Buying a Vocal Isolation booth is a big ticket investment in your voiceover career.
After all, a cheap pre-built booth can still cost more than a Neumann u87, and not many of us use one of those in our home studios. Though I went through my purchasing process pretty thoroughly, I am still getting questions from many of you that I thought I could address with a checklist of sorts:
1. Have you recorded samples of how your space sounds now?
It is in your best interest to send a sound file of your current space to the vendor. How are they expected to know how to solve your problem if they have never heard it for themselves?
2. Have you made measurements of how much sound you need to block?
It is in your best interest to analyse that sample file and see what frequencies are actually causing you problems. If you don’t know how to do this, you can ask the vendors to do it for you. In this case, please compare the responses from different vendors. Both to see if they concur, and also to see who explains things in a way that you understand best. That is probably the best vendor to work with.
3. Have you taken pictures of where you want to put the booth?
Are you certain the booth you want will fit? Even if the finished booth will fit, are you sure that you have enough room to assemble the booth properly? Sending pictures to the vendor can help alleviate this problem.
4. Have you asked the vendor for references?
Especially if you are not going with a big name vendor, asking for references is incredibly important. Most vendors will tend to send you info for happy customers. So, to get a balanced picture, be certain to scour the forums and youtube for reviews from both satisfied and dis-satisfied clients.
5. Have you actually contacted those references?
Asking for references does nothing if you don’t actually contact them. I have found most people friendly and open to calls like this. People generally enjoy sharing their experience of the purchase/build process. And, in private communication, even happy clients may share frustrations with you that they don’t feel comfortable sharing online for one reason or another.
6. Have you discussed timelines with the vendor?
Is the vendor backlogged? How long is it going to take for them to start building your booth? How long does the construction usually take? Remember, unless you are ordering from WhisperRoom (or another vendor that builds modularly), your booth can not possibly be built before you place your order. And, if you need customizations, like I did, even a company that builds modularly will need some lead time before shipping your booth.
7. Have you asked about what kinds of materials are used in the construction of your booth?
Not only is this important if you care about things like off-gassing, but if you are going with a lesser-known builder, you will want to research the materials mentioned to see if they will indeed give you the amount of isolation that you will need. You might want to be wary of anyone claiming to have a proprietary “Secret Sauce” construction technique.
8. Have you asked for independent verification of the vendor’s claims about the booth’s effectiveness?
Some smaller vendors may not be able to give you this. But, most larger vendors will have had an independent sound expert analyze the booth’s performance. Ask for a copy of this report. If you are going with a vendor that doesn’t have this, let them know your concerns.
9. Have you asked about payment options?
Does the vendor take credit cards? If not, ask why. StudioBricks doesn’t take credit cards because Guillermo says that the fees are prohibitive. StudioBricks asked for 30% of the price up front and the other 70% once I got proof that the booth had actually shipped. Since I was giving up the built in security of paying by credit card (disputing a charge if something were to go wrong), the 30/70 split made the no credit card policy a bit easier to accept.
10. Have you asked for a break down of delivery costs?
If delivery is not included in the sticker price, ask for a detailed list of the delivery options.
11. Have you asked if the delivery is insured?
If there is an “accident” during shipping, what happens? Ask up front.
12. Have you asked if any special paperwork needs to be done as part of delivery?
Since StudioBricks is based in Spain, I wound up needing to fill out a six page form, and pay an Entry Fee, an ISF Fee, and a Bond Fee on top of the number quoted by StudioBricks. Even with all of this, it wound up cheaper than buying a similar booth domestically. But, if I hadn’t asked up front, I would have been surprised by a call from US Customs when my booth arrived and was stuck in Port Elizabeth, NJ until the fees were paid.
Remember to ask as many questions as possible before making your purchase. A Vocal Isolation Booth is a big investment. It’s on par with buying an uber-high end mic, or a used car, without financing. So, go into it fully informed and with your eyes wide open.
A Cup of CoffeeA ridiculous amount of caffeine was consumed while researching all of this stuff.
Add some fuel if you would like to help keep me going!
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