Introduction: Sound Cancelling Portable Studio Box

Picture of Sound Cancelling Portable Studio Box

Want to record music at home but it's too noisy and too expensive to create a soundproof room? Well I have the perfect solution for you. Easy and less than $15 (A lot less than the hundreds you would spend to treat a room). All you need is:

*Storage tote (Free if you empty out one you already have)
*Memory foam bed pad ($9.99 @ Wal-Mart)
*Spray adhesive or medium tube of gel superglue
*Sharpie marker

Step 1: Measure and Cut Pad

Picture of Measure and Cut Pad

Place pad around the outside of tote and mark with sharpie the length and width of the three outside walls.

Step 2: Lining

Line the inside with piece of pad you cut, leaving space for an arch towards the back. The arch will produce better sound.

Step 3: Top and Bottom

Picture of Top and Bottom

Next cut out two pieces for the top and bottom of booth box. Line the bottom. Use a sharpie to Mark where there is excess padding then cut the excess away, then place back. Save all excess pieces to stuff into empty spaces between padding sides, top and bottom. Spray the adhesive or spread glue in each section you're working on only after you've gotten the padding cut perfectly to your liking (!Use glue products in a well ventilated area or outdoors!).

Step 4: Finish!

Picture of Finish!

Allow glue to bond for about 30 minutes, then cut off any excess around the edges and add any scraps in creases. Now you're ready. You will notice a remarkable difference in the sound quality of your recording, and you didn't have to break the bank to do it.


utmostGrandPoobah (author)2016-08-17

Hey iamcrisstylez, this was a really great post-- I discovered it from NighthawkInlight's video that links back here.

However, I tried testing my version out with a preamp/Neumann and the sound still has strong reverb/echo. Is it because the width of the Tub I am using is roughly 1.7 feet at the outermost edges?

Do I need to buy a bigger tub or is there a trick for stuffing more excess mattress foam in specific areas of the tub?

Appreciate any insight!

Fred the Minifig made it! (author)2015-08-11

Awesome idea, bro! Can't believe I didn't think of it first.

(DIY bonus, I didn't have a mic stand, so I bent one out of wire coat hangers.)

I'm gonna try the hanger idea!

Victor Does (author)2014-10-15

Great! Less expensive then the screen I got, but I guess that it still works as good. Thanks for the instructions

sb4 (author)2014-09-19

I'm wondering about a simpler design that could be interesting. Ideally, a "corner" reflector can be interesting if the angle is sharp enough that it traps sound reflections in a very long path going into the corner. This multiplies the effectiveness of the sound insulation. Also might fold up better.

iamcrisstylez (author)sb42014-09-19

Hmmm... I'm trying to see this in my head, but I'm still learning so I'm a little confused. Exactly how would you do it?

sb4 (author)iamcrisstylez2014-10-03

I should add -- your original design is so simple and straightforward and easy to build that it excels for that reason, so I actually would recommend it if it does the job. And the "tub" shape could provide dual purpose, where you could load it with recording equipment, etc. during transport, so the bulk in a sense is not a negative. Well done!

sb4 (author)iamcrisstylez2014-10-03

It would basically look like a book -- two boards with insulation hinged where the book binding would be. You open the book, and the microphone is placed probably midway from the front to back corner (hinge). I haven't designed it completely in my head. The open top and bottom could probably be covered by some additional hinged panels with insulation that would swing over. It would be a big thick sandwich when folded up, so some care needed designing the hinges to allow for the thickness of the insulation. If you used some nicer insulation that could be sewn into "cushions", you could possibly fold the contraption with the insulation on the outside to make hinge design a little easier. But then the hinges would need to be able to sweep a larger angle, not always available.

Probably the best variation on this design would look like a four-sided "horn" (like civil alert sirens) instead of a book. The concept is that the steep angles funnel extra sound back into the corner, where any surviving reflections make more and more bounces, increasing the absorption... in theory anyway. Something to try experimentally. The goal is to get better absorption, or same absorption with less insulation and more portable design. Just an idea to try out. The proof is always in the pudding; it might be inferior to the original idea.

cup-cake (author)2014-09-28

So easy and simple ! I should try it !

pgiambat (author)2014-09-23

Great build OP! I built the same thing but MUCH MUCH simpler. Your's looks pro compared to mine. I used a cardboard box, standing 'up' with the microphone in it the box is approx: 18" high, 1' wide and 1' deep. I used 1.5 in used foam. I cut it so that it all sticks in with the sides keeping the top/bottom in. I built it in less than 10 minutes. I use a Zoom H2 field recorder on a tiny tiny tripod. IT WORKS FANTASTIC !!! Studio quality sound. Everybody talking about microphone pickup shapes need to keep in mind this build is to 'improve' the recording quality. If the OP's build improves the recording quality 1/10th as much as my crappy build did his is going to be awesome and not "absolutely useless"!

agulesin (author)2014-09-22

Having constructed a full-size (approx 2m x 80cm x 2m high) soundproof room I can see the convenience of such a project. (don't think I can do an Inst. about it as I don't have much detail of the construction available, only a few photos). (author)2014-09-19

I am very sorry but:
That kind of recording equipment ist absolutely useless.

Where does the microphone pick up the sound? Exactly. On the OPEN side.

If you want a cheap solution, stand with your back to your door and hang blankets / a matress over it.

j.middlefinger nailed it by pointing out the cardioid microphone pattern. ALSO, Microphones pick up ambient ricochet noise from all sides. This setup DOES dampen that and makes a noticeable difference. And taking into account the very low cost and ease of making it makes your "absolutely useless" comment pretty much absolutely erroneous.

The cardioid pattern, as its name suggests, is shaped like a heart with two 'lobes' radiating forward and laterally at the same time. This means that it is not just sound directly in front of the capsule that the mic is picking up, but off-axis sounds as well. It is this off-axis noise that a box like this seeks to minimize, and it does a very good job of that. You've obviously got some recording experience, and the advice you have offered is great information, but your categorization of this type of box as "absolutely useless" is ridiculous. It makes me think you've never used one or made a side-by-side comparison. If you had, you'd have to acknowledge that it does have a measurable effect, and therefore, is useful at least to some degree. Your opinion is certainly every bit as valid as mine, but I'd encourage you to consider your wording a bit more carefully.

I am very sorry, but you are mistaken. It significantly helps to sonically deaden the space. It is particularly helpful when you are using a condenser microphone which picks up sound in a cardioid or figure 8 pattern, as these are incredibly sensitive. If you compare takes with and without, you will notice a drastic difference. You are not wrong, however, about using a blanket behind you. Sometimes, I actually record VO backed up to a closet stuffed full of hanging clothes, and that works really well, too.

You are right about the figure 8 oder omni pattern,

But a Cardioid (which almost everyone wuld use) picks up the sound on the open side, so what one would need to do is deaden the rooms response.

Which is not possible with that kind of equipment.

So true! I have yet to put it into action as I've been waiting on my soundcard in the mail, but that is a great tip that I was actually thinking of. That's a great idea for another instructable. Finding an easy way to set up the blanket so that you can be wherever you want, not necessarily against a wall or door. Like two poles extending up from the back of your computer chair tall enough to give you enough head room and air, then lay the blanket over the poles and over the box. What do you think?

yup. sounds good. if you can insulate the ceiling above you and the microhpone your results will get MUCH better.

tvance929 (author)2014-09-18

Good idea! I'm going to try this! Any recommendation on a decent starter microphone?

iamcrisstylez (author)tvance9292014-09-18

You know what? I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, just starting off. The mics I have are Mxl 990 and Mxl 991. From The videos I've seen on youtube of people trying them out for the 1st time, they all have said that it is a great Mic to start with. It has intermediate quality, looks great, inexpensive in comparison to higher quality mics and produces very professional sounding audio. U got mine from ebay in an auction for $45 and that included both mics and carrying case. I think they usually run around $100 or more.

Hey dude, check this out:

As you grow, this might be a good option for you. It'll allow you to turn your mics from an intermediate level mic into something much closer to the high-end stuff for much less money. If you ever do go that route, please let me know!

I'm gonna go check that out and I'm sure I'll be using some of those ideas especially if it saves me money. Thank you so much! Good looking out.

Typo correction: I got mine

j.middlefinger (author)tvance9292014-09-19

Depending on what you are looking for, there are a number of good options available, and the MXLs that iamcrisstylez is using are a pretty good option. I've also heard good things about the AT2020 as a good starter mic. Personally, I have been very happy with my Shure PG42 condenser. People will probably flame me to no end for this, but I actually have the USB version of the PG42, and I have found it to stack up pretty nicely against XLR mics going through a recording interface for my voice-over/voice acting projects. While this suits my particular needs rather nicely, you generally want to give as much resolution as possible to your recording software, because once resolution is lost, it's lost.

djbadinfluence (author)2014-09-20

I made one for portable use and they work rather well. For the naysayers out there, they flunk basic audio knowledge. You put the mic INSIDE the tote and you get a lot of rejection from the sides and behind the mic. that cuts down ON A LOT of the ambient noise right there and improves the audio.
I used this with a Tascam PortaStudio Pro and an AKG mic and it improved considerably.
Not the best solution for a permanent use by a long shot. But is it effective in improving audio by helping reject a lot of what's around you? Indeed.
There are a lot of videos on Youtube with before and after examples for those interested in building one and seeing if it will suit your needs.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with this kind of contrapment. I decided to use this as a temporary solution until I can afford the real deal.

j.middlefinger (author)2014-09-15

You can achieve the same results using a collapsible storage container for an even more portable setup (thanks to Mr. Harlan Hogan for the idea) . In mine, I used Auralex pyramid acoustic foam and attached it using velcro tabs. Makes it very nice and portable and easy to store. Google Harlan Hogan PortaBooth to see the storage cube I'm talking about.

f5mando (author)j.middlefinger2014-09-18

Sounds interesting, j.middlefinger. Got photos?

j.middlefinger (author)f5mando2014-09-19

Here are those pics. Tried uploading from the phone earlier with no luck...

j.middlefinger (author)f5mando2014-09-18

I'll take a few shots when I get home from class this evening. Stay tuned

Yooo that Velcro sounds even easier. I might try that next time, and I have see it done with the collapsible storage box. I was a flip of a coin for which one I'd do.

SimonA3 (author)2014-09-19

It would probably work even better if the container were the sort with holes in the walls rather than being solid. Even though the sound absorbing foam will reduce reflections from the box, they will still be there at a low level creating some 'comb-filtering' effect most likely in the lower vocal range.

Just to add a note for clarity - this is a sound absorbing box, not sound cancelling these terms are very specific in acoustics. Absorption; converting the sound energy to heat so it basically disappears. Isolation; blocking the sound, e.g so it stays in your room and doesn't go next door. Cancellation; two equal but opposite sounds combining and cancelling out.

iamcrisstylez (author)SimonA32014-09-19

Ok, great note! I'm still learning EVERYTHING so your input is most appreciated. I'll see if I can edit the title here. Thanks!

Chakazuluu (author)2014-09-18

I am about to start an audio podcast named "Homeless In Tucson" if I mount my Droid Maxx inside the inclosure to act as a teleprompter will it have an adverse affect on the sound? Also why should I use a preamp and if I need one to produce quality sound can I get away with an inexpensive one?

SimonA3 (author)Chakazuluu2014-09-19

You can get away with an inexpensive one. The mic input on a decent 'USB audio interface' is all you need. Note though, that most good mics require 'phantom power' (voltage from the pre-amp) so you will need an interface with an XLR input and phantom power, not just the mic input on your laptop or ipad. I recommend the Edirol UA-25.

I would never use a pre-amp to specifically sound warm or cool or add a 'sound'. It would never be possible to remove it from the recording. Use a clean low distortion mic pre-amp (these are very cheap!) and make it sound the way you want after recording.

Chakazuluu (author)SimonA32014-09-19

Thank you very much for that info...

iamcrisstylez (author)Chakazuluu2014-09-18

I don't know exactly how that setup will work with a phone. Will u just place it in the box and press record to your phone's camera? If so I think as long as you have your phone on a kickstand so the speaker isn't blocked or covered, then it should work pretty great, I'm assuming. About those preamps, I'm still learning the "why's" and "how's" but I googled an answer from a professional producer. Here it is:

"Use microphones and mic preamp the same way painters use brushes and colors. Microphone preamps add distinct characteristics that help you get the most from your recordings. The combination of micpre's and mics will allow you to make better artistic decisions in the studio because each component sounds different. For example, the standard interface mic preamps that are built into interfaces do very little to help engineers control vocal recordings, only allowing for a specific sound or tone. Even if you're an artist recording yourself at home, the preamp you choose to use may decide if your recording sounds warm or cold; thick or thin. 

To answer your question, preamps are great tools to have as a part of your DAW."

Chakazuluu (author)iamcrisstylez2014-09-18

Actually iamcrisstylez I will be using the phone as a teleprompter not as a video recorder but thanks for the advice...

windrago1 (author)2014-09-19

love it

sitearm (author)2014-09-18

thank you, tweeted! : )

iamcrisstylez (author)sitearm2014-09-18

Yaaasssss I made it to Twitter! lol, I'm grinning super hard.

MrFrancis (author)2014-09-18

Your sound card will have audio drivers that work with your music software. You don't need them if you have an 8th inch input on your computer, but your latency may become a problem. Sound card a must. Your goal is to have warm vocals. Digital music can be cold. Experiment with your compressor/preamp to find a great setting for your vocals. Always record dry and add effect later. I do however use a software gate in my input at a very low setting. Crystal clean vocals.

iamcrisstylez (author)MrFrancis2014-09-18

You're gonna have me on Google every day with these priceless tips. Do you have any music on soundcloud or youtube?

MrFrancis (author)2014-09-18

Don't skimp out on Mic/preamp/compressor. I have music currently playing internationally and I do it all from home. Nobody can tell the difference. Use hardware preamp and compressor and use a software gate if you have lots of background noise. You don't want to use the gate too heavy. Just at a very low threshold. Google software gates for audio recording. Remember, quality in, quality out!

iamcrisstylez (author)MrFrancis2014-09-18

That is a tip to live by "Quality in and quality out". I have a question for you. I have a Mic with phantom power from my preamp/mixer. I also have a headphone amp. Is it absolutely necessary to have a sound card? Is there a way around buying one?

MrFrancis (author)2014-09-15

Helpful hints: Use a quality mic preamp and apply a gate to your incoming Chanel for vocals. The gate will assist in keeping out low background noises.

dan.blake.7583 (author)MrFrancis2014-09-18

You would be ill advised to use a gate for recording. Any lower sounds that you may want, will be cut out and lost forever. Record, un obstructed, and apply any processing (including a gate) AFTER you have laid down your tract. The initial recording should be 100% organic, and all changes to that pure recording, are done non-destructively.

Also, those question marks are hand clapping emojis in my phone. Didn't show up here but I'm applauding know knowledge.

???? I'm feeling these tips. This is a priceless one I'm sure. Since I'm just starting out with home recording, I need all the trade secrets I can get my hands on. Thank you!

Chakazuluu (author)MrFrancis2014-09-18

Please explain what a gate is...

About This Instructable




Bio: Creative things and people and animals are what inspire me. I like saving money and having pride in creating something functional that would have cost ... More »
More by iamcrisstylez:Sound Cancelling Portable Studio Box
Add instructable to: