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
Paul Strikwerda says
Thanks for sharing, Karen! A few questions:
– There are quite a few companies making similar products. What made you pick the WhisperRoom?
– Even though the WhisperRoom keeps out most noises, what about unwanted vibration from heavy trucks etcetera?
– Some of the sound booths I’ve entered do a good job keeping the noise out, but acoustically, the space inside is rather ‘dead’. What’s your experience?
On a side note, the new and improved Porta-Booth Pro does have a clip that will hold up a script (http://voiceoveressentials.com/content/porta-booth-pro.htm). However, I won’t hold your iPad.
I just bought a Honeywell QuietSet tower fan at Target (http://www.target.com/Honeywell-QuietSet-Speed-Tower-Fan/dp/B0031KUAYM). It has 8 settings that go from whisper quiet (sleep mode) to a regular fan noise (Power Cool). It keeps me cool in my booth and in sleep mode I can hardly hear it.
Here’s to quietude!
Greetings, Paul! Thanks for the thoughtful questions.
1) I picked the WhisperRoom because it was recommended by another talent, could be configured into different sizes, and was a well-constructed and affordable solution for me. Due to my proximity to Knoxville, TN (about a 3-hour drive from Atlanta), I also was able to go to the factory to look at them and talk to the sales reps about the various features before making the purchase.
2) Since the floor is floating on wheels, I never feel the vibrations or hear noise from heavy trucks.
3) I can appreciate your comment about the dead sound of some booths as I had that sort of sound in my walk-in closet. My WhisperRoom has numerous panels and some acoustic foam inside it in order to provide those odd angles needed to make the sound more alive and natural. You can configure those panels to suit your tastes.
Thanks so much for the tip on the fan! I had been interested in the commercials for the Dyson Air Multiplier fan, but the reviews on it indicate it has a terrible noise problem. I hate to be hot, so I’ll have to check out the Honeywell.
As always, I appreciate your friendship and interest in this blog!
Paul Strikwerda says
Thanks for your answers, Karen. It’s almost impossible to find a fan that is completely silent. I looked at the new (and pricey) Dyson… the one without the blade. You’re right: it’s just as noisy as the rest of the bunch. As with most things: try it before you buy it. I am curious to find out what other people are using to stay cool during these long summer heat waves.
Your blog is packed with great tips and it’s always a joy to read. Thank you so much for your contribution to our craft! You have saved a lot of people from reinventing the wheel!
Lynne Darlington says
Hi Karen – Your detailed information about the Whisperroom is much appreciated and timely for me as I have been considering upgrading.
Thank you for sharing and I will certainly consider your success with the Whisperroom as I research, evaluate and consider my options.
All the best,
steve hammill says
41 boxes; YIKES!
Nice post Karen. It was a wise choice to buy the 6×8 WhisperRoom; it should be big enough not to sound “boxy.” Your comment about the ventilation system is not really surprising; it is always amazing what a microphone will hear.
Thank you for the article.
I live pretty close to an airport and a military base. I never notice jets or helicopters until I listen back to my tracks, because I’m used to hearing them all the time, so I end up redoing things a lot more than I’d like. Does your WhisperRoom do a good job at keeping that kind of thing out? I’ve tried several things, and am getting frustrated putting money into ineffective solutions.
Greetings, all! Thanks to Lynne and Steve for your kind comments. Joe, in response to your question about the airplane noise, a WhisperRoom or other sound isolation booth would help cut the noise because you would be adding an additional layer of space and dense material to absorb it.
I also live near a county airport, and I used to be able to hear the small planes with propellers when they were far away. In fact, the sound would be so prolonged and LOUD that you would think the plane was about to crash into my house! The airplane noise was one reason that I went to the extreme soundproofing measures with my room. Since I have 2 layers of ceilings in the room, I can’t say with complete certainty that the WhisperRoom alone would cut those sounds. I still can hear the sounds faintly while sitting at the computer, but I don’t hear them once I’m in the WhisperRoom.
You also may need to make your room more soundproof by adding insulation in the ceiling and replacing or removing any windows. You might be amazed how much sound comes through single-paned windows!
We replaced almost all of our windows with triple-pane, casement windows; a few are double-paned. Casement windows offer a superior seal to the house than do double-hung windows. The panes of glass are separated by a layer of gas. We chose krypton gas because it’s more dense than the argon that is typically found in that style of window. Not only do the windows help our energy bills, but they create an overall quieter house!
I hope these thoughts are helpful. Best wishes for quiet-tude and success!
Your post was very helpful. Thanks. It’s been six years since the last comment, so I’m hoping you still check this! I have been looking at Whisper Rooms for a while for VO purposes. I’d been looking in the 4 x 6 range, but am curious to know if you have any thoughts on a Whisper Room that is even larger than yours. I have an unexpected opportunity to get a used 8′ x 8′ room at a great price and am very tempted to pull the trigger, but don’t want to if it ends up doing funky things with sound (I guess the fact that Whisper Room makes that dimension in the first place indicates it works for SOME people). I’m not an audio engineer by any stretch, but I have heard symmetrical sizes can have weird acoustical effects, reverberation, etc.
In your opinion, would this be suitable for VO work? Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have!
Karen Commins says
Hi, Tim! Yes, I do still respond to comments on older posts! 🙂
I LOVE having a large booth! If you have the floor space and structural capacity to support the size and weight of the booth and the budget for the larger booth, I don’t think you’ll regret purchasing it.
You can look up the weight for the model you’re considering in WhisperRoom’s on-line catalog.
Cost is the reason most people get a smaller booth. However, I’ve read many comments from people who feel very cramped in the smaller booths, especially if they have their equipment in the booth with them. As an example, one friend bought a small booth and bought a second, larger one about 6 months later.
No matter the external size of the booth, you will still want to add some acoustic treatments inside of the booth to improve your sound quality. The goal is to eliminate reverb, boxy sound, and any other issues caused by the symmetric walls while giving you a natural tone. You can order an Acoustic Tuning Package on WhisperRoom’s site or assemble components separately.
I hope these thoughts are helpful. I’ll be interested to learn what you decide to do! Good luck!
Matt G. says
Hi Karen, Is yours a single-wall Whisper Room? If so, has there been any reason at some point that may ha e made you consider upgrading to the enhanced-wall version? Thanks! 🙂
Karen Commins says
Hi, Matt! I do have a single-wall WhisperRoom and have never thought I needed to upgrade it. If I hadn’t custom-built the studio using soundproofing techniques and materials, I probably would have opted for the double-wall booth, assuming the floor could handle the additional weight.
I hope this info helps.
Hi Karen! Fabulous article, and very helpful, even 7 years later!
I saw you were still responding to recent comments, so I was hoping you could help me.
Like Tim, I also found a great price on a used WR, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too heavy for my floor. How exactly did you figure out your floor’s load capacity?
Thanks for the help and the great article!
Karen Commins says
Hi, Sean! Thanks for a great question! I added a custom-built room onto my house for my studio. Since the foundation for the new room was a concrete slab, I didn’t have to worry about the weight of the WhisperRoom.
I advise you to consult with a structural engineer who would do the math and give you the best recommendation about your space.
Congrats on finding a deal on a WhisperRoom, and best wishes for your continued success!