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DIY Acoustic Panel Bass Traps: Treating Your Room Right

I recently acquired a modest music space for producing music here in San Francisco.  The room itself was somewhat treated but had some serious bass resonance issues that made mixing pretty well impossible.  I decided that the best solution was to build some bass traps that would be portable enough to move to another location should I choose to abandon my current room.  So, rather than build traps directly into the walls, I chose to build “flat” six inch traps that would straddle the corners.

These traps are very easy to make and cost about one-third the price of commercial equivalents.  I would say these came out to around $75 a panel for me.

Supplies

To make one of these traps you will need the following:

  • Three 2″ sheets of 2’x4′ Owens Corning 703 rigid fiberglass insulation
  • One sheet of muslin or canvas around 6’x4′ wide
  • One 2’x4′ half-inch plywood sheet (I used pine)
  • Staple gun and plenty of 1/4″ staples
I purchased my Owens Corning 703 sheets from a local distributor called Western MacArther in Oakland, CA but you can also find them cheap at Acoustimac, although the shipping costs will be significant off the Internet.
Your fabric should be light enough to let air flow through it.  You can test to ensure this is the case by putting your mouth against it and blowing.  You should feel minimal resistance.  Light canvas or muslin is ideal and inexpensive.
These supplies will produce one panel 6.5″ deep, 4′ tall, 2′ wide.  These panels are way overkill for standard broadband absorption but will work beautifully for sucking up bass down to around 60hz.

Step 1

Grab your three 703 panels and set them aside.

Step 2

Lay your muslin sheet down on the floor.

Step 3

Stack the 703 insulation on the muslin.

Step 4

Stack your plywood on the 703 stack.

Step 5

Pull the muslin around the stack so it’s taught and staple against the back of the plywood.  I stapled about every six inches.

Step 6

Pull your corners like a wrapping a gift.  Don’t leave any fiberglass showing and try to keep it tight enough to prevent wrinkles.

 

Fin

Once the muslin was securely wrapped and stapled around the stack I went around the edges and did another round of staples.

Finished panel:

Finished panels in place:

One could certainly build these to be more durable by crafting a frame around the insulation, but I am not expecting to be moving these too often.  Additional absorption could be added by throwing ‘wedge’ absorbers into the remaining gap, but I solved my resonance problems without them.

Next treatment will probably be dealing with the concrete wall behind the speakers… fortunately the rear wall is non-parallel.