Acoustic panels and bass traps share their role – to absorb the sound. Yet, they would not be called differently if they worked the same way. Therefore, in this article, we discuss acoustic panels vs. bass traps, and present the differences between them, along with the situations in which you should use either of them. If this is a topic of interest to you, read on.
Acoustic Panels vs. Bass Traps – The Key Differences
Although both may be used for home studio acoustics, acoustic panels, and bass traps differ on several levels. Thus, we begin by describing each of them.
The most critical element that distinguishes acoustic panels from bass traps is the frequencies they absorb. The former are most effective for mid to high frequencies, usually meaning over 300 Hz. The latter, on the other hand, are excellent for soundwaves below 300 Hz.
The second difference between these two is their size, or depth in particular. Bass traps are thicker in order to be able to absorb lower sounds. Typically, you may find them in thicknesses ranging from 4 to 8 inches. For acoustic panels, on the other hand, this value is usually set between 1 and 2 inches.
Finally, they are usually placed in different areas of the room. When considering where to place acoustic panels, we would usually think about walls, ceilings, or floors. But, for bass traps, the first answer is: the corners of the room. This is the most common and problematic area for low-frequency sounds, thus the bass traps are usually placed there. They might also be installed on walls, yet this practice is less frequent and done only after covering the corners.
Which Is Better: Acoustic Panels or Bass Traps?
A usual question that occurs at this point is whether bass traps or acoustic panels are better. The truth is that you need both to ensure the best sound quality and clarity in your home studio.
Acoustic panels are a must for any place where sound matters. Conference rooms, classrooms, home studios, or gyms benefit from placing them. This is because mid- and high-frequency sounds are produced in all of these spaces.
Bass traps, on the other hand, are only useful for places where low-frequency sounds are produced. This mostly refers to rooms where music is created, recorded, or performed, though they are needed pieces of equipment for cinemas and home theaters as well.
Acoustic Panels or Bass Traps – How Many Should You Place
Knowing that you need both in your home studio, we may proceed with discussing how and when you should place them. This mostly depends on your room's innate acoustics, and the types of sounds played in them.
The number of acoustic panels should depend on the sound quality of the room. You need to place as many as required to reduce reverb and ensure sound clarity. Thus, the best solution is to place several and test their effect. If it’s satisfactory, you do not need more; if it’s dissatisfactory, you may repeat the process with more panels.
For bass traps the case is slightly more simple. They always need to be placed in the corners of the room. You want to install them on the walls only if the ones in the corners do not provide you with sufficient effects. Thus, the process does not require as much testing as in the case of acoustic panels.
Can Acoustic Panels Absorb Lower Frequencies or Bass Traps Higher Frequencies?
Although designed for particular purposes, both acoustic panels and bass traps may help with frequencies that they were not designed for. However, their effect will be significantly lower than if used for their intended purposes.
For example, our Imagine Acoustic Panel will have a coefficient of only 0.2-0.3 for lower frequencies, while maintaining a 0.9 coefficient for sounds above 500 Hz. Thus, even though they might slightly help when the basses are too much, installing a bass trap will be a much better option.
The same situation will occur if you attempt to go the other way around, and use bass traps instead of acoustic panels. Therefore, the most effective solution is to use them together.
We hope that our discussion on acoustic panels vs. bass traps provided you with all the answers that you sought. To create the best conditions in a music studio, you need to combine both of them. Bear in mind that placing too many panels or traps might also affect your acoustics negatively – you should attempt to find the golden means.
Did you like this article? You may also read: Where to Place Acoustic Panels in a Home Theater?