RealTraps - Placing RealTraps

How many, and where do they go?






"Treating 30 percent of a room's surface area will improve the room far more than treating only 5 percent."






"The main acoustic problem in smaller rooms is poor low frequency response and lack of clarity in bass instruments."


Room treatment is not as complicated as many people think, and the following will get you 99 percent of the way there. All rooms need:

  • Bass traps straddling as many corners as you can manage, including the wall-ceiling corners. More bass traps on the rear wall behind the listening position helps further. You simply cannot have too much bass trapping.
  • Mid and high frequency absorption at the first reflection points on the side walls and ceiling.
  • Some additional amount of mid-high absorption and/or diffusion on any large areas of bare parallel surfaces, such as opposing walls or the ceiling if the floor is reflective. Diffusion on the rear wall behind you is also useful in larger rooms.

The remainder of this page provides a much more detailed explanation of how RealTraps products are applied.

MiniTraps and MondoTraps are designed to excel at low frequencies, and intentionally have lower absorption at high frequencies. This lets you install enough of them to adequately solve bass problems without making the room sound too dead. For small rooms four to eight MiniTraps or MondoTraps will make a big improvement at low frequencies. Even two MiniTraps in the room corners will provide some help, though four is a more practical minimum. Larger rooms of course require more treatment, as do rooms that are excessively live or have severe bass problems. With all acoustic treatment, and bass trapping in particular, the goal is to cover a sufficient percentage of the room's surfaces. That is, treating 30 percent of the surface area will improve the room far more than treating only 5 percent.

Besides our standard MiniTraps and MondoTraps we also offer High Frequency versions that provide greater absorption at mid and high frequencies. Where the standard traps are intentionally semi-reflective at higher frequencies, the HF models trade slightly less low frequency absorption for maximum performance above 250 Hz. This is useful when you need to reduce echoes and overall ambience, or to create a reflection-free zone at the listening position. MicroTraps are also very effective at reducing mid and high frequency echoes and ambience, when the extended low frequency absorption of MiniTraps or MondoTraps is not needed.

The following section describes which trap types are best suited for solving various problems, and where to install them for best results in a typical room. Note that wherever MiniTraps are mentioned, the same applies to MondoTraps. The difference is that MondoTraps are even more effective at the lowest frequencies.

Also see the page Installing RealTraps for additional mounting placement and suggestions, and the RFZ Tutorial which describes where to place HF MiniTraps, MicroTraps, and RFZ panels to achieve optimum imaging. Top

Click the images below to see them full size.
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MiniTraps absorb low frequencies best when placed in the room corners. This includes the corner at the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling.



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This layout shows how the traps that come with a Standard or Mondo Room Kit are meant to be placed in a typical room.

The main acoustic problem in smaller rooms is poor low frequency response and lack of clarity in bass instruments. A secondary problem is too much overall liveness. Both of these are best solved with standard MiniTraps or MondoTraps mounted straddling the room corners, as shown in the drawing at left. For rooms about 15 by 20 feet or smaller, 8 to 12 traps will greatly improve both the low and mid/high frequencies. Most of these traps should be mounted across corners, including the corners at the tops of the walls where they meet the ceiling.

For a typical small room you would put one MiniTrap or MondoTrap in each of the four wall-to-wall corners, about halfway up between the floor and ceiling. These are identified with a "1" label on the drawing at left. Then you'll install one or two more traps at the top of each wall where it meets the ceiling, labeled "2" in the drawing. Exact placement is not critical - just aim to spread the traps around the room as evenly as you can, always mounted at an angle straddling a corner. For best results you should also install Tri-Corner Traps (or 2x2 foot MiniTraps) in the tri-corners. To avoid clutter this is not shown in the drawing at left, but it's described later in this guide. Top

Some rooms have a door or window blocking one or more corner, and in that case you can put MiniTraps in the "2" ceiling corners. Acoustically all corners are valid, so putting MiniTraps across a ceiling corner is just as effective as any other corner. They can also be leaned across the corner at the bottom of a wall where it meets the floor if you have space. Of course, you shouldn't put them where they can be kicked or stepped on! Again, exact placement is not critical, so just spread them evenly around the room as best you can.

With most rooms, after enough MiniTraps or MondoTraps are mounted in the corners any lingering ambience will also disappear. But if your room has large areas of bare wall, and you still have too much liveness or notice obvious echoes when you clap your hands, you can install additional MiniTraps or MicroTraps on the walls. Those are labeled "3" on the walls and ceiling. For this application you should use HF MiniTraps or MicroTraps because they absorb mid and high frequencies even better than standard MiniTraps, though at the expense of slightly less absorption at low frequencies. Top

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The photos and text that follow show where we placed MiniTraps for a customer whose one-room studio is slightly larger than typical.

The most effective place to install bass traps is in the corners of a room because that's where bass frequencies focus. At the minimum we recommend one MiniTrap or MondoTrap in each wall-wall corner of the room. If all four corners are not available due to doors or other obstructions, some traps can be placed high up in the corner where the walls and ceiling meet. In fact, putting MiniTraps only in the ceiling corners is an ideal solution for smaller rooms because they'll absorb a lot of bass there, but without reducing valuable wall space.

MiniTraps and MondoTraps can also be mounted on doors, or parallel to the ceiling suspended a few inches below (not shown). Top

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For general absorption and to reduce flutter echo and ringing, additional MiniTraps can be placed on the walls. Because MiniTraps are so efficient, you do not need to cover an entire wall to make a real improvement in the room's acoustics!

You can mount MiniTraps either vertically or horizontally as space allows. Each MiniTrap has mounting tabs in the rear to attach standard picture frame wire - simply tie the wire and hang it wherever you want.

For traps mounted flat on a wall you can increase absorption by spacing them away from the wall as shown at left. Almost any small object can be used, though the best method uses post bases as described on the Rigid Mounting page. Top

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If you have a suspended grid ceiling like this one, please ask us for free mounting clips you can attach to the grid. For regular ceilings you'll use two screws or small wall fasteners, and attach the picture wire to those. Top
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Because MiniTraps are so absorbent, only two are needed to properly treat this piano alcove. However, one more MiniTrap is under the piano, resting on the carpet at an angle across the corner of the floor and wall. Top
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Sharon shows how easy MiniTraps are to install. For horizontal mounting like this simply attach a length of picture frame wire to the MiniTrap, and hang the wire on a nail or picture hook. Vertical mounting is just as easy. Top
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Above photos courtesy Ed Dzubak, three-time Emmy-winning TV composer and enthusiastic RealTraps customer.

Corner mounting uses two short lengths of picture frame wire hung on a nail or hook, with one on each side of the MiniTrap. It took less than five minutes to install this trap! Top
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The corner where a wall meets the floor is just as valid as any other corner. One big feature of floor corners is there's nothing to hang or install. You simply lay the trap sideways on the floor as shown at left, and tip it back to lean against the wall. This placement doesn't work for every situation, such as small rooms with little floor space, but it's often useful in the front of a room if the panel is out of the way of foot traffic.

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Besides putting regular 2x4 foot MiniTraps in the wall-wall and wall-ceiling corners, installing Tri-Corner traps or 2x2 MiniTraps in some or all of the tri-corners helps flatten and tighten the low end even further. Tri-Corner traps and 2x2 MiniTraps are also effective where two walls meet the floor. In that case you don't even have to mount them. Simply lay them on the floor and lean them into the corner as shown at left. In this room two more 2x2 MiniTraps are placed above and below the regular 2x4 foot MiniTraps that are mounted on the rear wall. Top

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