The Acoustics of Portable Vocal Booths

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to acoustics, but it’s not rocket science.  Yeah, the basics of rocket science are easy compared to acoustics!  With terms like NRC, STC, absorption, diffusion, isolation, decoupling, and on and on.   However, when it comes to portable vocal booths such as our Porta-Booth Pro and Plus things can be broken down fairly easily. 

What a good portable vocal booth is not.

Contrary to common belief the main purpose of a portable vocal booth is not to keep out ALL extraneous noise.  Why?  Because it’s just not possible.  Blocking sound from getting through a barrier is called acoustical isolation.  But to properly isolate a volume of space requires dense materials.  Think concrete and brick.  A booth optimized for isolation is going to be heavy and hardly ideal for traveling.  For instance another vocal booth of similar size to our Porta-Booth Pro is almost two and a half times as heavy! That’s a heavy lug around an airport and contrary to its name it does not qualify as carry-on.  

Can a portable booth keep out all the noise?

But the additional weight doesn’t help that much as true isolation techniques involve more than just the material used in the walls of the booth.  It also involves separating  or “decoupling” the treated space from the area around it.  This is done by techniques like using air spaces in the walls, floating the floor using springs or other methods and structural framing members in walls and ceilings.  Obviously, not adaptable to a portable device.

So, what does a good portable vocal booth do then?

It certainly should keep some external noise out.  Our Porta-Booth Pro even has a built-in fleece hood for noise reduction a full 360 degrees around the booth for those extra noisy environments.   More importantly it shapes or conditions the sound in the booth where your microphone resides.  It takes echoes and that roomy-boomy sound out of your recording.  To a large degree that is done by the inside walls of your booth through the absorption of reflected sound.  But not too much!  Some vocal booths advertise an NRC (noise reduction coefficient) of 1.0 which means it absorbs 100% of reflected sound.  But as the saying goes there can be too much of a good thing.  This can make your recording and thus your voice sound dead.  You need to have some ambient reflection to give your voice a sense of presence.  Otherwise, you end up with an unnatural sounding recording. 

What is the best value in portable vocal booths?

It may not come as a surprise if we tell you that our Porta-Booths encompass the best features for the price.  For instance we use pyramid design Auralex StudioFoam to line the inside of our booths.  This is the same foam WhisperRoom chose for the inside of their renowned human sized sound booths.  The reasons are pretty obvious.  First of all it has an NRC of 0.7 meaning it absorbs 70% of sound and allows 30% to reflect back giving just the right amount of “room presence” in your voice recordings while removing whatever bad acoustics may exist in the room you are recording in.  Lasting decades, It also defies the crumbling and other deterioration of acoustic foams found in cheap knock-off booths and likewise has a fire retardant that makes it blow torch safe!  (You’ll love this video).   Other benefits include their light weight and sturdy construction.  To get full details for each of our booths click the links below.

The Porta-Booth Plus

Porta-Booth Plus

If you want a real vocal booth to go this is one to get. It actually fits in your carry-on bag or optionally get it with its own bag. Click here for details of our Porta-Booth Plus.

The Porta-Booth Pro

Porta-Booth Plus

Over three times larger than the Porta-Booth Plus yet still only weighs 7 pounds! Comes with its own travel bag. Click here for details of our Porta-Booth Pro.

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