As video producers, we oftentimes find ourselves having to record voice-over or ADR tracks in less-than-ideal acoustical environments. To resolve this dilemma we could lay down some serious cash to rent time in a professional sound studio, take the DIY approach and build our own sound booth or we could check out Editors Keys Portable Vocal Booth Pro Edition.
Although I don’t particularly care for the sound of my own recorded voice, others seem to like it and it’s showing up in more and more of my commercial work these days. For one thing, it makes scheduling a recording session with the voice-over artist much easier. Additionally, I find that by using a quality mic and headphones, a pop filter, (check out our DIY version at www.videomaker.com/article/8432), and taking care with my enunciation to minimize things like plosives and sibilance, I can do a pretty decent job at producing a more-than-acceptable voice-over.
The problems that arise typically are more environmental in nature than technical. Living on a rice farm out in the boonies I’m not faced with the usual laughing and playing neighborhood children or lawn mowers down the street. Instead, it’s the yipping coyotes, croaking bullfrogs and gosh awfully loud swans and geese. Lovely, beautiful, sounds of nature – unless, of course, you’re trying to get a crisp, clean audio recording.
I’ve tried a number of remedies, all with varying degrees of success. Driving to a quiet location and recording in the car – while parked, of course – can be acceptable. A walk-in closet can be made to work quite well but we don’t all have them. Mover’s blankets can be used, as well as any number of other common items to absorb sound, all the way up to elaborate DIY solutions for building your very own sound booth.
Sometimes these various attempts at keeping unwanted sounds from spoiling our audio efforts suffer from too much complexity, not enough ease-of-use and too little portability. Occasionally I just need to pick up and move to another room where the cats, the dogs and the kids aren’t.
A product that allows me to do exactly that is the Portable Vocal Booth by Editors Keys. I evaluated the Pro Edition but they have a Home Edition available as well. The most obvious difference between the two is the microphone stand included with the Pro Edition. It’s quite sturdy and adjustable in height between about 32″ – 59″.
How It Works
The business end of the Vocal Booth is a clamshell shaped head unit, hinged in the middle so it can be opened or closed, allowing you to shape the acoustic environment around the microphone to achieve just the right sound. The backside of the unit consists of sound deflection material sandwiched between an inner liner and a hole-punched aluminum outer shell. Attached to the inner liner is a specially molded foam material. This construction seems to be very effective at isolating extraneous, unwanted sounds and preventing them from entering the microphone. Sound absorption is placed precisely where it’s needed, at and around the mic, producing very clean sound with minimal reflections.
A clamp with dual, fully adjustable microphone mounts is attached between the head and the stand. Not one, but two microphones can be used to record two voices simultaneously. The mounts may be adjusted vertically for height as well as laterally for horizontal positioning. Microphones may also be moved closer to or further away from the acoustic head unit for achieving correct placement.
The Vocal Booth sets up in minutes and is easy to use. The clamp attaches to the bottom of the head unit then together they screw onto the included microphone stand. Adjust the stand to the desired height, attach your microphone, (or two, if applicable), to the mounting post, adjust for proper microphone placement, shape the clamshell head unit to achieve just the right sound and you’re ready to go.
If your recording environment changes (the kids inform you that their absolute favorite, matter-of-life-and-death television show, is playing at that very moment on the big screen TV in that very room) you can pick the Vocal Booth up – stand, mics and all – and easily move into another room.
No more having to set up and take down heavy blankets, commandeer walk-in closets or drive around in search of solitude on those cold winter nights. This product deserves a place in the serious videographer’s audio toolkit.
Build: Adjustable clamshell design, Clamp with adjustable microphone mounts.
Weight: 10 lbs.
- Clamshell design allows for acoustical fine-tuning
- Easily adjustable microphone placement
- Would like to see a case included to protect the head unit during transportation
Easy to setup and use, effective and affordable, the Portable Vocal Booth Pro Edition by Editors Keys is a sensible solution to the acoustic anomalies plaguing today’s video producers.
Manchester, UK M1 2Ap
Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.