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DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
#3046069 05/27/20 05:39 AM
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I am hoping this thread won't be just about me. If anybody else has made a vocal booth of any sort, please share with us. There is something to be learned from every idea. I am into Kaizen - constant improvement.

I'll be the first to admit that my results are not stylish. This could become a work in progress and someday be bee-you-tee-full. laugh

My threads are for those of us who have limited discretionary income and space and want to reduce or eliminate obstacles to recording high quality sounds. My other purpose is to free the Artist from the Engineer. When you are an "Army of One" it is helpful to engender creativity. Sometimes the technicals get in the way.

OK, rack is all spffed up, in place and fully functional as per this thread: http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3041939/the-rack-thread-who-what-why#Post3041939

I live in a fairly small condo near I-5 and there is freeway noise. I also have refrigerator noise - I just shut it off (and close the windows) when I record.
Just a tip - when the Goodwill stores open again, every Monday they will have a specific colored tag and all items with that color will be $1.79. I got some nice heavy quilts that way.

I got a few curtain rods the same way. 5 should be enough for most projects. I secured them at the corners with tie wraps. I used a photography backdrop stand for the back wall of my vocal booth but you could use mic stands with boom arms. I used 2 of those for the front uprights. I wanted something I could comfortably play acoustic guitar and sing while standing - I'm 6'3". Mic stands with booms fully extended left me with comfortable headroom.

I planned my space while my guitar was strapped on and left extra room on both sides, front and back. My finished booth is 7' tall by 5.5' wide by 4.2' deep. Mic clips hold the curtain rods in place. I used tie wraps to secure cross members, which are also curtain rods. Front, center and back were all I needed.

You'll need quite a few hand clamps. Start at the top, secure with clamps and then go to the sides. Cover all 4 sides. You can remove one of the clamps securing the top quilt and add the side quilt, reclamping them both. If all you need is a vocal booth, once you have the sides put up you could be done.

My vocal mic is very sensitive. To further reduce noise I chose a 20" x 12" x 12" box, taped the flaps open to extend the depth to 18" and lined it with "eggcrate" packng foam and a carpet sample in the back. I mounted it on the mic stand with the mic 6" back. Testing shows I could do well to move it back another 3" to the halfway mark.

Another reason for the box is to seperate the sound of an acoustic guitar from the vocals. I put a couple of mics under the box and aimed downward at the acoustic guitar. Very little vocal bleed into the lower mics, it is nearly inaudible with the ribbon mic. The vocal mic still picks up more guitar than I would like, hence moving it back more. I will add some more foam below the element in front too.

I like to do my "scratch tracks" playing guitar and singing. If I get a good performance I'd rather build from there then do those tracks seperately.

Overall, I am pleased with the results, background noise is gone and a little tweaking will improve my minor complaints. Last but not least, I hung an LED battery powered light in there for now. Photos attached.

Attached Files
IMG_2103.JPG (182.98 KB, 111 downloads)
IMG_2107.JPG (201.55 KB, 111 downloads)

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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3046100 05/27/20 12:35 PM
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You're certainly doing the right things for the right reasons.

I was doing field recordings in the 1970s, recording in a living room (often out in the country with chickens in the yard) and frequently used mic booms and blankets secured with hand clamps as you're doing, to reduce reflections, but it wasn't really a booth, just a way to clean up what was coming into the one or two recording mics. Isolation wasn't the goal here, just getting a better recording than without some temporary treatment. Mic placement was important, particularly when recording a group.

Just a few thoughts.

I gather that this is a "build-when-needed" arrangement rather than a prototype for a permanent vocal booth. I'd guess that even with some practice, it takes about an hour or so to get things set up, so to keep your brain working on the right track when you need it, setup might be something to do the night before you plan to record. You might think about making something that was more pre-fab, like hinged, accordion-pleated absorbent panels that you could stash in a corner, then unfold in a few minutes when you needed some isolation.

What about controls? Have you experimented with remote control of your DAW so you don't have to go in and out of the booth to mouse-click every take. While I've never used it other than when giving a demo, TouchDAW lets me start and stop recording and playback. It's an Android app (I'm sure there's something similar for iOS) and, depending on how far you want to go, you can use it to tweak your monitor mix while you're away from the mouse.

Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3046116 05/27/20 02:54 PM
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Thanks Mike, last night was the first of probably many "shakedown cruises".
Currently I expect this rig will be up for a while. My space is too small for safe social distancing beyond one other human, just for one thing.
My social life - to the extent it exists - always seems to move outdoors come summer. We have the best summers in the world up here and many friends live in stunning surroundings. Down on the water with views of the islands in Puget Sound, on a private cove on Lake Whatcom, etc.

I may collaborate here this summer but I won't be having guests over for the most part. They are largely used to me by now anyway. laugh

Your suggestion for remote control? Y'all been readin' my mail!!!! I have an un-used Presonus Faderport One that would really spiff up the booth to a "whole new level" (don't you hate that term, I do!!!).
I'm sure there is a bit of a learning curve but Waveform uses MCU protocol so it should be pretty straightforward. I've got the included instructions, Presonus has great support and I've printed this Sweetwater article as a .pdf in my Studio folder on the desktop - https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/daw-control-surface-getting-started-guide/

At this point I have the luxury of setting those mics, tweaking the input levels and leaving them there. I have other options if I want to set up differently outside of the booth - more channels and more inputs. I have lots of songs that need solid scratch tracks at the very least. I will be laying those tracks down for starters, building an archive of my original songs. Then I can go back and add the tracks I have in my mind and the new stuff that will occur to me if/when the old stuff fails to satisfy. Same idea, set up bass tones and leave them, set up percussion/drums and leave them. Eventually I'll have something to show for all this madness, even if it's just frustration!!!!

If I did EVERYTHING at once I would only have a single post on here. Like the rack thread, this is an ongoing WIP. Cheers, Kuru


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3046235 05/28/20 01:53 PM
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I love a good DIY studio-related project. What's the temperature like in there? Some friends of mine made a similar (but far more hacked-together) blanket fort/vocal booth for a record they were working on and it did the trick, but apparently it got very warm very quickly.


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
SamuelBLupowitz #3046243 05/28/20 03:49 PM
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Great question Samuel.

The ventilation system would be to pull the front cover aside and allow air to circulate.
Summers are not particularly hot here compared to the Central Valley of California, which is where I came from. Somehow, despite being on the coast in an area with 38 inches per year of precipitation, humidity is not high.

I have a ground floor condo in a 3 story building, there is a storage unit to the west and I am on the west side of the building.
No morning sun, and in the shade later in the afternoon. The breeze tends to blow from the north mostly and sometimes the south. I can almost always bring the temperature down quickly by opening windows.

Yes, that defeats the purpose of the booth. So does opening up the front cover. I'm sure it could get pretty warm in there.
For my purposes, I don't expect to stay in there for extended periods. Primary purpose is to create "scratch tracks" of my songs, playing along with beats that feel good but probably won't remain in the final output.
I'd like to have my vocal and acoustic guitar demos sound be recorded at a level of quality that makes it possible to use them stand-alone if I get a good take. That is a seperate side project.

It has been my experience that playing something over and over again in an attempt to record a "perfect" version, is the exact wrong approach, at least for me. Takes progressively get more turgid and uninspired if I try to slog it out in the trenches. I don't want that. If i need to work on some things I can hang out with my acoustic guitar outside of the booth and practice without the pressure of the Record On scenario.

These are pop songs, sometimes with instrumental interludes. Length will be from 3 to 7 minutes probably. I'll do a take and come back out, I don't plan on "camping out" in there.

I'll be going back in to track lead and background vocals and acoustic instruments that require microphones. I can do everything else in the main room, even with the windows down. Playing into the interface direct will be happening often. Worst case, I'll be able to just take a break outside while laying down a bass track or some such. At least, that is the plan for now.

Winter will probably be different, I'll know more when that comes. Cheers, Kuru


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3046280 05/28/20 07:06 PM
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I have been researching this for a while. I'm working on some vocal courses, and figure the wife and neighbours may call the cops soon. I was going to build a frame and use moving blankets like yours for now, Still trying to dream up an affordable soundproof solution. I think I will have everybody's support.

Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
Michael Wright #3046283 05/28/20 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Wright
I have been researching this for a while. I'm working on some vocal courses, and figure the wife and neighbours may call the cops soon. I was going to build a frame and use moving blankets like yours for now, Still trying to dream up an affordable soundproof solution. I think I will have everybody's support.

Yes, I have neighbors one wall or ceiling away. I am attempting to be merciful!!!!

Take it as a work in progress and please share with us here, I'd love to see how you go about things.

I am now considering whether a dedicated double isolation box could achieve 90% of the results while using less space and providing convenient access to my studio station.
I'll plan one and build it, see where that takes me. Worst case, it becomes a better version of the one already inside the booth and lives there.

Making the first isolation box gave me ideas for improving it. Thanks for posting! Kuru


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
Michael Wright #3046293 05/28/20 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Wright
I have been researching this for a while. I'm working on some vocal courses, and figure the wife and neighbours may call the cops soon. I was going to build a frame and use moving blankets like yours for now, Still trying to dream up an affordable soundproof solution.

Blankets work for controlling reflections, which is important, but you need mass in order to avoid sound transmission and keep peace with the neighbors. Pre-fab vocal booths work quite well, but they're also quite expensive. I haven't looked, but I'll bet there are DIY articles on how to build one. Still, you need to build a complete box with walls, floor, and ceiling, and you need a door that seals well, cable pass-throughs, and ventilation. It's amazing how much sound can get out (or in) of a relatively small hole.

At NAMM last year, TransAudio Group showed a little booth built from inflatable plastic panels called AirHush that use some magic juju of air and acoustical damping materials. Like the Whisper Room, it's pretty expensive. A kit to build an amp isolation box costs about $2500. Unlike a Whisper Room, however, when you don't need the vocal booth, you can stash all the pieces in the closet that you were probably using as a vocal booth. ;

Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
Mike Rivers #3046455 05/29/20 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by Michael Wright
I have been researching this for a while. I'm working on some vocal courses, and figure the wife and neighbours may call the cops soon. I was going to build a frame and use moving blankets like yours for now, Still trying to dream up an affordable soundproof solution.

Blankets work for controlling reflections, which is important, but you need mass in order to avoid sound transmission and keep peace with the neighbors. Pre-fab vocal booths work quite well, but they're also quite expensive. I haven't looked, but I'll bet there are DIY articles on how to build one. Still, you need to build a complete box with walls, floor, and ceiling, and you need a door that seals well, cable pass-throughs, and ventilation. It's amazing how much sound can get out (or in) of a relatively small hole.

At NAMM last year, TransAudio Group showed a little booth built from inflatable plastic panels called AirHush that use some magic juju of air and acoustical damping materials. Like the Whisper Room, it's pretty expensive. A kit to build an amp isolation box costs about $2500. Unlike a Whisper Room, however, when you don't need the vocal booth, you can stash all the pieces in the closet that you were probably using as a vocal booth. ;

While Mike is correct on all points, blankets can also absorb a certain amount of sound, as they do have some mass. For sound to get through a well made moving blanket, it needs to find air spaces, usually that is going to be somewhere on the edges, where edges meet.

Blankets will not eliminate noise but they can reduce it to a negligible level. In my current situation, with the windows closed I can hear some external noise with my microphones turned up to a level I might prefer to use for vocals or guitar - bearing in mind I prefer the tone if I can keep the mics back a bit from the voice or the instrument.

Inside the booth, I can turn the mics up louder than I need for recording and still not have any significant noise. When I turn them down to a good recording level the exterior noise is not present in headphones, listening outside the booth.

Signal to noise ratio, there can be noise if the signal is sufficient to mix the noise down below audible. Not perfect but a big improvement. I'll take it!!!! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3046512 05/30/20 05:42 AM
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Totally cool, Kuru. I have the same issue with the guitar vocal bleed, to the point where I just stopped recording both together. Now I do guide track and record each separately.

As you pointed out on my post, I coincidentally just posted my vocal booth project over on Ronan's Recording forum. If anyone is interested in my take on this, you can find my post here http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3046505/diy-vocalbooth-project#Post3046505

Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
Pat Waara #3046522 05/30/20 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Pat Waara
Totally cool, Kuru. I have the same issue with the guitar vocal bleed, to the point where I just stopped recording both together. Now I do guide track and record each separately.

As you pointed out on my post, I coincidentally just posted my vocal booth project over on Ronan's Recording forum. If anyone is interested in my take on this, you can find my post here http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3046505/diy-vocalbooth-project#Post3046505

Welcome, Pat, we got a thing going on here too. Everybody, take a look at Pat's link, his mic booth is really nice.

Cool, these two forums are my favorites and I want them BOTH to thrive.

I found that the ISO box REALLY improved both the noise reduction and the "room sound" elimination.

As to the guitar/vocal thing, my current plan is to move the vocal mic back about 3 inches and put a barrier up in front to just below the capsule. I am pretty sure that will drastically reduce the guitar if not remove it for the most part.
My thoughts are, give it a go because it feels good and if it ends up that both the vocal and the guitar are a great take then I won. If not, I can redo both or either and I have a great reference track so I know exactly how the song goes without thinking. For me, thinking is a fatal flaw, I play much better without it. Left-handed, formerly autistic weirdo right here.

The ISO booth did effectively eliminate vocals from the guitar tracks.

I have ZERO room sound now. I have a good selection of reverb plugins. There is nothing to stop one from creating multiple instances of the same track with different reverbs and blending them as serves the song. None of them will have the tiny sound of a crappy room. That IS important.


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3047531 06/05/20 03:37 AM
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A lot of home-based studios build iso options into available dead space in the house.

One of my favorites was at a beautiful little studio in a converted barn in Boulder. Every square inch was used effectively and tastefully. I asked the owner how he did guitar cabinet isolation, did he just use the homemade vocal booth he had? He said that was one option, but... and he walked over to the stairs and opened the cupboard under it (a la Harry Potter) to reveal a soundproofed iso room suitable for a good-sized cab. (He also had tielines running into the bathroom, which had smooth hard walls and made a great echo chamber when someone wasn't using the loo.)


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
Dr Mike Metlay #3047549 06/05/20 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
A lot of home-based studios build iso options into available dead space in the house.

One of my favorites was at a beautiful little studio in a converted barn in Boulder. Every square inch was used effectively and tastefully. I asked the owner how he did guitar cabinet isolation, did he just use the homemade vocal booth he had? He said that was one option, but... and he walked over to the stairs and opened the cupboard under it (a la Harry Potter) to reveal a soundproofed iso room suitable for a good-sized cab. (He also had tielines running into the bathroom, which had smooth hard walls and made a great echo chamber when someone wasn't using the loo.)


Nice, considerable space was used here in the design, a 740 sq ft. condo with a tragically large bathroom and 2 small bedrooms. The outlets for the bathtub/shower and sink are on one corner of the "loo" and the toilet is on the far diagonal, making conversions a major project. The kitchen has an inconvenient plumbing set up as well. Those two places could be recovered space but no...

Still planning the improved iso box, it will happen. In other news, my primary Rainsong guitar now has a K&K Pro Mini pickup system installed and it sounds so good I won't be surprised if it makes a great DI. So one mic and I have stereo options for acoustic guitar.


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3048286 06/10/20 03:56 AM
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I made some changes to the isolation box for the vocal mic. Before and after photos attached.
The goal is to reduce bleed, less acoustic guitar in the vocals, less vocals in the acoustic guitar.

I cut down another cardboard box and used it to block more sound coming from the guitar. I put some foam on it, the bottom strip probably needs to come back off as it interferes with the guitar. Yeah, it looks pretty savage, life is not always pretty. Once I know what works well I may have a go at doing the whole thing over and decorate it with glued on macaroni and gold paint so it's pritty. laugh

I also cut another hole in the bottom of the box, about 3" back from the first hole. This puts the mic back, it's pretty hot so keeping it distant improves the vocal sound but probably increases bleed a little.
In any case, there is still some guitar in the vocal mic but not nearly as much as there was for the first test run. Good progress.
I think the only way I can improve on this is to try a different mic. I really like the Neat King Bee but I do have others. My CAD Equitek E-100 (2) is hypercardioid so I'll give it a spin and see what happens.
I may try the Heil PR40 too, it is more tolerant of a close singer which is good because the way it mounts is going to put it much closer to the front of the box. Maybe the louder vocal to guitar ratio will be an improvement, only one way to find out.

There is almost no vocal in the guitar mic. I took down the CAD E-100 and moved the CAD D-82 ribbon over to the fretboard side so now I have one guitar mic.
I recently installed a K&K Pure Mini pickup and it sounds fantastic compared to the LR Baggs Element that came with the guitar. I am pretty certain I can use the guitar direct now and get a great sound. This means I can just run a DI track with zero vocals in it along with the ribbon mic.

I'll post again after I test both of the proposed microphone changes. I may try another mic or two while I am at it and see what delivers the result I want.

Attached Files
IMG_2107.JPG (201.55 KB, 52 downloads)
ISO Box_2.JPG (201.63 KB, 51 downloads)

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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3049076 06/16/20 03:34 AM
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Some thoughts on the isolation box - I'd appreciate any and all feedback.

First, I'd like the box to be separate from the mic stand. As it is now, I am using a Jorgensen style clamp as a support on the boom arm of the mic stand. This allows me to angle the bottom of the iso-box, which is useful but cumbersome since not all mic mounts bottom out in the same spot and everything needs to be readusted to change mics.

I am 6'3" but some of the singers who will use this are shorter. Testing has shown that covering the front lower part of the box is effective in reducing the volume of the acoustic guitar, so far nothing I've tried has eliminated guitar in the vocal tracks. I can get guitar tracks that are nearly vocal free by positioning the guitar mics up under the bottom of the box. I am now considering plugging a solid body electric guitar in direct.

I am thinking of tilting the box back more instead of covering the front, this should provide the same sonic shielding but provide more room for the guitar - I keep bumping the guitar into the isolation box.
I also want to be able to raise and lower the box and the mic stand independently, front address mics and condensor mics with shock mounts have very different heights.

I've put two holes for the mic stand at different distances, that works well for getting the business end of the mic in the best spot for the singer.

One thought is to start over and make new box with the angle I want on the bottom while keeping the back of the box straight upright. That will allow me to fasten the box to a straight non-boom mic stand so I can adjust the height of the box with the clutch on that stand. I'm planning to cut larger holes in the bottom but make simple flaps to cover theme or possibly a seal that slides up the microphone stand and blocks off the openings.

There is a reason I slapped the first box together quick and dirty, I had a feeling it would change quite a bit as I learned what works and what doesn't. I'm fine with using cardboard, it seems work well and is easy to "customize."

It may take a few days but there is my new plan, suggestions?


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3049448 06/17/20 11:01 PM
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Keep us posted! I hope I can get caught up to devote some braincells to this....


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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3050487 06/23/20 03:33 AM
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Several improvements, will make 2 posts so I can get all 4 photos in.

I found balancig the box on a mic stand using a Jorgensen clamp and a couple of small ropes tied to the crossbar in the mic booth to be an impediment to changing microphones or adjusting height for another singer.
I have a speaker stand that I never use and a couple of speaker stand mounts. I chose the lighter duty one since the ISO box doesn't weigh much. I used two pieces of plywood with the box sandwiched in between, near the back to take advantage of that structure and keep everything out of the way.

Now I can raise or lower the ISO box independently, the mic stand is not supporting it. See photos and next post for more improvements.

Attached Files
ISO_3.jpg (109.08 KB, 17 downloads)
ISO_4.jpg (165.32 KB, 17 downloads)

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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3050489 06/23/20 03:46 AM
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Two other problems, while putting a baffle in the lower front of the box did decrease the level of the acoustic guitar in the vocal mic, leaving the box squared off made it easy to bump into it, which sounds bad too!!!!!
See attached photos.

I cut an angle on the sides and bent the bottom up. It should be out of the way now.

On my mic thread I recently posted a test of all my mics used as vocal mics in the mic booth and ISO box. I didn't use a pop filter on quite a few of them - there was no convenient way to do that. I have a Blue pop filter, it's a good one. It clamps to a mic stand (or any tube small enough) and you can bend it into place. It stays, a pet peeve with pop filters. I found a piece of dowel (everybody needs dowels laying around!!!!) and mounted on top of the box using reusable tie wraps. 4 of them pulled tight stabilized the dowel, it runs the lenght of the top of the box so it won't be going anywhere. Depending on the mic I want to use, the clamp for the pop filter can be mounted several ways. It can be mounted back a few inches and the bracket pointing towards the ceiling, this makes it easy to place for end address mics that will be placed from the closer of the two mic stand holes in the bottom of the box.

It can also be pulled out to the front, with the bracket pointed towards the floor. This provides more length to the positioning arm, making it easy to place the pop filter in front of side address mics using the back mic stand hole in the box.

Last but not least, it can also placed back a little and aiming towards one side of the box,putting the pop filter completely out of the way. This is useful for the mics that already have pop filters or don't have problems with plosives.

Next step is to go another round of testing. I think I'm getting to the short rows. I may make a prettier box or I may just drape a piece of black velvet over this one and call it good.

Attached Files
ISO_1.jpg (234.35 KB, 21 downloads)
ISO_2.jpg (138.93 KB, 20 downloads)

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Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3050511 06/23/20 06:26 AM
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One more post and one attached photo.

I put the isolation box back in the hillbilly mic booth, hooked everything up and got it all adjusted for my personal preference.
It is much easier to do now and more precise. I did have to make a hole to put a mic cable in, the new mount for the speaker stand blocked the old one. Easy, done.

The guitar clears nicely. Should be no more bumping into the booth. I set up the CAD D-82 ribbon on it's side to take advantage of the null caused by the large side magnets. I've got it up under the box, aiming down at the guitar around the 12th fret and the null is aiming towards my mouth. I've been getting close to zero vocals in the guitar, will test this tomorrow and see if it's even better. I will be adding a direct line since I've installed K&K pro mini pickups in my Rainsong and it sounds good plugged in now. The ribbon will add the fullness and the natural sound and just a bit of direct will provide clarity.

I felt like the front baffle did not go up high enough so I built that up again with cardboard, tape and another piece of "eggcarton" foam inside. Will test that tomorrow too, hoping for just a bit less guitar in the vocals.
Then I should be good to go for now. Testing may bring some new problems/solutions to the light.

Attached Files
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There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: DIY Vocal Booth + Iso box
KuruPrionz #3050697 06/24/20 04:27 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,978
Likes: 96
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Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,978
Likes: 96
First test went well. It is much easier to set up and use.
I'm ready to start recording, nothing stands out as needing fixing.

I do plan on getting a Presonus Faderport One up and running so I can start and stop recording from inside the mic booth. Not a big deal either way, it's super easy to clip off the useless parts of the tracks in the DAW and move them all at once.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...

Moderated by  Dr Mike Metlay 

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