Do Bass Traps Need To Be Floor to Ceiling?


If you’re creating your own home studio for the first time, you may wonder where to put your bass traps. It’s a known fact that they best absorb sound waves when placed at the corners. But do they need to be floor to ceiling?

Bass traps don’t need to be floor to ceiling. The best places are wall-wall-ceiling and wall-wall-floor corners because that’s where the more acoustic pressure accumulates. While floor-to-ceiling bass traps provide ideal absorption, they’re not always viable if you need space on the floor.

In this post, we’ll examine what a bass trap is, recommend where to put bass traps, how to make DIY bass traps, and what types of bass traps you can choose.

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How Do Bass Traps Work?

Whenever you record, play a musical instrument, or turn on a loudspeaker in an indoor space, your ears receive a combination of direct sounds and reflections. The reflections (low frequencies) come off the walls, floor, and ceiling and won’t let you hear the original sound accurately. 

To increase sound quality, you can use bass traps.

Bass traps are specialized absorbers, which reduce low frequencies below 300 Hz. Since low-end frequencies have long and strong wavelengths, having bass traps is necessary. 

They’re typically found in home studios, music studios, and home theaters for recording and mixing. If you’re serious about home recordings, having bass traps is a must as they leave you with a perfect home studio. 

For more information, check out this article about how thick bass traps need to be.

Where Is the Best Place To Put Bass Traps?

The best place to put bass traps is where bass waves build up, namely the longest distances in any room. That’s because of their long wavelengths, which makes corner-to-corner spaces and wall-to-wall distances the main culprits.  

The most effective place to put bass traps is in the corners of the room because that’s where most high-pressure sound waves usually happen (called room mode). You can put two bass traps in each corner or only equip two corners closest to the speakers. Another reason for putting bass traps in the corners is that you use up the least amount of space in your room without wasting the usable space.

There are three main places that you can install bass traps:

Tri-Corner

Tri-corner is where two walls reach the ceiling or the floor. You can find eight tri-corners in a square or rectangular room. If you have enough material, place the bass traps in all eight corners because low frequencies generally accumulate in these areas. Otherwise, cover the upper corners for better absorption as well as saving yourself the floor space.

These corners are essential parts of the room that you should treat. If you leave them out, you won’t get your desired sound.

Vertical Wall Corners

Placing bass traps in a wall corner can reduce bass waves reflecting off the wall. These placements complement the tri-corner treatment, making your treatment more effective. It’s also a good idea to leave some gap between the corner and the bass trap. This way, the soundwaves that bounce off the corners will be absorbed by the bass trap again.

Ceiling

To reduce floor-to-ceiling echo, you can place bass traps on the ceiling. However, treating the corners is more important. You can also place horizontal bass traps along the walls attached to the ceilings.

As you can see, the bass traps don’t need to be from floor to ceiling, although it’s the ideal setup. If you don’t have enough bass traps, you can put them halfway from the walls to the ceiling. Plus, it’s not always viable because they take up some room on the floor, while you may need the space. 

As a rule of thumb, treat the corners closest to the speakers to absorb the most low-frequency sound energy. It’s important to do many experiments, placing the traps at different corners and using frequency measurement software to make sure you’ve minimized low-frequency waves.

You could also place some bass traps on the walls, especially if the room is large and the walls are far away from each other.   

For more information, check out this article about where to put bass traps in your home studio.

How To Make Bass Traps

What you’ll need:

  • A 1’x 4’ (30.45 cm x 123 cm) simple wooden frame
  • Two 2’x 4’ (61 cm x 123 cm) fiberglass panels
  • A piece of 50′ x 26′ (15m x 8m) breathable fabric such as cotton, silk, or polyester

Then follow these steps:

  1. On a level surface, lay two pieces of fiberglass panels down.
  2. Then, lay wood strips on the fiberglass pile.
  3. Measure the panels’ length and width carefully because the fiber glasses could be more or less than their accurate measurements.
  4. Clamp the wood pieces and screw them together to make a perfect rectangular panel.
  5. Pre-drill holes and screw the long sides of the panel into the short sides.
  6. Cover the frame with fabric, stretch it as tight as you can, staple the corners first and then finish stapling across all four sides.

Now you have a secured surface, which prevents the fiberglass from falling.

To hang your bass traps in the corner, attach picture wire and hooks to the back of the frame. Then add two more on the wall forming the corner. 

Congratulations! You’ve successfully made the bass traps in your home studio!

For more information, check out whether you need bass traps in a vocal booth.

Bass Trap Types

There are different types of bass traps, each with different features suitable for various purposes and room designs. Some bass traps can absorb low-frequency sounds by trapping the wave’s velocity before it reaches the surface. Others work by absorbing the wave’s pressure after it hits the surface. 

Here are the main two:

Porous Bass Traps

As the most common low-frequency absorbers, they’re also called frictional or velocity absorbers. They slow down the air molecules through friction, change the sound energy to heat, thus absorbing the low-frequency waves. 

In addition to being cheap and DIY-friendly, porous absorbers can absorb high and mid frequencies, too. They prevent bass buildup on the surface by absorbing the wave’s velocity. They’re also very easy to set up, so you don’t need professional help. 

That said, they work by capturing the bass energy at its highest. So, you need special calculations and experimentation to find that spot in the room to install the bass traps there.

They’re also versatile in taming low-frequency waves because of their superb broadband absorption capabilities. But because they can’t absorb the lowest base frequencies, they should be thick, making them bulky and taking a lot of room.

Common materials for making porous absorbers include acoustic foam, Rockwool, and fiberglass.

Resonant Absorbers

Resonant bass traps are pressure absorbers that trap the wave when they hit the surface. They’re the most effective bass control solution because they’re specific to bass taming by ignoring other frequencies. However, they need a professional diagnosis to identify the room’s acoustic features, making them difficult to set up. Their placement differs from room to room, which is why they’re called tuned absorbers.

The biggest problem with resonant absorbers is that they have to be custom-designed by a professional. So, if you can’t build them properly, they can’t tame the bass frequencies effectively and even create more problems if they resonate at the wrong frequency.

Plus, they’re more expensive than porous absorbers, although they take up less room. That’s because they’re pressure absorbers that work best closest to the wall.

Two main types of resonant absorbers are Helmholtz and diaphragmatic resonators, the latter being easier to design and set up and taking up less room.

Final Thoughts

Bass traps are essential for absorbing low-frequency waves to make home studios or recording rooms sufficiently dry.

It’s not essential to put bass traps from floor to ceiling, although doing so will be more effective. The best places to put bass traps are trihedral corners, the corners where walls and ceilings or walls and floors meet. The second-best place is the dihedral corners, which are wall-wall or wall-ceiling, or wall-floor corners.

Sources

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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