DIY Portable Recording Booth

DIY a $200 recording booth for less than $50!

  1. Hentai
    Recently the #UTAU tag on Tumblr has been freaking out over the Porta-Booth portable recording booth and its imitations. The original runs for $350 and imitations somewhere around $200.

    Below I am going to a modified tutorial, originally done by Jake Ludginton. We will be showing you how to make the exact same thing, for less than $50. As the original tutorial was made over 4 years ago, a lot of the materials linked to are no longer available. I have found substitute materials that are a bit different, but should work just as well.

    What You Need

    Acoustic Foam
    The biggest variation between this portable sound studio and the one Harlan Hogan demonstrates on his site is the foam. He uses Auralex Studiofoam 2" Pyramid foam, which is only available via special order from places like Guitar Center in $400 (or $200 on Amazon).

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    We are not going to be using $400 specially branded pyramid foam, instead we are going use regular un-branded "egg crate" pattern falme retardant acoustic foam. They are sold in sets of 2 of 12" x 12" square 2.5" thick panels. Currently they run $16.62 per pair and are fulfilled by Amazon, we will need two sets. [Amazon Link]

    If you are using the extra tall Blue Yeti you might need to use the 1.5" thick version of this design. It will give you extra room for that best of a mic in your box and is slightly cheaper at $13.15 for 2 panels. If you need the extra height I recommend 1.5" for the top and back, but still using 2.5" for the sides. [Amazon Link]

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    There are a lot of options in terms of foam you can use. If you really like the look of pyramid (I know I do!) and you don't mind it not being fulfilled by Amazon then I would recommend this listing by a 3rd party seller. Its slightly cheaper with 4 panels costing $21.40 + $6.45 shipping and the pyramid shape is supposed to work a bit better. [Amazon Link]

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    This is probably the best kind of foam in terms of abosortion but it is also hardest to use, you have to make sure the anechoic wedge is angled away from you and it only comes in one large 24" x 24" panel that you will later have to cut down into 4x 12" x 12" panels. In terms of cost it is $24.95 for the one large square and is actually turns out cheaper than all of the above, if a bit more labor intensive. [Amazon Link]

    Collapsible Cube
    The original cube used in the tutorial was a Whitmore Target-branded collapsible cube. Target may still have these in stores, but they ended their relationship with Amazon a couple years ago. Fear not however, you can still get Whitmore cubes, just not in the red Target variety!

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    These cubes are sold in sets of 2 with the cheapest color being green at $13.97 per pair. You probably don't need two recording booths but if you got a friend maybe they will want to build one too and you can split the costs! Otherwise its still pretty cheap from and I am sure you can find a use for the other one. [Amazon Link]

    Bread Knife
    While any utility knife will do, something with a serrated edge will probably work best. Jake recommend a bread knife, and having cut foam before myself I would agree with his recommendation.

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    If you don't already have a bread knife at home I recommend the Komachi 2 Scalloped Sandwich Knife, I have one and not only will it be able to cut the foam, they are excellent for cutting long baguettes, bagels, and various other bread products. [Amazon Link]

    Additional Tools
    Additional tools include something to measure distance with and a marker to mark your cuts.

    Assuming you have measuring tape and a Sharpie total cost of the project should be under $60.

    Putting it Together

    Assembly is pretty straightforward. You cut the foam so that you can insert them on the sides, top, and rear of the collapsible box. Assuming you got 12" x 12" squares the amount of cutting you need to do will depend on the thickness of the foam.

    If its 2.5" thick you might need to cut 0.5" from the edge, if you used the 1.5" thick foam for the top and rear so you can have extra height for extra tall mics (Blue Yeti) you probably won't need to do any cutting at all.

    Anyways if you want to see how its all put together here is Jake's assembly video below:


    In Conclusion

    If you were planning to buy that $200 sound booth that Tumblr was freaking out about you should have more than enough left over to get a good mic (AT2020USB or Blue Yeti and still have enough left over for a pop filter!
    katli10, Shirahime, Milk and 4 others like this.