What Are Bass Traps?

Bass traps, in general, as well as the full acoustic treatment rabbit hole, are fascinating. If you browse the internet, you’ll notice how many individuals are utterly enthralled by the subject.

The adrenaline wears off when you complete your own build, but the rewards endure a lifetime. It isn’t easy to overstate the significance of even the tiniest amount of sonic therapy.

Let’s get right to it. We’ll go over what they are, how they function, where and how to install them, how to make them on the cheap, where to purchase them, and a “super-secret” trick from seasoned mix engineers that will blow typical bass traps out of the water.

What Is A Bass Trap?

Since the others aren’t competent, these are a subset of acoustic treatments tailored particularly to tackle the bass frequencies. The explanation for this is that the others aren’t dense, thick, or put in the right places in the room to focus on the bass.

These traps address the problem that lower frequency noises travel through other panels untouched because of their wavelength. As a result, lower frequencies pile up in the environment, making recordings seem boomy and muddy.

bass traps

How Do Bass Traps Work?

These operate in the same way, just like any other absorption panel. Rather than being fluffy and soft, they’re made of high-density insulation compressed into rectangles. Acoustic waves vibrate all of the innumerable fiberglass strands when they penetrate the panels.

When audio waves travel by and cause friction in the fibers, they must expend part of their energy. When a sound wave loses energy, it loses volume. The audio energy is converted into physical vibrations, which are ultimately dispersed as heat in the room.

Bass traps have a higher gas flow resistance, which means they give more resistance to the flow of air, which is what sound waves are since they are thicker and denser, cramming more fibers into a smaller area.

Categories of Bass Traps

There are two categories that are commonly used:

Porous Absorbers

When it comes to general acoustic issues, porous absorbers are the first layer of protection.

They can be created out of a number of different materials, including:

  • Fiberglass
  • Acoustic foam
  • Rockwool

They’re also incredibly successful at resolving frequent issues like:

  • Flutter echo
  • Room modes
  • Standing waves
  • Interference response at the speaker boundary

They’re so adaptable because they have good broadband absorption, which means they can work across the whole frequency range.

From SoundonSound

Resonant Absorbers

On the other hand, Porous absorption provides excellent broadband coverage but sometimes falls short on bass absorption. Resonant absorbers, on the other hand, perform the exact opposite.

By focusing on specific bass frequency issues while disregarding everything else in the mid/upper range.

And, unlike porous traps, which operate best when separated away from the wall, resonant absorbers perform best where sound waves clash, as that is where the pressure is most significant. This is great news since it implies they will take up significantly less room in the room.

There are two types of resonant absorbers:

  • Diaphragmatic Absorbers: Bass frequencies can be reduced by using a vibrating membrane and a panel.
  • Helmholtz Resonators: Through a small port in an airtight cavity, bass frequencies are absorbed.
From Acoustic Fields

What Are the Benefits of Bass Traps and Other Panels?

The purpose of acoustic treatment is to flatten the frequency curve in order to eliminate as much room effect as feasible. The reaction can then be fine-tuned even further to minimize peaks and dips if necessary.

Standard acoustic treatment panels are normally 2 inches thick and placed in particular locations throughout your space to reduce reflections in the upper and mid-range frequencies. They’re mostly put in the first reflection zones, although they’re also strewn about the room.

Absorption panels are what they’re called. They’re often referred to as broadband panels since they cover the majority of the frequency range from bottom to top, but they don’t go very deep into the bass range, which is why we need bass traps with a thickness of 4 inches.

Cloud panels serve the same purpose as ceiling panels, but they also assist in reducing reflections between the ceiling and the floor. There are other diffusers that, rather than capturing the energy from sound waves, disperse it, making it too feeble to have an effect.

Helmholtz resonators, which are adjusted to vibrate at a specific frequency to alleviate troughs in the room’s response, are also available. These are the most common varieties of panels, and they all have advantages when used together.

The purpose is to eliminate reflections, room mode resonances, peaks and dips in different frequencies at odd points in the room, reverb, flutter echoes, phase cancellation, and other issues.

What’s essential to remember is that cheap foam panels won’t help you much other than stop high-frequency reflections. They’re too thin to withstand even low-mid frequencies, let alone bass. Real panels are required. Below, we’ll go over the differences in detail.

Where Should Bass Traps Be Installed?

To figure out where to put these panels, you must first comprehend where and why bass accumulates in the space. Since the bass wavelengths are so lengthy, they can travel through the room’s less dense and thinner panels.

To keep things simple, bass waves endure and start building up in the rooms over the most significant distances because of their longer wavelengths. This implies that the largest culprits are the lengths between corners and the front and back walls.

“If I only have one bass trap, where should I put it?” is a frequently posed question. They’re trying to figure out which portions of the room should get these bass-targeting panels installed first. The following are the top priorities:

  1. Center of front wall
  2. Floor-to-ceiling corners
  3. All other corners
  4. Center of back wall

Any 90-degree angle between two walls is referred to be a corner. For example, the front wall could meet the ceiling, a side wall, or the floor. The greatest importance is given to the floor-to-ceiling corners and the room’s four corners.

Since the insulation is created in this shape, you’ll often build four distinct 4-inch thick panels of thicker stiff fiberglass in the shape of a rectangle. They’d be hung so that they straddled the corners.

From Arc Acoustics

This leaves a space behind the panel, allowing the bass wave to bounce off the wall and return to your trap for a second time! It’s the most cost-effective method of using these traps, particularly if you’re on a limited budget. For this purpose, we hang all panels with a space behind them.

However, stay tuned because we’ll show you how to create these in an elite style called a Superchunk if you have the budget. You’ll need a lot more insulation to pull it off, but the end result will be tenfold better, and it will look nicer.

How to Construct a Bass Trap

There are four simple stages to do it yourself that require space and time, but you’ll save a great deal of money if you can do it.

  1. Buy Owens-Corning Rigid Fibreglass 705

To begin, you’ll have to locate a source for Owens-Corning rigid fiberglass panels. You want their 705 panels to be denser for bass traps! However, they’re more challenging to come by on Amazon, and they’re much more costly and sold in smaller amounts. As a result, we suggest going to your Home Depot or local Lowes and having it ordered for you.

If 2-inch thick panels are accessible, we advise getting them. You can acquire the 1-inch thick ones, but since you want a total thickness of 4 inches, you’ll have to stack four of them together rather than two.

Although they’re easier to cut, it’s best to maintain them in the precise shape they come in. You may make a guide by drawing lines across them using a marker.

  • Construct Wooden Frames

The next procedure is to construct wooden frames for the panels to be placed in. Since the insulation is currently somewhat substantial, we recommend utilizing very light wood. The next decision is whether you want this frame to be visible when they’re hung.

I left mine open, and it was a hassle to staple the cloth inside correctly, so it appeared tucked in a while, still wrapping around the insulation. I’m about to totally wrap mine, so we advise you do so right away.

  • Use Fabric to Cover Your Panels

It would be best if you had a fire-resistant cloth that is still air-permeable, and you should wrap your rectangles with wrapping paper. The fabric can be stapled to the back of the frame, and a second rectangle portion can be cut to conceal the back. The goal is to keep insulation fibers from circulating in the air.

To repeat, your primary worry here is threefold. You should consider what color fabric you want, if it’s fire-resistant and whether or not you want to expose the frame. We recommend thoroughly wrapping it, having done the reverse earlier.

  • Attaching the Traps to the Wall

It’s difficult to hang them, and no one knows “the perfect way.” Eye-hooks and metal cables have been used on the wall by certain persons.

Because it’s difficult to undo or start over, attempt to think ahead and look at a lot of photographs of recording studios online to examine potential ideas. Getting things right the first time is a lot easier!

Superchunks: The Most Effective DIY Bass Trap

The panels are necessary for creating back and front wall traps and bass clouds. However, when it comes to your four major corners, an ultimate method known as the Superchunk is far more effective at absorbing bass waves.

You can cut a single Owens-Corning 705 panel in half and then diagonally cut each half into fourths. Perfect triangles remain, which can be arranged in a corner. So, rather than having a large gap of air, you fill that whole pouch of air with fiberglass!

It’s lovely to have sound waves bounce off the wall and return through a straddled rectangle panel, but this is even nicer. Note that thickness matters when it comes to bass waves, and this one is thick. In addition, instead of just one piece, it will encompass the entire area from floor to ceiling.

From Online Mixing

Our suggestion is to securely wrap each stack of roughly ten triangles in thin cloth before stacking them in the corner. Build a foundation above them for the following round of 10 or 20 triangles, depending on your preference.

This helps maintain the Superchunk more sturdy by preventing the bottom of the stack from being unduly squeezed by the weight above it.

You can either staple cloth to this frame or make a separate frame that connects to it. This fabric-wrapped auxiliary frame looks nice and provides access to the Superchunk’s interior. That concludes our discussion.

Conclusion

Whether you’re working on a mixing mastering room, a recording studio, a home theater, or even a large gymnasium, these time-consuming but magnificent panels will make a world of difference.

The main reason for this is that when there is too much low-end in a room, you have to use equalization to eliminate it, which means you have to lower the volume of sections of the vocals or instrument you recorded as well. It’s preferable not to allow it into the recording at all.

That’s why a bass trap exists. And you’ll need at least six, if not many more, rather than just one. That’s not even taking into account the many sorts of absorption panels you’ll require. It’s a thrilling experience that’s easy to become engrossed in. It’s a lot of fun, and once you’re done, it’s even more satisfying.

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