What is the diff between distributed subs and lots of bass traps??? - diyAudio
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Old 29th October 2014, 06:00 PM   #1
djn is offline djn  United States
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Default What is the diff between distributed subs and lots of bass traps???

Hi All, I am now working on my room, spending all my time and money on that instead of new gear and the like. So, if I have really good and a lot of bass traps will I need distributed subs?

Can't seem to get my head around the diff!
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Old 29th October 2014, 06:19 PM   #2
OllBoll is offline OllBoll  Sweden
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Distributed subs actually works in a normal room which is more than you can say about bass traps.

For bass traps to work in the low bass they have to be unrealistically large. And if you have that then you are probably listening in an anechoic chamber which at least to me sounds horrible.

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Old 29th October 2014, 06:32 PM   #3
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Distributed subs actually works in a normal room which is more than you can say about bass traps.

For bass traps to work in the low bass they have to be unrealistically large.
indeed - FWIW, the smaller or more irregularly shaped the room, the less practicable I've found bass traps to be in a listening room or "home theatre" in a real world domestic environment

Let's be honest, not all of us have the luxury of dedicating the physical space or financial resources to achieve "perfect" sound - whatever the current definition of that is

just as it's been said that politics is the art of the possible, audio in the home is an art of acceptable compromise
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Old 29th October 2014, 06:46 PM   #4
djn is offline djn  United States
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In my case I have a 15"x16" dedicated room so I can do, for the most part when ever I want. I also have a shop so making traps or subs is a no brainer.

So, what I am hearing is that distributed bass does the same thing as traps, but traps would have to be very large to do the same thing....do I have that right?
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Old 29th October 2014, 07:45 PM   #5
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One thing that is often over looked in bass traps is room mode Q. As bass traps dampen room resonances they also widen the resonance Q and that way fill in gaps. So better to use traps, multiple subs and fine tune with DSP EQ.
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Old 29th October 2014, 08:07 PM   #6
Baldin is offline Baldin  Denmark
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It is not the same, it is attacking the problem from two different ways.
Problem is standing waves.

All rooms have standing waves. These are determined by the dimentions of the room. A cubic room will have a lot of coinsiding standing waves with a lot of energy at few frequencies, making the freq response in the bass really ugly ... as the sound.
More irregular rooms have a better spread of the standing waves on the freq line, making the damage less.
In a really large room the standing waves will be spread out over a larger frequency area
making the freq response much more flat. So large rooms means better sound in the bass.
Placement of sound source and listener is also very important, as you can come to sit in a peak zone ... bad.

Bass traps trys to dampen the standing waved, sucking out energy and also lowering the reverberation time.

Multiple subs will ensure that more and different standing waves are "hit" making more an smaller peaks, which if many enough will add up to a even freq response. But they will not help the reverberation time.

In essense I would do some of both if I had the possibility, getting an even spread of the standing waves, and lower the reverberation time.

But place the damping carefully not to take out a lot of energy in the mid and high.
Also large diffusors can help (e.g. a whole wall rounded or the ceiling .... I have done both in my HT) .. this will also spread out the standing wawes ..... diffusors are much better than damping with regards to sound quality.
(Building a Home Theater and Listening Room)
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Old 29th October 2014, 08:52 PM   #7
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Dennis - assuming the "standard" 8ft flat ceiling, that seems like a rather unfortunate set of dimensions - particularly in the area around 80 & 140 Hz and sub/ harmonics thereof. I'd be inclined to experiment with a combination of randomly located multiple smaller subs ( i.e. no larger than 10" each) and treatment. Of course, well placed or easily mobile pieces of large upholstered furniture can achieve some of the latter.

As I recall, some very interesting work, including measurements and suggested placements in Tooles' book - mentioned severally elsewhere - "Sound Reproduction .... "

Sound Reproduction: Loudspeakers And Rooms By Floyd Tool Loudspeakers, Rooms, and Books Aren't Perfect Review By Howard W. Ferstler Boston Audio Society Speaker Volume 31 No. 1

As the above reviewer notes , neither rooms, loudspeakers, or those commenting about them are perfect.


If not already in your library, should probably be considered essential reading, along with Earl Geddes' work. While we're at it, for a more personal and philosophical take on the listening experience writ large, the two by Daniel Levitin -"Your Brain on Music", and "Six Songs"

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin ? Neuroscientist ? Musician ? Author
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Old 29th October 2014, 10:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by djn View Post
In my case I have a 15"x16" dedicated room
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Old 29th October 2014, 11:21 PM   #9
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I lol'd. That does seem a bit too small for acceptable music reproduction.
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Old 30th October 2014, 12:52 AM   #10
OllBoll is offline OllBoll  Sweden
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Originally Posted by djn View Post
In my case I have a 15"x16" dedicated room so I can do, for the most part when ever I want. I also have a shop so making traps or subs is a no brainer.

So, what I am hearing is that distributed bass does the same thing as traps, but traps would have to be very large to do the same thing....do I have that right?
More or less yeah, they would have to be pretty much as big as the room, hence "unrealistically large". And if you really want it to work then just adding bass traps won't cut it, you pretty much want to build a room inside the room where the floor, ceiling and walls can flex (constrained layer damping). If you do all that then sure, you will damp bass. You will damp everything else too so it won't sound good of course but you should absorb a lot of bass reflections.

OR you could get a multisub arrangement.
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