VocalBooth.com Amp Enclosure
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by Barry Rudolph


Originally Written For SOS Magazine.
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VB Amp Enclosure Family

VocalBooth's Amp Box is a portable amplifier enclosure for sonically isolating guitar amps or cabinets so that they can be played at loud enough volumes to create natural-sounding distortion and overdrive. If you live in a shared-wall apartment or just want to crank up in the same room as your studio setup, an amp enclosure such as this can allow you to capture your favourite tone(s) without breaking your ears--or the terms of your lease!

The Amp Box is basically a cube in which the sides and top are held securely together with Velcro straps in locking housings, or channels machined into a base plate. The base has an insulating foam layer on its bottom, which prevents sound vibration created inside the box travelling into the floor (important if you have a neighbour living below you), or loud sounds entering the box through the floor, as in the case of an adjacent drum kit. The Amp Box has a convoluted, foam-lined interior, a cable port and enough extra interior space for a mic and stand.

To rid the interior of the heat buildup from an enclosed guitar amp, the standard ventilation consists of air-intake labyrinth and a short length of five-inch vent tubing with a fan attached at the end. There's a vent silencer upgrade option if the ventilation system's slight noise is an issue--it was not in our test.

The Amp Box's panels are made using 3/4-inch OSB (oriented strand board) and covered in heavy exterior fabric. As an option, you can order additional 1/2-inch layers of MDF or buy a dual enclosure--basically a box within a box. VocalBooth also makes a product called Speaker Box™ which has no ventilation but comes in the same sizes as the Amp Boxes (and at lower prices).

In The Studio

VB Amp Enclosure Open I tested the Amp-4040V Large Amp Box at Gary Belz' House Of Blues Studios in Encino, California along with chief engineer Doug Tyos and guitarist Bill McBee. The Amp Box was placed out in the studio as if during a tracking session as is usually the situation when this is used at the studio.

We wanted to attenuate the sound level of a Mesa close-backed, 2X12 cabinet powered by a Mesa Electra Dyne head. The Mesa cab was a tight fit and when the box was closed the sound level reduced to about the same level as if you were standing next to the bare amp wearing form fit ear plugs--that's to say a lot! Mid-range frequency SPL reductions are stated as: at 1kHz 36dB, 2kHz 40dB, and at 4kHz 42dB of attenuation.

We recorded a crunch rhythm guitar part in three ways: with the front and top panels of the Amp Box off (essentially not using it); with the Amp Box closed up and the speaker cab inside facing straight at the inside wall of the front panel; and then with the cabinet rotated, angled 45-degrees from the front panel.

We were careful to be consistent with the same guitar amp settings, the same guitar part and performance, and the same SM57 mic placement and distance (it was placed one inch from the grill cloth, halfway between the speaker's dust cone and the surround suspension and angled toward the centre). We did all tests twice to prevent any slight inconsistencies that might have creped in.

VB Amp Enclosure Venting The results seemed counter-intuitive. When the cab was aimed at a 45-degree angle from the front panel, the sound was closest to the sound of the amp without the Amp Box, wheras firing straight into the front panel produced a pleasant bass build up. If you like the sound of the amp, mic and guitar combination without using the Amp Box, you should aim at the 45-degree; and if you want a thicker sound, aim straight into the front.

In general, the guitar sound is close, present and great for clean and tight rhythm parts or compact crunch parts. Because the mics are close, and considering the small space surrounding the cabinet, there is no room ambience mixing with the direct sound into the mic. Creating the sounds associated with soaring and heroic lead guitar solos may depend more on stomp pedal effects, or on processing during the mix.

Another possible use in the studio is to use the Amp Box as a 'tunnel' for recording a kick drum, where an additional mic is placed two feet in front of the kick's front head and you need of isolation the kick from the rest of the kit, or the rest of the band. Simply aim the kick (and rest of kit) into the Amp Box and close it up. Perhaps an alternate front panel with a 22-inch diameter hole would make a nice option for recording drums with the Amp Box?


Problem Solver

The difference in sound, when using the Amp Box is minimal, making it a good solution to a common problem, especially if you are searching for a tight and close-sounding amp sound, or if loud outside noise is polluting your guitar amp's sound when miking.

Options

There are four sizes of VB AMP Boxes with hinged lids included on the small and medium versions. The two larger sizes have lids with stout handles for their removal. Other options are: a hinged door on one of the side panels, caster wheels, different interior Auralex foam, and exterior color choices.

The Small VB AMP Box measures 31"H x 30"W x 30"D with interior dimensions of 24"H x 24" x 16"D; Medium VB AMP Box is 37"H x 36"W x 30"D and inside it measures 33"H x 30" x 17"D; the Medium-Large VB AMP Box is 37"H x 36"W x 36"D and is 33"H x 30" x 22"D inside; and the Large VB AMP Box is 44"H x 48"W x 48"D and 40"H x 40" x 32"D inside.

VB Amp Enclosure With Vox Amp

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SOUND ON SOUND
Vocalbooth.com, Inc. AMP Box Enclosure

Pros

•Easy way to record loud amps in your studio space
•Keeps your neighbors from complaining
•Kills a lot of the mid-range sounds of loud guitar amps
•Sets up in 15-minutes
•Different amp sounds possible via placement changes

Cons

•Heavy panels
•Bulky and requires more floor space than your amp
•The "In the box" sound may not be your cup of Earl

Summary

The VB AMP Box is a well-built system to control loud sound.
It is a necessity for maintaining civility even while you play rowdy.

Information

Prices range depending on model size: $895 to $1,695 US
541-330-6045
E-Mail
www.vocalbooth.com



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