What are Bass Traps? Can You Do Without?
Bass Traps are (usually) compressed fiberglass fiber panels for absorbing low frequency sound waves to improve or enhance the sound quality produced by equipment such as subwoofer or large speakers. Bass traps are typically sqaure or rectangular shape of about 2′ x 2′ or 2′ x 4′ and around 3 to 6 inches thick, or even thicker depends on your room size and shape. However, thinner traps are more suited for higher frequencies, so if you are trapping low bass frequencies, you may want to start off with 3 inches or thicker. Custom sizes and thickness can be achieved with DIY bass traps. Commercial bass trap, such as the Auralex SonoLite Bass Trap uses its propreitory acoustic foam for maximum low end control which are popular among acoustic enthusiasts and professionals.
Bass waves bounce off walls, ceilings and floors and tend to gather at corners. A typical square or rectangular room will have 12 corners – 4 wall to wall corners, 4 wall to ceiling corners and 4 wall to floor corners. The bass volume that builds up at the 12 corners may vary depending on the placement of gears like subwoofer and monitor, and the structures within the room. Hence, bass traps placed in room corners can clear up the low frequency response making the bass sound a lot tighter and flatter. Also depending on the room size and shape, arresting low bass frequencies may require some experience and knowledge, as you are dealing with low frequency sound waves, which are extremely long and powerful. That makes it pretty tough to control, particularly in a small room.
Where to Place Bass Traps in a Small Room
Small rooms are usually a challenge to do bass trapping. You will need experience and a pair of good ears to begin. Get ready 2 or 3 pieces of 2′ x 2′ x 3″ and 2′ x 4′ x 1″ Auralex SonoLite and ProPanels and place the panels at locations where you feel the bass is heaviest. Record a consistent bass tone and loop play while you move around the room to determine which corner or area has the highest bass build-up, and mark the location and temporary secure a SonoLite or ProPanel and listen for improvement. Keep repeating until all the ‘hotspots’ are identified, add more panels if needed. Once you are satisfied with the bass trap placement, secure the panels. Again, room testing requires considerable experience. If you are inexperience, investing in a sound level meter may be a good start and save you lots of guessing. The SL meter gives you a visual indication of the bass volume, and the best location to install a bass trap is where the volume is highest. A reasonably good Sound Level Meter cost just about $50 – $70 at Amazon.
Bass Traps vs Acoustic Panels
Basically, a bass trap is also an acoustic panel. The difference however is the thickness and its application. If you are trying to control low bass frequencies down to as low as 40Hz, then a thick and denser (read 4″ to 6″ thick) bass trapping panel is more appropriate. In general, acoustic panels are thinner and meant for mid to higher frequencies such as speech, treble etc. A combination of both bass traps and acoustic panels are desirable to control standing waves, nulls, flutters and echoes.
Should You Make Your Own Bass Traps?
While it’s common knowledge that bass traps can really help improves responses at low frequencies, not all cases have the luxury of space and budget. If you are tight on your wallet and doesn’t have a big room to begin with, you can build your own bass traps to suit your needs. However, depending on how skillful your hand is, generally anyone can make a reasonably good looking bass trap that works like those commercial ones. But if aesthetic is just as important as the high quality sound expectation to you, then the factory made acoustic treatment products is an option you might want to consider. They are professionally fabricated and calibrated to meet both your visual and aural expectations.
Here’s a good video on how to make a bass trap acoustic panel by Nenne Effe.
DIY Bass Traps ↓
Decided to follow Nenne Effe’s way to build your own bass traps?
Nenne has certainly made it look all so easy, and it is. Let’s get you started fast and hassle free. You can get all the material you saw in the video all in one place and in the comfort of your living room. Nenne Effe DIY Bass Traps Material – Get It Here