Bass Traps: How to Use Them for Soundproofing

a corner bass trap

Last updated: January 3, 2022 at 11:24 am

If you’re a musician, producer, or a mixer, then you’re probably constantly looking for ways to improve the sound of your studio or mixing room. Finding new methods can be time consuming and expensive, and many prove to be ineffective. Most solutions also do nothing to combat lower end frequencies.

If you’re looking to absorb the lower end frequencies in your studio, then you may have heard bass traps.

In this article:

We’ll explore everything to do with these panels. We’ll discuss whether you should buy them, how they work, and if they’re worth the money.

What are Bass Traps?

If you’ve got a studio, or music recording room, chances are you’ve got standard acoustic tiles on the walls. Whilst these are great for mid to high frequencies, they’re not so effective. This is because low-end frequencies have longer wavelengths, whilst higher ones have shorter ones. Standard acoustic tiles can absorb these shorter, less powerful waves, but isn’t as effective with longer waves, because there isn’t enough foam to absorb the wave. Bass waves are also much stronger than higher frequency waves, further reducing the effectiveness of acoustic tiles at absorbing bass.

This is where bass traps come in. They are foam tiles, just like standard soundproof panels, but are much thicker, and more able to absorb the stronger and longer waves of low frequencies. Bass traps are used to absorb bass notes, making them essential for any room used for mixing or recording.

Standard bass traps are normally around 12 inches wide, which is just enough to absorb bass for most bands and mixers. However, the wider the bass trap, the more it’ll absorb. So, if you’re looking for even more bass absorbance, you might want to consider 24-inch bass traps, which will be more than enough for low frequencies to be trapped.

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How to Use Bass Traps for Soundproofing

If you’ve got a recording studio, mixing room, or drum room, chances are you’re going to want to soundproof it. The last thing you want is to annoy your neighbours or family whilst recording. Luckily, bass traps can be used to soundproof lower frequency tones, which can be some of the loudest.

If you want to use bass traps for soundproofing, then the most important thing is going to be their placement. A few strategically placed bass traps will be much more effective than a dozen poorly placed ones.

Some musicians advocate mounting panels an inch away from the wall, as this can further help with reducing low frequency sound. Others suggest to mount your panels with monkey hooks. This will secure the weight of the panel and will simultaneously reinforce the panel to wall distance.

An important thing to bear in mind is that the thicker the panel, the more noise the panel will absorb. So, if you’re still struggling to absorb enough low frequency sound, try purchasing thicker panels. They’ll be more expensive, but they will also be much more effective.

Bass traps are ultimately a very difficult piece of equipment to use. This is because bass is so hard to control. Every room differs too, so what might work for us might not work for you. So, to use bass traps for soundproofing, it’s a good idea to use trial and error. See what works best for you with your room and set up and stick with this.

Where Bass Traps are Commonly Used

Bass traps are most used in the corners of a room. This is because low frequency pressure builds up at boundaries, which are generally in corners. This is because the corners pool pressure from each room. For the most effective set up, bass traps are placed at a 45-degree angle which covers the biggest boundary with the least amount of space. Another reason why many choose to put their bass traps in the corner is because they’re extremely expensive, and it wouldn’t be cost effective to place them all over your studio or mixing room.

A common question is whether bass traps must be used. Many people suggest that a simple panel placed in the corner could achieve the same results. However, most panels simply aren’t thick enough to compensate for the length of bass sound waves.

Another point to bear in mind is that some bass sound problems won’t be solved by simply placing bass traps in the corners of your room. Some bass sound waves come off the back wall of the room. This means that the back wall should also have panels. These don’t need to be as thick though – using bass traps can be expensive and could damage the overall sound of the room. Instead, use thinner panels along the wall. This will help to further increase the absorption of bass sound waves.

Using bass panels in these ways will dramatically enhance the sound of your room. Bass traps are expensive but used effectively you don’t have to buy many at all.

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Do Bass Traps Actually Work?

Some people absolutely swear by bass traps, and others think that they’re a waste of money. You may be confused as to what to believe – you don’t want to waste your money, but you need to fix the bass issue in your studio. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of bass traps, to help you with your decision.

Pros

Bass traps can dramatically enhance the sound quality within your room. This is because the bass traps will help to reduce noise pollution and sound reverbs, helping to increase the noise quality of your room.

Another nice pro is that bass traps are very aesthetic. Your studio is going to look the part if you use bass traps, and they have a very attractive design. So, you’re going to improve your sound and your visuals with bass traps.

Cons

One of the biggest disadvantages of bass traps has to be the fire safety. Bass traps aren’t exactly fire friendly, so in the event of a fire, they’ll produce a lot of smoke and likely increase the damage.
The other major drawback of bass traps is that they must be placed correctly.

Getting the perfect placement can become a tedious task, as moving a trap by just an inch can completely change the sound of the room. So, setting up bass traps is going to be a long and boring process.

Ultimately, if you use them right, bass traps will be great. But, used incorrectly, bass traps will be a complete waste of money.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, a bass trap can either become your best friend, or an absolute waste of money. It all boils down to how you use them. Set them up properly, and they’ll function perfectly. But fail to put them in the correct place, and they’ll absorb insignificant amounts of low frequencies.

You should buy bass traps if you’re willing to go through the tedious set up. But, if you don’t think that this effort will elicit enough reward, it might be a better idea to spend your money elsewhere.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 3 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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