When the music-recording market made a shift towards project studios and converted spaces, many of us had to suffer through years of crappy sounding rooms. I have countless memories of working in studios that lacked acoustic treatment, while sitting behind the console cursing at the difficulty of making production decisions because everything sounded terrible. Luckily, this period only lasted a decade or so for me, because the various recording magazines and online communities eventually got the word out that acoustic treatment is a necessity, not a luxury. These days, there are dozens of manufacturers fulfilling that necessity with ready-made absorbers, diffusors, and bass traps. Chances are, any studio you walk into will have a bunch of fabric-covered panels hanging on the walls. With that said, there are very few off-the-shelf acoustical products that go beyond necessity. For the most part, acoustic treatment looks all the same to me. That’s why I was immensely intrigued when I was first shown the Artnovion catalog. From my perspective, Artnovion is as much a high-end “acoustical furniture” company as it is an acoustics company, and their product line has the look and feel of luxury.
At the NAMM Show earlier this year, I met Kat Ourlian, the U.S. representative for the Portuguese company Artnovion, and she walked me through the products in her booth. Everything looked incredible to me, but clearly, Kat could tell I was a little skeptical, because she too is a recording engineer with her own stories of working in rooms with iffy acoustics. I told her that I was most interested in the company’s bass traps, because bass trapping is the most difficult type of acoustic treatment to get right; and I wanted to run my own tests to determine if the traps perform as well as they look. A few weeks after the show, I sent Kat dimensions and photos of my control room, and she promptly sent back an analysis report describing the calculated problem areas, with recommendations from the Artnovion team for specific bass traps as well as placement options for the traps. I followed the recommendations and ordered eight Komodo W Bass Trap 2.0 panels and six Eiger Tunable Bass Trap corner traps.
The Komodo is a pressure and velocity-based panel trap adorned with a beautiful, furniture-grade wood face featuring a pleasing pattern of drilled holes. A single Komodo 2.0 is just under 4 ft × 2 ft in size and 2.25’’ deep. Behind the wood face is a multilayered, low-frequency absorber consisting of a microperforated front membrane, air space, high-density foam damping material, and an MDF rear membrane. It’s designed to be mounted flat against the wall, side-by-side with more Komodo panels — or any other panels from Artnovion’s extensive line, for that matter. Mounting is with Fixart Tube, an ingenious rail system that you lay out and attach to the walls (or ceiling); and matching clips are screwed to the back of the panels. Once that’s completed, the panels are simply pushed onto the rails. Because the rail system allows for some adjustment in two dimensions (horizontal and vertical for wall mounting), the eight panels I placed across three adjacent walls lined up perfectly on the first try — with submillimeter accuracy.
The Eiger is a multi-cavity, multi-membrane, pressure/velocity absorber and Helmholtz resonator designed to be glued into 90° corners, and it too features a beautiful wood face — in this instance a slatted diffusor that clips onto a fabric-covered front surface measuring just under 2 ft × 2 ft. A unique feature of the Eiger is a sliding switch on the front that changes the size of the holes into the resonant chamber, which allows tuning of the resonator to absorb different frequencies. My control room purposely lacks parallel surfaces, so I had no right-angle corners available for glue-mounting. Instead, I devised a workaround using the aforementioned Fixart Tubes. The Eigers too lined up perfectly.
I pulled an all-nighter mounting the Artnovion bass traps by myself. The result is a room that looks absolutely stunning. Seriously, find me on Instagram (@TapeOpGeek) to see the photo I took immediately after I finished installation. More importantly, the Artnovion bass traps do indeed work, and the room sounds great. Bass anomalies resulting from room modes and speaker-boundary interference have been reduced in magnitude, and settling time for room resonances has been cut down significantly. I took dozens of high-resolution measurements — before, during, and after installation — using my calibrated mic from Cross·Spectrum Labs [Tape Op #96]; and I compared SPL, waterfall, and RT60 plots to confirm that frequency and time-domain responses in my room truly improved. Previously, I had MiniTraps and MondoTraps from RealTraps [#38, #48, #85], as well as six of the 7 ft tall, original (no longer sold) pressure-based wood-panel SB7 and LB7 RealTraps [#36], mounted where the Artnovion traps are now. Don’t get me wrong — RealTraps products are awesome, and I will continue to recommend them, especially for their price. But in my room, the Artnovion products perform measurably better, and they bring the visual aesthetics of my room to a whole new level, to the point that I feel much more inspired to work in my room — and my clients do too. That in itself is worth something too.
Check the Artnovion website for the many finish options (including custom) available for their extensive line of absorbers, diffusors, and traps. You’ll also find technical explanations as well as statements on the company’s environmentally sustainable manufacturing and distribution strategies. Readers in North America should contact Rutherford Audio <www.rutherfordaudio.com> for pricing and shipping options. Moreover, Artnovion offers design services and publishes an iOS analysis app.