Words by Mixdown Staff
What you need to keep your home voice booth running efficiently
We’ve all seen images of recording studios, or even been to studios, where a dedicated booth is set up just to record vocal tracks. It would be nice to have the space (and the money) to build a decent sized vocal booth at home, but most of us just can’t afford it.
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So, a bit of creativity is needed in order to create a well-functioning environment for recording vocals and getting a professional result. For this, we will create the “home vocal booth”, something that will prepare the MacGyver in all of us to get along with what we have at hand.
The separate bedroom
The most obvious aspect of the classic studio vocal booth is that it is a separate room from the mixer, outboard equipment, and computer. Of course, there is a multi-layered window between the two, and the communication takes place via the microphone and the headphones. But, unless you’re willing to cut a hole in the wall between two bedrooms and install a double-glazed window for good measure, this isn’t really an “at-home” option.
However, it is still possible to part ways with recording equipment and your microphone without permanent home modifications. Using a simple stage box and loom will allow you to set up a microphone and headphones in another room for recording, with all cables tucked under the door if that space permits.
I would suggest using a wardrobe – if a big enough one might be an option – or using the bathroom. And yeah, I know that sounds crazy, but while putting a vocal mic in the bathroom can give you all sorts of reflection problems, it can also bring in a natural reverb and character that you wouldn’t get not in a very dead acoustic space. like a wardrobe.
Making good use of the dynamic environment created by the hard surfaces of a bathroom can have big effects on your voice that you may not have considered before.
Work in the same space
If you’re confined to a single room and need to keep your cables to a minimum, it’s still very easy to use directly from your audio interface for monitoring and recording. The key is to ensure that your computer, the biggest source of noise in the room, will be located within the microphone’s blind spot as far as pickup pattern is concerned.
Typically, this means the computer should be behind the microphone and as far away as room and cables allow. Using a remote transport controller for your computer will allow you to cue, record-arm, and press play from your microphone position without having to cycle back and forth. ‘computer. A long USB cable can power and run most devices that can handle the job, so this is an easy setup. I used an old one Faderport PreSonus for such a purpose for over 10 years now and have found it to be one of the most valuable tools in my studio.
Making sure the microphone is in the best acoustic environment for this application doesn’t have to mean renovating your room or building a playhouse around the vocal position. There are a number of microphone shields designed for this purpose. The two that first come to mind are the Electronic reflection filter sE and the Aston Halo.
These two units serve to house the microphone and shield it from unwanted reflections from across the room, ensuring that the direct signal of your voice is what the microphone hears and very little else. With one of these reflection filters installed on the microphone stand, you can easily ensure that any noise coming from the computer is kept out of the recording by placing it behind the filter.
It’s always a good idea to consider the wall directly behind your vocal position when installing your microphone. This will reflect some of your voice into the microphone at a slightly delayed interval from the live signal, so it’s best to have your microphone set up at a slight angle to the back wall. Nothing too drastic is needed, just a 15 or 20 degree angle to ensure reflected signals don’t go back directly onto the microphone capsule and cause standing wave problems. The same goes for the floor and the ceiling.
If both are hard surfaces and you really want to dampen your sound, you should consider placing a mat under the microphone stand. This will not only suppress any sound bouncing up and down the room around the microphone, but can also act as another layer of isolation from unwanted vibrations through your microphone stand.
Sure, it would be nice to have the professional vocal booth built into a spare room in your house, but that’s usually not possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t get professional results at home, though. With a little preparation, careful microphone placement, and the help of a good reflection filter, your microphone will sound its best every time.
This article was originally published on October 5, 2016.
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