If you’re a voiceover artist or a musician who works from home, you’ll probably need to have a soundproof booth. An isolated room padded with absorptive materials should prevent others from hearing the sounds you’re making. On top of that, it’ll also improve the quality of any audio recordings you produce. If that sounds good to you, you’ll be glad to hear that making a DIY soundproof booth is surprisingly easy.
Once you learn how to build a soundproof booth for your home, you’ll never again have to resort to closing the windows and turning the AC off to record. Instead, you’ll be able to practice your instrument or record music without any external noises creeping in. With that in mind, let’s start by establishing the benefits of different kinds of soundproof booths.
The Pros and Cons of Permanent Soundproof Booths
As we have established, the purpose of a soundproof booth is usually two-fold. On the one hand, it needs to provide noise insulation to the people inside the booth by preventing outside noise from coming in. Additionally, if the booth is used for recording purposes, it will also need to absorb the reverberations that might occur inside of it. The goal is to flatten the sounds you’re producing as much as possible, allowing you to manipulate them in post-production.
Of course, soundproof booths can have other purposes as well. For example, some people may use one to provide a safe space for sound-sensitive children or pets. Alternatively, others may just want a soundproof nook to work in. No matter what the case is, you should be able to find a soundproof booth that works for you.
Once you have a firm grasp on the purpose of your soundproof booth, you’ll have to weigh your options. On the one hand, you could build a permanent booth with two separate layers of sound control. Typically, the walls consist of structural and noise blocking materials that should stop sounds from coming in and out of the booth. So for example, you could have wooden walls that are also reinforced with vinyl.
The second layer of sound control is usually found on the inside of the booth. It can be made up of acoustic foam, fabric panels, soundproof blankets, or even fiberglass insulation. Any of those materials should flatten the quality of sound inside the booth.
However, not everyone can afford to have a soundproof booth taking up a large chunk of their living quarters. With that in mind, you might want to consider building a modular or portable soundproof booth instead.
Modular and Portable Soundproof Booths
Modular and portable soundproof booths are both easy to disassemble and move around your house — or take on the road. You could even purchase ready-made versions of these booths if you just don’t feel like building your own from scratch.
On the one hand, modular booths typically consist of a sturdy frame and acoustic blankets that go on top of it. These products can effectively reduce reverb and lower the volume of surrounding sounds.
A portable booth would be even flimsier, often made to surround the performer’s head and a microphone. So obviously, those kinds of booths aren’t ideal for people who need an isolation room for other reasons. Even so, if a vocal isolation booth is all you’re looking for, a portable one will get the job done.
Of course, the big disadvantage of these booths comes from the fact that they can’t fully block noise from coming in and out of the structure. At best, they will significantly muffle the sounds. But ultimately, you’ll have to decide which kind of structure will best answer your needs. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to make a soundproof booth with your own two hands.
How to Build a DIY Soundproof Booth for Your Home
The following instructions will mostly assume that you’re looking to make a permanent soundproof structure in your home. Still, if a modular booth is a better fit, this guide should help you figure out how to build one of those too. On top of that, we’ll also recommend some ready-made modular or portable sound booths you can buy if you’re not up to building one yourself.
1. Take Some Preliminary Measurements
First things first, you’ll have to figure out how big your soundproof booth can be. Since you’re building it for your home, you’ll want to clear up the area where you want it to be. Most people would want to place their booth in an area that doesn’t get a lot of external noise. Typically, that means putting the booth in the corner of a room that doesn’t have external walls.
Alternatively, you could convert a small supply closet into a soundproof booth instead. That would certainly take a lot of the guesswork out of this process and make it a more straightforward room soundproofing project. In any case, once you have a place in mind, you’ll want to move any furniture that’s already there.
As you start imagining what your soundproof booth will look like, try to remember its purpose. If you’re a musician or an audio engineer, the space will have to be large enough to fit a person and their instrument. Additionally, think about whether the people inside the booth will be sitting or standing and where you will store any other equipment you might need.
Notably, the dimensions of your booth will also affect its resonance or ability to reflect sounds. The larger it is, the more resonant it can get — which is obviously not what you want. While a 7 or 8-foot box might resonate at a level of 141–161 Hz, smaller 5, 4, or 3-foot booths would be closer to 226–377 Hz. All this to say, smaller spaces are generally more successful at flattening sounds.
2. Consider Whether You Need Lighting, Ventilation, and Windows
Knowing the rough dimensions and general placement of your future soundproof booth is only one part of the equation. If you’re not opposed to further complicating matters, you’ll also want to take into account lighting and ventilation. Of course, the lighting situation can be resolved by putting in a battery-powered bulb.
However, ventilation could potentially compromise the noise blocking properties of the booth. But if this isn’t a permanent studio setup or a safe room of some sort, you may not have to worry about ventilation just yet. After all, anyone who uses the booth to record could step out for a breather at any point.
Additionally, you might think about whether you want to be able to see the performer inside the booth. If you’re a producer, a window would enable you to signal the person inside the booth. However, getting a soundproof window would certainly make this project more complicated.
3. Get the Materials You’ll Need
At this point, you should have noted the measurements and sketched out the design of the booth you’re building. Those kinds of scribbles will be immensely useful when it comes to ordering supplies. Namely, they’ll help you figure out the amount of materials you’ll need to build and soundproof the structure.
You can start by calculating the length of 2×4 structural lumber you should get to build the box frame. Alternatively, if you want to make a modular soundproof booth, you could also get PVC pipes and elbow fittings. In either case, you should be able to find a store that will cut your materials to fit your requirements.
After you sort out the frame, it’s time to work on the exterior. Figure out how much drywall, plywood, or MDF board you’ll need to cover the walls and ceiling. If you have cash to burn, you can get enough of that material to line the inside as well, or you can simply finish the inside with acoustic foam or insulation. Any of those choices will affect your shopping list at this point.
Aside from those materials, you’ll also need nails or screws, caulk, and paint to finish the walls. Additionally, you should factor in door hinges, and remember that both the ceiling and floor will also need to be finished.
4. Consider Building a Raised Floor
If you’re building a larger soundproof booth that can fit, say, a drum set, you might want to elevate the floor. Namely, such instruments can produce impact noise, which is the result of vibrations traveling through a building’s structure. If you don’t want your downstairs neighbors knocking on your door every time you go to record something, you should separate the floor inside the booth from the rest of the surface.
At this point, you may be wondering how to go about doing that. Well, the less extreme way would be to simply cover the floor inside the complete structure with a thick carpet. To boost its effects, you could put a rug pad or some memory foam under it. Alternatively, if you’re looking to take advantage of some industry secrets, you could try making a tennis ball riser.
To do so, you would simply sandwich a bunch of tennis balls between two layers of wood. The elasticity of the balls should absorb most of the vibrations your instrument transmits. If you still can’t visualize it, this video will help you make heads or tails of the construction process. Still, if you’re not planning on producing any bass frequencies in the booth, you could opt out of that step.
5. Make the Main Part of the Structure
Once all your building materials arrive, you can finally start making your soundproof booth. As we have established, you’ll begin by making a simple frame in the dimensions you’ve specified earlier. Since most of the parts you need can be cut down to size at the store, you won’t even have to do much guesswork at this point. Just screw the boards together if you’re going with the wooden design or push the PVC pipes into the correct fittings.
Having completed the basic frame, you can start attaching your walls and ceiling. Just keep in mind that one of the sides will have to have a door in it. If you want to make that easier on yourself, you could even make one entire wall swing out on hinges.
Again, if you’re building a permanent structure, you can just nail the boards into your frame from the outside. Of course, it would help if the frame itself looked like the inside of a wall, complete with spaced-out studs. With that in mind, the entrance to the booth can also take on a more traditional appearance if you plan for it in the stud grid. In any case, after completing that step, you’ll be able to install the ceiling.
After that, all you need to do is plug any gaps between the drywall or wood boards with joint compound or caulk. Then, you can just finish the exterior with a coat of paint. Alternatively, if you’re making a flimsier structure out of PVC pipes, you can just start attaching its soundproof blanket walls.
6. Put In the Noise Blocking and Sound-Absorbing Materials
If you’re making a permanent soundproof booth, you can now put in the acoustic treatments. First, you’ll want to stuff your makeshift wall studs with insulation. After that, you can add drywall on the inside of the booth for an additional layer of noise blocking. Alternatively, you can cover the studs with vinyl before you start putting in the materials that will help absorb reverberations inside the booth.
Once you get to that step, you’ll have to address the elephant in the room — the door. Now, if you had made it swing inwards, you’d be able to make the acoustic foam panels on the door overlap with the surrounding wall, closing the gap that can sometimes form there. However, that would drastically reduce the space you have inside the booth. With that in mind, you should just make a door that swings out and sort out the gaps with weather-stripping products.
7. Making a Soundproof Blanket Fort
As you can imagine, the process of putting up walls and ceilings should be even easier when all you have to work with is fabric. If you get grommeted soundproof blankets or curtains, just slide them over the PVC pipes that make up the top of the frame.
This video should help you figure out the basic setup you’ll want to have.
On the other hand, you could also drill holes through the pipes to secure the blankets in place. However, that might compromise the structure of your booth. Either way, when you get to the ceiling, you’ll finish it all off by throwing another blanket over the top.
No matter what kind of booth you make, the key is to have it lined with soft fabrics on the inside and reinforced with impenetrable materials from the outside. Still, if a voice recording setup is all you need, there are other ways to get it.
8. Alternatively — Use Fabric Panels to Make a Modular Soundproof Booth
One solution most voiceover artists and musicians resort to when working from home is using a set of standing fabric panels to isolate their voices. Basically, they’ll put their mic between two or three acoustic fabric panels that have been stuffed into wooden frames. The bottom of the frame is usually propped up on two planks with swivel wheels, which allows you to move the parts wasily.
When it’s time to record, a performer could simply prop a blanket over the fabric panel stands. That would effectively separate them and the microphone from the surroundings, isolating the sound on the recording. That setup will work like a charm — especially if you have professional recording equipment to go along with it.
9. Or Make a Portable Voice Isolation Box
If the reason you need a soundproof booth has to do with recording vocals, whether you’re doing a podcast or voicing a cartoon or even an audiobook, there’s no need to go all out. Instead, you can build smaller isolation boxes that will encircle just the mic.
One way to make a microphone isolation box would be to line a cardboard box with acoustic foam. It’s simple and cheap, but efficient. For a more durable outcome, you can make something similar out of wood.
A popular way to build a mic booth is to take three or four pieces of 12 by 24-inch plywood (or any other kind of board you prefer). After laying them out next to each other, you can connect them with two hinges per seam. At that point, you can use spray adhesive to install acoustic foam on the side that has hinges on it. That will leave you with a booth you can keep on your desk, folded around a microphone.
Of course, if you don’t have any other acoustic treatments on the walls of the room, you’ll probably need some more coverage while you’re recording. Fortunately, that issue has an easy fix. Simply take any old blanket you have lying around and cover yourself, the mic, and your DIY soundproof booth. That should prevent the mic from picking up external noises and flatten the sound of your voice.
But if You’re Feeling Lazy — Just Buy a Soundproof Booth Online
Now that you know what it takes to make a soundproof booth for your home, no one would blame you for backing out of the project. Even if most of the steps we have mentioned aren’t too difficult to execute, having to make a functional door is pretty daunting!
Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to get your hands on a soundproof booth. For one, you could hire someone to make a custom recording room from scratch. Alternatively, you could look for second-hand soundproof booths online.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to break the bank, you could get a full-length pop-up booth instead.
As you can see, it’s essentially a tall blanket fort similar to what you could get out of PVC pipes and soundproof blankets. If nothing else, it would look neater than any soundproof blanket arrangement you could achieve on your own. Still, if you think you can do better, by all means, do so!
On top of that, the Internet is full of microphone shields you could buy if you don’t need that full coverage. This sturdy wall of noise-deadening acoustic panels will improve the quality of your recordings. Alternatively, you could get this mic shield with collapsible side walls and an insulated top side. Or, just go for something cheap and flexible like this foldable acoustic foam box.
Either way, you won’t know what works unless you try different solutions. But first, make sure you’re looking for products or build designs that can help you address the issue you’re having. To do so, you’ll just have to start by identifying the purpose of the soundproof booth.