Are you musically inclined? Do you like to sing or play guitar in your living room or in front of the computer with YouTube? If you’re interested in developing your musical talents outside class or private lessons, owning a sound booth may be an ideal investment for you.
Although learning includes practice for just about any activity, music is special in that your practice can disrupt others in your apartment building or surrounding homes.
Keep your neighbors neighborly by buffering the musical sounds you make. Inside a sound booth, you’re free to belt out high notes, vocalize or strum funky tones, or simply work on beat changes without fear the sound will penetrate through the walls.
A sound booth keeps surrounding noise from coming inside, too. Keep your focus on the music — creating, recording and mixing your sound with resonant clarity — in your own private studio.
Practicing in a sound booth also has a professional appeal. Be inspired to invent or perfect your melodic style in a quiet, undisturbed atmosphere ideal for making music.
In this article, we’ll describe how to build a sound booth with the following dimensions (length x width x height):
3.9 feet (120 centimeters) x 2.9 feet (90 centimeters) x 6.8 feet (210 centimeters)
** Metric measurements were used for this project. Measurements in inches and feet are approximate. (1 inch = 2.54 cm)
For simplicity’s sake, the measurements of the wooden boards (i.e. panels) are given in pre-cut dimensions. Purchase the wood at a Do-It-Yourself store such as Lowe’s Home Improvement or Home Depot, and ask that the wood be cut to size, in-store.
If cutting the wooden boards yourself, wear protective eyewear and a face mask. When sawing wood, fine grain particles and dust may be released into the air. Take safety precautions when using any type of wood-working tools.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is recommended due to its good insular quality, density, and smooth, uniform finish. 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) thick MDF was used for this project.
If you are handy with a computer, you can design your sound booth using a free, easy-to-use CAD tool, such as Google SketchUp.
The sound booth shown here was designed using SketchUp. The final construction does not include door windows, and has a different door knob than depicted on page five of the article.
What You Will Need:
- 2 (or more) people
- electric drill (w/ screwdriver bit attachment)
- flat-nosed pliers
- Philips screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver
- pencil (for tracing)
- engineer square (or carpenters square)
- plastic air vent (w/ adjustable blinds), optional
- lamps w/ flexible neck, light switch, LED bulbs (suggestion: installation done by an electrician) OR wall-mounting lamp with power chord, LED bulbs (self-mounting installation)
- 28 L-shaped metal mounting brackets, 2 3/4 inch length of one side (7 cm) and width 1 2/3 inch (4 cm)
- 3 or 4 metal door hinges, 2 3/4 inch length (7 cm)
- 120+ screws with nuts 2-inch length (with ~1/6 inch diameter, to match holes in mounting brackets). 50 mm M4 screws were used.
- 50 lubricated screws (3/4 inch length)
- 2 sheets MDF (82.6 inches x 47.2 inches) or (210 cm x 120 cm)
- 2 sheets MDF (82.6 inches x 33.9 inches) or (210 cm x 86.2 cm)
- 2 sheet MDF (47.2 inches x 35.4 inches) or (120 cm x 90 cm)
- 1 sheet MDF (28 inches x 11 inches) or (71 cm x 28 cm), and 2 triangle metal brackets (to create a shelf); or 1 pre-bought shelf
- wall-mounting metal holders for shelf (w/ adjustable hooks to change the height)
- 1-inch (2.54 cm) thick acoustic dampening foam (cut dimensions to match length of walls). Foam can be purchased in rolls at music stores or online.
- green foam interior liner, 1/4 inch-thick or more (6.3 mm). Used to reduce noise in cars, can be purchased at an auto store. (This is cheaper than acoustic dampening foam bought in a music store but if you can afford all acoustic dampening foam, it’s better.)
- 2 metal hooks (to hang chords, headphones)
- 2 wooden blocks of equal length. 7 3/4 in x 1 3/4 in thick (19.7 cm x 4.4 cm) blocks were used. (door handles)
- 1 long bolt, 2 3/4 inches x 1/6 inch (70 mm x 4 mm), with fully threaded shaft
- 2 liters shiny gloss paint, paint roller, flat brush
- small floor rug
For air circulation, consider adding an air vent (with manual adjusting blinds) on one wall of your booth (Otherwise, you’ll have to open the door for fresh air).
For convenience, the hole for the air vent should be measured and cut before you attach the wall panel to the ceiling panel.
1) Clear a space in a room large enough for the booth to stand, with its door open. If possible, plan to do the assembly work with the wall panels standing upright, and on the spot you wish the booth to sit.
If not, the finished booth must be carried or lifted vertically from the floor. (You will need a ceiling several inches higher than the booth walls to set the booth upright since it will lift on an angle.)
2) On the floor panel (47.2 in x 35.4 in), determine where you want to position the metal brackets for attachment to the wall panels (a minimum of 1 bracket on each side of each corner is suggested). Make sure you take the position of the door into account.
3) Place the floor panel on the ground a few inches away from a wall in the room.
4) Trace the holes of the metal brackets onto the floor panel on all 4 sides, and drill holes through the wood. Push the 2-inch screws (with nut & washer) into the holes, and tighten the screws of the brackets to the floor panel.
Note: When tightening screws — With a wrench, one person should hold the screw nut on the other side of the panel, while another tightens the screws (to save some effort, use an electric drill w/ screwdriver bit).
5) Set the back wall panel (82.6 in x 47.2 in) on top of the floor panel so the edges match up at a 90-degree angle (have one person hold the back panel steady).
6) Trace the holes of the floor panel metal brackets onto the wall panel. Temporarily move the back wall panel to drill holes. Align the back wall panel again, and push screws through the holes. Mount the nuts and with a wrench, tighten screws as described in the Note above.
7) Align a side wall panel (82.6 in x 35.4 in) to the back panel and floor panel, matching both the edges and the corner so they fit snugly (have one person hold the back panel steady).
8) Trace the holes of the floor metal brackets onto the side wall panel. Temporarily move the side wall panel to drill holes. Align the side wall panel again, and push screws (with nut & washer) through the holes. Tighten the screws to join the side wall panel, back panel, and floor panel.
9) Repeat steps 7 & 8 to attach the other side wall panel to the back panel and floor panel.
10) Add brackets on the corners to reinforce the walls. Trace bracket holes on all 4 corners where the side wall panel and back wall panel meet (at least 1 midway on the wall, and 1 near the top of the wall; 2 brackets per corner). Drill the holes, and tighten the screws.
** Now you should have 3 standing walls (back wall and 2 side walls).
Create the Door Opening
11) Take the front panel (82.6 in x 47.2 in), and outline the contour of your door, 77 inches (195.3 cm) x 27.5 inches (70 cm). Using a jigsaw, cut out the door. Leave 4 or more inches between the edge of the front panel and the carved out piece (for stability when the door hinges are added later). Set the door piece aside. Be gentle when moving the remaining ‘door frame’ as it might easily skew and break.
12) On the ground, take the ceiling panel (47.2 in x 35.4 in), position the metal brackets, and trace the holes on the panel (a bracket on each side of each corner is suggested). Drill holes, and push screws through the holes. Tighten the screws/nuts.
13) Carefully, place the ceiling panel across the top of the 3 standing walls. Have one person trace the holes of the ceiling panel brackets to the 3 wall panels.
14) Pressing the ceiling panel snugly down across the top of the walls, tighten the screws of all the brackets all the way around to secure the ceiling panel to all 3 standing walls.
** Now you have 3 standing walls and a ceiling.
15) Take up the front wall panel w/ the door opening, and align it with the side walls, ceiling panel, and the edge of the floor panel.
16) With one person holding the front panel in place, trace the holes of the floor metal brackets to the front wall panel. Then, trace the holes of the metal ceiling brackets to the front wall panel. Move the front wall panel to drill the holes.
17) Align the front wall panel again, push screws (with nut & washer) through the holes. Tighten the screws to join the front panel to both wall panels, the ceiling panel, and the floor panel.
** Now you have 4 walls and a ceiling.
Finish & Add the Door
It is important that you can open the door both from the inside and outside so you can enter the sound booth even if someone has closed it from inside. You will need to have a door handle that goes through your door with one handle on each side of the door. Both the inner and outer handle should rotate simultaneously in the same direction when opening or closing the door.
18) Obtain 2 sturdy straight wooden blocks of the same length for your door handles. We used 2 pieces, 7 3/4 in x 1 3/4 in thick (19.7 cm x 4.4 cm). Drill approximately 1/8 inch holes (3 mm) through one side of each piece (these holes are for mounting door knobs).
19) To allow rotation between the two handles, use a long bolt, 2 3/4 inches x 1/6 inch (70 mm x 4 mm), with fully threaded shaft. First, stack the two wooden handles on top of each other so the 1/8 inch holes align then drill a 1/6 inch hole through both handles on the opposite side of the 1/8 inch holes. You should now have two handles with one 1/8 inch hole through one side and an 1/6 hole through the other side.
20) Using a 1/2 inch (12 mm) drill (i.e. large enough for the 2 3/4 inch bolt head to fit inside), widen the 1/6 inch (4 mm) holes from each side of the handles, just enough to have the bolt head fully sunk into the handles (do not drill through the handles here). One of the 1/2 inch holes you create will hold the bolt head. The other three holes will hold the nuts needed to tighten the bolt.
21) Measure and mark the position on the door you want the door handles. Drill a 1/6 inch (4 mm) hole in the marked spot. When all holes and cavities are created, it’s time to mount the construction together.
22) Assemble and mount the door handle in the following order:
- Mount the door knobs, one on each handle in the 1/8 inch holes.
- Put the long bolt through the outer door handle (pick one, they should be identical). It can be a bit tricky to tighten the nut, but try using flat-nose pliers or similar.
- Thread a nut on the bolt and tighten it on the backside of the front handle.
- Put two metal washers on the bolt.
- Put the handle/bolt-construction through the 1/6 inch (4 mm) hole in the door.
- Put two more washers on the bolt.
- Thread a nut on the bolt and adjust the tightness so the outer door handle swivels smoothly, but is not loose.
- Put the inner door handle on the bolt thread.
- Thread on another nut on the bolt and cross-tighten it towards the other bolt on the inside of the door. Again, this might require flat-nose pliers.
(door handle image shown at the beginning of the article.)
23) Mark and drill holes in the door panel where the door hinges will attach (consider which direction you want the door to swing when opening). Attach the door hinges according to package instructions.
24) Mark and drill holes in the front wall panel where the door hinges will attach. Position the door hinges over the holes, and push the screws (with nut & washer) through the holes. Tighten the screws.
** The door should now be fastened to your sound booth.
Ready the Interior of Your Booth
Note: Unless you cut a window for natural light, you’ll need to add lamps inside your booth. Use LED bulbs to keep the booth from getting too warm.
For self-mounting lamps: Mark the position for the lamps on the walls, and drill holes. Have one person hold the lamp against the wall. Push the screws (with nut & washer) through the holes, and tighten the screws. Drill holes for the lamp power chords to reach an electrical outlet outside your booth.
Consult an electrician to install lamps that include a light switch on the inside wall.
25) Screw 2 long metal shelf holders onto one wall. In case you opted for a pre-made shelf, mount the shelf brackets onto the wall.
26) With the lubricated screws, screw on the large pieces of 1-inch thick dampening foam to the upper half of the walls, the inner door, and the ceiling of your booth. Use any scraps to fill in spots that the larger pieces didn’t cover.
Note: Un-lubricated screws may rip the foam material when you twist them into the wall.
27) Screw the thinner car liner foam onto the lower half of the walls.
28) Trace the holes of the 2 triangle metal brackets onto your shelf board, 28 in x 11 in (71 cm x 28 cm). Temporarily move the brackets to drill holes. Align the brackets again, and push screws through the holes. Tighten the screws. Hook your shelf onto the wall-mounting holders at a level right for your height.
29) Screw 2 hooks into the walls for hanging headphones, cords, etc.
** If you wish to use sound equipment like speakers, microphone, and a computer to create and record music, drill a hole in the back wall corner large enough for a power chord to fit through.
30)Paint your booth using paint roller and flat brush. Allow 24 to 36 hours to dry for one coat of paint.
31) Place a rug on the floor for extra acoustic dampening and comfort.