Whisperroom cubicles - effectiveness and dimensions

June 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM · I'm looking into getting a whisperroom cubicle. From what I have read this may be a sure-fire solution to any noise issues and though expensive initially, its an investment as you can take it with you. Does anyone have experience with this for the violin?

I'm particularly interested in both its effectiveness with the standard setup and also with what the dimension requirements are - width for ease of bowing and also height if you want to stand. The standard room is 6'8 high but there is an 11 inch extension option which I think I will need. Width wise its very flexible and I'm considering 5'x7' (152x213).

http://www.whisperroom.com/

PS John: it has a built in air circulator...

Replies (33)

June 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM · Jeez, Elise, it looks like a 1960's era gas chamber. Would you really be able to walk into it, close the door, and stay for a couple of hours? If you start to smell bitter almond, RUNNNNN!

Seriously, is there a way for you to try one? I wonder how your violin would actually sound, and if you would find it comfortable or claustrophobic. Is there a room in your house you could just add some soundproofing to?

June 19, 2012 at 05:55 PM · I've thought about the soundproofing idea and its a problem in any house with central air - the tubes serve as sound conduits. My house mate is a musician too - and one that very audio-sensitive and gets distracted by noise. This seems like a sure-fire solution and from what little I have read it seems well tolerated.

You can get optional sound suppressing panels to 'tune' the accoustics which may be much better than the rather small bedroom that I am currently using (I worry about my ears a bit; ear plugs are not a full solution).

It also comes in an optional wood-finish - which I am considering to make it more homey. [Though your analogy gives me the chills.... :( ]

I think these are used as practise rooms in colleges - but would really like some feedback from a violinist with one....

June 19, 2012 at 06:37 PM · I like the idea, especially if you live in an apartment building, I could see how this could be helpful. You might want to go try playing in one of these first with your violin before committing to buy. My only concern is that it might be a little crammed for space inside one of these things.

Yale University had a building with practice cubicles like this (which we called 'microwaves') except they were a bit larger if I remember correctly. I used to practice in those all night before a lesson. They're quite acoustically dry from what I recall with little to no reverb.

June 19, 2012 at 06:42 PM · Wonder what shipping, duty and all our various taxes would come to? If you find out, let us know...curious minds and all that...

I think if I had play in that though, I'd quit first... (jk)...

June 20, 2012 at 02:50 AM · Nate - what size were the ones you used? I read of someone practising in the standard size ones - but 5'x7' and 7'9" high is surely plenty large enough isn't it?

I am a bit concerned with the sound quality - too much is a health issue, too little might be a playing one. However, it must be relatively easy to increase the reverb - easier than reducing it.

June 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM · ...the violinist Tardis: the outside is 5X7 but the inside is carnegie hall...

June 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM · Elise,

You might be able to use harder surfaces to increase reflectivity, but the enclosure is so small that I myself would not consider it reverb. Effective reverb requires noticeable time delay.

I apologize: I just don't get using one of these in a home setting. If you want one because it's cool, then OK. But then, I'm one of those people who choose a Corolla over a 'vette.

But if you're in your own home, then why shell out big bucks? If you live in an apartment, then you could use the $$$$ to rent out practice space somewhere, if you need to abate your noise output. If you're near a college, maybe you could work a deal with the music department.

The prices they show could buy a lot of practice mutes, which aren't as likely to cause claustrophobia. :-)

The economics of this sort of thing makes sense in a school setting, or another high-use area. But to me, the cost seems excessive in a home setting.

Maybe you could look in antique stores for an old phone booth?? :-)

June 20, 2012 at 02:10 PM · Elise,

I dont have any personal experience with this, but as many people imply and point out reducing sound transmission is very difficult. Altering room acoustics by using sound absorbing or diffusing panels is relatively easy, but it changes what you hear much more than what your neighbors will here. It is good that they document the db reduction at various frequencies. That implies they know what they are doing. Price isn't cheap, but i would be leary of something that is cheaper. as pointed out, you will not get reverb, however, you will get a live sound, assuming all the surfaces are hard. you can change that easily with sound absorbing panels, or even cork board, or carpeting on the floor or walls. You probably paid alot for your violin, you enjoy playing. if you want to hear your violin (no practice mute), and you need to consider moving it, I think what you found is an excellent solution

June 20, 2012 at 02:26 PM · Elise, if you go with John's suggestion of getting an old phone booth, you might get to meet Superman. :-)

June 21, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Elise, is there no other solution? I could not work in such a small space. I don't have claustrophobia, but I feel I would develop it if confined to a tiny room.

Cheers Carlo

June 21, 2012 at 12:51 PM · 5x7 isn't really that tiny - I think its larger than most practice booths at colleges.

Perhaps someone could help me with that stat: at your institution how large were the practise rooms???

Besides, I wouldn't have to play in there all the time - when my house mate is out I can go on the second floor with the window open or even go play at the fidler on the roof (we have a deck)...

June 21, 2012 at 02:40 PM · The smallest was at least double that size. Sound proof including the floor which was insulated from the building with rubber blocks. They were big enough to hold a piano plus have room to rehearse. The double glazed doors looked over a courtyard garden.

All where built asymmetricly so as not to create standing waves. A small box with parallel walls will have strange acoustics.

Cheers Carlo

June 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM · David's point is well made: Does Superman play violin?

He must play pretty fast. No, wait... That's The Flash.

From an economic point of view, you could estimate the hours per week that you want to play, but your housemate is there. Then compute how much your hourly cost would be to have the acoustic isolation. I'm guessing that the cost would pretty high. But if you can live with it, go for it!

You might also give thought to what happens if you ever move. Having made two moves in a little over 6 months, I think about that sort of thing. :-)

Myself, I'd apply that amount to a new bow. But that's only an opinion, because you asked what people think. I publicly acknowledge the decision is yours alone. Whatever you decide on, enjoy the results.

June 22, 2012 at 03:40 PM · I was recently installing kitchen cabinet doors in a townhouse for someone. Since the hinges didn't pop into place as they should have, next syep is to force it, so I grabbed a mallet.....just after the 5th and final hit, the doorbell rang.

upon opening the door i was greeted with " NO MORE POUNDING, ITS ALMOST 9 pm".

not a please...or "i have to wake up at 4 am"' or when will you stop...or i have a baby i just put to sleep.....nothing. The women was retired, and the time was actually 8:45pm.

if that happened to me after I started playing a violin, 3 to 4K to enable pursuing a hobby/profession seems reasonable, especially given unreasonable neighbors. I'm fortunate enough to live in a house, but I can appreciate what the apt, condo and townhouse dwellers go thru.

June 22, 2012 at 03:48 PM · I'm in the end house of a row (an old victorian) but a previous owner cleverly installed almost a foot of sound proofing in the connecting wall so I never hear the neighbours nor them us (as far as I know). Its quiet bliss!

The sound issue is with my house mate who is very sensitive and instantly distracted by any noise. A sound cubicle should fix that in a surer way than any attempt to proof a room (I've tried going that route already - although not to its limit so its still a possible alternative) and would allow me to even play in the night if I felt like it (I wake alot :-\ ).

June 22, 2012 at 05:10 PM · Maybe housemate can try the ear plugs during your practice sessions? Never hurt to give it a try. Calculate the amount of hassles a large soundproofing project might entail and turn them into into other type of rewards for both you and your housemate instead so as to motivate and keep this much simpler solution. A win-win situation, is it not?

My sinologist and (somewhat frustrated) composer husband is also very sensitive to music sound and he is home a lot. He sets his office in the basement and I play upstairs. As the sound travels up a lot more than down, it works out pretty well this way.

If money is not an issue, how about rent a studio on a monthly basis if possible to see how it works?

June 23, 2012 at 03:34 AM · Part of what I enjoy about music is the resonances provided by the environment. I frankly have no idea what the Whisperroom will sound like; I would absolutely try one, or at least try to make a similar (albeit not as effective)model at home, and try it first.

You could build a model with some sheets of plywood, screwed to a 2X3 frame to hold them up. Staple ceiling tiles to the inside. Then see how your music sounds in the box.

Although this would not be effective for keeping all the noise inside, it would be something similar, from the inside perspective, I believe.

If this fails horribly, and the sound is unacceptable, then you will have saved yourself 6 grand!

June 23, 2012 at 10:40 AM · ROland - I fear that is like making a boat out of an old carton to test if you might like a canoe! You can float in it, but don't try crossing a lake....

Nice thought though :D

I am corresponding with the company and have asked them for contact information with a customer that actually uses it for playing. In this case, there is no substitution for real experience...

June 23, 2012 at 12:30 PM · These cubicles are great for making love in, but not much good for practising in or recording in. Get real!!!

June 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM · recording - I can see that - but why not for practise Peter?

June 23, 2012 at 04:47 PM · Too small, the sound can't go anywhere. If they were 15 x 10 feet minimum (preferably bigger) and were 11 feet high then they might be just about OK.

June 23, 2012 at 06:20 PM · the alternative is a 10'x11' bedroom... but now we are thinking of maybe building a studio in the garden :D

June 23, 2012 at 08:27 PM · Well, for a garden shed, you may try a kit:

http://www.cabanavillage.com/

About the same price range, but a bit roomier.

June 23, 2012 at 10:17 PM · thanks for the suggestion Roland ... thats one way to go.

June 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM · Oh, a garden studio would be divine. Much nicer than a telephone booth looking thing. :D

June 24, 2012 at 01:26 AM · ... but rather hard to do for the same price :-\

June 24, 2012 at 05:28 AM · Well, I'm only a fiddler, but if you want a room to isolate yourself while playing, I think I know just where!

http://www.hi-techredneck.com/Deer_stand.jpg

June 24, 2012 at 09:36 AM · A studio in the garden is a great idea, I am thinking of doing the same thing. This way I can practice at whatever time. I often play late at night and early mornings.

June 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM · roland - love it. And all set for the next tsunami too.. - whereup it would be 'sea-side property'...

July 5, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Don't eat beans before you go in that thing :-)

July 5, 2012 at 06:20 PM · Usually I only read and never really write anything on this website, since I just began playing the violin, but in this case I'll try to contribute:

I work as an audio engineer and composer for a video game designer, and have experience with those exact whisper rooms. They are usually used to record things where you simply need a very dry signal, mostly something like vocals. I've recorded drums, string instruments such as violins and celli in there, as the option of having no room sound at all is often better than having a bad room sound on the recording. With nowaday's technology, it's considerably easy to add a good room sound to a dry signal.

I am not too familiar with the American metrics system, so I will rather not comment on any size things. What I can say about the sound: The nature of the whisper rooms will always allow some bass to leak through... Controlling and isolating bass is the most difficult thing, obviously. For a violin, you should be fine. I would presume that one could hear the violin while standing next to the whisperroom a little, but there is another bit of room and wall between you and your housemate, you should definitely be fine.

The sound in the whisper room is accurately described as dead. I can promise you that. There will be no room sound. So this will rather be unpleasant to practice in, as everything you will have is the very dry sound of the violin. It depends... If you are someone who is driven rather by discipline, this might be good, as there will be no room sound to glue small mistakes together or make it sound nice, but everything will sound as is.

It's quite an expensive untertaking, so I would suggest spending 200-300 dollars on a good set of studio foam and put that on your walls. This might do the trick, depending on your walls. If not, you could then go for the more advanced options like the whisperroom.

July 5, 2012 at 08:07 PM · Christain - thank you so much for the input, its exactly what I was looking for. Meanwhile the WR option has been downgraded, mostly because I've yet to hear anyone say they have one and it works for practice! Looks like I can expand the basement bedroom and sound proof it for about the same price so thats the top option. Just waiting for a cost esitamte...

July 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM · Non entirely, apparently a certain John Cadd still seems interested. The rest of us seem to have moved on....

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