I want to build an Isolation Cabinet that fits a 4×12 cab. I was watching the Darkest Hour webisode #2 video a long time ago and you were showing one off at the studio you recorded in. That ISO Cab looks like one of the best ones I have seen. Is there anyway you can tell me how to build that one or get me some designs of that Isolation Cabinet? I have looked at a ton of how to guides on the web and all I can find are temporary ones or ones that only fit 2×14’s and it is very frustrating. I am trying to start a home studio and it would greatly help me and my neighborhood out.
Dear Quiet Riot,
We did record the Deliver Us guitars in an Isolation Cabinet, or Isolation Booth. It was because the studio was part of a bigger studio so many sessions used the rooms next to and below us. In other words it was like recording at home except everyone around you was also recording. My point is you wanted everything to be isolated. The Iso. Booth is basically a box inside a box. You build a big wooden box and then inside that box you build another box. You need to have air in between them because air is the best isolation material. A guitar cab is miked in the center box and then doors are closed so that the guitar is closed in and the sound is closed out. It looked pretty hard to build and to be honest the guitar was still pretty loud outside of the booth. Since dabbling in the world of home recording I have fought the Isolation Cabinet wars, and here are some methods I use that are less complicated, and keep the neighbors from killing me:
The Guitar Blanket: I mic a 4X12 speaker cab with a Sennheiser 609 and a shure 57. I put my guitar cab in a separate room (you can even have the guitar cab in the same room with you, as long as it’s not facing you because you don’t want the noise of you playing the guitar to bleed into the mics). After the cabinet is miked, I place 3 sleeping bags over the cab. You have to be careful to not displace the mics, I use Z-bars because they don’t fall all over the place like stands usually do. I’ve been able to run a marshal 800, Randall MTS, Peavey 5150 all at around the volume setting of 3 or so and get a loud sound to tape with out even coming close to waking up the neighbors. I have not heard any noise or tonal loss from this method. If you cant get your vintage head to distort up that quiet I suggest a power break as I have mentioned in other posts.
The POD: Dude, the purpose of a pod is to replace the need for miking and loud noise. To be honest part of the guitar tone on Deliver Us is from a line 6 Pod. The producer, Devin Townsend, blended it with 3 other sounds to make the overall sound of the guitars on that record. My point is they sound good and we didn’t even need the booth. You
can get tons of great sounding guitars from those pods with out any of this trouble. When I record I probably use the Pod for half and the Guitar Blanket Method for the other half.
Randall Isolation 12’ Speaker Cab: This is the professional proposed solution. I have seen some sick metal bands use this live to isolate the sound of their guitars and I have been lucky enough to use one a few times. They are cool and do work. I don’t always like the same speaker sound so I stick with my guitar blanket method but the Isolation speaker cab does work and is a good solution to check out.
The Old’ REAMP: The re-amp is all the rage with producers I talk to these days. Basically it means that every time a guitar is tracked there is an additional direct signal that is tracked at the same time. The guitars are grouped together so the DI and Amp track match perfectly. This means that later the DI track can be run into any amp or guitar sound and re-recorded. This is so you can lay down your tracks with whatever sound you have at the time be it POD or 5150 in your bedroom closet and later replay that DI signal through any sick guitar rig at any studio in the world. Whenever I do serious home recording I record a DI signal. I mean you never know a good DI can give you the tools to make that good recording sound amazing.
The more you experiment and the more you play around with home recording the more you will realize you can make most any guitar set up sound cool you just have to use your ears to tweak those knobs. Its like guerrilla sound warfare, use whatever gear you have as many ways possible. Its how you learn to adapt to using all types of musical/recording gear and give you the ability to make a recording in your home people will think you spent millions on.