When it comes to the world of home recording studios, there’s a brand on the tip of everyone’s tongue: WhisperRoom. And for good reason, the high-end studios are known for their portability, superior ventilation, and solid sound isolation. Because of their ease of assembly and high performance, it’s no surprise that WhisperRoom is the most commonly mentioned 2019 wish list item amongst voice actors.
However, these isolation booths are also a significant investment, in the thousands of dollars. For many voice actors, their wish will come true in 2019 as they work up to purchasing their dream WhisperRoom, or if their support systems help them to afford it. But for others, the WhisperRoom might be slightly out of reach of their 2019 goals. If the price tag is feeling a little bit steep on your voice actor income this year, but you know you could step up your game with a sound booth as great as a WhisperRoom, consider an interim solution. Consider making your own isolation booth. It’s a great way to hold you over until a genuine WhisperRoom can be yours!
How Voice Actors Can Build a WhisperRoom Replica
Voice actor Marc Hayes succeeded in building his own WhisperRoom-esque sound booth. With a bit of woodworking experience and DIY projects, Marc admired WhisperRooms but knew they were outside of his budget. Here’s how he built his own, a few pictures of the final product, and how you can go about building your own, too.
Research WhisperRoom Designs
One of the keys to success from Marc’s perspective is spending ample time researching WhisperRoom designs and the components that make it unique, other replica attempts, and sound booth best practices in general.
I looked online, saw quite a few different designs, and realized if I can see it online, then I can make it.
In this case, Marc was able to build his five-foot-by-four-foot WhisperRoom replica for about $1,200 all-in. About ⅓ of the price of a WhisperRoom of a similar size.
Because there are so many design possibilities, it’s best to also consider the space available to you at the same time. That way, only the designs that make sense for your space will stand out as areas you need to dig into deeper. Here’s a great place to start: WhisperRoom’s Model Catalog.
Their model catalog describes the internal and external dimensions, how much room is required for ventilation, etc. These details make selecting the right design for your own build much easier.
Decide What Elements Are Important to You
We mentioned above that three of the main benefits of a WhisperRoom are:
- Ease of assembly and portability
- Superior ventilation
- High quality sound isolation
Yet, when building your own, you can decide if all three of these benefits are important to you or not. Perhaps you’re comfortable creating a more permanent space for yourself. Portability may be less important in that case.
Maybe you’re a long form audiobook narrator, in which case ventilation may be at the top of your priority list as you spend long stretches of time in the booth.
WhisperRooms are not technically ‘sound proof.’ Because of their portability, they experience air-borne and structure-borne sound leakage. So if soundproofing is your goal, you can make that your priority when constructing your replica. In any case, you can customize the booth to your needs.
For Marc, the appeal of the portability really stood out to him. So he constructed his with ease of assembly and disassembly in mind. The sound insulation is secured with velcro, and the structure is simply screwed together.
Do a Virtual Mock Up Before you Physically Build it
Beyond researching the initial design, you’ll also need to research the actual construction of the booth.
For Marc, that meant using a free CAD-style program called SketchUp where he was able to create 3D versions of the booth online. According to Marc, this was instrumental in keeping costs low and making it successful on the first try.
Using the SketchUp program helped a ton. I knew exactly what I needed, in the exact sizes, beforehand. Mocking it up ahead of time was crucial. The program is easy to figure out too, but either way, there are tons of tutorials on how to use it – I mean, that’s what Google is for.
Marc said he decided to use MDF (medium-density fibreboard) just as WhisperRoom does, and thanks to SketchUp, he knew exactly how many boards and what sizes would be required to build his booth. Next up, was understanding how much sound proofing material would be required, and any other features he wanted to incorporate, like a window, and how he wanted to construct the booth door. Again, all of which were easily addressed in SketchUp.
Because of the pre-planning and research, there were a bunch of different iterations of [the booth]. Once I had my base, the research went more into finding the product I wanted to use. And then finding the best product for the least price.
Marc did three to four weeks of research before purchasing any materials. And he advises other voice actors to do the same.
Do your due diligence. Look at what others have done that worked and what didn’t work. Don’t just look at successes because you might get great ideas from those who have failed as well, honestly.
All in all, Marc wants other voice actors who are considering this type of project to have confidence in themselves ‘to just try it’. Preplanning will be the key to your success, but having the confidence to attempt it will be what ultimately gets you started.
Is WhisperRoom on your Radar?
If WhisperRooms are on your wish list, go check out their catalog to purchase the perfect one for you! Still saving up? Investigate building a sound booth for yourself in the meantime.
Have you taken on a similar project? How’d it go? Let us know in the comments below.
And, of course, if you’ve got a stellar booth setup and are looking to book more work, sign up for a free account on Voices.com to get access to voice over gigs from all over the world.