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Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby forumuser773232 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:36 am

Hi,

I would like some advice and helpful suggestions on constructing a vocal booth in the corner of my bedroom for recording vocals.

Some background first. I don't want to actually do any renovations or build something or remove something from the structure of the room/house. Just want to make it using what I have and what I need that can added without the need of hammer and nails if that makes sense.

The measurements of the area in the area in the room is 9ft height from floor to ceiling. The area that will be covered by vocal booth I intend to construct is 3 ft each side (as a square area). The floor has carpet. One side of the intended booth has a large wardrobe sliding door. The plan is to add acoustic foam to the walls as well as the wardrobe door within the booth area as well as place a couple bass traps in the corner. The opposite to the wardrobe sits my computer desk and one of my monitor speakers (on stand). The rest will be facing the open area of the bedroom.

In my research, I have found that placing an isolation shield in front of a mic is useless as it's more important to make sure that there is some isolation/reflective material behind your mic to stop any unwanted room noise or ambience spilling into the mic, is this correct? My plan is to have the mic face the open room section and the acoustic foam and bass traps sit behind me as I stand while recording vocals.

Anyway, hope I've provided enough material to give you all an idea of what I have so you can help me with the advice I am seeking.

Thanks in advance.

Joe
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:12 am

Welcome to the forum :thumbup:

Small vocal booths can often sound very boxy (as can standard domestic rooms TBH) and thin foam 'acoustic treatment' can make it worse.

Have you experimented with a hanging duvet or two, possibly combined with a 'reflexion filter' type device?

These two articles are worth a read if you haven't already.

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/studio-sos-building-diy-vocal-booth

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/recording-voiceover-on-road
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Wonks » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:23 am

What Sam said. 3'x3' really is far too small for a good sounding vocal booth. Far better to hang some duvets up in the room.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby CS70 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:24 am

Yeah little point to go all the way to build something complex for the occasional take, given that it's not going to change much.

As Sam says, heavy duvets are great and quick to set up. When I can, I use three, one on the back and two on the sides. If you can install something fixed, a good trap on the ceiling over the mic position can also limit ringing echos.

I just made a post about reflection filters which may also interest you:

https://www.theaudioblog.org/post/are-r ... -the-money
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:50 am

Just read that CS, neat article but I'd take issue with one point, that reflexion filters reflect bass back into the mic. This is only theory as I haven't tested it, but I would have thought they are unlikely to have enough mass to reflect any bass and any frequencies too low to be absorbed fully would pass through?

I guess you have listened to the effects though so are better placed than me to comment?
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby forumuser773232 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:57 am

Thanks for replies so far...need to make a correction, my apologies. When I state 3ft each side I mean its just a corner of room that wull have two sides completely ioen to rest of room. So it wont be blocked off. So in essence I would be facing the open room with my mic while my back will be to the corner. Hope this clarifies it.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby CS70 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:03 pm

Thank you Sam! Do you mean where I mention the bass trapping ("the more omnidirectional lower frequencies")?
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:25 pm

forumuser773232 wrote:So in essence I would be facing the open room with my mic while my back will be to the corner. Hope this clarifies it.

It does. Thanks.

To be frank, just sticking some foam to the wall really won't help a huge amount. Better than nothing, obviously, and the thicker the foam, the better too... But it wouldn't be my suggested solution.

Instead, since you appear to be on a tight budget and want to minimise the permanence of the installation, I'd echo the previous suggestions to use a couple of large (winter-weight, King-size) double duvets -- the cheap, polyester-filled type, not duck-down etc!). You can support them from some cheap T-bar lighting stands with some woodworking clamps, or a couple of cheap adjustable clothes rails (if they go high enough).

You want the Duvets to sit in an arc behind you, extending to both sides out to at least level with the mic, and ideally going a bit further. They will also be more effective if you can pull them away from the wall by 6-inches to a foot. And ceiling reflections can be dealt with by suspending a large sheet of foam across the top.

HTH

H
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:27 pm

CS70 wrote:I just made a post about reflection filters which may also interest you:

If you've not read it already, this article makes for very interesting reading:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/how-effective-are-portable-vocal-booths
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:56 pm

CS70 wrote:Thank you Sam! Do you mean where I mention the bass trapping ("the more omnidirectional lower frequencies")?

This is the paragraph that doesn't make sense to me :-

That means that the filter itself causes some comb filtering (‘coloration’), altering a little the sound picked up by the mic. This especially affects lows and low-mids, since that's where the reflection filter acts more as a mirror (as opposite to an absorber).
When reflection filters are used for vocals, the coloration occurs primarily in the voice's lower registry (the stuff around 70-150Hz, of which there's typically more in males voices). The ‘bassier’ and louder the voice, the more this effect will be pronounced.

Have you experienced problems with LF reflecting back at the mic? I'm asking out of curiosity as I haven't noticed an issue myself.

For the OP, I have a broadband absorber on the ceiling over the corner of the room where I usually record vocals (not, I hasten to add, a frequent situation), I use an SE Reflexion Filter (the same as the one pictured in CS70's blog) and a duvet in the corner behind the singer (so a virtually identical setup as you are proposing) which I find gives acceptable results.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:30 pm

I've just read the article Hugh linked, very interesting, and does support what you say. Will listen with open ears next time I record some vox. :thumbup:
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby CS70 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:05 pm

I see - yeah I have experienced it, especially with a guy I record relatively often who has a low-ish timbre. We arent talking of really lows (I had vocals in mind when I wrote the sentence) but the stuff in the 75-150 which gives "girth" to a male voice, even if perhaps it shouldn't, feels a little different (for example, I absolutely hate the 100Hz hi pass filter in most live mixer channels on a vocal, when singing with the EQ flat, I can tell infallibly with my eyes closed if it's on or off, it kinda makes you want to sing louder but it's like if something is gagging you.. really unpleasant).

My guess it has to do with the fact that the mic is really near the filter inner wall. Normally the diffraction around the obstacle would remove any information about it, but to do so it needs a bit of distance - it's easy to visualize if you don't look at waves as abstract lines but think of them as fronts of actual physical molecules. That means the spherical wave which hits the far wall in front of you will actually be identical (if a teeny weeny little less energy) than if the obstacle wasn't there.. but really really near the obstacle, diffraction doesn't have the time to work its magic. Lots of energy will be dissipated in actually moving the filter/stand system, I guess, but a little bit may remain and bounce back. Besides, the circular or parabolic nature of the filters might even concentrate the effect on the focal point of the parabola, at least in the horizontal plane... which is quite near where the mic is.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:44 pm

Yup, the ricin the 'focal point' of the device had concerned me a little. TBF I don't record many vocals, what little recording I do is either acoustic guitars (see my sig) or band rehearsals (so vox is recorded with a live mic or three) with a view to doing a demo CD. The problem is we just don't seem to get properly motivated. :headbang:

I will listen with care next time I do record something 'proper'.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Wonks » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:11 am

Except you're looking at these filters the wrong way round. The name 'reflection' filter should give you the clue. They are designed to stop sound reflections from walls bouncing back into the rear of the mic, or to stop other noises generated behind the mic from getting into the mic, not really for sound passing by the mic not to get out past the filter (though it also has that effect to an extent).

So for their primary role, do they work? I'd say the answer is yes, to a large extent.

The question is then whether the design does reflect some sound back from the inner surface of the filter with around a 1ms delay and so cause some comb filtering effect? Probably, but for a cardioid pattern mic, probably minimal. More for an omni or fig-8 pattern. The reflected sound level will be significantly attenuated, so should have a minimal effect.

Don't forget that the filter will be stopping reflections from further away occurring, which will be attenuated to a much lesser extent (in a smallish room) than those coming back from the filter. That's the whole point if the filter!

Might be worth some experimenting with a cardioid pointing the 'wrong' way as to the relative levels of reflected noise picked up.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:26 am

Thanks Wonks, I was beginning to think I had cloth ears :blush: I haven't done a proper comparison between with and without the filter, that's a job for the winter I guess.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Wonks » Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:52 am

It's certainly possible that using a reflection filter creates more issues than it solves, but it's always going to be down to the individual room as to whether one is required. So always worth testing the mic sound with and without the filter.

Turning a cardioid mic 180° for testing will tell you more about what the filter is actually doing to sound hitting the rear of the mic (if you are interested). But obviously, comparing with/without, with the mic the correct way round, is the more important test.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby CS70 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:28 am

Wonks wrote:It's certainly possible that using a reflection filter creates more issues than it solves, but it's always going to be down to the individual room as to whether one is required. So always worth testing the mic sound with and without the filter.

Yes on balance, I think they can be useful within the parameters I've described in the post, and testing is definitely my recommendation as well, and even more try slight different locations of the mic inside the filter... if you have the time!

In a session I usually don't. Hence my go-to procedure favoring three duvets and ceiling absorption instead - which was my suggestion to the OP.

Turning a cardioid mic 180° for testing will tell you more about what the filter is actually doing to sound hitting the rear of the mic (if you are interested). But obviously, comparing with/without, with the mic the correct way round, is the more important test.

Yes. What matters is the pressure dynamic at the capsule, regardless of what causes it. Even small geometrical changes can create effects that are irrelevant at a distance but produce significant turbulence in the proximity of a surface, with large cumulative effects. Both airplane and racing engineers are well aware. RF do change the physical geometry around the mic, relatively near, so it's not surprising they do color the sound - no matter the name.

Another interesting bit is that lots of "cardioid" microphones aren't much so, other than around 1K. Some develop back lobes like a supercardioid, and even ones which keep rejecting energy in the back, may develop fatter back lobes - love handles, I'd say. This makes them much more sensitive to side/rear turbulence that the name "cardioid" would suggest .
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Wonks » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:23 pm

Except that the air velocity of the reflected sound will be almost zero, so no 'turbulence'. The volume would need to be deafening to get any significant air velocity from sound alone. Any real air movement will come from the singer breathing in/out as they sing, which is why you'd use a pop shield in front of the mic (or sing from a greater distance if you didn't have one).
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby CS70 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:29 pm

Not sure what your point is.

Of course there’s enough energy to generate movement and hence turbulence.. if a pop filter was all it took, you wouldn’t need any absorption at all.
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Re: Help with building a vocal booth in bedroom

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:31 pm

I think some misused terminology is causing a lot of confusion and misunderstandings....
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