Recording can bring up many questions especially for the beginner that
hasn’t been a producer for long.
so do you really need a vocal booth?
You don’t really need a vocal booth if you know how to record vocals outside of a booth using the right microphone placement, a vocal screen, acoustic panels, a pop filter and good recording microphone.
You would need a soundproof acoustically treated vocal booth if want you
have no idea how to record without the use of studio vocal booth.
But if you have a small home studio and you think it not wise to erect a small
vocal booth or it’s simply too costly to build then this post is for you.
Why vocal booths may not be such a good idea
The small booth problem
Small vocal booths may actually make your recordings worse.
This is because of the simple fact that they have added reflections and other
distortion effects, it is for this reason that a large vocal booth is more
Therefore if you have a particularly small studio, you’re better off not
installing a small booth because it may alter your recordings in a bad way
which would affect the end result of your mixes.
Constructing a vocal booth from scratch is quite expensive and costs time too.
If you plan to make a vocal booth yourself then you’ll have to spend up to a
month to get it up and running while the costs will be in the range of $750 to
Expensive materials will be most ideal because of the fact that they are mostly high end,
which means you’ll have to save up some money to get or risk buying cheap
materials that will cost you the benefits of having high quality recordings.
An optimal vocal booth will require a fair amount of space that is most
needed if you want good recordings that are free from the sound reflections
that you would get in a tight space.
This space maybe crucial if you have a small studio like one that is most likely
to be found in a home.
Lighting and Electronics
If you intend to make your own studio booth you’ll have to ensure that you
run cables for lighting and a fan because it might get a little warm inside the booth.
When these cables are not run properly, you would most likely have electric
noises that could bleed into your recordings.
Here are a few techniques that you can use when recording without a vocal booth:
if you want to properly record without a booth, you will need to place the
recording artist in the middle of the room so they can get away from walls
and any other reflective surfaces.
A vocal screen is your friend
A good vocal screen/isolation shield can make your recordings sound
professional and they can ensure that you avoid any unwanted noise residue
from bleeding into your recordings.
Here are some cool isolation shields you could try out:
Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield
The Monoprice features an acoustic foam front and a vented metal back plate, which allows the microphone to breathe and blocks out sound reflections.
TONOR Microphone Isolation shield
this is a flexible and convenient microphone shield that can eliminates any interference like sound reflections.
Plus it is durable because it is made of premium steel with high quality screws that make it very steady.
You’ll need to place absorbent material behind the recording artist to reduce
reflections, you can use good acoustic absorption panels like the Acoustimac Sound Absorbing Acoustic Panel
Another option is using moving blankets.
The logic here is that since we have the vocal screen covering our front, we
need sound absorbing materials to cover the back.
I recommend using a sound absorbing acoustic panel like the Acoustimac
because it will perform both the function that an ordinary acoustic panel will
perform and the sound absorbing function too.
This is why you have to place it behind the recording artist to reduce echo
It’s also good to put the sound absorbing material on any nearby walls and
the corners of the room.
Another important factor that you have to take into account is having the
right microphone and placing it correctly.
I have an article with the best microphones recommended for recording
studios and you can check out that article here.
For microphone placement, you can use the three recommended microphone placement techniques:
1. Distant Miking
2. Close Miking
3. Stereo Miking
This technique involves placing a distance of about 3 feet between the
person recording and the microphone,
the downside is that; if your room has reverb, your recordings will have a lot
of reverb in them too.
This technique involves placing the microphone a few feet from the person recording,
this is done to ensure that 90% of the sound source is recorded and only 10% of the room is recorded.
In this technique you use two microphones to record the right and the left in
order to create a stereo field.
I don’t recommend this technique because it can be quite complicated
especially for a beginner.
All these microphone placement techniques should be used with a proper
vocal shield and the right room treatment as discussed above.
Recording without a vocal booth is not impossible if you know how to do it the right way.
Therefore using a vocal booth is entirely up to you, but I’d not advise it if your
studio is particularly small.
You can record without a booth by placing your microphone correctly in the middle of your space,
while utilizing a vocal screen/isolation shield,
plus making sure that the walls behind the microphone are treated with
sound absorbing material whilst ensuring the corners of the space are equally treated.