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An isolation booth is a soundproof, and often vision proof booth used on game shows to isolate a competitor from hearing the answers of another competitor. The isolation booth was first used on televised shows like the $64,000 Question.
The use of the isolation booth in this particular program was well documented in the film Quiz Show since answers were slipped to certain participants, thus negating the game’s true results. Some participants were asked to throw games in order to bring on contestants who seemed more popular or “watchable.” The controversy using the isolation booth in Question led to stricter rules for participation in game shows.
Classic uses of the isolation booth in game shows were the Newlywed Game and Family Feud. The new version of Family Feud still makes use of an isolation booth for certain portions of the show. The popular game show on Comedy Central, Win Ben Stein’s Money also employs an isolation booth.
An isolation booth is also used in the recording industry as part of a recording studio. A person recording a vocal track for instance, would hear only the music via earphones and would sing the track. The booth is soundproof so that recording is not marred by sounds from the outside. As well, the musician is not disturbed or distracted by exterior sounds, shortening overall recording time.
Sometimes the penalty box used in hockey is called an isolation booth, although it does not have to be soundproof. Hugh Hood, a well-respected Canadian writer who has written several non-fiction works about hockey, titles his third collection of short stories as The Isolation Booth. As well, the Cincinnati Enquirer has a regular sports column, mostly authored by Mark Curnutte called “The Isolation Booth.”
Occasionally sportscasters at major sporting events also use a somewhat soundproof booth in order to observe and report on a game without letting in a significant amount of crowd noise. One will often see sportscasters like John Madden broadcasting from a booth high up in a stadium. These booths tend not to be completely soundproof, so are not theoretically isolation booths.