Review: GIK Acoustics VISO Booth
Having access to the right conditions to capture a perfect vocal can seriously reduce the time you spend tinkering later on. A mobile vocal booth, then, might be the ideal solution.
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Portability is a key factor in modern music production. No longer tied to huge consoles and multi-track recorders in specific studio spaces, we can carry our projects wherever we please.
As liberating as this is, however, not all convenient recording locations offer suitable acoustics. GIK Acoustics recognises this and offers products that can tailor recording studios to your needs. The VISO (Vocal Isolation) Booth is designed to give you effective isolation from unwanted room ambience anywhere, be it a professional studio or boxy bedroom.
Building the booth
While the VISO Booth isn’t quite portable enough to fit into a rucksack – especially once assembled – it is light in weight and easily transportable in a large bag. In the box are the two isolation panels, along with two flat wooden pieces that connect the panels with the supplied screws and attachments. The enclosed manual contains assembly instructions for many of GIK Acoustics’ panels but alas, not the VISO Booth. This shouldn’t be a problem, however, as there is only one way the four main components fit together. Even IKEA-hating flatpack-phobes should be able to construct the Booth with little to no head-scratching.
Each panel measures 11.5 by 16.5 inches (29.5 by 52cm) and connects at a right angle to offer 162 cubic inches of triangular isolation area – or so says GIK. The assembled booth attaches to a microphone stand (not supplied) and, while similar vocal shields offer varying degrees of room isolation, the VISO Booth aims to provide maximum acoustic dampening by using the same rigid rock-wool core absorption materials used in the company’s other professional acoustic panels.
It’s exceptionally simple. But, with that in mind, don’t fall into the Turner Prize trap – just because a piece of abstract art looks simple doesn’t mean you could pull it off yourself. You most likely can’t build an effective vocal-isolation booth of your own with the old odd and sods of wood, foam and cloth you have in your garage
All the world’s a stage
Fully assembled and with an AKG C414 attached, we record some spoken word – one pass with the VISO Booth in place and another without. On playback, we can confirm that the VISO pass delivers a suitably dry radio-style voice, having effectively eliminated the unwanted room reflections that clearly colours the naked recording.
Pushing the VISO Booth to ridiculous limits, we repeat the test in an extremely lively tiled kitchen. Although there’s still a certain amount of room reverb in the new VISO Booth recording thanks to this miniature echo chamber, it’s remarkable how well the product absorbs extraneous ambience. Still, it’s better to use the Booth in a reasonably dry acoustic space for maximum control.
Ambient control is precisely what the VISO Booth offers. If you think that capturing a touch of room ambience on a vocal track that you later plan to coat in reverb and delay is no big deal, think again: bone-dry vocal recordings almost always respond better to ambient production effects applied in the mix. Remember also that all the room sound captured by your microphone will be boosted by any compression and limiting applied to your vocals later on. Even if something seems unobtrusive at first, it can be distracting and possibly destructive during your mixdown.
Though marketed as a vocal booth, the isolation from unwanted room sound will prove useful when recording other instruments too, such as acoustic guitars and close-mic’d woodwind instruments. Used up close to a guitar amp or bass cab will offer not only a tighter sound but also a degree of separation from spillage during a full band recording.
Eliminating the need to construct unwieldy makeshift booths with drapes and duvets when recording on the go, the VISO Booth is both an elegant and efficacious solution to an all-too-common modern production problem.
- 162 cubic inches of triangular isolation
- Rigid rock-wool core absorption material
- Mic stand or desktop placement
- Weight: 4.5kg
Using the same design technology and much of the performance of the more expensive Reflection Filter Pro, Filter X features a lightweight vented body and simple yet efficient clamp assembly.
More similar to the SE Electronics filters than the VISO Booth, this filter features a metal frame with an absorbent foam interior. The mounting bracket means the filter can be attached to most microphone stands.
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