Product Review: Producers Choice Acoustic Blanket
In a previous article, I talked about the use of what I like to call “creative inelegance” when it comes to soundproofing your recording environment. It may not be necessary to run out and throw $5000 or more down on a whisper room if you can make do with a closet packed full of clothes and pillows. My own studio, for example, is a careful combination of down comforters, acoustic foam and my past experience with audio engineering. The end result is a “booth” that’s acoustically ideal and yet aesthetically terrifying.
I’m always looking for ways to improve on my studio's design to squeeze one more dB out of the noise floor, and I figure I could probably do better than the moving blanket that I’ve been using for a while now, so I turned to the folks at Vocal Booth To Go and one of their products: the Producers Choice acoustic blanket.
Right out of the box, I can tell that this is not a moving blanket with a price bump and a fancy name. The Producer’s Choice acoustic blanket is designed specifically for acoustic dampening, and not wrapping the coffee table for the U-haul. The heavy quilted blanket is huge (72 x 80), filled with recycled cotton fibers and comes with heavy duty grommets so you can hang it from a ceiling or on a wall.
One side is black, which is great if you were using it in an on-camera situation where you needed to help dampen the sound but not be seen. But the other side is white, which is wonderful for helping to brighten up a room without having to dump a bunch of extra lumens into the space. I was really surprised at how great this was for providing flat, even light in my booth with only one LED desk light for illumination.
One of the things I really like about using acoustic blankets instead of just acoustic foam is that in a small space, foam tends to give a very “boxy” sound to the audio. Most people might not be able to pick it out, but to a trained ear, there is a stuffiness that comes with foam that is a dead giveaway to a small space. The acoustic blankets don't suffer with this problem. They absorb stray “flutter echo” in the room without imparting any negative qualities to the overall room tone.
Keep in mind that with both foam or acoustic blankets, you're not going to get your room completely soundproofed. If the neighbor fires up the leaf blower or the guy with the Harley comes thundering down your street, nothing short of a vacuum-sealed, floating floor, heavy duty booth is going to stop the noise from being picked up by your mic. These blankets work very well in reducing the noise that's generated inside the room.
I have to say, I am REALLY impressed with the quality of these blankets. They are solid, well stitched, quilted nicely and work VERY well for reducing that “flutter echo” that you sometimes hear from someone recording in a less-than-ideal space. Using the supplied grommets, you could easily hang it from hooks screwed into the ceiling and build a very nice recording environment for yourself at a fraction of the cost of a traditional booth. And if you’re one of the many voice artists that record in a space that serves more than one purpose (like a closet or a bedroom) the blankets can be taken down and folded out of the way when not in use.
In addition to the acoustic blankets, Vocal Booth To Go has a variety of other products, including a portable vocal booth (like an iso box, but made out of blankets, making it much more portable) and a full-blown, free-standing vocal booth (hence their name, duh!) that can be set up in a space where a permanent or modular vocal booth can't go (like an apartment.) They even make a blanket that fits perfectly on an interior door, which is ideal if you are using a spare room or a closet in your house that has one of those flimsy hollow-core interior doors on it.
Fellow VO Dave Courvoisier did a nice write-up on the portable vocal booth. Check it out here.
If you're in the market to finally improve the acoustics of your recording space beyond the "pillow fort" design of moving blankets and comforters, check out the many products Vocal Booth to Go has. Their designs can make a big difference in your overall sound.
About Rob Marley - A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin, Texas. Find out more here.