If you’re looking to block excessive low frequencies from ruining the sound produced within a confined space, then you’ll love bass traps. Bass traps have innovated the world of acoustic treatment as they reduce echo and limit low-frequency waves, preventing them from interfering with specific sounds. However, if you’ve never worked with bass traps before, it can be challenging to determine just how many you need to acoustically treat a room.
You usually need around 10 to 20 bass traps to acoustically treat a standard-sized room. Depending on the size and location of the space, you might need a couple more or less. However, generally speaking, you’ll rarely be able to achieve the effect you want with fewer than six bass traps.
In the following sections, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about bass traps, their importance, and how to determine how many you’ll need to acoustically treat your unique space.
I’ll also explore some tips on how to optimize the performance of your bass traps by choosing the right variety and placing them strategically throughout a room. Therefore, if you’re considering investing in bass traps, make sure to read until the end of this guide.
How To Determine How Many Bass Traps You Need
Even though most standard-sized recording rooms and home theaters require between 10 and 20 bass traps, the number can still vary depending on a few factors, which we’ll discuss in this section. Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind when determining how many bass traps you need:
Consider the Size of the Room
Naturally, larger rooms will require significantly more bass traps for you to achieve the desired effect; however, if you’ve worked in the industry for a while, you know that most recording rooms (which are the most common spaces to require acoustic treatment) are on the smaller side. Therefore, as long as the area isn’t unusually big, 10 to 20 bass traps should suffice.
Even though the reason why larger rooms require more bass traps might seem obvious, I still want to explain it a bit better. Bigger spaces come with larger absorption surfaces that need to be acoustically treated. In other words, there’s a larger area that can reflect low bass frequencies, which means you’ll have more ground to cover.
Consider the Shape of the Room
You’d be surprised to learn just how much the shape and layout of a room can affect the quality of its acoustics. Its size isn’t the only factor to consider here.
The shape, materials, and general layout can also affect the quality of sound produced within that space. For example, round rooms usually produce better-quality acoustics due to the streamlined nature of the walls. This means that these spaces might require fewer bass traps than their rectangular or square counterparts.
Consider Your Acoustic Goal
The reason why you’re installing bass traps in the first place can also affect the number of panels you’ll need. As we’ve already established, bass traps can serve a wide array of purposes, and as a result, they can be used virtually anywhere, from recording studios to home theaters.
However, not all applications require the same level of commitment. For example, if you’re simply looking to acoustically treat your home theater to optimize your personal viewing experience, you can afford to let a few low-frequency sounds slide here and there.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional musician or producer looking to achieve impeccable sounds within a recording studio, you’ll have to be far more rigid when it comes to your acoustic treatment protocol. As a result, you may need to install a few extra bass traps just to make sure that the quality of your sound is perfect.
As you can see, considering your acoustic goal during the decision-making process can help you better determine the number of bass traps you actually need.
Consider the Materials Used Within a Space
If you’ve never worked with acoustics before, you might be surprised to find out that different materials boast different sound absorption coefficients.
Therefore, make sure to check out the link embedded above to figure out just how sound-absorbent your walls and furnishings are. As you may or may not know, low-frequency sounds are generally harder to absorb than their high-frequency counterparts.
Therefore, if the materials your space is made of have an especially low sound absorption coefficient, you might want to invest in a few extra panels of bass traps to ensure you achieve the acoustic effect you’re after.
The Importance of Bass Traps
I know that all this information might seem overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the world of acoustics. After reading through all the factors you’ll need to consider to make a seemingly simple decision, you might be left wondering: “Is any of this worth it?”.
Going off the general consensus in the music world, I’d say the answer is a resounding “yes.” Acoustically treating a room is of the essence when trying to achieve a specific sound, and installing bass traps is a vital part of the process.
However, if this is the first time you’re researching bass traps, you might be wondering – what do they actually do?
Well, as mentioned, the sole purpose of bass traps is to reduce excessive low frequencies that might negatively affect the sound. If you’ve ever heard loud bass, you’re already familiar with that echoing “boom” that gives you a headache any time the bass drops.
When installing bass traps, you eliminate this problem altogether. That way, you’re far better able to enjoy the music the way it was intended to be listened to.
However, as I’ve already mentioned, bass traps aren’t only used in recording studios and music-related spaces. They’re a necessity in any area where you expect to encounter loud sounds, and home theaters are no exception.
Irritating low frequencies that seem to overpower the rest of the sounds can negatively affect your movie-watching experience. That’s why many homeowners consider the installation of bass traps a must any time they build a home theater.
In short, while (obviously) you don’t need to add bass traps to just any room, if you’re looking to acoustically treat a space and produce clear, high-quality sounds, installing bass traps is a must.
How To Make the Most Out of Fewer Bass Traps
The bad news is that, while bass traps are essential, they’re also relatively expensive. Considering you’ll likely have to invest in more than a dozen panels, you can imagine how the costs can quickly add up.
The price for bass traps can vary depending on their size and quality; however, if you’re looking to get the job done right, you can’t escape a hefty price tag, no matter how good of a deal you can get.
A single bass trap panel can set you back around 80-something dollars. Luckily, if you buy them in packs, you might be able to save some money. However, even if you do decide to purchase larger quantities, don’t expect dirt cheap prices.
A reasonably-priced 8-pack can cost anywhere from $250 to $500, and you’ll likely need double the bass traps to fully treat a room. Combine that with the fact that you’ll likely need to hire a professional to get the job done, and you can do the math yourself.
The good news is that even if you’re on a tighter budget, you can still get a great performance out of your bass traps so long as you place them strategically and choose the right type.
This section is written for those who know that they need more bass traps to acoustically treat their space fully but are limited by their budget.
I want to note that no matter how you go about the installation process, you have to adjust your sound quality expectations when installing fewer bass traps than necessary. With that said, there are some ways to get the most out of your limited panels.
Where To Place Bass Traps
The best way to improve the performance of your bass traps is to place them strategically throughout the room. This tip is valid even for those who can afford to get plenty of panels, as location can still play a significant role in the end result.
When placing bass traps, you always want to start in the corners (provided you have a rectangle or square room). There’s a reason why round rooms provide much better acoustics than their rectangular counterparts – the pressure of low frequencies tends to rise whenever the sounds encounter a boundary.
Before moving on to the following paragraphs, it’s important to note that when referring to “corners,” I’m talking about trihedral corners, as these are the most common culprits of low-frequency build-up. Trihedral corners are the point where two walls and the ceiling or floor meet. So, in total, a rectangular or square room has eight trihedral corners.
Therefore, installing bass traps at a 45-degree angle in each of the room’s corners is an excellent way to “buffer” the effect of excessive bass pressure. This means that if you only have eight panels, you’ll want to place them in each corner to optimize their performance. However, if you only have four panels, it’s best to prioritize covering the upper four trihedral corners.
Only after you’ve got the corners covered can you move on to other areas. If your room is not perfectly square or rectangular, starting out by covering the flattest surfaces is the way to go.
However, keep in mind that there’s a reason why usually far more than eight panels are required to acoustically treat a room. You won’t be able to negate all frequency-related issues simply by covering the corners with bass traps.
After dealing with the corners, you’ll want to add bass trap panels behind all the monitors located in the space. This is because these electrical devices are commonly set up close to boundaries, which, as explained, can lead to low-frequency build-up.
Types of Bass Traps
Another excellent way to make the most out of fewer bass traps is to strategically choose the type that best suits your needs. If you’re not familiar with the world of bass traps, you might not know that there are actually a few options to choose from.
You’ll usually have to decide between broadband bass traps and tune bass traps.
The former are usually made of acoustic foam, fiberglass, or rockwool, meaning they’re very porous and sound-absorbent. For this reason, they’re the most commonly chosen variety among homeowners and musicians looking to soundproof their spaces.
Broadband bass traps are extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, from producing high-quality music to hearing your favorite movie loud and clear.
Another reason why these bass traps are especially popular among homeowners and newer musicians is that they’re relatively inexpensive. However, their main drawback is that they can’t completely eliminate extreme low-end frequencies.
Therefore, if you’re working in a professional environment and want to eliminate these frequencies entirely, you might want to invest in tuned bass traps.
Tuned bass traps are specifically designed to eliminate low-end frequencies. While they don’t serve as broad of a purpose as their broadband counterparts, they’re the way to go if extreme low frequencies are a significant concern you can’t seem to get rid of.
These might be a bit pricier, but their efficiency and ease of installation justify the hefty costs. However, are they the right choice for you?
The answer is: “It depends.” Generally speaking, I’d say that a combination of both broadband and tuned bass traps would be the way to go. Therefore, you’ll still be able to have a broader range of frequencies absorbed without letting any of them pass through.
However, if you’re looking to only invest in one variety, I say take a look at your goals and budget. If you’re a homeowner or newer musician looking to improve your sound without breaking the bank, I say go for broadband bass traps. They serve a more general purpose and are easier on the wallet.
On the other hand, if you’re a pro for whom eliminating extreme low frequencies is a major concern, tuned bass traps might be the better choice.
Determining the right number of bass traps to install in a room can significantly affect the efficiency of your acoustic treatment. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind when considering how many bass traps you should install in space, with the most important being the size of the room.
As you saw in this article, installing bass traps can be expensive. So, if you don’t have the budget to invest in enough of them, make sure to follow the above tips to get the most out of the ones you have.
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