RealTraps - Frequently Asked Questions

Fast answers to common questions

..FAST ANSWERS..

 

 

 

 

Why should I buy RealTraps instead of another company's acoustic product?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There's a lot of information about RealTraps products in the pages on this site. But if you're in a rush and just want answers to the most common questions we receive, you've come to the right place.

Q: Why should I buy from RealTraps? Isn't all acoustic treatment pretty much the same?

A: The short answer is No - all acoustic products are not the same, especially at low frequencies. Besides their Class A fire rating, RealTraps products provide far more absorption per dollar than anything else we know of. As you can see on our Product Data page, MiniTraps are nearly six times more absorbent than a popular brand of corner foam at 100 Hz and below, and MondoTraps absorb twice again more below 100 Hz. So in a cost-to-performance comparison RealTraps products are actually less expensive than even the cheapest foam brands. In this case you really do get what you pay for.

With acoustic treatment, what separates "the men from the boys" is how effective it is at bass frequencies. And this is where RealTraps products really shine. Foam or fiberglass panels absorb mostly mid and high frequencies, doing little to improve the severe bass peaks and nulls, or reduce modal ringing (sometimes called overhang) that obscures the detail of bass notes.

One big feature of RealTraps products is their large amount of absorption at very low frequencies, with intentionally less absorption at mid and high frequencies. The very specific curve of absorption versus frequency sets RealTraps apart from all other acoustic treatment manufacturers. This lets you put enough traps in a room to truly solve the problems in the bass range, but without making the room too dead sounding as can happen with panels made of foam or plain fiberglass. (We also have versions that absorb fully at mid and high frequencies when that's appropriate.)

MiniTraps and MondoTraps are made from double-density rigid fiberglass that is mechanically stable and won't sag, deform, crumble, or develop lumps over time as can lesser products made from foam or mineral fiber. We then bond a limp-mass membrane behind the fabric, which doubles the absorption at bass frequencies when compared to plain panels the same thickness. The fabric we use is custom made for us with a density and weight specific for acoustic panels, yet is thick enough to ensure that no fiberglass particles can escape into the air.

Besides their superior absorption, RealTraps are easy to install in a way that makes them even more efficient. Unlike foam that must be glued permanently, or fiberglass panels that attach flat on a wall only, RealTraps are hung easily using standard picture wire. (All mounting hardware is included.) This makes it easy to space them off the wall for even higher absorption at low frequencies.

Perhaps most important, when you buy from RealTraps you also get expert advice on all aspects of room setup and treatment. RealTraps partners Ethan Winer and Doug Ferrara have been professional audio engineers for more than 40 years, and they are at the leading edge of listening room research and development. Ethan is a world-class audio expert with more than 150 published magazine articles about audio and acoustics, music, and computer programming, and he's the author of The Audio Expert from Focal Press. We always offer free guidance and advice to all of our customers.

In the short time since RealTraps was founded in 2002, we have become the premier source for affordable yet highly effective acoustic treatment. Our clients include some of the most famous recording and mastering engineers in the world, as you can read on our Praise & Reviews page. Top


How many traps do I need for my room?

Q: How many traps do I need for my room?

A: The more the better! Seriously, the more MiniTraps or MondoTraps you install in a room, the flatter the low frequency response will be. It's probably not possible to have too much low frequency absorption, but you can definitely make a room too dead sounding at mid and high frequencies. Unlike panels made from foam or plain fiberglass, MiniTraps and MondoTraps have an enormous amount of absorption at low frequencies with an intentional fall-off at higher frequencies.

For most rooms, four MiniTraps mounted straddling wall-wall corners is a reasonable minimum to make a meaningful improvement. As you add more MiniTraps, or instead use MondoTraps, the low end becomes progressively flatter and tighter sounding. For small rooms - say, up to 10 by 16 feet - eight MiniTraps or MondoTraps will give excellent results. Larger rooms benefit from even more. When an accurate low frequency response is more important than cost, even 16 or more MiniTraps or MondoTraps is not too many.

The very best results are achieved with MegaTraps in the wall-wall corners, MiniTraps in the wall-ceiling corners, and our Modular Kits everywhere else around the perimeter of the room. For a lower-profile installation, great results can also be had using Corner MondoTraps in all wall-wall corners, with a TriCorner above and below so the entire height of the corner is treated. RFZ panels are then placed on the side wall and ceiling first reflection points to give a larger coverage area than MicroTraps or HF MiniTraps. This lets you move freely side to side, or forward and back, while remaining in the Reflection Free Zone. The main thing to understand is that we have a wide variety of solutions to maximize results in any room, decor, or budget range. Top


If I email you a drawing of my room, can you tell me where to put my MiniTraps?

Q: If I email you a drawing or photos of my room, can you tell me where to put my traps and panels?

A: Sure, but it's probably not necessary. The three rules of bass trapping are:

  1. Have enough of them.
  2. Put them all in corners, including the ceiling corners.
  3. Spread them evenly around the room as best you can.

Exact placement is not critical, nor is maintaining perfect symmetry. Bass waves bounce all around a room, and eventually find their way into every corner. So if you can't mount them symmetrically, just put them in whatever corners you can. If a door or window or other obstruction prevents you from putting a trap in a particular corner, either put one more in a ceiling corner or mount that trap on a stand. You can also mount MiniTraps and MondoTraps flat on the walls, and that's useful for large rooms having a lot of bare surfaces.

See the Placing RealTraps page for additional placement advice, and the Installing RealTraps page for instructions and photos showing how to install them in many different situations. If you're unable to mount RealTraps panels permanently, we also offer two types of stands as shown on our Products page. Also see the article How to Set Up a Room for advice on listener and loudspeaker placement.

If you do email us photos, try to show as much of the room as possible including the ceiling. We suggest that you stand or crouch in one corner, aiming up toward the opposite corner. Then do the same from one or two other corners so we can see the entire room in context. Top


What's the difference between MiniTraps and MicroTraps?

Q: What's the difference between MiniTraps and MicroTraps? Can I use MicroTraps in my room's corners instead of MiniTraps to save money?

A: The main difference between MiniTraps and MicroTraps is how low in frequency they absorb to. So the simple answer is No - for bass trapping you really do need the extended low frequency absorption of MiniTraps or MondoTraps. MicroTraps are intended mainly for large rooms to absorb reverb and mid/high frequency ambience, or for placing in key locations to avoid early reflections as described on the RFZ page. They're also excellent for non-music applications such as houses of worship, noisy factories, auditoriums, and even busy bars and restaurants. Top


What's the difference between standard MiniTraps and the "HF" versions?

Q: What's the difference between your standard traps and the "HF" versions?

A: The front surface of a standard MondoTrap and MiniTrap is semi-reflective at mid and high frequencies. This lets you install enough of them in a room to solve the low frequency problems, but without making the room too dead sounding. However, for some applications, such as avoiding early reflections from the walls and ceiling, you want the front surface to absorb as much as possible at mid and high frequencies.

For early reflections you can use either MicroTraps or HF style MiniTraps. When the price difference is not a concern, HF MiniTraps (or HF MondoTraps) do a better job because they provide additional bass trapping which is always welcome. But MicroTraps work perfectly well for first reflections, and when placed on the walls their thinner profile is less intrusive. We also offer RFZ panels for first reflections. RFZ panels are very effective down to the low midrange, and they feature a larger coverage area, yet are thin enough to intrude minimally. Top


I can afford only two MondoTraps or four MiniTraps - which will do a better job?

Q: I'd love to be able to buy enough traps to do a complete job treating my room, but for now I can afford only two MondoTraps or four MiniTraps. Which combination will do a better job?

A: Acoustic treatment, and especially bass traps, is all about coverage. So buying four MiniTraps - with one in each wall-wall corner - offers more value and does a better job overall than only two MondoTraps. However, if your goal is to purchase treatment over time and eventually have a state of the art room, we suggest MondoTraps. MondoTraps are also preferred when spouse or space considerations limit the total number of traps and panels you're able to install. In that case you want each trap to be as effective as possible, and MondoTraps are the better choice. Top


What's the best way to improve the response at very low frequencies?

Q: I measured my room response and there's a large peak around 40 Hz, as well as other peaks and nulls at higher bass frequencies. According to your product data page it seems even MondoTraps are not going to help me much at 40 Hz. What's the best way to improve the response at very low frequencies?

A: With enough traps it's possible to make a substantial improvement at 40 Hz and even lower. Although each trap may not absorb 100 percent at very low frequencies, combined they will still help a lot. Obviously the goal is a flat response and reduced ringing at all frequencies. But flatness is much more important above 80 Hz, which encompasses the fullness and "speaking" ranges for bass instruments. Top


I read that the only way to know what treatment is needed is to measure the room.

Q: I read somewhere that the only way to know what treatment is needed is to measure the room with special analysis tools. But your descriptions imply this is not necessary, and all I need is to install enough of your panels. Is it really that simple?

A: Yes, it really is that simple. All rooms need absorption at all frequencies, and especially at low frequencies. The notion that bass trapping should target specific frequencies determined by the room dimensions, or should be tuned based on room measurements, ignores that peaks and deep nulls occur in all rooms at all low frequencies.

In truth, bass traps and reflection absorbers can solve all of the problems in any room. The more bass traps you install, the flatter and tighter sounding the low end will become. It really is that simple. For a more detailed explanation of why broadband absorption is better than targeting specific frequencies, see A New Approach to Small Room Acoustics on our Articles page. Top


Can I paint your traps a different color?

Q: Can I paint your traps a different color? Or can I wrap them with fabric so they'll match the rest of my room?

A: You can definitely wrap any of our traps with fabric, and in most cases you can paint them too. As long as you apply only one or two coats of paint you will not harm the performance of our standard trap models. However, you should not paint the front surface of MicroTraps or HF style traps using thick Latex type paint as that will reduce their high frequency absorption. In that case, covering them with fabric is better. Dye or water color should be fine though. Also see the photos from Chris Hussey on our Customers page showing how he wrapped his MiniTraps with Guilford fabric. Top


Aren't the acoustic requirements for a home theater different than for a recording studio?

Q: I see many photos of recording studios on your web site, but I have a room that doubles as a home theater and 2-channel listening room. Aren't the treatment requirements different for these types of rooms?

A: No, the goal for any room where music is played is a flat frequency response and uniform reverb time. However, the amount of absorption may be varied for specific uses. For example, a home theater is sometimes made less live sounding (shorter reverb time) than a 2-channel room or recording studio control room. But all rooms need the same basic type of broadband absorption to flatten the low frequency response and tame echoes and excess ambience. Top


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