Are you a musician looking to lay down your own tracks, create demos or even a whole EP? If so, you’ll need some tricks and tools of the trade to enhance your vocals.
Recording in the studio can be an expensive process. Learn how to build your own DIY vocal booth at home that’ll fit your budget. Not only will it save you money, but you’ll have access to record your singing in an environment conducive to creating quality.
In this article we’ll let you know the tool and tricks you’ll need, to create your very own recording setup.
How to build your own DIY vocal booth at home
If you want to record your own music at a low cost, find out how to build your own DIY vocal booth at home. This is a much more affordable option than buying a professional vocal booth. And you’ll even be able to make use of things you have lying around the house.
Your vocals are arguably the most important part of your song. So you need them to sound mint. If you record in an open space your voice will reverberate around the room, and that’s not a good thing. The larger space you’re in, the worse it will be. If you’ve heard of podcasters and voice-over artists recording from their coat closet, this is why. Reduce the room and you reduce the reverb. This helps you sound up close, rather than far and distant.
How do you make a homemade vocal booth?
With a full size professional vocal booth costing anywhere from £600 to £4000, you’ll make a whopping saving by creating your own. Some of the options we’ll suggest involving buying some kit. Others utilise everyday items, making your own vocal booth a very real possibility. Even with no budget at all.
Here are some things to think about before you begin building.
- You’ll be spending a lot of time in your booth. It can feel claustrophobic and get hot quickly. Try to use low energy lighting options to reduce any extra heat build-up.
- If you’re building a 4 x 4 booth (we’ll go into more detail on what that is later), you’ll still need access to power for a mic, playback and possibly keys. Remember to run a power pack, or leave gaps to access power points on the wall.
- Get some fans, ideally silent ones. A few small ones at a low level work better than one big one. You can switch these off during takes if they’re noisy. But it helps ventilate the room in between.
How do you make a homemade recording studio?
Of course, vocals may only be part of your recording. If you play an instrument or several instruments, you’ll need to record these also. If you want the full recording experience, not just a facility for vocals, you’ll need (at the very least) a laptop with recording software and a decent mic. But you can add in all sorts of extras. If you have a garage or a solid shed, these may be places you can create a studio environment. Brick or stone-built constructions are excellent starting points, as they’re more solid than wood. Although a timber-clad interior is helpful. You have to work with what’s available to you.
Check out Charlie Puth’s home setup for some ideas on what you can do.
Building a cheap vocal booth
A booth also keeps out exterior noises. This is important when recording, especially at home, where you’ll have a lot of extraneous sounds like traffic if you live on a busy road or other household members. It won’t be a soundproofed space if you’re doing it yourself, but it will absorb a great deal and this applies to both incoming noise and your own sound. While you may have a beautiful voice, your neighbours might not want to hear 200 takes of the same song. Your vocal booth provides a little more protection for the music escaping.
It’s not just about finding a confined, quiet space to record in. Not every small room will enhance your sound. You’ll need to add some material and features to make it work for you. A wardrobe or cupboard may be ok for the spoken word, but sung vocals need a different kind of environment to sound their best.
How can I make a cheap vocal booth?
You can build your own reflection filter using foam. This works really well on higher frequencies, but less so on lower ones. The thicker the foam the better. Buy big panels very cheaply. If you already have a room that works well, has little reverb or sound leakage, then you have the option to use panels in places on the wall. This is opposed to fully lining the space. You can see this technique used in this video, where only some space on the wall is lined with acoustic and foam panels. Foam is the best option for your ceiling if covering the area above your head.
How big should a vocal booth be?
Your booth size will have of course have an impact on resonance. But did you know how much? Let’s take a look at how it stacks up.
8 feet = 141 Hz
7 feet = 161 Hz
6 feet = 188 Hz
5 feet = 226 Hz
4 feet = 283 Hz
3 feet = 377 Hz
These figures might not mean an awful lot to you if you’re not an audio engineer or sound geek. So in simple terms, when it comes to the size of your vocal booth aim for anything 3′ x 4′ to 4′ x 6′ in size. (40cm x 50cm to 50cm x 80cm).
DIY vocal booth plans
It may seem odd, but the most crucial areas to cover are behind and above the singer. This means, if you have very limited resources, you should ensure that you have some coverage at least in these areas. If you have a room with an echo, you can also use egg boxes, or something similar to absorb the sound. Controversy to popular belief, egg boxes won’t work as soundproofing. But bumpy materials help to deaden down the sound a little. Additionally, you should avoid using dimmer lighting in your booth space. This creates electromagnetic fields that can create a subtle buzz on your recording.
How to build a vocal booth in a corner
Let’s move onto a basic necessity we all have in our homes. Mattresses. Using these is tricky if trying to build a freestanding booth, but perfect for inhabiting a corner. Ideally, you should use memory foam mattresses or a mattress that’s as heavy as possible. Sprung mattresses are not so good as they create a little more of a reverb effect than the other types. Pile mattresses around you on their sides to make a kind of fort.
If you don’t have enough in your home, take a look at Freecycle, Gumtree or Craigslist for freebies. You’ll often find discarded ones lurking on street corners too, but in this instance beware of hygiene issues with the mattress. Charity shops also sell good quality second hands ones cheaply.
You’ll need something to hold them in place (solid chairs and tables can work) and you won’t be able to make a roof unless you have a very advanced steel or timber structure. So don’t try balancing a heavy mattress above your head. This could be very dangerous! Mattresses make ideal corner vocal booths. If you have a small room and want to set aside a corner to build a recording area, you can prop two mattresses one on each wall, then lean them against one another on the fourth corner.
4×4 vocal booth plans
The best design is to create a fully inclusive booth with coverage all around. To achieve this style, you’ll need to go for either a cornet booth as we’ve just outlined or a blanket booth with PVC piping. If you really want to go to town, you can create a ‘floating floor’. Recording studios use these to add to the ‘room within a room’ effect. This all adds to the reduction of reverb. Blankets, mattresses and mattress toppers are all handy floor material.
If you’re creating a 4 x 4 style, you also have the option to purchase some triangle traps. These are especially valuable if you sing at low frequencies (bass, baritone, alto and mezzo-soprano). They’re used as a budget alternative to a bass trap. Low frequencies will build up in the corners of your 4 x 4. The triangle trap works to absorb the sound in these areas. They don’t go right in the corners, but close to them. And you may have to play around to get the perfect positioning that works for your frequency.
Blanket vocal booth
This is a more advanced form of DIY vocal booth. And it’s also the best. Acoustic blankets soak up more frequency than any other material. Four are ideal to create your 4×4 booth. Once you have your blankets, you make a kind of wendy house or shed with four ‘walls’ and a ‘roof’ with another curtain. If you can’t stretch to acoustic blankets, use the heaviest and thickest blankets you have around the house. Or failing that, lined heavy curtains can work well. And curtains make the job quicker. They already have the loops attached to hang them on the structure you’ll need to build. Constructing the frame is the next stage.
DIY vocal booth PVC
The recommended way to construct your blanket booth is by using PVC pipes. In addition to the pipes, you’ll need clamps and hooks. Of course, you can still improvise with other things you have in the garage or can get for free from a site like Gumtree. Although you do risk your construction collapsing mid take. If you want to make a vocal booth using blankets and PVC, here’s a step by step video showing you how. As you’ll see, it takes no time at all.
Bear in mind that your DIY vocal booth won’t be a soundproofed space. It takes a lot more material, building and expense to achieve this. However, what you’ve created will be perfectly usable for recording your own tracks. If you’re seeking a fully professionally sound, or need more advanced equipment for your song, it may be worth considering booking some time in a recording studio.
But if you have a usable room, are a little bit handy and willing to give it a go, this can save a ton of cash, which can be invested into other areas of your career. Plenty of artists began their recording journeys in homemade booth and studios. And plenty of rich and famous ones continue to record in home setups.
How can I record my voice at home without a mic?
Your phone, tablet or laptop will have an inbuilt mic. This won’t be the best, but it’s adequate for some basic recording. If you want to release your recording for download or demo, you should invest in a mic, even if it’s a budget or second-hand one Here are some tips on the best mics to buy.
How do you record clean vocals?
Using a decent vocal booth will cut out unwanted noises. But a great mic will also help you out here. Additionally, get your voice itself sounding clean by cutting out dairy products and drinking plenty of water. The editing and mastering process will also clean up your voice.
What is a vocal booth to go?
This simply refers to a portable booth. A vocal booth to go is useful if you want to record in other locations, as well as at home. You can buy a standalone vocal booth to go or make your own using acoustic blankets and PVC. This can then be collapsed and rebuilt in another location.
Have you built your own DIY vocal booth at home? What did you use and how did it work out? Let us know about your own home recording experiences in the comments below.