I’ve always wanted to make myself an isolation cabinet for silent recording and practice. When living in an apartment, it’s convenient (and neighbor friendly) to be able to have awesome cranked tone without taking the paint off the wall. Another problem I had was that my gear was spread all over the floor. That means that it’s not very practical, gets dusty, someone can step on my stuff, etc. Also, I needed a nightstand for my bedroom. So why not kill three birds with one stone…a very large stone that is.
So I ordered a custom set of nighstands, one normal sized and one larger for my side of the bed. They are both made out of high gloss finished particle board, 20mm thick with aluminum binding. The large one has three compartments. One for the pedalboard, one for the speaker cab and one for miscellaneous items that are not in the signal chain. 5cm holes are drilled between the compartments and from the back so I can connect the guitar and power supply easily.
To accomplish sound isolation part of the project, I got some of soundproofing material called Azmafon (local Serbian product, it’s probably available under different name elsewhere). It’s a nasty looking blanket, 20mm thick, made of recycled cotton. It’s maybe good to use as-is inside walls, but if it’s exposed it will probably fall apart after a while and it seems to be great for collecting dust. So I got some fabric and had each panel covered and quilt sewn to make it more sturdy.
To mount azmafon panels on cabinet walls I used velcro tape glued on the back of the panel. It seems to hold good enough. I soundproofed only the main compartment where the speaker cab will be and portion of the doors that covers the main compartment. It’s big enough to host the speaker cab, my power amp, microphone and the power hub.
I’m very happy with the outcome. It covers all three use-cases pretty good. It’s a decent looking nightstand, it can hold all my gear and it isolates the sound good enough for my use. My 3W power amp which can get very loud for the room is effectively silenced. You can still hear it but it’s only a bit louder than playing the electric guitar unplugged. Azmafon seems to dampen the high frequencies better, so sound that gets out is mostly lower and mid frequencies. Without the soundproofing, I could hear the change in tone caused by the nightstand. Sound waves were probably bouncing off the walls and made it sound a bit harsh and metallic. After soundproofing it sounds pretty much the same as when the cab is outside. Also, I can vary the sound level by partially opening the doors.
This method is probably not enough for higher power amps, you’d probably need double walls with isolation material in between, or something along those lines.
Now I can play and record guitar a couple of ways, which is cool. Between the power amp and the speaker I put my trusty Palmer PDI-09 cabinet simulator and in front of the speaker is the GLS ES-57 (Shure SM-57 knockoff) microphone. Both have XLR outputs that I can hook up into Tascam DP-008 recorder. It can record from up to two inputs at the same time, so I can use only one or mix mic input with direct signal from the Palmer. And if I want to do it quietly, I can always close the doors and plug the headphones into the Tascam. That’s awesome!