If you have a home studio, then you will no doubt be very familiar with the problems that noise spill can cause with your recordings. If you are a singer then you will also be very aware of the issues that singing can cause with your neighbors. The last thing your neighbor wants is for you to wake up their baby, and let’s face it, waking up their baby will not exactly enhance your recording experience! Even more so when it is your child who is woken up by you singing at the top of your lungs. It doesn’t exactly win prizes for relationships, for that matter.
There are a number of stand-mounted “vocal booths” availble in the market place. They tend to have basic sound shaping and noise reduction qualities and are half-moon designs with no top or bottom or front panel. These vocal booths do help address the issue of spill from computer fans and other gear getting onto your recordings. They can also help to shape the sound, by reducing the room sound and crowding your recording with unintentional ambient sound including room reverb, early reflections and echo.
Unfotunately, these booths still allow significant spill onto your recording, as they do not fully surround the microphone, as would be the case in a full sized vocal booth. Similarly, they do absolutely nothing to reduce the sound of your voice from annoying your neighbors.
We created a video review of the IsoVox 2, here:
Building upon the success of their first offering, the IsoVox booth, they have just released the IsoVox 2. It is a stand mounted vocal booth, but unlike others on the market, this booth fully surrounds your head. In addition to a substantial back board, the IsoVox 2 features a base board, overhead panel and front panel. The panels are made from a patented acoustic material that reduces reflections and reduces ambient spill reaching your microphone, and vocal spill from annoying your neighbors.
On the inside a 4 LED light gives you enough light to work with, without blinding you. There is plenty room within the vox for a shock mounted microphone and pop-blast screen, and the base board of the Isovox2 is solid enough for you to mount a tablet for lyrics or DAW control. You could use two, one either side of your microphone, or if you are feeling brave, or deeply unpopular, you could use a mobile phone app to control your DAW and a tablet to display your lyrics. I on the other hand am way too popular, so I leave my mobile phone outside during vocal takes. Coughs. Or you could just learn the lyrics correctly!
Space wise an iPad mini will fit perfectly. A standard iPad or Ipad air will just fit in. The larger screened tablets such as the larger iPad Pro would only fit at a significant angle, and so I wouldn’t recommend that size of tablet.
The stand is a substantial PA style stand, designed to provide stability for the IsoVox 2 booth.
Build Quality, Materials and Assembly
The IsoVox 2 is made from patented acoustic panels, mounted on sold exterior boards. The whole unit zips and velcros together creating a solid yet light structure. Zipping it together took a little perseverence, but the structure does need to be tightly fitted together. Still, the fact that it can be easily disassembled and then re-assembled is a very welcome bonus.
The acoustic absorption that sits behind the microphone is 4 times or so thicker than the other panels. This obviously reduces directional spill from your voice, where it needs it the most.
Materials and build quality are excellent. Assembly was straight forward as the pack was well laid out and the instructions were easy to follow.
Recording Some Vocal Takes
I had opted to use my trusty shockmount microphone clip. Although the IsoVox provided mic clip looks sturdy, My Rode NT2 has a large body and I didn’t want to risk damaging the review unit! Additionally, I use a shock mount for a good reason. The shock mount fitted onto the IsoVox 2 mounting but there was a drawback. The shock mount placed the microphone significantly closer to my mouth, giving the resulting recording a bit more bass tone than I would have liked. This was not a problem with the microphone placed where the IsoVox clip would hold the microphone. A pity it wasn’t a shock mount designed specifically with limited space in mind.
I was impressed with the overall dampening of the spill from the IsoVox 2. It was more effective in that regard than I thought it was going to be. There is still significant spill, but nothing is going to stop spill completely… especially when there is a thumping great hole in the enclosure to allow you to poke your head and shoulders through!
Where I was really impressed though, was the sound within the IsoVox 2 enclosure. I haven’t recorded at home with so little equipment spill onto recordings, and without room ambience having any real bearing on the recording until I conducted this review. No hot frequencies due to the room. No room reverb or early reflections to color the recording. It wasn’t until I was mixing that I truly appreciated this. Awesome.
5 suggestions to improve the IsoVox 2 further:
- A slightly thicker closing panel to further reduce spill in that direction
- A velcro fastener down each side of the closing panel
- A shock mount clip capable of taking a broad range of microphone widths
- Sufficient distance from microphone to mouth to avoid proximity issues (I appreciate had I used the provided clip this would not have been an issue)
- A method to reduce spill through the hole the singer stands in, to fully complete the 360 degrees of absorption panels. I would be surprised if the Engineers at IsoVox couldn’t turn their big ol’ brains to this issue without making significant improvements. All the more so in a world where the need for results outstrips comfort by a long margin.
Overall I am pretty impressed with the IsoVox 2. More so with the conditioning of the recorded sound than with the spill from the booth, however, even the spill from the booth is still significantly lower than singing with no sound dampening.
When it comes to the sound you get to record, I think the IsoVox comes into it’s own. It almost entirely cuts out equipment noise, and all but removes room abience from the picture entirely. In fact, I was happier with the results obtained with the IsoVox 2 than I have been with the booth sound in a number of professional studios. I wish I could keep it!
Be warned. These units are in demand and IsoVox have a waiting list. That in itself tells you something worthwhile.
If you want to know more… watch the video above!
In the world of home studio recording, the IsoVox 2 is a significant step forward.
Get yours here: