Practicing singing is not always a practical thing, especially if you live in close quarters with anyone. I live in a studio apartment with extremely thin walls. Like, if my neighbor coughs, I can hear it. It’s less than ideal for just about anything music related, but singing is always especially embarrassing to practice because people are very critical of singers. Most people are pretty easily impressed when it comes to most instruments, but the second you open your mouth to sing, everybody’s a critic.
So what I need as a singer is a place to practice at full volume without bothering the neighbors, and the record my voice without any reflections from my untreated space. This means I need something that covers both kinds of “soundproofing” – sound absorption and sound isolation. One keeps sounds from getting in or reflecting back, and the other keeps your sound from getting out. This made me a perfect candidate for trying out the Isovox 2 booth.
The Isovox 2 is the second iteration of a portable vocal isolation booth created by Phillip Olsson. A traditional vocal booth is typically a freestanding or built-in structure big enough to stand in. The Isovox is meant to fit just your head – the part where the sound comes out – and let the rest of you just hang out. This is an extremely efficient use of space and accomplishes the same goals as a traditional vocal booth in a much smaller package.
The Isovox consists of a small box, probably a tenth the size of the smallest vocal booth I’ve ever seen, made of a padded sound absorbing material that is held together with zippers and heavy duty Velcro. This makes it very easy to assemble and disassemble it to pack into the included bag and take it with you anywhere. It sits atop a typical PA speaker stand, which is not included. Inside it is a mic stand adapter for you to attach any typical mic clip or cradle, or to use one of the included ones (two sizes included). If you want to record and shoot video at the same time, you can easily zip off one of the sides for a Wes Anderson-style cutaway shot, which reduces your acoustic isolation but still leaves you with a fair amount.
The amount of sound reduction going both ways is significant. My neighbor was kind enough to allow me to place a stereo mic (the XY capsule for the Zoom Q8) in his apartment to hear the difference it made for him through the wall, and I also tested it with the Q8 inside my apartment. Even just sticking your head inside the Isovox you can instantly tell that the sound coming in is reduced by a lot. Hearing my voice on my large diaphragm condenser mic (Mojave MA200) with and without it really highlighted the amount of reflection going on in my room – and how much the Isovox was capable of removing. The tests will speak for themselves – try listening with good headphones for maximum effect. I didn’t manipulate the gain at all in those clips, they are raw as they were going into the mic.
If you sing or do voiceover work and you can’t afford or it isn’t feasible to build some kind of full-size isolation booth, the Isovox is a godsend. The price is pretty high ($999) which is a lot, but not if you’re serious about your voice, and it’s a great deal cheaper than most of the alternatives. I plan on putting it to a ton of use for years to come, and I think my voice will be far better for it.