After recording voiceover scripts for years while standing in dark, unventilated, small closets, building a soundproof studio was a dream come true! As you can see in the picture below, my WhisperRoom is large component of the studio, both in size and function. I LOVE it and feel that it is a key selling point for potential clients.
Last week, I received another inquiry from a voice talent who is considering the purchase of a WhisperRoom. Like others who have contacted me with the same questions, this person wrote that he couldn’t see a WhisperRoom in person and wanted to get an opinion from someone who has one. I decided to re-purpose my answer to him to help other voiceover talent who are faced with the same decision. Everything that follows below is my opinion, and I have received no compensation from WhisperRoom for my sound endorsement.
In 2005, we built a room onto the house and employed special soundproofing techniques in its construction, including 2 layers of ceilings and 2 layers of 5/8″ sheetrock on the walls. I had to go to extreme lengths to soundproof my house and studio due to the frequent and varied types of external noise at my house, especially from cars and planes.
I considered building a “room within a room” for my booth by adding an interior wall. Building an interior room might have been a cheaper option, but I chose to buy a WhisperRoom because of its portability. If I ever move to another house, I can disassemble my booth and take it with me. Furthermore, the resale value of this house would be greater without an interior wall in my spacious (16’x19′) studio to confuse home buyers. As a bonus, the WhisperRoom is a capital expense in your voice-over business that can be depreciated on your tax return over several years; check with your tax advisor for details.
You can get practically any size and configuration of WhisperRoom to meet your needs. I bought a 6’x8′ booth because I thought I might want to record my harp in there, which hasn’t happened in the almost 5 years I’ve had the WhisperRoom. However, I have had 2 people sharing the same mic in it, and it was roomy enough for that purpose. Since it’s modular, I could expand it to a larger size if I ever had the need, and I suppose I could contract it as well.
I bought the optional ventilation system but don’t recommend it to other voice talent. The hum of the fan is too noisy when I’m recording. I occasionally run the ventilating fan on a break just for air circulation, but I usually tend to open the door and step out of the booth. Due to the additional insulation in my studio, I’m usually pretty comfortable in the booth.
Assembly and Delivery Considerations
Once you’ve decided on the size of the booth that you want, the delivery and assembly parts of the transaction will require some planning. The WhisperRoom is made of Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), which is a great sound barrier because it is denser than plywood. It’s also incredibly HEAVY!
I always warn people that my booth actually weighs OVER 1 TON (2200 pounds) and is sitting on a concrete slab. Be sure that your floor can accommodate the weight of the booth that you purchase. The WhisperRoom floor is raised on wheels, which gives you additional sound isolation, as well as flexibility in moving the booth.
Also, the booth is shipped completely unassembled in multiple boxes; mine arrived in 41 boxes. Even though we had specified inside delivery, the guy driving the truck would not bring in the boxes. I was thankful for a sunny day because he left them on the driveway.
We were finishing construction on the room for the studio, so some contractors happened to be on-site that day. My husband Drew tipped 2 of them to help him carry all of the boxes into the studio. You may also need similar help available on delivery day.
WhisperRoom provided clear assembly instructions, and Drew and I were able to assemble the booth over Labor Day weekend. Our biggest problem was lifting the door onto the hinges. The glass in the door made it even heavier than the other panels, and keeping it steady until the hinges met and the hinge screw could be turned was incredibly frustrating.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts, Drew had the brilliant idea to use a car jack as a lift for the door! Drew held the door on the jack while I cranked it up. It was relatively easy for him to slide the door into the hinge with the weight of the door supported by the car jack.
The Sound of Silence
I can tell a tremendous difference in the level of quiet once I step into the booth. If you don’t live on a quiet street and/or have your studio in your basement, I highly recommend the purchase of a WhisperRoom if your budget allows it.
You may ask whether Harlan Hogan’s Porta-Booth Pro would serve the same purpose as it does isolate the sound recorded with the microphone. Although I’ve never tried one, I think the Porta-Booth Pro is aimed more as a solution for mobile recordings. It doesn’t have room for a copy stand, and you can pack it away.
In addition, I like the WhisperRoom for my own concentration. While the mic may not pick up the whir from the refrigerator or other people in the house when placed inside a Porta-Booth Pro, I would hear and be distracted by those sounds. A WhisperRoom would give you all of the quiet space that you need for your recordings.
As a side note, I think a voiceover studio should be both functional and enjoyable. Why have plain walls and a booth when you can design a beautiful area that expresses your personality and beckons you to go to work? Not only do I love my studio, but the WhisperRoom folks liked my picture so much that they put it on their sales brochure. 🙂
If you have any other questions about my booth or studio, please leave a comment on the blog!
edited 8/2/10 to add a missing word