It’s All About the Bass (Traps)

It’s quite possible that as voice actors recording at home, we’ve been sold a bill of goods – told all we need to do is save up for a free-standing Whisperbooth or VocalRoom and we’ll just be able to happily record away in our little isolated world.  But, as I’ve said with increasing vigor in recent recording classes, getting a booth doesn’t  “fix everything.”  It just gives you a new equation to solve.

However, I’m noticing a certain consistency of variables in that booth-fixing equation.

When giving a listen, it’s obvious these solid-walled booths are trapping and holding the buildup of bass energy within the space.  Whatever other challenges my first home recording setup had, it was relatively open on the back (the recording equivalent of a hospital gown, I suppose).  Which meant that the bass frequencies would make their low-frequency exit at the opposite end of the hallway from where my mic stood, and lap carelessly against the far shores where they didn’t interact with my voiceprint.

After “upgrading” – sealing things up in my 4 x 4 booth (and especially after I weatherstripped the “gappy” door) – I heard a strong change in the way things sounded.  The small closed environment trapped all that energy in the space, and this impacted recordings.  You’ve heard the phrases – “boxiness,” “boominess” – referring to the presence of excess bass.  Sometimes a bit of EQ at the low end can help. But, it can affect other frequencies (especially if you hear boxiness – that’s a comb filtering effect from those waveforms interacting).  So, it’s best treated at the source.

LENRD_trapsThe simplest way to correct this is with Bass Traps.  This is material designed and shaped to absorb and hold the powerful, hard to contain end of the audio spectrum.  I’ve found that most spaces in general – and certainly square booths 6 feet or under – benefit from some type of bass trapping.  There are two types I recommend – either a 4 (or 8) pack of LENRD Bass Traps (available in several colors, such as the burgundy in the photo) or a couple ATS Bass Trap panels.  Of course, if you are handy and want to DIY it, I’ve stashed a couple of designs over on my Pinterest “Recording Studio & Booth Construction” Board – for example, the triangular Superchunk Bass trap.

You’ll notice that most of these are designed to live in the corners of your space – where low frequency excess tends to collect. Once installed, that buildup of bass is absorbed, and the result is cleaner sound.

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