In Tape Op #36, Andy Hong favorably reviewed the RealTraps bass traps. I won't go over all the details, but the basic gist is that RealTraps are flat acoustic panel treatments for recording spaces that can absorb low-end energy much better than foam, carpet, etc. The MiniTraps are the easily affordable little brothers of the RealTraps, measuring 2 ft x 4 ft and 3'' thick. They are easy to mount. Using cable (it looked like bike cable), molly bolts, and hooks, we completed two rooms in two short days. The panels were all set up with symmetry in mind, using pairs behind the speakers/console and single traps along the ceiling behind the mix position. We were able to hear the control room before treatment, with its homemade foam and plywood absorption panels, and after treatment, with 14 MiniTraps placed in strategic locations. Better? Yes, the low end was certainly cleaner and more controlled. RTA tests showed a fairly flat response as opposed to the previous skewed low end peaks. Listening tests with records we knew very well (Dub Syndicate CD's have a lot of well-recorded lows!) helped determine where panels sounded best while setting up, and frequency sweeps helped us find trouble spots in the room. Now the control room sounds much better than it ever has, and the black panels (also available in white) look pretty stylish. In the live room we went for a more random approach, mostly using the panels in corners to absorb low end buildup there. There were less panels than in the control room, but it cleaned up the sound somewhat. Plus, we left two panels unmounted so we can place them around drums or other troublesome instruments. This last concept makes me think of another way a low-budget home studio could use a pair of panels. You could use the panels on instruments or vocalists while tracking and move them into the mix area while mixing. Hooks could be set up to hang them on in different positions, or the panels could be mounted on mic stands (see info on their website on how to do this). The bottom line? The MiniTraps work, they kick ass over any foam treatments I've heard, and they made treating my rooms easy (and portable if I move). I hear they now have 1'' thick MicroTraps available!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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