How to Make Bass Traps: A Step-By-Step DIY Guide
What does it take to be successful in recording and mixing? Talent, in the first place, and as best equipment as there can be, one would say. Don’t forget an acoustically perfect room! But, is there such a thing?
The answer to this question for sure is not a simple one. Have you heard of bass traps? It’s a kind of secret ingredient when it comes to reaching the abovementioned perfection. My mission is here is to help you learn more on bass traps. Moreover, I’ll show you an amazing cost-effective solution.
What are Bass Traps?
You know what they say, know thy enemy! Before you actually start acquiring materials, you must be sure you are familiar with bass traps and the way they work.
Being acoustic energy absorbers, the main role of bass traps is to damp low-frequency sound energy. Using friction, they turn sound energy into heat.
The purpose is to reduce low-frequency resonances, and that’s an essential thing for recording studios and other places where the critical listening environment is necessary. Read more here.
Bass traps are divided into resonant and porous.
Resonant and Porous Bass Traps
Resonant bass traps are divided into two subcategories- panel absorbers and Helmholtz resonators. As for porous ones, they are made of different materials such as mineral wool, fiberglass or open cell foam.
Generally speaking, both resonant and porous bass traps are effective, but there are differences in the way they work. Among the main ones is the absorption spectrum, which is narrower for resonating, and broader for porous.
Resonant absorbers resonate with frequencies being absorbed by being tuned mechanically. Porous, being smaller in size and easier to build, needn’t be tuned and they do not resonate.
Tools and Materials for DIY Bass Traps
A good plan does half of any job. The same goes here. Before you get down on making anything, first analyze how many bass traps do you need for your room. A simple blueprint where all the dimensions will be listed will do the job.
So, here, I won’t give you any dimensions because they are not universal, but will try to give you a complete list of tools and materials needed for DIY bass traps.
Let’s start with the tools! The list varies depending on what you already have at your home.
- Table saw
- Heavy duty staple gun
- Air stapler
- Gorilla Glue
- Fabric scissors
- Belt Sander
- Rolling fabric cutter
- 3M Super 77 Adhesive (for upholstery)
- Drill and Screws
Next are the materials. That also depends on what you may already have in your garage, attic or elsewhere.
- Plywood (or any other wood you find suitable for this purpose)
- Insulation material
- Plastic mesh (this if using cellulose as an insulation material, may not be necessary for some other insulation materials)
As I said, the list will vary depending on the supplies you already have. Besides this, the amount of material required depends on the dimensions and the number of bass traps you are planning to make.
DIY Bass Traps- How to Make Bass Traps
When approaching a complex task such as this one, it’s better to start with the hardest part first.
- 1Cut the wood in necessary dimensions.
- 2Then assemble it into a frame (or frames, if you are making multiple traps).
- 3The next is to stuff it with insulation material of your choice. If you have picked cellulose, then it is necessary to use plastic mesh to keep it under control.
- 4The next step is to wrap the frame with fabric you have previously cut and voila- the trap is done!
This is a bit simplified instruction, but like a said, what you need is a good plan and things will be clear once you sketch them on a piece of a paper.
And one more thing! When crafting a bass trap, you have two options. It can either be shaped as a triangular bass trap or as a panel bass trap. This is entirely up to you, because they have the same purpose. It’s more of a matter which one you like more.
How to Make Triangular Bass Traps - Step by Step
So, the procedure I’m about to describe is similar for crafting triangular and panel bass traps. Naturally, the number of wooden parts you have to cut is different, as well as the shape and size. So, we can start with triangular ones!
1. make a good plan
You don’t have to be a skillful illustrator, just a basic sketch as an instruction will be more than fine! So, draw the desired shape of a bass trap, see how many wooden parts are there, note down the dimensions! In addition to this, work out the costs, just so you know how much was it in the end!
2. cut the wood
This is definitely the hardest part, but as soon as you have this step finished, be happy knowing that half of the job is done! For a triangular you need two “walls” (to name them so) and two smaller triangles for top and bottom.
3. assemble the frame
A quick tip that makes the job easier! Get the edges of the wood wet with a brush dipped in water and glue them together with Gorilla Glue. If using plywood, staple the edges. If you’ve picked some thicker wood, then use screws to assemble them as tight as possible.
4. stuff the frame
Cellulose is a bit tricky to work with, so a plastic mesh is needed to tame it. However, you can choose another more cooperative insulation material to put inside your future bass trap.
5. upholster the frame
As for the fabric, a breathable one, which is sound-transparent is a nice choice, otherwise, the trap won’t serve its purpose! Cut the fabric in according dimensions, with two small triangular pieces for the top and the bottom.
One thing- this step, wrapping the trap in fabric, isn’t quite necessary, but certainly makes the traps look nicer, doesn’t it?
So, preferably with a help of another person, apply spray adhesive and wrap the traps by keeping the fabric pulled taught! You can add a few more screws over the wrapped frames if you want to make sure everything’s spick and span!
6. enjoy the brand new sound of your room
Now that everything is done, you can just sit back and listen to your new peace.
How to Make Panel Bass Traps - Step by Step
These traps are a bit simpler, mostly because they are just panels attached to each other and put on a wooden frame, so they are rather quicker to craft. But, like with the previous one, a good plan is needed.
1. draw a sketch
Here what you need is four pieces of wood to build a frame and two insulation panels (my advice is to use fiberglass, as it’s excellent for sound absorption).
2. cut the wood
The dimensions of frame parts are actually determined by the dimensions of fiberglass panels!
3. assemble the frame
Put all the parts together by using screws, that way you keep them together tightly!
4. add panels
Before screwing the panels onto a frame, make sure you pre-drilled pilot holes on the frame, so that you wouldn’t damage the insulation panel! Now put all the pieces together!
5. upholster the panel
The same as with the previous bass trap we described!
As you can see, building a frame is nothing complicated at all, as long as one has a good plan! It may be more time-consuming than simply buying it, but having it done by yourself will indeed make you feel proud!
Final thoughts on DIY bass traps
Making bass traps by yourself indeed is a time-consuming process, but a cost-effective one. Take my advice, with things like this one, it’s always better to have more time invested in preparing and crafting it because that way you get precisely what you need.
As I said, there’s a high possibility that you already have some of the tools and materials needed, which saves even more money. Check it out on the Internet, perhaps you can get some stuff for free or on discount.
After all, crafting things is a good fun, right? You’ll be proud of yourself for making something so useful. As you could see, bass traps are very important, especially for people into the recording business. You can always learn to live with some sounds around you, but why making compromises when you can change things?
Once you finish making traps and install them, what is left is to enjoy the brand new acoustic performance of your room.
Have you got any useful tip on how to reach the desired acoustic performance of the room? Have you tried crafting a bass trap yourself? Share all the thoughts and ideas with me and the rest of the readers!
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