Review: Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth

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Review: Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth

Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Link Audio | RRP: $3,499

Not everyone has an ideal recording setup, but everyone has sparks of inspiration, an amazing lyric in them, or a great idea for a vocal hook. For those of us with untreated walls, harsh and reverberant rooms, or traffic outside our window, portable vocal booths exist. These are usually about head size and cover only the microphone, shielding it from noise and wind, but Imperative Audio push the boundaries with their Portable Vocal Booth, designed more for singers to stand in than sing into. Capturing an emotive vocal is imperative (sorry!) to a powerful mix, and isolated vocals give us the freedom to compress, effect and process a vocal as much as we’d like, without bringing up any room harshness or echoes. As beautiful as the birds may be singing outside your window, you don’t want them layered beneath every track! 

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Being height adjustable with a music stand built-in, the Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth is a one-stop-shop to total isolation in less-than ideal-locations. Helping to prevent standing waves, phase issues and bleed, the Portable Vocal Booth could be the key to your next great vocal take. We often spend hours rehashing takes in the studio, so when the magic happens, you want it to be recorded as cleanly as possible, and the Portable Vocal Booth from Imperative Audio helps us do that.

Marketed as a vocal booth, the Imperative Audio Booth could easily be used anywhere that a baffle might be in a studio situation. It can cover and isolate guitar and bass cabinets, as well as block drums from other instruments or create a little wall to tuck your drum room mics behind for some treble roll off and an extra moment of delay. Its rounded-off design helps diffuse sound, but it’s also square enough to isolate three sides of a source and prevent unwanted bleed and spill to the source. We’re mostly talking music here, but for podcasting or streaming it would work wonders if you can’t afford a dedicated room! The practicality of the booth is its ability to quickly and efficiently fold away when not in use, folding down to a fraction of the extended size, and it can also be tucked away into the included carry bag. With the legs fully extended, the ceiling of the booth reaches 210cm, so for most musicians, it’ll be a comfortable fit, and for anyone else — that’s a tall order! Fully detracted, the Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth works well for things like isolating amplifiers in the studio or kick drums from the rest of the kit.

The Portable Vocal Booth is constructed from light aluminium, and its classy design not only looks good, but serves to prevent standing waves that can be present in ill-treated rooms. The booth’s cylindrical shape serves to disperse these further, and not before the three layers of high performing layers of acoustic treatment absorb any other acoustic energy that might cause problems. What you’re left with is pure vocal and nothing but! The Portable Vocal Booth offers up to 28.4 dba reduction, and the tight, treated design has a reflection time of 0.07 seconds. The weight of the booth is 35.5 kg, standing from 181 cm to 210 cm high with a circumference of 324 cm. The mic stand channel is 30 cm long, allowing for an overhead mic to be inserted into the booth from above and positioned comfortably. The Portable Vocal Booth includes a stand for sheet music, a phone or iPod, as well as an accessory shelf. The interior circumference is approximately 300 cm with an 80 cm opening, so there’s also room for a stand for a laptop or additional mic stand if needed. The isolation that the Portable Vocal Booth provides inspires some new creative mic placement that was previously difficult to capture, let alone imagine in a standard studio setup. The five legs are independent, so it can be propped up safely on tables, stairs, amplifiers or uneven floors without risk of it toppling over or shifting mid-song to ruin an otherwise perfect recording.

The Portable Vocal Booth from Imperative Audio is a bit of kit that most of us forget about. While a good mic, good preamp and most importantly a good singer are important, the room where we capture those recordings informs the final recording most of all. Reflections, standing waves and comb filtering all play a part in detracting from a recorded take. A singer who’s able to hear themselves clearly is able to focus on their performance, sound, tone and emotion without any worry about echoes, their headphone mix or hearing their voice bounce around a room while they try to deliver. 

The Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth removes the variables and delivers great isolation no matter the project. Equally usable for instruments as they are for vocals, the Portable Vocal Booth is entirely adjustable for a multitude of uses, particularly when studios become cluttered and messy as we scramble to record those fleeting moments of magic!

For more information head to Imperative Audio. For local enquiries, check out Link Audio.