In an ideal world, we would design our home studios to ensure the perfect acoustics. But for those who just had a spare room that they converted into a home studio, that luxury may not exist. Fortunately, there are acoustic treatments that you can use, including bass traps.
Place bass traps into the corners of your home studio because these are where lower frequencies usually build up and become problematic for your studio’s sound. But some types work better when placed at specific points, like the trihedral and dihedral corners.
But how do you ensure that you get the most out of bass traps? Read on and find out what bass traps are and where you should place a particular bass trap to get better sounds in your home studio or home entertainment area.
Bass Traps: What Are They?
A bass trap can help you tune your home studio, helping to lessen the effects of having too much bass building up in your room.
When you have an enclosed space, it will have resonant frequencies that will either build up or get canceled depending on your room’s shape and dimension. A bass trap will help take care of the low frequencies, thereby lowering the effects of standing waves.
Standing waves are when a sound goes from one surface to the other that is parallel to it. The sounds that bounce off parallel walls can interfere with each other. Standing waves are destructive for your studio’s acoustics, but if you can’t redesign your home studio, the easiest way to minimize standing waves is to use absorbers.
Because bass traps absorb low frequencies, these waves do not interfere with each other. At the same time, you can get more accurate bass in your recordings.
Do bass traps work? Check this video to hear the difference in a room before and after bass traps were installed.
Why Home Studios Need Bass Traps
The thing with low frequencies is that they have significantly longer wavelengths than mid and high-range frequencies. The low frequency at 20 hertz can reach 55 feet (17 meters) in length compared to only 0.67 inches (17 millimeters) for sound waves with frequencies of 20 kilohertz.
In a home studio where the walls are closer to each other, the long sound waves bounce back and create resonance in the small room. What happens is that you will have track sounds with similar-sounding bass or even bass sounds clouding the entire track.
Bass traps provide acoustic treatment to a small room for you to control the bass response.
Where to Put Bass Traps
If you only have to remember one thing, it is this: you should put bass traps in the corners of your room. First, put them at trihedral corners, and then line the dihedral corners with bass traps for better results.
Trihedral is a point where three planes meet, which should be the corner most points of a cube. In more direct terms, trihedral is where two walls meet the ceiling or the floor. Dihedral, on the other hand, is anything that is formed by only two planes. In this case, it is the line that is where the ceiling meets the wall, the floor, and the wall, and a wall to another wall.
Dihedral and trihedral corners. Image by the author.
When you have a recording studio at home, your typical acoustic panels will be good enough to absorb the mid and high frequencies. But these usually perform terribly when it comes to bass frequencies.
The bare minimum is to put your bass traps at the upper trihedral corners in a rectangular room, which is where two walls meet the ceiling. If you have more bass traps to work with, put them on all trihedral corners, including the corners where two walls meet the floor.
Ideally, however, you should cover dihedral corners as well. Place bass traps in the corners where two walls meet or where the walls and ceilings meet. Ignore the dihedral corners where the walls meet the floor.
The general rule is that the more bass traps you add, the better your bass response will be.
For more information, check out this article about how thick bass traps need to be.
Porous Material Bass Traps
Made out of mineral wool, open-cell foam, or fiberglass, this type of bass trap works on various frequencies, not just bass. However, these traps should be at least six inches (16 centimeters) deep to work on low frequencies.
When using bass traps with these materials, it is better to have some space wedged between it and the corner. Some products, such as the Acoustimac Low Frequency Bass Trap, are actually broadband absorbers. However, putting a distance between this product and the corner will improve its bass absorption. What’s more, it comes in different finishes, allowing you to match these bass traps with your studio’s color scheme or decor.
Start placing these bass traps at the corners closest to your speakers, and then just add more. You can not have too many of these porous bass traps as they can dampen a wide range of frequencies.
Narrowband Bass Traps
Most of the bass traps offered work to absorb a wide range of frequencies, not only bass. If you already have broadband bass traps and are still having specific frequencies, you can target these with tuned bass traps.
These are usually resonant absorbers tuned to a particular frequency, such as 70 hertz, for example. As such, it can dampen frequencies that are within a narrow range of 70 hertz.
The problem is that these narrowband and tunable bass traps can cost a lot. The Vicoustic Vari Bass Tunable Helmholtz Resonator, for one, costs $800 for a pair.
Where to Place Tuned Bass Traps
The best place to put these narrowband bass traps is near the corners where bass builds up more. Because these products are generally expensive, you must put them where they can be more in use, rather than buying more of them.
You can use software like the Room EQ Wizard, which will give you a good view of the acoustics around your home studio. This way, you can identify the places where bass builds up, and these are where you should put your tuned bass traps.
If you find it challenging to use the software, there’s an alternative where you play pink music and listen to where the bass sounds strongest.
Or you can follow the instructions outlined in this video:
Active Bass Traps
Perhaps another category of bass traps not given too much attention are active bass traps. These devices use bass absorption technology to do something akin to low-frequency noise-canceling. What’s more, products like the PSI Audio AVAA C20 don’t take up too much room but deliver the same bass absorption as 25 passive bass traps.
Using an active bass trap means that you don’t have to lose too much wall and floor space just to address your bass issues. The AVAA C20 also takes care of low frequencies ranging from 15 to 150 hertz.
Where to Put Active Bass Traps
Like tuned bass traps, these products work better if you place them where the sound pressure is highest. Another consideration is that active bass traps are powered, so you will need to put them close to the power source.
For more information, check out this article about whether bass traps need to be from floor to ceiling.
Where do you put bass traps? The easy and short answer is where low frequencies build up. Our suggestion is to start with the more affordable porous material bass trap and place them at the corners of your home studio for that broadband acoustic treatment. And then just fine-tune with narrowband bass traps placed strategically at the points where pressure is greatest for that particular frequency you’re trying to neutralize.
Find out more about how to cheaply soundproof your home studio.
- Merriam Webster: Dihedral
- Music Production Nerds: Where to Put Bass Traps – Quick & Easy Guide (for Dummies)
- Overtone Acoustics: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACOUSTIC PANELS AND BASS TRAPS?
- PSI Audio: AVAA C20 Active Bass Trap
- Sweetwater: Bass Trap
- Sweetwater: What is a standing wave?
- The Free Dictionary: trihedral
- UCAR Center for Science Education: Wavelength
- Youtube: Bass traps – With and without it
- YouTube: GIK Acoustics: Room Testing for Bass Trap Placement