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If you’re planning on setting up a studio where people are going to be recording vocals, it’s important that you fit in a proper vocal booth. While it’s possible to record vocals without a booth, the results you are going to get will be no where near the level they would be if you got one made professionally. You’re going to be able to hear background noise, your levels are going to be inconsistent, and overall you’re going to produce a poor quality product.
While it’s often best to hire a professional to install a vocal booth for you, it’s still a good idea to have some knowledge on how to build a vocal booth yourself. That way if you’re a bit adventurous you can give it a try yourself, or at the very least you will know what’s happening when the fitter is talking the lingo to you. It’ll also allow you to better understand what you want from your booth.
So, below we are going to look at some specs of a vocal booth. If you are considering putting one together yourself, this is the information you will need to know.
Before we go further though, please note that this guide has been contributed by Mike Sorensen at www.AcousticFields.com. It’s ideal for people who want to build their own professional studio rather then hiring one out.
Considering The Vocal Frequency Range When Planning The Vocal Booth Size
When building a vocal booth, you will need to think about the vocal frequency range of the people using it. This will impact on the way your booth it built.
So, what is the frequency range for human vocals? Well while there are of course exceptions, it’s between 150 Hz and 300 Hz for males, and 200 Hz and 500 Hz for females. Having said that, if we asked 10 different engineers, we would probably get 10 different answers back. If you average their responses together however, you will be somewhere close to this range.
For discussion sake, lets use 150 cycles as our bottom range and 500 cycles as our top room design frequency. A 150 Hz wave is about 7 plus feet, and a 500 Hz wave is a little over 2 feet long. If we want to make absolutely sure of no room resonance at these design frequencies, we must have a minimum 8 foot dimension in our width of the room. The 2 foot length of our 500Hz wave is not a issue with respect to our room’s dimensions.
So a good size to go with is 8 foot wide, 8 foot tall, and 10 foot long. We can make the room smaller, but care must be taken in the dimensions used to avoid room resonances in our vocal frequency range. This is the same as what we’d do when soundproofing a room in a house.
Adding Your Booth Window
The main reason a vocal booth will need to have a window is so the control room engineer can have visual contact with the singer or rapper. This window must be clear for visibility to occur, but it also must employ barrier technology. The window must be seen through, but it must not let any sound through. On top of that, it must also keep the sound from the vocalist from entering other parts of the studio.
The window should be made of a laminated glass of at least half an inch thick. Laminated glass is a mass damped assembly that will assist you in reducing vibrations on the glass itself.
Make sure you get this bit right, as the last thing we want in our vocal room is our window moving in response to sound energy and in effect turning into a speaker.
Putting The Window Together
This is an important part of building a vocal booth. You will need two pieces of the laminated glass we talked about in the previous section. Before putting them in, you will need to mount both pieces in their own frame just like you are framing a picture. Make sure you leave 2 inches of air space between each of the individual glass pieces.
Use a acoustic glue for the windows to frame contact area, and use an acoustical sealant around the inside and outside edges of the glass / frame contact area. Place the frame and window assembly and then line the window opening in the chosen wall with a damping compound. Insert the window assembly into the opening using an acoustical sealant.
This will ensure that no sound is getting through your vocal booth window, yet the engineer will be able to see their client.
Specifications Of The Vocal Booth Door
The door on our vocal booth can be made using two standard solid core doors, with a viscoelastic damping compound acoustically glued between each one. You’ll need to glue the damping compound to the side of one door and then let it dry.
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