If you have been to a professional recording studio, you might have noticed that they often have a dedicated vocal booth for recording vocals. This is because professional vocal booths are isolate sound from the rest of the acoustic reverb in your room, making it crisper, cleaner and easier to mix.
The key to any vocal booth is isolation and sound absorption – many vocal booths will come with soundproofing panels which absorb reflections to reduce the amount of acoustic reverb captured through the microphone.
When vocal booths are used in the home recording studio setup, musicians may notice a slight improvement when it comes to clarity, crispness and reduced reverb on the audio recording. This makes soundtracks easier to mix down the road post-production.
Do you really need a vocal booth?
The main purpose of a portable vocal booth is not to give a standalone environment to record vocals, but rather to isolate the vocals from your room acoustics which might get into the recording mix. Isolating your vocals helps it sound cleaner and crisper on an audio recording, and makes mixing and editing much easier in the post-production phase.
If you are recording vocals in your home studio, the answer on whether you should get an additional vocal booth depends on how well your room is acoustically treated. For rooms that have poor acoustic treatment and a tonne of reverb or bass reflection issues, a vocal booth is most likely going to be needed to isolate your voice from all these external reflections. By contrast, if your room already has enough acoustic treatment, adding a vocal booth is not necessary and may dampen your acoustic recordings (i.e., making them sound “dead”).
With the right acoustic treatment, you can generally record inside your room without any issues, or even add flavor to your vocal recordings using diffusers.
Are vocal booths worth it?
While portable vocal booths can offer some shielding and isolation from a room’s acoustics, no vocal booth can fully replace the need for a well acoustically treated room in the long run. If you want to record in your room without a vocal booth, there are a couple of techniques available to reduce acoustic reverb, such as:
- Use a less sensitive mic, such as a dynamic mic. A dynamic mic is less sensitive than a condenser, making it ideal for room with poorer acoustics as it won’t pick up additional reverb. For some musicians, a cardioid condenser can also be useful for capturing sound coming from the front, while minimizing sound from the back of the mic if you want to reduce the amount of environmental pickup.
- Close-miking. Singing close to the mic can help capture less acoustic reverb and increase the pick-up of your own voice, while reducing reflections.
The Best Portable Vocal Booths
Sometimes a portable vocal booth may be a more economical alternative to acoustically treating a room, as a means to isolate and shield your voice from surrounding room acoustics. If you are recording on the go, a portable vocal booth is also a useful tool to increase the crispness of your vocal recordings.
1. Snap Studio Ultimate Portable Vocal Booth
The Snap Studio Ultimate Portable vocal booth is designed for both portability and acoustic performance. The Snap Studio features 360 degree sound pad insulation blankets which creates an all-around absorption of exterior noises, leaving vocals sounding dry and clear. This is particularly effective if you want to avoid the hassle of constructing a full scale vocal booth inside your studio room.
This vocal booth works by forming a noise-blocking booth that reduces sound reflections significantly and performs better than plastering your room with acoustic foam. We also liked the included accessories including wireless LED lighting, versatile phone holders, lightweight frames and a storage bag for portability.
Compared to other vocal booths that we tried, the Snap Studio booth has sound absorption blankets that actually feel thick and heavy. The difference is pretty much night and day – there are virtually no reflections no matter how loud you speak inside the booth. It’s great for recording crisp and clean vocals using a condenser inside the microphone.
In addition to the sound absorbing material, the portable booth is constructed using a lightweight frame for easy transportation and portability. It’s also relatively easy to assemble, and you can pop this vocal booth in any room that you choose to record. This is a really useful tool especially if you record inside rooms that tend to have a lot of flutter echoes and reflections; the Snap Studio booth will absorb the vocal sounds before they hit the wall.
With that said, it’s important to note that this is not a fully soundproof booth. They work very well from preventing your voice from being reflected on the walls and reducing echoes. Even DIY booths are not designed to be portable – and the Snap Studio vocal booth manages to achieve both portability and sound isolation neatly.
If you are looking for a vocal booth that’s easy to set up, well-designed and ready to be assembled out of the box, look no further.
Check them out here:
2. ISOVOX 2 Home Vocal Booth
The ISOVOX 2 home vocal booth is a portable and sturdy vocal booth that’s also quite similar to the Snap Studio vocal booth, but without the full isolation that the Snap Studio booth has to offer. Despite this, it has remarkable efficiency in sound absorption, and can work very well if you need a vocal booth that saves space (if you can’t set up a professional level booth in your home studio).
Compared with the Snap Studio vocal booth, the ISOVOX 2 has much better sound isolation around the microphone. The material feels thick and extremely sturdy, and the booth actually feels heavier out of the box. The foam material is actually very thick and isolates your voice completely around the microphone, but the downside is that it does not actually sound-proof the inside from outside noises. With that said, the ISOVOX 2 still allows you to record clean and dry vocals by minimizing reflections and flutter echos that may be picked up by the microphone.
Apart from the acoustics, the ISOVOX 2 is very well designed and does the job well. It comes with an LED portable mini light rod that you can use to setup the booth. The key thing to note about the ISOVOX 2 is that you need to use this vocal booth in a room with little environmental or surrounding noise for it to truly shine.
When we tried out the ISOVOX 2, we were pretty surprised at how clear sounding the vocals were, particularly when we recorded them with a sensitive condenser like the Neumann TLM 103. The sound difference that you get is massive – and it feels like the ISOVOX 2 does bridge the gap between a beginner and professional sound engineer – somewhere in between. The vocals recorded while using the ISOVOX 2 are crisp and super clear.
If you don’t want to break the bank to build a standalone vocal booth inside your home studio, but still want the level of sound isolation that a professional studio has to offer, the ISOVOX 2 is a pretty decent solution that can really improve the quality of your vocal recordings.
Check them out here:
3. Porta-Booth Pro
For musicians on a budget, the Porta-Booth Pro is a really decent option for recording vocals at home. It is designed as a vocal booth where you literally sing into the booth with the microphone attached inside, with a unique “auditorium” design. This vocal booth is relatively light and portable, weighing around 7 pounds with a rugged 600 denier fabric construction. If money and space is impracticable for you, the Porta-Booth Pro is a good option to consider.
Although the Porta-Booth Pro is quite lightweight, it is designed with Auralex StudioFoam which covers all interior surfaces. It feels like old-school blankets wrapped around the microphone – but does the job better. The booth accommodates large and long microphones, and also includes a heavy-duty travel bag for easy portability.
If you record a lot on the go, the Porta-Booth Pro is a great alternative to soundproofing or acoustically treating the room that you are recording in. It works better than a DIY mattress style vocal booth, and helps you capture clean and dry vocals. The acoustic foam works better than mattress foam – but bear in mind the Porta-Booth Pro can’t shield your vocals from external noise surroundings.
Assembly wise, the Porta-Booth Pro is very easy to assemble and feels almost like a microphone reflection filter. It doesn’t occupy a lot of space and can be set up quickly on top of your microphone stand. It also features a two-way zipper bottom and rear slots for your microphone to “pass through”. We also liked the nice LED lights which allow you to see your recording scripts / notes while recording, which is pretty neat.
While the Porta-Booth Pro does not provide as much isolation as the Snap Studio or ISOVOX 2, it does the job of minimizing sound reflections and is ideal for musicians on a budget.
Check them out here:
4. TroyStudio Portable Vocal Booth Box
The TroyStudio Portable Vocal Booth box is a decent option if you are looking for a portable and affordable vocal booth. This vocal booth has an inner dimension of 8” x 10” x 12” with large space for condenser microphones, and setting up this vocal booth is pretty much self-explanatory. The inside surfaces of the TroyStudio booth are treated with 2” high-density acoustic egg crate foam, which removes echoes and reflections during voice recording sessions.
When we tested out the TroyStudio vocal booth, we noticed quite a distinct difference in the audio quality of the recordings – even without any acoustic treatment behind the vocal booth. Vocals sound crisp and dry, with less echoes and reflections being picked up by the condenser mic. For the performance that this vocal booth delivers, it gives you good value for money compared to other pricer options in the market.
The TroyStudio vocal booth is portable and foldable. It is lightweight and you can even put it inside your suitcase for travel. It can work with any microphone stand or table mics, and is great for recording vocals on the fly. This vocal booth is a great way to reduce the amount of acoustic pickup and reverb that you get inside a room.
The vocal booth itself is nice and room, and does an excellent job of shielding the vocals from reflections and keeping the room noise down to a desired level. You may need to “air” the vocal booth straight out of the box for it to expand and revert to its normal size. With that said, there isn’t a lot of room inside the vocal booth box to place any reading material, so you may need to accommodate this when using the TroyStudio booth.
Overall, the TroyStudio vocal booth box works nicely and is straightforward to setup. We also liked the fact that it is easily foldable and compact, making it a decent portable vocal booth.
Check them out here:
5. Primacoustic FlexiBooth Voice-over Booth
Primacoustic has been in recording industry for a long time specializing in acoustic treatment, and their FlexiBooth is their newest “instant” vocal booth with a 24” x 48” design. The Flexibotoh is easy to amount up, and instantly creates a shield which eliminates room ambience from vocals and eliminates echoes and reverbs.
From the outside, the Flexibooth looks like a mere cupboard, and setting it up is pretty much self-explanatory. They are designed with high-performance 6 lbs fiberglass panels which effectively absorb both high frequencies and lower-end bass – which is pretty good. It also works as a variable room ambiance device for room acoustics. The Flexiboth is foldable and easy to assemble, and can be carried around to different locations for easy setup.
While the Flexibooth does not provide full sound isolation like the Snap Studio vocal booth, it does help to minimize echoes and flutters that may be otherwise recorded with a sensitive condenser mic. We really liked the fiber-glass material which is bass-absorbing, and not just mere acoustic foam.
In addition, you can also use the Flexibooth as sort of an acoustic treatment panel to adjust how “bright” or “dark” you want your room to sound. By positioning several FlexiBooths around the room, you can create different acoustic environments by “opening” or “closing” the FlexiBooth doors. It also features an attractive black melamine finish that is easy to clean and wipe.
Check them out here:
6. Porta-Booth Plus Vocal Booth
If you travel often, the Porta-Booth Plus is the ideal portable vocal booth. The vocal booth is designed with Auralex Acoustic Studiofoam which provies an acoustically treated space to record vocals. When fully assembled, the Porta-Booth Plus has a dimensions of 16” x 15” x 16”, and when folded is 16” x 14” x 7”. It’s great for voice over auditions, vocal recordings or recording podcasts on the go.
Sound-wise, the Porta-Booth Plus provides really good sound isolation and shields your vocals from surrounding room acoustics. It does reduce flutter echoes and sound reflections, giving much cleaner audio recordings. With that said, the Porta-Booth Plus doesn’t provide complete sound isolation if you are recording inside a noisy room, and these may still be picked up by a condenser mic positioned within the Porta-Booth.
What we really liked about the Porta-Booth Plus is the level of portability it offers. It has a one-zipper design which literally assembles in seconds, and also comes with a two-way zippered rear slot for mics, cables and boom arms. It also features a pre-slit bottom foam which provides a solid base for desktop mic stands.
With that said, the Porta-Booth Plus does have some limitations. It has a relatively small inner compartment, which means you won’t have any room to place a computer or iPad or recording notes inside. This means that you will need to move your head away from the booth if you want to adjust your settings on the interface, or need to tweak settings on your DAW.
We’ve also found that the Porta-Booth Plus may be too heavy to hang on a boom arm – it needs to be placed on a flat surface or suspended from a metal rack (as in the pictures).
Overall, the Porta-Booth is a pretty decent option especially if you need a portable vocal booth that cuts down most ambient noise to make professional recordings. While it’s not as good as a professional vocal booth, it does the job nicely and the portability is definitely an added plus.
Check them out here:
Vocal booths are a temporary solution to minimizing acoustic reverb inside your room, but are not a long term solution that actually “fixes” the problem. Having a room with good acoustics requires time and investment into acoustic treatment, which involves acoustic panels, bass traps and good audio positioning (i.e., room layout) which may influence sound performance. To learn more about this, check out these articles: