podcast Episode
Show Me Your Setup

Pro Vocal Recording Booth Testin'

Pro Vocal Recording Booth Testin'
May 15, 2023
Show Me Your Setup

Dan sets up the MXL 990 in a professional vocal booth to record baseline audio using The Official SMYS Tongue Twister Vocal Warmup Cheat Sheet.

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In episodes 3 & 4, we talked about room tone. In this episode from inside a professional vocal booth and recording the same tongue twistin’ speech as the last episode, Dan demonstrates what he means when he says that the Pro sound is room tone (or lack thereof). This speech, recorded in a professional audio booth, will become our baseline reference audio from which we can compare with other recording scenarios.

Upon capturing our baseline audio, we can record the same tongue twisters with the same or different equipment, in various locations with different challenges. We may even take the Record-In’ Box from episode 3 with us on the road and test out its relative effectiveness in other locations.

Dan offers a partial tour of the booth and some equipment, as well as perform test recordings with both the MXL 990 and Advanced Audio CM-87 microphones.

How does the space around the microphone affect the sound of our recordings? You will find out when Dan records the tongue twisters.


00:20 Season recap
00:45 Vocal Booth  
01:45 Why we’re here
02:25 Recording Tip #1
03:17 Recording Tip #2
04:02 Repurposed Shock Mount
04:20 Recognize knob mistake
05:17 Recording Tip #3, teaser
06:20 Mind-boggling noise
07:10 Ground loop hum example
08:13 Email us, Social us
09:39 Warm-ups
10:01 Standing Baseline
13:08 Sitting Baseline
14:50 Recording Tip #3, fleshed out in greater detail
17:00 Advanced Audio CM-87 introduced
18:35 CM-87 Baseline
19:39 Recording Tip #4
20:50 Don’t talk into the top of a side-address microphone
23:07 Show Us Your Setup!
24:27 Easter Egg

Join us for our 5th episode as we enter Dan’s custom-made, professional vocal booth to record some baseline audio. Once again, we use the Official SMYS Tongue Twister Vocal Warmup Cheat Sheet as the source material. For this session, we continue use of the MXL 990 large-diaphragm condenser microphone in the quirky, re-purposed stage-prop-cum-shock-mount.  

The variable we test in today’s setup is the booth. We want to record baseline audio in a pro booth to capture that ‘pro-booth sound’ Dan describes as “having very little room tone.” The professional audio booth was built to accommodate comfortable, prolonged voice recording without having to worry about intrusive outside noises interrupting any sessions.

The inside of the booth is treated to reduce reflections, to disperse reflections, and to sound flat overall. It does not absorb all frequencies as an anechoic chamber does, as that would be unnatural and downright difficult to work within. From the optimal vocal sweet spot (Try and find it!), it does not echo or reverberate. There is just the right amount of acoustic treatment to help isolate the vocals for ideal voice recordings. This sound is what we describe as “pro-booth sound.”

The Record-In' Box was built to emulate this pro-booth recording quality in less-than-ideal locations. The goal of this episode is to capture the tongue twister recordings on the MXL-990 in the booth so that we can compare future recordings to this baseline audio.

Sprinkled throughout episode 5, Josh and Dan share recording tips from the Cheat Sheet. There are also instances where our listeners are encouraged to participate in upcoming episodes by showing us their setups.  

Mistakes are made along the way. Josh and Dan take care to leave these mistakes in the episode as teaching moments. For example, earlier, a ground loop hum was identified in the audio chain which made recording on the intended day impossible. Work was done to rectify the situation with good results. Dan explains what caused the hum and how he fixed it.

Josh plays a sample of the awful noise so that others who hear it may better understand what it is, what causes it, and how to avoid it occurring in their setups.  

After a brief warmup pass through the tongue twisters, the baseline audio is initially recorded from a standing position. However, this booth is not optimized for recording from that position. After moving the gear lower, the baseline audio is re-recorded, this time from a seated position. If you care to compare, you can hear the difference between standing and sitting.

Josh notes that Dan sounds better when seated, validating the claim about optimal vocal position in this booth. This leads to another recording tip, or rather to a more detailed explanation of a recording tip regarding headphone use.

New Gear Alert! Well, not newly purchased, but new to the show, the Advanced Audio CM-87 makes its debut in baseline recording #5, which serves to directly compare the sound of Dan in the same space on a different microphone than the MXL-990.

We toss in another recording tip. All tips are on the downloadable Cheat Sheet, btw.

Dan demonstrates how it sounds when you talk directly into the top of a side-address microphone by way of a “how not to speak into a side-address microphone” example.

Our illustrious co-hosts once again offer up airtime to the listeners who also love their setups and want to share. No video necessary - a simple photo will do, though they would love to interview you as well.

And in what may be the first for our series, Josh drops an Easter egg into the mix.

Enjoy (and follow, and share, and like, and do those social things that good people do)!




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