Studio On Wheels

by | Mar 22, 2016 | Techniques | 4 comments

mic in carMost voice actors seem obsessed with obtaining, and having at-the-ready, a mobile recording solution.

I get it.  I’m a geek too, and I’ve got several iterations of an “away” recording configuration.

But let’s face it, you can have a U-87  in your hotel room, and your recording is gonna sound horrible if your acoustic environment isn’t adequate.  Hence the creative solutions using available luggage stands, ironing boards, blankets, and pillows.

The more sophisticated and expensive solutions involve portable booths.  In fact, Harlan Hogan’s contraption is actually called PORTA-BOOTH.  There’s the Kaotica Eyeball, V0calBoothtoGo, the IsoBox Booth, and various other folding portable vocal isolation booths.  The newest one I saw online isn’t even available yet, but it’s being listed on B&H, and Sweetwater, etc.  Halo Portable Vocal Booth by Aston Microphones.

All these home-made constructs and store-bought devices are innovative ways to isolate your recording in places away from your booth.  But the best one might just be sitting out there in the motel parking lot.  Your car.

Ask guys like Joe Cipriano, Ashton Smith, Scott Rummell and Stew Herrera.  As network promo voices virtually on-call at any time, they’re experts at recording from ANYWHERE.   They’ll tell you that if necessity dictates, your car (when it’s not moving) is about as good a sound booth as you’re gonna find outside of your home studio.

Think about it.  For decades, now, automobile manufacturers have been perfecting sound systems that rival your home sound system.  To get great sound out of that DVD player, or  that iPod/iPhone connection…it takes more than Bose speakers.  It takes a carefully-constructed environment for HEARING sound…the same environment that is optimally conducive to RECORDING sound.

On top of that, modern car designers have gone OUT OF THEIR WAY to make the inside of cars uber-quiet…so the street noise outside doesn’t impinge on listening to P-Diddy’s latest hit.

Recording VO in your car is not a novel idea, just one that bears repeating.  Matthew McGlynn wrote a boffo article on this very thing back in 2013:  THE AWESOME VOCAL BOOTH YOU ALREADY OWN…complete with comparisons of soundfiles recorded in a studio vs. car.  This GearSlutz forum thread has useful information about the car recording environment.

There is an entire automotive subculture dedicated to squeezing the best possible sound out of your car interior.  Many of the suggestions you’ll find are fairly inexpensive, and will help deaden sound inside, or seal your car to exterior sounds.  Car Acoustics is one such article.  Here’s another that is almost unbelievable in its exhaustive treatment of the subject.

See?…and you thought this was gonna get complicated.  Well, unless you flew to your destination…then the cab-driver may charge you extra for using the back seat as a booth.  🙂




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  1. Shelley Stephen

    So the next time we rent a car on vacation, I should tell my husband to look for one with the best acoustics! I can just see the look I’m going to get from that one!

    Thanks for another great article!

  2. Scott Persson

    Hi all, it’s true, I’ve actually done this with great results. Maybe I can combine a record, with going to the bank drive-thru, and fast food too? That way, I’d never have to get out of the car…

  3. Lois Wolf

    Thank you for this, Dave. Your articles always seem to come at the right time for me!! I’d love to hear what mic[s] may be best and if any particular set up is needed to make your car just that much better for VO. Perhaps get a few folks to weigh in that have had success this way?

    Have you run across anything that plugs into the lighter or usb … or even your iphone? I’d be using my mobile app Twisted Wave …

    • Sean Daeley

      Hi, Lois!

      Many VO’s use dynamic or shotgun microphones (especially the Sennheiser 416) when they travel because they have tight polar patterns that are resistant to ambient noise. Another popular mic is the Apogee Mic; it’s a usb mic that works with macs, iphones, and ipads. Dan Friedman mentions both mics in his travel rig in his blog, One voice actor I talked to, Scott Burns, said he suspends his Apogee by jamming the tripod stand it comes with into his sun visor! Other mics that work with iphone are the Blue Spark Digital and iRig Mic Studio from IK multimedia. Best of luck in your search!

      Warmest Regards,



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