Portable Mini Vocal Booth




In this tutorial we will make a DIY portable mini vocal booth that can be used to record your voice on the road (on a flash disc recorder). But there's more that can be done with this easy to make project.
You can cancel background noise when doing Foley recordings in your project or home studio, or have a portable mini dead room, ideal for specialized field recording.

The DIY Portable Mini Vocal Booth is ideal for podcasters, DIY filmakers and sound designers alike. My personal motivation to build this, was a desire to have a mobile mini deadroom to make foley recordings and recordings for my music.

For additional resources and more tutorials go to Humanworkshop.com


Step 1: Why a Mini Vocal Booth?

While a recording session with live played instruments might involve one or multiple 'room' mic's to enhence the sound, some recordings need to be as small and 'dead' as possible.
In Short: If you dont have a treated room your audio quality gets comprimised by the reflections of soundwaves on hard surfaces in your room. A deadroom or treated room, ensure a clean recording with as little 'room' or 'echo' as possible. Once you have the perfect recording you can treat the audio with any reverb, effect processor or VST you come up with. Its better to add things later than not being able to remove things later.

IR / Convolution reverb
A common practise in sound design is applying an Impulse respondse (IR) Reverb to a recording. A IR reverb uses the actual reverb of a room. like the name suggests, an impulse, like a loud clap or a starters pistol, triggers a decay. The charactaristics of a room can be applied to any sound source this way. The less room in a recording the better the results will be when you use a IR reverb. There are IR kits featuring crazy rooms like a pharao's tombe chamber in a pyramid, but you can also choose what seat you'd like to have in carnegie hall. More info aboutIR reverbs

Step 2: Things You Need + Costs

  • Sharp boxcutter knife.
  • Sound Isolation Foam (1 M�, depending on the size of your box)
  • 2 durable Cardboard boxes (In this tutorial I use an old box from my notebook and a generic one)
  • Bolts (12 bolts) and or a (industrial) stapler. (20 staples)
  • Mic
  • Mic stand
  • Marker
  • Bag with handle (or just the handle)
  • Ruler

It cost me about 10 euros. I bought the foam at a hardware store. Be sure to get foam made for sound absorption.

I use one cardboard box that is long and slim (so not square). I chose for this shape because it leaves me some arm space, hence it is set up in a V position. (When placed in a V shape, in a upright position, the cardboard box is stable leaving enough room for my hands to move objects i want to record) Its also makes it nice and slim, great when your traveling or doing field recordings. The other box is only used for the top/roof.

I used a handle from another box, nice sturdy plastic one. You can use any plastic handle thats sturdy enough. Want to know what type of microphone to use? see the wiki page.

Step 3:

Cut all of the bottom and upper flaps off. Cut one of the short sides of the cardboard , leaving you with 2 long sides and a short side in the middle. (when you use a square box you can make as many folds as you like, be sure to cut the foam accordingly, see follwing steps how to)

put the box flat on the ground. Put the foam on top of it and check if everything is covered. (I had 1 M�, which was plenty for my 2x 40x40 cm and 15x40 box)

Start by marking the foam where the folds of the cardboard are using the marker.

Now measure the short side of the cardboard and the thickness of the foam (in my case 2 cm). Make sure you leave twice the thickness (in my case 4 cm) of the foam as spare space so the longer sides of the cardboard have space to move around. (see picture)

Step 4: Cutting & Attaching the Foam

Draw lines with the marker to guide you before cutting the foam

We now have 3 pieces of foam. Two even arms and one short middle part. Staple and/or attach the foam with bolts. Do not attach the foam to the middle part just yet.

Step 5: Putting the Top On

Time to put a roof on there. fiddle around until you have a nice position of the arms. Cut the second cardboard box to a size so you can lay it on top of the upright mini vocal booth. Use a marker to mark the position of the arms of the booth and use it as guidelines to cut the cardboard.

Just like before, remind to leave (in my case 4 cm) enough space. This time so that the cardboard leans on the V construction

Step 6: Placing the Handle

Now place the handle on the middle of the middle part of the cardboard box. Depending on your handle you should try to make the 2 ends of the handle to entry the cardboard box and atech them on the inside. Otherwise make it as sturdy as possible.

Step 7: Placing the Handle

Time to place the last piece of foam in the middle and attach it. As a finnishing touch I've put a strap on it so you can close it for traveling.

Step 8: Mic Placement

Different applications call for different mic set ups. Please read the Mic Wiki carefully.
I attached a Mic holder to the cardboard:



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    29 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Would this work if it was built out of plywood instead of cardboard?


    4 years ago

    This looks good, especially for elevated mics. I'm wondering what that bowl is in that last picture is for? I made something similar to this. Check out my instructable. Much easier setup and less materials. I have an mxl 990 that I use with it. I might try this idea out for my mxl 991, especially since it's collaspable.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    If you do not feel like getting foam and go for the extreem cheap version you can always use egg carton, it's used alot to insulate a room for bands to play in. On the cheap ofcource.

    and if in dire need you can replace the entire material with just the egg carton.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    wiki quote

    "Similarly, acoustic foam tiles which help in sound proofing and the limitation of acoustic resonance have a similar form to egg crates. Egg crate mattresses are occasionally used as an inexpensive but poor substitute to acoustic foam."

    link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_carton


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That looks okay it might handle some basic reflections but I cringe thinking about my lovely voice going through the foam and vibrating on that cardboard I got one of these AE-F reflection filters for cheap http://www.soundkitz.com/Gargoyle%20Reflection%20Filter.htm and it's been doing an awesome job so far.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is a great idea! I suspect you could get away with any foam as long as it was not a solid surface like closed cell Styrofoam. The foam in this 'ible looks like ordinary waffle-type packing foam, but it might be more special than that. I would try using the waffle foam things they make for the top of your mattress. I'll bet you don't need to look any further than Walmart for waffly foam. Is there a reason for a metal pan in the last picture? Why not cut one more piece of foam to fit the bottom? -and another for up top for that matter?

    7 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The 'waffle foam things' are not really useful at all. It's the equivalent of stapling a mattress to the wall in lieu of decent acoustic treatment. Now, the "memory foam" crap...THAT I would love to see. Seems like the same consistency - open-celled and dense - which makes me think it would much cheaper for treating a room, rather than these little squares that sell for $60...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    $60 for a square? Maybe $60 for a pack of 24 squares but definitely not $60 for a single square. They usuallly sell these waffle squares in packs of like 10 atleast but not for that price. Either way its gonna be worth the money unless you happen to work at sleep number bed or sleepy boy matresses or whatever and get some left over of defected matresses or basically salavge for free and experiment. As for the "memory foam crap" one can experiment., but I can see how it would dampen sound but I dont kno how good it can be if useful enough.

    Much of Sonex's stuff is, in all seriousness, visco-elastic urethane waffle mattress liners. A lot of them improve sound deadening compared to the waffle-style by having deeper wedges that trap sound better. But as far as material goes, rubber (especially open-cell expanded polyurethane) has one of the best sound attenuating properties of almost any material, natural or manmade.

    But I think a lot of the cheaper waffle liners are that "foamy" foam that may or may not be close enough to rubber for the best attenuation, but it will still do.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yup, its even better to also put foam on the bottom. The Bowl was there because thats what i recorded as a test run. I did not make one for the bottom because in most cases the surfaces would be eighter uneven or soft and thus sound absorbing. There is one for up top though, walk trough the tutorial and you'll see ;) You can make a portable mini vocal booth with as many folds as you like, this way you can choose to leave just a few inches open if you only use it for voice recording for instance. Sound can travel trough very


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Why the metal bowl on the picture for the last step? A 'plate' reverb? Sorry if it's a stupid question, I'm quite new to this...

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    nope nothing special, it was there coz i wanted to record it when hammered (with rice inside)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    @nfarrow It really depends on the purpose you'll be using it for. You can buy very decent mic's for 50$ these days, but when doing pro recordings 5(0).000 is possible also. I use a shotgun mic in the picture. For more info about what kind of mic to use check out the link in the tutorials' 'placing the mic' chapter. (one tip is to buy a condenser, as dynamic mic's dont pick up much room in the first place, so you wont need a vocal booth anyway.)


    9 years ago on Step 4

    Try double faced tape, maybe up a grade from carpet tape, but I'm sure carpet tape would be acceptable. 3m makes a great tape called VHB for very high bond. Great Instructable!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I had made a similar dead room for some recordings that I make. I record off my land line telephone in the speaker phone mode. I listen in on meetings of the organization to which I belong when I am unable to attend. My dead room is a small rectangle that is big enough to get a small speaker, usually used for my laptop, and a microphone inside. Like your "room", my box is lined with fingered foam. Mine came as packing foam. For my purposes this works great. I can't hook the recorder and the phone directly due to the hum created.


    9 years ago on Introduction


    Stuff on there ranging from about $0.90 per sq ft to $2.20, which seem relatively good.

    At the very least seems cheaper than the other guys, and it's nearly the same exact stuff material wise.

    Although it irks me slightly that they don't have the really nice deep wedges.