When recording vocals, it can desirable to get a dry take (without room reverberation)… And it is always important to have no leakage on the track, whether it be from passing cars or other instruments when tracking with a live with a band.

The portable option

To address the reverberation aspect, manufacturers have lately come out with portable vocal booths. The Uk magazine SoundOnSound have just done an extensive study of these in their October issue… and we seem to agree: their impact is subtle, at best!

sereflexion

At a price of a little more than 100 Euros/Dollars for your standard “portable booth”, they are a tempting. I have one! But as some say “you get what you pay for”… And they may be right!

The Rolls-Royce

At the opposite side of the spectrum, there are the solutions our big brothers, the professional recording studios, use. Be it a StudioBricks, a GretchKen or a WhisperRoom, they will all cost you many thousands of Euros/Dollars.

Now, there are advantages. The deadening and isolation is as close to flawless as possible. You will have customer support, both for selecting the right model and in case of issues down the road. As this video shows, they may even be dismantable…

The DYI route

When we built Sardine Studios, we chose a different route. We had little money to spare and high ambitions. So, we scouted around and found an innovative solution.

Let’s call it the “Tennis ball Iso-booth“!

Ingredients:

  • A couple hundred new or used tennis balls
  • Some wood
  • Dry wall
  • Acoustic foam
  • Your labour of love

As natural optimists, we went to the local tennis club and asked if they could spare some used tennis balls… As it turns out, used tennis balls is tennis club waste 🙂 They gave us more than was needed for the project!

What remained was to build the “box-on-tennis-balls in a box”.
Here is a rough schematics of just that:

TennisBallIsoBooth

A few tips and tricks

  • Be careful with your double door strategy. Opening towards the inside for the inner box, towards the ouside for the outer. Make sure your proportions enable the user can get in and out!
  • Set the inner limits of your outer box, fill with tennis balls, build inner box and then finally build the outer box.
  • Don’t forget the cabling into the iso-booth. Theoretically, you only need one in (for headphones), one out (for vocal mic)… But I would double/triple that.
  • And last, but not least… ceiling lights. Your singer will not appreciate being in the dark 🙂

Enjoy!