What Are Bass Traps and Why Do You Need Them?

bass-traps-recording-studio

Why are bass traps so important? One of the first order of business when creating your home recording studio is to deal with the low end. Bass trapping is paramount to your recording studio design since it takes care of the low frequencies and leaves you with a better sounding home studio.

Treating and tuning your studio room with correct acoustic treatment is a must if you want to get serious about your home recordings. If you have a DIY tendency, there are a few great resources on the web that teach you how to create your own traps.

DIY Bass Trapping

  • KymataSound has a great article that shows you how to easily create your own low end absorbers.
  • Bass Traps .net is a forum that’s dedicated to DIY bass trapping. It has a FAQ on acoustics as well as discussions on optimum bass trapping.

A video says more than a thousand words as well, and this one has been extremely helpful for me as well:

Is Absorption Enough?

bass traps and absorptionThe difference between a bass trap and an absorber is that absorbers only absorb the middle to high frequencies. Bass traps absorb much lower frequencies due to their thickness. A thicker trap means lower frequency absorption. So even though an absorption panel on your walls works well with mid to high frequencies, it’s not thick enough to absorb the low end.

Placement Tips

Bass usually builds up pretty heavily in the corners. Therefore it’s a good strategy to place all your traps in the corners where they will absorb the most amount of bass. If you have created your own panel traps be sure to place them in a 45° angle in the corner so you eliminate the 90° angle of your walls.

Not only will the placement work the best for bass trapping but it will also help scatter and diffuse the sound-waves in the room. It’s always a good idea to try to minimize as many 90° corners as possible so if you can do that while also absorbing the low end of your room you’re killing two bird with one stone.

How Much?

In a normal control room it’s always a good idea to not completely deaden the space. You want a little liveness to the room but that’s not the case when it comes to the low end.

You might put up mid to high frequency absorber around the room to give it an even sound but you wouldn’t completely tile the room with absorbers unless you are creating a completely dead recording space like a vocal booth.

You can’t really put up too much bass trapping. It’s a good idea, if you can, to line every corner in your room with low end traps. Bass is very hard to manage so if you have the option, you should definitely try to put as many in your home recording studio as you can.

A great home recording studio isn’t only about all the great gear you can buy. There has to be careful consideration put into how you want your room to sound. If you treat your room like the crucial factor that it is it will be much easier to get a professionally sounding mix out of it.

Ps.

Your room is the MOST important aspect of your recordings. If you’re not treating your room, you’re not helping your recordings. If you don’t understand room acoustics, no amount of gear will help you get better sounds. Check out Understanding Your Room for more info on the best way to acoustically treat your rom.

Image by: AleBonvini

  • I have always worked in quite “dead” sounding rooms in my audio engineering career. Having started working in broadcast originally so I tend to favour a fairly dead acoustic personally. It’s a personal preference as much as anything and I like to know what I hear is predominatly the output of the monitors and not reflections. Bass traps are arguably one of the best upgrades to a room where mixing happens, nice post. cheers

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  • Hate to tell you that those first 2 comments are spam. But in reference to your post, we rent studio space where we can’t do anything permanent as far as building bass traps or mounting anything on the walls. Not to mention, the entire space is covered in foam soundproofing, because multiple bands rent out space. Do you have any suggestions that would add life to the room? a little reflectivity or ambience would be great. Right now, it’s dead as a door nail.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Ugh…thanks for that. I’d totally forgotten about that.

      Well. The easy way is to just bring in some planks of wood, either prop it up against the walls or in front of the kick drum.

      Since you can’t tear anything down the only way is to cover it up like that.