recording at home and you have a closet in your recording room -STOP using it for storage and get it into vocal booth mode! You won’t look back, I promise you.