Portable tracking booth

Member for

20 years 7 months
Submitted by audiokid on Sun, 07/10/2016 - 09:43

Portable Vocal Tracking System.

I'm thinking about a portable tracking booth to take "wherever" I can for the purpose of recording the gifted solo artists around my area.
Just like many of us who can sing and play rhythm to their original songs, there are hundreds of people like this who want to record themselves (better than they can) and possibly have professionals like me and my group of international "collaborators" build songs for them.

I have a long time buddy who did this last year and his album turned out really good. He laid down all the vocals and acoustic guitar, the rest was all done via collaboration between the engineer and his group of musical friends from around the world.

Like so many gifted musicians (composers), my friend has no interest in learning how to operate a DAW. He has no idea about vocal gear. He is a musician that wants to record his songs and have other people finish them for him. All he wants to do is track his voice and guitar and let the pro's to do the rest. There are thousands of musical people just like him everywhere.

I am imagining how much better his music would have sounded if he used me to track or mix it all. He paid just under $50 grand by the time it was all done. Granted, the recordist/ producer (guy like me) used some really good musicians for the collaboration, however, his gear (especially vocal chain) was less than top end. I know I have better and know I have the skill to track vocals like this much better so I'm seeing this as a niche market.

Never the less, he simply tracked my buddy, sends the tracks to his musician friends (who also have equal quality tracking gear and they add their parts. It sounded really good to me and my buddy was so thrilled, he said it was all well worth it. How fun is that?

So,

Once the vocals are tracked to a high quality, the rest follows suit. No one needs their room added to the source. Our studios are about dry tracking. That is unless you of course have a great sounding studio for collaborating. However, I believe the big problem with all this is having rooms that don't match track to track.

Great monitoring, creating the most beautiful zero latency, virtual space possible is the goal.

Everyone involved simply imports the ongoing tracks, adds (jams) their instrument and sends what they do back (to me) and we go from there. We do the room emulation later.
The engineer/ producer (like me) picks and chooses the instrumentation that works.

If my buddies engineer knew more about Bricasti room emulation, coupled with better/ excellent top end vocal tracking gear, I can only imagine how much better my buddies album would have sounded.

Now I know some would think you need a proper studio to record an album but after doing this kind of work for the last 30 years, now owning a few Bricasti's , Eventide, coupled with a few top level front end goodies and beautiful mics... , there isn't any (modern sounding) vocal I can't track that wouldn't sound glorious in comparison to half the vocals I am hearing today. This I am 100% certain of.

Without further ado... for conversation into something I'm just starting to think about, check out this little foam booth I'm looking at. I wonder if it would serve me well?
All I need is to kill the reflections and dampen the space so the Bricasti can do the rest. I've just purchased a cargo trailer to move gear around so I'm thinking this might be a pretty cool way to earn some extra money and keep me in business.

The basic concept goes like this:

  • Go to their location, set up the portable tracking system,
  • Track, mix and finish it as a solo project, get paid and leave.
  • (option) Produce it further via corroborating
class="xf-ul"> Here is the link to the concept. I'm thinking twice the size of what this is. I would need a cloud above as well. I doubt you could do long duration in this as it would tend to feel pretty weird but... this is pop music lol! And once you are inside the Bricasti, it all feels and sound perfectly full to huge.
I'm thinking I would put a tent like cloud above this.
http://www.auralex.com/product/max-wall/

Member for

6 years 8 months

Tony Carpenter

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 10:56

I'm going to approach this in brief. I owned the auralex Max vocal booth you have pictured. It definitely worked, a little awkward and prone to tearing. Think it's all a great idea though, with your skill set and gear.

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:07

Makzimia, post: 439787, member: 48344 wrote: I'm going to approach this in brief. I owned the auralex Max vocal booth you have pictured. It definitely worked, a little awkward and prone to tearing. Think it's all a great idea though, with your skill set and gear.

EDIT:

Hey, good to learn Tony! How was it for air quality and ceiling reflections. What did you do there?

Re tearing, I was thinking the same. I wonder if Auralex could design and fabric shell that would help snagging and tearing.

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:12

I'm thinking LED lighting that could be setup for both reading and overheads. Something that could be mood generating as well. This would reduce heat.

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:19

I also have a Vocal Booth ventilation system I use for my re-amp rig (VocalBooth Amp Box)


(just thinking out loud) It could also serve as a portable desktop isolation compartment. However, I think I would figure out a Solid State HD system today.

It pulls air through a dryer flex hose. You can hardly hear the movement or fan. I'm thinking I could push something like this in the booth to help with airflow.

Looking at the company products I see they have an improved airflow system . Here is the concept for this. My air system is portable and about the size of a 5 gallon rectangle box with this flex hose.
http://www.vocalbooth.com/4731/announcing-two-major-improvements-to-our-ventilation-system/

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 12:39

Makzimia, post: 439787, member: 48344 wrote: I'm going to approach this in brief. I owned the auralex Max vocal booth you have pictured. It definitely worked, a little awkward and prone to tearing. Think it's all a great idea though, with your skill set and gear.

What colour did you have?

Member for

12 years 4 months

dvdhawk

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 19:24

You might also want to read up on the ASC TubeTraps. The founder of the company and is widely recognized authority and innovator in acoustical treatments and AES lecturer. They're based out of Oregon, so freight shouldn't be as bad (freight is usually a budget breaker on acoustical treatment - due to its bulkiness, moreso than its weight)

There are tons of resources between the ASC site and the TubeTrap site, do with them what you will. Take whatever size grain of salt you feel they merit, and decide for yourself.

Specifically, you might want to check out the Attack Wall for what you're talking about.

Here is an interesting read on the Tube Traps from Bruce Swedien.

And an equally interesting letter from Pete Townsend praising the performance of his Tube Traps.

It all sounds very much like the kind of space you would want to create and then apply your Bricasti to taste.

Member for

8 years 4 months

DonnyThompson

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 19:27

audiokid, post: 439786, member: 1 wrote: Like so many gifted musicians (composers), my friend has no interest in learning how to operate a DAW. He has no idea about vocal gear. He is a musician that wants to record his songs and have other people finish them for him. All he wants to do is track his voice and guitar and let the pro's to do the rest. There are thousands of musical people just like him everywhere.

I find that to be incredibly refreshing. ;)

Since you're only tracking, not mixing, you wouldn't really need bass traps, so I think your idea would be a good one - having something portable like that would be useful - and while it may be a little bulky, it's not heavy. If you had the vehicle to move these panels in, I think it would be a good thing to have. I would look at something broad band. As you pictured, these would also come in handy back at your studio while mixing.

You might also want to look into tube traps; Pete Townsend swears by them, for what that's worth.

edit:... lol... sorry Hawk beat me to it, I wasn't doubling a post on purpose. ;)

Member for

12 years 4 months

dvdhawk

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 20:06

Well, Pete's comments are very interesting, but he's not known for his 'golden ears', Bruce Swedien and Quincy Jones on the other hand….

Sidenote: I've been involved in a recording project for a while now with a guy with synesthesia, a rare ability Mr. Swedien and Mr. Jones also have. The concept of having the senses of sound & sight cross-connected is fascinating.

Member for

5 years 8 months

Sean G

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 22:26

How big is your cargo trailer?....

Have you seen these Whisper Rooms?

http://www.whisperroom.com/

Solves the tearing, roof and lighting dilemmas...also comes with ventilation as an optional add-on to make extended time in the booth more comfortable.

There was one advertised here in Australia for sale a month or so ago, but it was one of the larger versions...thats' how I found out about them.

For the price I don't think it would take too long before you see a return on your investment and the sturdy construction overcomes wear & tear...plus the fact they are on wheels makes them a good portable option for on-site location recording.

It got me thinking along the sames lines when I saw the one for sale here...it would be great for vocal isolation.

I have a huge room thats approximately 5o x 20 feet here planned for a permanent tracking / live room and one of these would be ideal to have situated in the corner to one side.

Ideal for me for those late night tracking sessions. I can see myself in this with a Les Paul / Marshall JCM-900 and the neighbours would be none the wiser

Member for

6 years 8 months

Tony Carpenter

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 01:08

audiokid, post: 439792, member: 1 wrote: What colour did you have?

Purple :). I used mine in the end behind desk like you're showing. I never bothered about overhead. With it being so low it would have felt crowded anyway.

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 19:01

dvdhawk, post: 439796, member: 36047 wrote: You might also want to read up on the ASC TubeTraps. The founder of the company and is widely recognized authority and innovator in acoustical treatments and AES lecturer. They're based out of Oregon, so freight shouldn't be as bad (freight is usually a budget breaker on acoustical treatment - due to its bulkiness, moreso than its weight)

There are tons of resources between the ASC site and the TubeTrap site, do with them what you will. Take whatever size grain of salt you feel they merit, and decide for yourself.

Specifically, you might want to check out the Attack Wall for what you're talking about.

Here is an interesting read on the Tube Traps from Bruce Swedien.

And an equally interesting letter from Pete Townsend praising the performance of his Tube Traps.

It all sounds very much like the kind of space you would want to create and then apply your Bricasti to taste.

Thanks for those links, Dave. I've read a lot on TubeTraps over the years. I listened to Bruce talk about them as well. I know he swears by them. I'll do some more research on this and share it all when I come up with the final plan.

Anymore thoughts please keep them coming. :)

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 19:04

Sean G, post: 439803, member: 49362 wrote: How big is your cargo trailer?....

Have you seen these Whisper Rooms?

Cargo Trailer is small (12 x 6') , enough hauling room when I add my F250 crew cab with a canopy.
I have seen Whisper Rooms, they are beautiful, as are VocalBooths too! I'd love to have something like that but not as a portable rig.

Thanks for the ideas!

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 19:09

DonnyThompson, post: 439797, member: 46114 wrote: I find that to be incredibly refreshing. ;)

Isn't it! My thinking as well.

DonnyThompson, post: 439797, member: 46114 wrote:

Since you're only tracking, not mixing, you wouldn't really need bass traps, so I think your idea would be a good one - having something portable like that would be useful - and while it may be a little bulky, it's not heavy. If you had the vehicle to move these panels in, I think it would be a good thing to have. I would look at something broad band. As you pictured, these would also come in handy back at your studio while mixing.

You might also want to look into tube traps; Pete Townsend swears by them, for what that's worth.

edit:... lol... sorry Hawk beat me to it, I wasn't doubling a post on purpose. ;)

Tubes sound like I should have them as well as panels. I'm sold on them too. And indeed, they will server for both tracking and mixing later.

Thanks for more idea's. Keep them coming. (y)

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 19:20

Sean G, post: 439803, member: 49362 wrote: For the price I don't think it would take too long before you see a return on your investment and the sturdy construction overcomes wear & tear...plus the fact they are on wheels makes them a good portable option for on-site location recording.

I love the idea of having something like a Whisper Room but I really need flexibility as I am targeting the home musician who has "his/her room" where I go into it and set up what I can and go from there. I'm seeing myself going through average doorways to a basement, attic, living room, bedroom etc. Not ideal recording but this is what makes it work. I turn bedroom recording into something pretty amazing. (at least that's the plan).:D

I could rent larger spaces. Which in that case, a booth on wheels would be cool eh.
I'm also thinking I could buy a larger cargo van and actually build it like a booth. But that's not really on my radar right now. And I'm also in Canada where it gets cold.

Member for

8 years 4 months

DonnyThompson

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 22:31

audiokid, post: 439832, member: 1 wrote: And I'm also in Canada where it gets cold.

Yup. forgot about that part, and I don't know why I did, being that I live in NE Ohio, and it's not exactly balmy here during the winter, either. Why I wouldn't think of you having cold temps being north of Ohio is beyond me. LOL

I was gonna suggest possibly putting together a little remote trailer, where it could act like a small control room; for recording things like shows and choir concerts, or even rolling up to a client's place and setting up the panels inside the client's house, and running just a snake in, maybe with a small two way camera, and recording from the rig in the trailer, but yea, you'd be dealing with storing the gear in temps that wouldn't be good for the equipment.

Member for

5 years 8 months

Sean G

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 23:03

Hey Chris...don't you still have you old tour bus parked somewhere?...

That would make a great mobile recording facility if you could deck it out..although it would be a PITA to park in small streets :D

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 22:12

Sean G, post: 439834, member: 49362 wrote: Hey Chris...don't you still have you old tour bus parked somewhere?...

That would make a great mobile recording facility if you could deck it out..although it would be a PITA to park in small streets :D

Ha!... You remember. I look at my old bus everyday. But it also is not an option. Fuel for that gem is beyond feasible. Its my memory to the past. But thanks for the suggestion. Cargo trailers are really cool though.

Member for

5 years 8 months

Sean G

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 01:14

This thread has really got me moving along in the thought process about building my own vocal booth...

I like this design shown here below, and after the success of building my own desk recently based on a popular design, I thought I may tackle the task of building this on my own.

Ideally, I would like something around 1 metre x 1.2 metres (approx 40 inches x 48 inches or 3 foot 4 inches x 4 foot)

This design has 5 sides with the only right angle being on the front corner where the door and window sides meet up.

Could something similar be built using only 4 sides with an offset angled wall on the rear side opposite the door, meeting a back wall opposite the window that was longer ?...
- or would that increase any comb filtering that could / would occur given its dimensions?

Maybe one of our resident acoustic specialists could chime in here with their thoughts. Worst case scenario I'd just build it with the 5 sides like the one below.

Sorry if I have hijacked your thread Chris, but this has got me thinking more about the topic and I just thought I'd put it out there.

- Maybe I could put a payphone in it as well where you have to drop a coin in the phone coin slot to get the music to start...:D

Member for

18 years 9 months

Kurt Foster

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 08:36

small booths can have comb filtering issues and acoustic foam won't address that. so again, you need diffusion in such a booth. room ratios still need to be considered. i read somewhere (F. Alton Everest?) years ago the ideal dimension for a small booth is 5 x 6 x 11. the only time you will get a completely unaffected sound wave free of room reflections is if you are recording outdoors.

DonnyThompson, post: 439797, member: 46114 wrote: Since you're only tracking, not mixing, you wouldn't really need bass traps

don't assume that a tracking room / booth doesn't need proper bass trapping. if there's a null or a resonant peak, a mic will pick that up.

Member for

5 years 8 months

Sean G

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 16:12

Kurt Foster, post: 439875, member: 7836 wrote: small booths can have comb filtering issues and acoustic foam won't address that. so again, you need diffusion in such a booth. room ratios still need to be considered. i read somewhere (F. Alton Everest?) years ago the ideal dimension for a small booth is 5 x 6 x 11. the only time you will get a completely unaffected sound wave free of room reflections is if you are recording outdoors.

Looks like I may have to do some more research on the subject before I do anything else. Thanks for the advice Kurt.

Member for

20 years 7 months

audiokid

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 18:00

Sean G, post: 439873, member: 49362 wrote: Sorry if I have hijacked your thread Chris, but this has got me thinking more about the topic and I just thought I'd put it out there.

No worries, keep the topic alive.

Kurt Foster, post: 439875, member: 7836 wrote: i read somewhere (F. Alton Everest?) years ago the ideal dimension for a small booth is 5 x 6 x 11. the only time you will get a completely unaffected sound wave free of room reflections is if you are recording outdoors.

I believe I read that as well. Might have been from you years back. Thanks for chiming in Kurt.

Member for

18 years 9 months

Kurt Foster

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 18:49

audiokid, post: 439884, member: 1 wrote: No worries, keep the topic alive.

I believe I read that as well. Might have been from you years back. Thanks for chiming in Kurt.

i wouldn't take it as absolute gospel .... more like golden ratios hub bub. but i do know that small spaces can sound pretty weird. if you want total acoustic neutrality then you're talking anechoic chamber stuff.

Member for

8 years 4 months

DonnyThompson

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 20:52

Kurt Foster, post: 439875, member: 7836 wrote: don't assume that a tracking room / booth doesn't need proper bass trapping. if there's a null or a resonant peak, a mic will pick that up.

Low end issues would be less of a concern for a vocal booth for me than the upper range CF that could occur. Using an LPF could always go a long way to counter any potential low end standing waves, and most will use a lo=pass on the vocal input anyway, either on the mic itself or on a channels strip. That being said, a simple 6" OC or Roxul wedge trap in one of the corners might suffice in an area that small.
As far as the an-echoic environment you mentioned, I'm not entirely convinced that leaning this way would be a bad idea for a vocal booth - maybe not entirely, but heading in that direction. Considering that Chris has the Bricasti, I'd be leaning towards a treatment method that offered an as non-reflective environment as possible.

Ventilation is a consideration though - with any booth. You don't want your singer getting claustrophobic.