I just tested out the Pyle Portable Sound Booth (“Pyle Amplifier Part PSIB27” on Amazon) to see whether it made much of a difference when recording my voice.
This is just one of many different versions of "portable sound booths, which are basically just fabric boxes with acoustic foam inside them. But do they work?
Most people with home studios these days are recording in a spare bedroom. These rooms are usually horrible for recording good quality audio. That’s because of the rectangular (or worse – square) shape and hard walls. Voice recordings made in rooms like this have lots of echo and reverb in them, making it sound like you recorded in a bathroom.
Ideally, you would apply acoustic treatment – foam panels that absorb sound – on all the walls in your room. That helps a LOT to improve the quality of audio by reducing or eliminating echo-y room sound. But that can be expensive.
So people started coming up with ways to treat a very small space just around the microphone with acoustic foam. The hope is that your voice will be absorbed by the interior of one of these boxes and not get a chance to bounce off the walls and create all that echo. How does it work? I decided to find out using the Pyle portable sound booth.
NOTE: It is possible that other versions of this kind of thing work better than this one did. Sorry for the spoiler :-P.
I recorded these samples in a bedroom with no acoustic treatment on the walls. Most people using microphones on desk stands end up with their mouths about 12 – 18 inches away from the microphone, so the first sample below is me doing just that, that using a Samson C01U USB mic sitting on a desk with no portable sound booth.
Here is how that sounded. By the way, this audio is not treated at all, so the background hiss is coming from the mic. This is pretty typical of USB mics. You can get rid of this with noise reduction after you record.
Next I placed the mic inside the Pyle portable sound booth. Here is the result of that.
I did not notice any significant difference at all between the two.
Now I normally recommend getting your mouth 3-5 inches away from a microphone for voiceover recording. But there really is no good way to do that using one of these boxes.
If it sits on a desk, you'd have to bend over and basically stick your head inside the box. This is super awkward and uncomfortable. Nobody is going to going to ever record much of anything like that.
But just to be thorough, I DID :-P. I stuck my head in the front of the box and got 3-5 inches from the mic. And even then, I heard no difference at all.
I do not recommend buying this particular product. It simply does absolutely nothing to reduce or eliminate room sound.