The average home studio only has so much extra room for equipment. That’s especially true when you start adding bigger, more advanced gear. A good example of this is a vocal booth, which every home recording studio needs at some point. A solid space-saving solution to recording vocals is a portable vocal booth.
Not only will it save space, but it will also enhance your ability to record quality vocals. It’s a win-win. Now, there are a number of folks out there who believe that microphone isolation shields, and portable mic booths don’t work as well as a dedicated isolation booth.
The truth is, anything that isolates vocals is better than nothing. The whole idea is to reduce room reflections and cut out background noise, and any of these booths on this list will do those jobs very well.
Speaking of the list, before we get into it we need to break down some factors to consider before buying a portable mic booth to help you make a better decision.
How Do Portable Mic Booths Work?
Vocal booths in general are designed to help create a better environment for vocal recordings. The last thing any recording engineer or music producer wants is a vocal recording that’s riddled with sonic reflections and colorization.
As you may have noticed, most music studios have a dedicated isolation room for recording vocal tracks. The reality is that most home studios don’t have the space necessary to achieve the same thing as a big, professional studio.
Portable vocal booths are simply the smaller, cheaper alternative to building a full-on isolation room/booth. These booth options are typically made up of sound absorbing materials that sonically “hug” a microphone, reducing background noise and early room reflections.
The materials used in portable mic booths are usually soundproof acoustic foam, compact broadband absorbers, or a miss-mash of various absorbent panels. All in all, they use the same materials you’d use to build an isolation room, just on a smaller scale.
It’s extremely important that you don’t confuse these portable mic booths capabilities with good acoustic treatment. I have to make it clear that these devices should only be used as a cheaper alternative to building a dedicated isolation room/booth.
Everything in a home studio will be better off with good acoustic treatment, not just the vocals. Portable vocal booths are not even close to being a replacement for a well-treated room. They’re only to be used as a solution to space problems, budget problems, and on-the-go recording purposes.
I’ve created a guide that goes over the whole acoustic treatment process, so head there if you want to learn more!
The Microphone Itself
Now, before you invest in a portable mic booth for your studio, it’s important to get the right microphone first. As I keep saying, a portable booth will only do so much, but a well treated room and a good mic will further improve your recordings.
I suggest getting a cardioid condenser microphone. The reason being is that a cardioid pickup pattern has less of a chance to pick up wandering sounds.
For more information, check out my guide on studio mics where I go over all the different pickup patterns to choose from and why cardioid is the best way to go. A good mic paired with a portable mic booth is a winning combination!
Related: Studio Microphone Guide
Other Ways To Enhance Your Recordings
Portable vocal booths will go a long way to creating great vocal recordings, but there’s even more you can do here. Here’s a list of extra ideas for reducing those pesky sonic distortions alongside your portable mic booth:
- Pop Filter – these lightweight tools hook directly onto your microphone stand and are used to cut out “breathy” sounds and “s” inflections.
- Sound Blankets – these are cost-effective sound absorbing blankets that can be used in a variety of creative ways. You can hang them all around your portable mic booth as a makeshift isolation room, or you can cover your vocalist with a sound blanket as they use the booth. They don’t look pretty, but they’re quite useful.
- Boom Stops – Boom stops are a simple solution to a common problem: mic stands falling over! A mic falling over could ruin an entire vocal recording take, and nobody wants that. These tools attach to a mic stand to make them more stable.
- Acoustic Panels – even if you aren’t ready to fully treat your room, you can still get one or two broadband absorber panels to throw around your portable mic booth to further reduce reflections.
These are just a few ideas, but there are a bunch of creative ways to create a great environment for recording vocals in conjunction with a portable mic booth.
Benefits Of A Portable Isolation Booth
If you’re on the fence about if you even need a portable mic booth, then here are a couple reasons why they’re a great tool to have around in your studio:
- They’re budget-friendly – as I’ve already mentioned, these are a cheap alternative to building an entire isolation room that’s solely meant for recording vocals.
- They’re nice and compact – by nature, portable mic booths have a small footprint that makes them great for small spaces i.e. your small home studio.
- They’re lightweight and convenient – portable mic booths are lightweight, and oftentimes have the ability to be broken down. This means that you can take your booth with you for on-the-go recording. Not only that but you can easily store it wherever you need to save even more space.
- They actually work – no matter what anybody says, these portable booths get the job done. Whether you’re just planning on recording your own vocals, or other artists vocals, these are an all-in-one solution.
Best Portable Vocal Booth List
Now that we’ve tackled the immediate stuff, it’s time to dive into my list of favorite portable vocal booth options on the market today. Here we go.
“The ease of use is probably the biggest check-mark this vocal booth has going for it.”
The Porta-Booth Pro kinda sounds like an “As Seen On TV” product, but it’s actually an awesome portable vocal booth. It features a unique “auditorium” box design that allows vocals to funnel in. From there, the 2-inch Auralex acoustic foam absorbs and reduces any reflections.
The ease of use is probably the biggest check-mark this vocal booth has going for it. It easily attaches and detaches from any mic stand and folds up almost like a mini camping tent. This is what makes this mic booth perfect for traveling recording engineers or producers.
As you can see in the picture of the Porta-Booth Pro, there is one side that is completely open. Some of you might be concerned about that opening not being adequate for isolation. Well, the booth does a great job at cutting out reflections, it probably wouldn’t hurt to throw a sound blanket over the vocalist while recording, just for good measure.
Also, the opening might be a little small for say a Blue Yeti microphone, which is quite large. With that, you should have no problem fitting most microphones in the opening of the vocal booth.
All in all, this is an excellent portable microphone booth for a number of reasons. It’s very, very portable, really easy to set up, and does the job it’s made for very well. It’s not the cheapest option out there, but it’s worth every penny in terms of the quality of the product you get.
“The isolation shield wraps around the mic in all directions, living up to the term “hugging the mic.”
The Aston Halo comes in a very close second to the Porta-Booth Pro. Honestly, they’re both kind of a toss-up for the top spot. In any regard, this portable reflection filter is an excellent choice for any home studio.
As you can tell just by looking at it, it has quite a unique design. The isolation shield wraps around the mic in all directions, living up to the term “hugging the mic.” The coverage is 360° horizontally and vertically, which is really cool.
That coverage makes for some really great isolation. That big opening makes it seem like the booth won’t do the job, but that 360° design really works. The unit only weighs 9 pounds total which makes it ideal for any mic stand.
The unique design also just makes the vocal shield look super cool. It almost looks like something out of Star Trek.
The only issue is a minor one, and that has to do with the curvature of the shield which makes it a little awkward for storage or taking on the road. It doesn’t fold up or break down either. Like it said, it’s basically just a nit-picky con.
The Aston Halo is a unique portable vocal filter that’s sure to improve your recordings. It doesn’t have a hefty price tag either, so really, you can’t go wrong with this thing.
Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield
“This portable vocal shield is an unbeatable value and a worthy option whether you’re on a budget or not.”
This portable Monoprice microphone isolation shield is an all-around great option. Monoprice is a company that’s best known for their budget-friendly, yet high quality studio monitors. This portable mic shield is a perfect embodiment of the list of products that come from Monoprice.
When you see the price-tag, you might be wary of the build quality. Honestly though, this portable vocal shield is probably the best value for the money on this list. Everything feels strong and well-made and the sound absorption is top notch.
Not only that, but this vocal shield features a fold-able design, which is not only great for storage/portability, but gives you more flexibility with coverage. It can wrap around the mic at almost 360° but as you pull the two outside panels inward, it creates a tighter isolation chamber.
Now, the only gripe I have with this Monoprice microphone isolation shield is its size and weight. At almost 12 pounds, you’re going to need a pretty hefty mic stand to support this thing. As a desktop vocal isolation shield, it works great due to its favorable footprint, but on a mic stand, the panels make everything a little top heavy.
At the end of the day, this portable vocal shield is an unbeatable value and a worthy option whether you’re on a budget or not.
Solid & Durable
“The build quality of this unit is superb. Everything feels like it could last you years.”
There are a number of variations of this portable mic booth out there. The VRI-30, VRI-50, etc. The LyxPro VRI-20 is a perfect middle-of-the-road version that combines all of the great features of the others.
Now, this portable microphone isolation shield is actually very similar to the Monoprice option from before, but the main difference is how it mounts to a mic stand. The Monoprice vocal shield kind of hangs off of your mic stand whereas the VRI-20 has a mountable bracket that makes it sit on top of the stand. This creates better stability, and it’s very much needed because this vocal shield is bulky.
As far as isolation, this portable vocal isolation shield does the job very well. It has really wide coverage and the acoustic foam is super effective. On top of that, the build quality of this unit is superb. Everything feels like it could last for years.
The LyxPro VRI-20 is the medium sized iteration of this line of portable vocal shields from LyxPro. Although it’s not foldable (which is a bummer) it’s a quality unit that’s priced very well. If you’re looking for a sturdy vocal shield that can take a beating, then this is your best choice.
“The build quality of this unit is superb. Everything feels like it could last you years.”
Yet again, another portable mic booth that comes in a variety of versions. The Neewer NW-5 is another great mid-range version that sports a good combination of features with a fair price-point.
This portable vocal shield is similar to the VRI-20 in looks, but it’s fold-able. We’ve talked about how great it is to have fold-able panels in a vocal shield like this. It makes it portable and easy to store and gives you a tighter isolation chamber for your vocals.
This particular portable microphone isolation shield doesn’t weigh a whole lot either, so that in conjunction with it’s fold-able panels makes it great for taking on the road. I will say though that the overall build quality feels a little lackluster, so go easy on this thing.
As far as sound absorption goes, the NW-5 portable vocal isolation shield handles reflections quite well! Like I’ve said, it’s a good mid-range option that won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for a better build quality, and a larger isolation chamber, then there are a handful of over “NW” portable vocal booths to check out.
So there you have it! My list of the best portable vocal booth options. Of all the options on this list, it’s hard to look past the Porta-Booth Pro as the top pick. That being said, the Aston Halo is not far behind. The Porta-Booth Pro takes the slight edge due to it’s more portable and easy-storage design. They’re both excellent options though.
Moreover, every option on this list has a lot to offer for every studio. The only thing left to do is decide on the one that works best for you!
My only hope is that this guide has helped you in your research process. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions you might have. My line is always open!