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Old May 5th, 2013, 12:24 PM   #1
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Studio in a portable box

Just wanted to share what I feel is a very good way to get voice over vocals and other audio if need be, such as singing and such. Porta-Booth Plus: Musical Instruments

Love this thing, works really good, especially with a good mic and recorder.
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Old May 6th, 2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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Re: Studio in a portable box

Uh, MAYBE for singers, but not perticularly well designed for VO.

Notice in all the cute "product in use" photos that nobody's holding an actual SCRIPT? Wonder why? Perhaps because with this design there's no ROOM to both hold a script and address the mic properly?

There are plenty of mics available that will adequately suppress background noise for remote VO work, up to the venerable Coles "Lip Mic" which has been around for decades and still works fabulously for remote recording in a less than ideal environments.

As to whether or not the breath control necessary for quality singing is something you want to do with your head stuck in a Box is up to the artist.

Not particularly attractive idea for me, but whatever.

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Old May 6th, 2013, 09:09 PM   #3
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Re: Studio in a portable box

I've had a different experience. We've been using the original Harlan Hogan Porta-Booth for single spoken voice for about 6 years and love it.
That's what it's designed for and once you get set up with your mic of choice, it's great. Our usual mic is a Rode Podcaster. RDE Microphones - Podcaster

And the PB is small enough to take wherever we go, we also bought the compression sack to carry it on airplanes.

Originally I looked at making one, but after pricing the foam, materials and time it's not worth it. The HH PB is in it's third version,
it's more economical just to buy one. Imo the Porta-Booth is not suitable for vocalist work, way too many problems.

30+ years with our own audio and visual production company and studios.
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Old May 6th, 2013, 10:00 PM   #4
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Re: Studio in a portable box

Bill, I don't really agree with your response here. I've not worked directly with VO work in a pro setup, and yes, I would agree that in say a movie or something, where budget isn't much of a concern, using a studio sound proof room with hanging mic and stand with place to put script to read from is ideal, there is enough room to put a page or half page of text to read in the portable booth. Yes, singing, ideally would be the right fit since singers typically remember the lines to a song. I would hope good actors during VO can remember their lines too, but even if not, unless they are reading a large passage, I'd guess a half page or so of text would result in a fair amount of audio in one take and that could fit easily on a typed/printed piece of paper that they could place within eye range while speaking into the box with the mic. For a portable solution, I think this is fantastic and affordable.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 01:03 AM   #5
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Re: Studio in a portable box

Then buy it and try it. Your money, after all.

Just note I've been doing professional voiceover work for more than 20 years and have more than 400 professional paid gigs to my credit. That includes more than 100 broadcast radio and TV spots - and literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of narration work.

For the first 15 years, I worked exclusively in pro studios with pro engineers and learned the craft in the old style.

Then I set up my own studio in a converted haybarn at my house.

Then, a few years later, I removed 80% of the fancy gear I'd bought and started doing my VO work with a small recorder and simpler gear.

Honestly, I've done a LOT of work that's appeared on broadcast radio and TV for years. And I have some solid experience in knowing what's important and what's not when it comes to VO recording.

My opinion is that this device, as designed, is a relatively poor way to baffle ambient sound for professional VO work. At best it can somewhat address mid through high frequency room reflections by blocking those near the mic. The main problem is that because it incorporates virtually NO mass - so it won't really affect anything below about 200 hz - so provides almost no barrier to common sources of noise like traffic or A/C rumble.

Just as a question, did the folks selling this on Amazon provide audio plots of it's performance at various frequencies? If so, look at it's performance in the low end. Any difference? If they DIDN'T include technical plots, while claiming that it's effective sound isolation - that's a pretty bad sign right there.

Bottom line is depending on the mic pattern involved, it's "open" to nearly 180 degrees of the noise profile of the room it's in. That means bleed from air handling, outdoor weather and traffic, people walking by the door of the room this rig is positioned in while laughing or talking loudly - essentially anything that you can hear standing in front of the mic with your ears will potentially picked up BY the mic.

These are facts of physics - not really opinion stuff.

Remember sound and light are both reflectable waves. Think about it. If you put a box with a totally open side in front of your eyes in a well lighted room would the inside suddenly be totally dark? Nope. Dimmer?, sure. But not dark. And in precisely the same way - a box that's got an open side simply can't keep environmental sound out any more effectively than light.

Will this thing help somewhat? Sure. But no more than hanging a heavy blanket or winter jacket from a towel rack and doing your VO from under it. Both will achieve almost EXACTLY the same thing.

Believe me or not, but that's how this actually stuff works.

I recommended some mic types like the Coles model that work more like blindfolds - a technique that WILL keep light from entering your eyes when you think about it.

Look, it's not a big disaster. Trust me, I've spent way more for things that didn't work thinking I'd solved my problems inexpensively. Some times it works great, some times not so much.

If you're happy with the sound you're getting - then that's all that really matters.

But I'd hate to see you pull this out when an important project is on the line, and come home with a VO track infected with traffic noise because you thought you were buying actual soundproofing with this rig.

This is my opinion only, which, of course is worth at least what you're paying for it!

Take care.

P.S. Geez, I just noticed they want nearly $200 for this? Wow. For some Auralex foam and a nylon box? Double Wow. You can buy closed cel sculpted foam and a nylon beer cooler and make virtually the exact same thing without the nice graphics for under $10 if you shop smart. Seriously. And it will work precisely the same.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 07:33 AM   #6
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Re: Studio in a portable box

I'm with Bill on this, and I voice right around 400 spots a year, and have been doing voice work for 39 years.

But hey, if it works for you then great!
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Old May 7th, 2013, 09:03 AM   #7
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Re: Studio in a portable box

I agree with Bill, too, with one exception. If you are recording in a room that is not treated and you are getting lots of reflections off various surfaces, these types of devices can help tame that. Good placement in the room is the key because, as Bill says, one side is still open to the world. The voice talent's body can help block some of that. That's only to tame reflections, though, once again to repeat what Bill said, these things are not soundproof. They won't help with all the extraneous noise in the typical bedroom studio.

Please note I am not completely dissing these devices. I don't have the model you're talking about, but I do have an SE Electronics Reflection Filter. I do believe it helps some in a poor sounding room. I hope the box you are considering gives you room to read copy, though, because that's my biggest complaint about my unit. It's darn near impossible to find a place to hold the copy and stay on mic.

Have fun!

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Old May 7th, 2013, 09:49 AM   #8
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Re: Studio in a portable box

Bill, while you're obviously accurate, it's just not the point of that little cube.

nowhere in that listing does it claim to do anything but get rid of that "roomy boomy" sound which reflections cause. it does not claim to remove extraneous noise. and of course the only way to do so is mass, as you pointed out.

The point of that product is low budget, and to improve upon one's recording, yes they could have mentioned in the listing that it does not block external sounds, but then again when has any product ever advertised what it does not do?

This one is less than half as much, so someone could play around with it without as much of an investment: Semi-Rigid Portable Vocal/Sound Booth - Recording Studio and Voice Over - High NRC Acoustic Pyramid Foam - BLACK - FOR TABLETOP/DESKTOP USE users are responsible if modifying for a tall stand: Musical Instruments

or, since as you also pointed out that there's not much room for a script, one could just buy some foam blocks. here's a 6 pack of 2x2ft acoustic foam for around 50 bucks. can make a plenty big space out of those, i'd even just make a triangle out of two and sit one up against the back, that is of course assuming i'm not looking for a more permanent setup: ATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels (Charcoal) - 24x24x2 (6pk): Musical Instruments

as for the mass, well. MLV is always my favorite:

As always, each person's particular needs and budget are the primary deciding factor. The microphone of course should always be the top priority, as even a thick blanket could be strung up as a last ditch reflection dampener.
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