Setting up a home studio comes with a lot of questions for first-timers. One question that often comes up is whether or not bass traps need to be floor to ceiling.
While it makes a lot of sense from a coverage perspective, is it a feasible solution for the vast majority of people?
Do Bass Traps Need to be Floor to Ceiling? No, they don’t need to be floor to ceiling. Instead, look for wall-wall-ceiling and wall-wall-floor corners because of acoustic pressure. This is where it accumulates, and is much more efficient than floor to ceiling bass traps.
A floor to ceiling bass trap does great with absorption, but it takes up too much space on the floor for most people to feel satisfied.
Recommended Base Traps (Amazon)
What Are Bass Traps?
Based traps are used to improve sound quality with all the different direct sounds and reflections happening inside of a closed area.
Low-frequency reflections come off the walls, floors, and ceilings. When untreated, they mess up direct sounds. Bass traps are great sound absorbers, reducing low frequencies below 300 Hz.
Not many realize that low-end frequencies have different wavelengths. To handle this issue, bass traps are pretty much essential. Whether it’s consuming or creating sound, bass traps essentially complete the area.
Where Should Bass Traps be Placed?
Look for the long distances inside of a room. Where bass waves build up, bass traps need to be installed. That’s why people usually have the biggest issues with corner-to-corner spaces and wall-to-wall distances.
Start by putting bass traps in the corner of the room. That’s where high-pressure sound waves are most likely to occur.
Think about placing two bass traps in each corner, or use the two corners closest to the speakers for treatment. Having them in the corners also takes up a lot less space, which can be crucial in some areas.
To be a bit more specific about placement, consider these three areas. When all three areas are covered, there is no longer a need to go beyond that for 99% of the people out there.
These traps are great for home setups, as well as professional rooms. There are not a ton of premium options out there, so most are using pretty much the same techniques to get the job done.
The technology might not be high-end, but they still make a world of difference when placed in the best positions. (Source)
Sticking a bass trap where two walls reach the ceiling or floor is a great place to start. There will be eight tri corners in any standard room (number goes up with weirdly shaped walls). Try-Corner Base Traps (Amazon).
The best results will have bass traps in all eight corners, but not everyone can fit that into their budget.
Go with the upper corners first, as it offers slightly better absorption and saves floor space. It won’t be as great as having all eight corners covered, but it will still make an improvement.
Balance out the room with those four before putting any on the ground. Going with anything less than four will likely not have much of an impact.
Vertical Wall Corners
Bass Traps Vertical Corners (Amazon) placed in a wall corner will reduce bass waves bouncing off the wall. Most people will combine vertical wall corners and tri corner treatment, as long as it fits in our budget.
Have a little bit of a gap between the corner and the bass trap with the setup. What it does is control the sound waves that bounce off the corners as they are absorbed by the bass traps.
A lot of floor to ceiling echo in a room is treatable with bass traps on the ceiling. Corners should be the most essential part, but placing horizontal base traps on the walls attached to the ceilings will help as well.
Going with bass traps that cover everything from floor to ceiling is overkill. For those who have fewer bass traps, put them halfway from the walls to the ceiling.
Make sure to treat the corners close to the speakers first, as it will absorb the low-frequency sound energy. Do a few different experiments to see where else they need to go before doing blanket coverage.
How Are Bass Traps Made?
There is a way to purchase ready-made bass traps for those who want to go that route. Others will think about the possibility of building them from scratch. They are fairly easy to build, needing just a few different items to bring it all together.
To start with, a wooden frame is necessary. Most will opt for something fairly convenient like a 1‘ x 4‘ set up. Since there’s a standard size, all the other sizes listed below are for that type of wooden frame.
Two fiberglass panels that are 2‘ x 4‘ become part of the project. Finally, some sort of breathable fabric like cotton, wool, or polyester rounds out a bass trap. The piece needs to be about 50‘ x 26‘to fit properly.
To start putting it together, lay the two pieces of fiberglass down. Clampdown the wood pieces of the frame and start screwing them together to make a perfect rectangular panel.
Look to pre-drill holes and potentially screw the long side of the panel into the short side to make life easier.
Once that’s done, cover up the frame with fabric. It needs to be stretched tightly, with the corner stapled so that it stays in place.
Once finished, put some picture wire and hooks on the back of the frame to put them up like a picture.
This makes it pretty easy to move around just about anywhere, and it’s an enjoyable experience for all involved. This process saves money, and it becomes easier and easier to put together as time goes on.
Shopping around for bass traps is pretty easy to do locally or online. Most people read up on what reviewers have to say to find the best deals currently.
Without investing much money, it’s pretty easy to have a few of them up and running. Because they are pretty big and the material is bulky as well, most buy locally so that they don’t have to spend a lot on shipping costs.
Different Base Trap Types
There are some minor variances out there as far as bass traps are concerned. Some absorb low-frequency sounds by trapping the waves before reaching a surface. Others will observe a wave’s pressure shortly after it hits a surface.
Porous Base Traps
This is the most common low-frequency absorber out there. Also going by the names frictional or velocity absorbers, they will slow down air molecules with friction.
This changes sound energy to heat, absorbing those waves. It’s very cheap to put together, and it works to absorb high and mid frequencies as well. Most porous base traps opt for acoustic foam, fiberglass, or Rockwool.
If there is a downside to porous base traps, it’s that they can’t absorb the lowest bass frequencies out there.
Even when extremely thick, they still struggle to get the job done. That’s another issue that comes up for some, as having bass traps that are too thick take up a lot of space.
These pressure absorbers work by trapping the wave as soon as it hits a surface. They are very effective in controlling sound by being specifically tuned for bass trapping. It ignores all other types of frequencies.
Setting up something like resonant absorbers is much more complicated for the average person. In fact, it’s highly recommended to go with a professional in this instance.
There are two types of resonant absorbers out there, as both a Helmholtz and diaphragmatic are worth looking into.
Do Bass Traps Actually Work?
Anyone currently looking at bass traps knows that they are pretty much essential when it comes to absorbing low-frequency waves. A good setup will make home studios, recording rooms, and so much more as dry as can be.
The best part is that there is no need to put bass traps going from the floor to the ceiling. It does end up being pretty effective, but just not applicable for the average person. By strategically placing them in the spots talked about above, it makes life easier for all.
Of course, bass traps are just one part of a proper setup for any acoustic needs. There’s still a lot of work necessary to ensure that everything sounds as it should. It’s a bit of an investment for anyone looking to improve a room, but worth it in the end.