We all know acoustic treatment is critical for recording studios and home theaters. Every room is unique, and bass traps are often the best way to even out these mid to low frequencies that tend to build up in small rooms.
The problem is professional bass traps and broadband absorbers are expensive.
Building your own DIY bass traps is easier than you think and can save you some serious cash. All you need are some basic skills and a plan, and you too can enjoy the improved acoustics bass traps can provide.
Basics to Know Before Starting
If you’re like most people, once you get started on a project, you’re excited to get into it and see how the finished product will work. However, there are some questions to answer before you begin:
- What type of bass trap will meet your needs?
- What materials should you use for the frame?
- What type of insulation should you use?
- What kind of fabric to wrap the frame with?
1. Types of Bass Traps you Can Make
This article will focus on two types of bass traps, although tube traps are also effective. After reviewing both methods, you can choose between a standard corner bass trap or a Superchunk bass trap.
Corner Bass Traps
To build a standard corner bass trap, you’ll start with a frame and fill it with acoustic installation. If you have ever made acoustic panels, the process is similar. These traps, however, are thicker and you will need hardware to install them in the corners of the room. Typically, they extend from floor to ceiling.
Superchunk Bass Trap
Superchunk traps are extra-thick panels or framed traps with little to no air gap behind them. Typically, you start with a triangle-shaped frame and use wedge-shaped insulation or foam for an airtight fit. When properly built, it will both absorb and reflect sound waves off walls.
2. Choose a Frame Material
- Wood – In general, real wood lasts longer, but it’s more expensive.
- MDF – Cheaper than real wood, MDF is a good alternative for your bass trap frame.
Both materials are strong and good for soundproofing and building acoustic treatments, so it comes down to your preference.
3. Best Bass Trap Material
- Acoustic Fiberglass (Owens Corning 703) – Fiberglass makes an excellent insulation material for sound, and it’s fireproof. It can help dissipate heat generated by captured sound waves. Be sure to use proper safety when working with fiberglass!
- Mineral Wool (Roxul Safe’N Sound) – This high-density material is great at sound absorption, even compared to fiberglass, but may deaden sound at certain frequencies.
- Denim Insulation – Made of shredded jeans and cotton, denim insulation is excellent at reducing thermal energy, and it provides a low-density sound trap.
- Cellulose Insulation – It’s made of recycled newspapers and works well when you want to reduce sound transfer to other rooms and floors.
- Acoustic Foam – Celled acoustic film is designed for reducing the amplitude of sound waves.
4. Best Fabric for Bass Traps
The basic job of the fabric is to hold in the insulation. However, it’s important to choose the right fabric for your application.
Whatever material you choose must have acoustic transparency. In other words, you want the sound to pass through the fabric barrier without hindrance. Otherwise, it never reaches the insulation which fulfills the absorption function of the bass trap.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to choose a fire-rated fabric to reduce the risk of fires.
Burlap and polyester represent affordable, effective options for your base trap fabric.
- Burlap – Most fabric stores carry burlap, and you can choose from a few different colors to match your personal style. This is an affordable, if limited, option.
- Polyester – Although it’s a little pricier, polyester material comes in many colors and styles. It will look better, which is important if you spend a lot of time in your home studio. Guilford of Maine has dozens of styles, and you can find the colors you need easily. Check out FR701 for fire-rated bass traps and panels.
DIY Bass Trap Plans
Now that we know the basics of the materials needed for making bass traps, we can dive into some plans for your new build. We’ve found 5 unique plans you can follow to fill out the corners of your home studio or theater room.
1. Solid Wood Framed Bass Trap by Lonely Rocker
This bass trap build provides better absorption at lower frequencies and a device to contain the inner insulation better. Build a Superchunk 8” absorber that has convenient handles to move it around the studio as needed.
This video can be adapted for 4” or 6” panels and contains improvements based on the narrator’s experience.
- Backing fabric
- 1 Comfortboard 80
- 1 Safe and Sound
- Backing fabric
- 1” acoustic foam
- Outer wrap
- Backing fabric
- Build a 24” x 48” wooden frame with two support rails for reliable construction. Creating prefab templates for the wooden frame can help prevent costly mistakes. Carefully measure each template as indicated in the video.
- Use pilot holes for the screws to prevent splitting the wood and high-quality wood glue to further secure the wood.
- Lay down an oversized, durable backing fabric you can get at any furniture store on top of the frame. Lay in two Rockwool Comfortboard 80 panels, trimming as needed. Staple the excess fabric over the second layer of insulation.
- Top this with a layer of Rockwell Safe and Sound with another piece of backing fabric tucked around it.
- Glue in 1-inch acoustic foam for added insulation. This will cut out some higher frequencies and hold the insulation in.
- Wrap upholstery fabric across the front of the frame and add an additional layer of backing material.
2. Cheap Metal Framed Bass Traps by SpectreSound
This bass trap plan builds a bass trap for a music studio. The narrator is a drummer who developed this design to deal with reverberation and other common studio issues.
The main material is rigid fiberglass, which the author likes for its performance in dampening mid and low ranges as well as bass. This design works well if you don’t have woodworking skills.
- Rigid fiberglass (Corning 703)
- 12’ steel studs
- Hot glue gun
- Use rigid fiberglass because it’s hyper-compressed and will therefore absorb more sound. 2’ x 4’ sheets two inches deep work best.
- Measure, snip and fold the steel studs into a U shape, following the dimensions in the video or customized to your space.
- Slide the two fiberglass panels into the U-shaped frame and cut another piece of steel stud to close the frame using screws.
- Choose an appropriate fabric to wrap the front, tucking the fabric around the back of the bass trap where you can glue it down.
- Use monkey hooks to mouth the bass traps to the wall. (Works well with drywall.)
3. Simple Wood Frame Bass Traps by Radio Octave
This plan provides a lot of ideas at the end for easy and attractive mounting options. It’s a great choice for musicians and sound editors who have guests in the studio often. The attractive design and innovative mounting options presented in the video stand out from others available on YouTube.
This plan requires intermediate woodworking skills, so that may be a point of consideration.
- 1’ x 2’ wood for framing
- ¼” x ¾” strips for the front frame
- Owens Corning 703 rigid fiberglass
- Guilford’s of Maine 101 fabric
- Wood glue, nails and screws
- Hanging device
- Miter saw and table saw
- Staple gun and staples
- To create the frame, secure the wood with wood screws and size to desired dimensions. The video uses 2’ by 4’ dimensions.
- Create wood posts to position at the corners of the frame and halfway down the long side of the frame.
- Cut the backing fabric to size and staple it to the frame, with the attached post oriented upward.
- Trim the rigid fiberglass to fit on the frame around the wood posts.
- Create the front frame by cutting the wood to fit on top of the wooden posts.
- Place the completed frame on the fabric you’ve chosen. You’ll need to stretch the material over the long sides of the trap and staple it on opposite sides to get a tight fit. Then, staple the top and bottom, adjusting the fabric for a tight fit.
- Review the mounting options presented in the video for an attractive result.
4. 6ft Corner Bass Trap by Ju1ce Audio
This video produces corner bass traps using a few simple materials that you can get at any home improvement store. Follow this plan to create 6’ tall bass traps that reflect sound in your recording studio.
These bass traps double as gobos to help you isolate music and voices from the microphone when you’re recording.
- Common board wood
- Square of ¾ MDF
- Thermafiber Fiber and Sound Guard insulation (can use any comparable brand)
- Garden weed barrier
- Cover wrap
- The size of the MDF square will determine the size of the base. Cut diagonally across the MDF square for the top and bottom of your bass trap. This needs to be a really straight cut, so consider clamping a board to the MDF as a cut guide.
- Cut three 6’ beams to size. Attach the beams to the bottom MDF triangle with wood screws. Remember to drill pilot holes to keep the wood from splitting. Due to the tall size, it’s awkward to attach the top MDF triangle. When attaching the top, consider sitting on the floor with the frame lying on its side.
- You can also add support beams because the insulation gets kind of heavy.
- Wrap the beams in the garden weed barrier, stapling it into place. This will hold in the insulation.
- Carefully stuff the insulation in neat layers for the easiest assembly method. Alternatively, you can cut the insulation into triangles that fit the bass trap for better absorption. Keep in mind that denser insulation will absorb lower bass frequencies better.
- Add a covering fabric for better appearance and additional absorption. Due to the size of this build, it’s a good idea to tap a friend for assistance with the wrapping. Use a staple gun to secure the fabric to the frame.
5. Ribbed Corner Bass Trap by Bob’s Wood Stuff
This unique ribbed design uses mineral wool to absorb sound. Using a rib structure provides stability but keeps the bass trap lightweight for portability. Using ribs allows you to opt for more diffusion and less absorption by placing the ribs wider apart.
- Plywood for top, bottom and middle bases
- Mineral wool insulation
- Pine 1 x 6 for the ribs
- Clamps and stacked dado blade
- 2×4 for frame spine
- Use a nail and string to draw an arc on plywood. Cut along the arc on a bandsaw. Use the first piece as a template to get the right arc on two additional pieces of plywood.
- On each of the three pieces of plywood, use a large protractor to make marks every 15-degrees along the arc.
- Use a straight edge such as a ruler to mark out the position for notches. Center the notches on marks you made in the last step.
- Clamp the three pieces of MDF together, leaving the marked template on top. Then, clamp the bundle to a crosscut sled to secure it in place while you complete the notches on a stacked dado blade, which has two outer saws and an inner chipper for clean edges.
- Cut the 2” x 4” board to size for the spine (video recommends 5/4” square). You’ll need to use the dado to notch this piece to fit the central MDF shelf, then create a square notch in the center shelf to fit the spine. At this point, you can attach the top and bottom shelves.
- Use pine 1” x 6” board to cut enough ribs to fit into the notches, attaching them with polyurethane glue. Nail the ribs in place.
- Staple breathable fabric to the frame near the ridges and along all sides, leaving the back open. This is the portion people will see.
- Cut 3” insulation to fit the shape. You can use the middle shelf to create a template. Wear long sleeves and gloves to handle insulation. It takes about 16 pieces to fill the trap.
- Cover the back with fabric.
- You can attach a couple of picture hangers to hang the bass trap.
Conclusion – What’s Next?
Now that you’ve learned the best materials and tools and how to build a bass trap for your home theater or home studio, there are a few things you can do next.
First, you can measure or record the difference in sound in your room before and after you place the traps. Typically, a good bass trap will smooth things out, reducing echo and reverb creating a cleaner sound for recording.