Maybe you want to record on the road.
Maybe you want a way to reduce the issues caused by recording in your room.
Either way, the devices we are looking at here are cost-effective solutions for better quality recordings in a compact, portable package.
What are portable vocal booths and what do they do?
These are devices made of sound absorbing materials that ‘hug’ your microphone creating its own acoustically treated space.
They help prevent reflections coming off the walls from hitting the microphone by isolating the mic and also by absorbing some of the unwanted noise.
According to a test done by Sound On Sound, they are good at absorbing mid to high-frequency noise but they lack in the low-end department and in some cases might actually amplify the issues.
They also add a bit of coloration to the sound but I don’t think its a deal breaker for most users of this type of device.
Here is the thing. They are not going to replace an acoustically isolated studio room and they are not going to replace a properly acoustic treated room.
What they do is they help you achieve better recordings in less than ideal situations. They can also serve as a cheaper alternative to expensive sound treatment.
It doesn’t mean it’s a solution without flaws and compromises.
And I think it’s important to have the right expectations going and buying something like this if you are going to enjoy it.
Ideally, you use condenser mics for your recording and as an added bonus you avoid having a wall directly behind you.
The Porta-Booth Pro portable vocal booth
This is a box style booth that uses 2-inch thick Auralex Acoustic Studiofoam on the inside.
It’s very popular with voice over artists and for good reason. It does the job, it’s easy to handle and easy to carry around.
On the inside, there is room to add a small notepad for your lyrics or script and it also includes a clip-on light to help with that.
Also, given that there is one side that still receives sound from the outside you also have the option to put a curtain over your head when you are recording and that will help with sound coming from behind you.
That cover is in its own little bag at the top of the Porta-Booth.
It also comes with a carrying case with extra room for your microphone and other tools.
The downside is that it’s not ideal for boom stands. It requires a strap that is not included in the package. But if you are going to put it on a more stable surface like a table then it’s a great little booth.
If you do want to use it with a stand here is an accessory you’ll need and a video on how it works.
Overall, a bit on the expensive side of things as well but many people love this thing so I guess this is for each to decide if it’s too expensive or not.
The Porta-Booth Plus portable vocal booth
If you like the Porta-Booth Pro but you can do with a smaller, older model, this is it.
This guy is also a bit lighter. It also uses Auralex foam on the inside and you’ll still find it difficult to pair with a boom stand but you won’t have issues if you use it on a desk or similar surface.
Also, this one doesn’t come with a carrying case like the Pro but you can buy it separately if you need it.
Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield
Not the most famous name in the industry and that is a good thing.
This thing is as good as any of the hundreds of similar looking devices and it’s at an affordable price.
As you can see in the video, the sides fold for a bit of space saving and portability.
Like with the other devices and most devices of this kind, mounting on a stand will be a challenge. The mounting is very good and simple but you need a very sturdy stand or some bags of sand on the stand feet to stabilize it.
You can also simply put it on a table as it has a few small feet specifically for the purpose.
LyxPro VRI-20 Microphone Shield
This guy doesn’t differ much from the Monoprice in terms of sound but what it has going for it is that it mounts differently.
As you may notice, the Monoprice hangs from your mic stand but this one sits on top of it. So it’s less sensitive to instability than the others.
The downside with it is that it doesn’t fold like the others but if you are getting this without portability in mind you are ok.
And, anticlimactically, if you really want it to fold you can grab the foldable version for a bit of extra cash.
As you may or may not know ideally you also pick up a pop filter if you don’t have one already.
Remember that these devices are not a replacement for proper acoustic treatment so if you have the means do that as well.