The Primacoustic MaxTrap is an attractive 24 inch x 48 inch broadband acoustical absorber designed specifically for use in corners to provide bass frequency control, while simultaneously reducing mid and high frequency reflections.
The Primacoustic MaxTrap is a highly effective bass trap that combines a diaphragmatic resonator with a full-size acoustic panel in a sealed enclosure to provide 3-way absorption throughout the full frequency spectrum.
This unique design begins with a 3″ thick front-mounted 24″ x 48″ Broadway panel made from 6lb per cubic foot high-density glass wool fiber. This effectively absorbs frequencies down to 100Hz. Behind the panel, a closed air space takes full advantage of quarter-wavelength principles to further reinforce low frequency absorption in this critical bass region.
But where the MaxTrap truly shines is in its capacity to absorb deep, low bass. The MaxTrap’s remarkable low frequency extension is achieved by way of a suspended diaphragm that stretches the full size of the device, capturing bass by vibrating where the low frequencies are most prominent. As room modes combine, they either reinforce certain frequencies or cancel them out. The MaxTrap’s limp-mass structure naturally migrates to the most powerful frequencies where it quietly resonates to remove excess bass and subsequent modal frequencies.
Available in black, beige or grey, MaxTraps ship flat and assemble in minutes using standard household tools. Optimum placement is in corners where walls intersect and sound naturally gathers. For rooms where windows and doors are in the way, the wall-mountedPrimacoustic FullTrap presents an excellent alternative. When combined with Primacoustic Broadway panels and diffusers, one can turn virtually any room into a well balanced acoustic space.
The Primacoustic MaxTrap; quite simply, the best bass trap made today.
Maxtraps In Room Corners
This image shows a typical MaxTrap mounted in each corner. The panels are positioned at ear height to support wall panels and help control primary reflections in the room.
MaxTraps Stacked In Room Corners
This image shows two MaxTraps stacked, one on top of each other. This is a popular approach in mid sized rooms where deeper bass frequencies need to be controlled.
Fulltrap Alternative Option
Sometimes, placing a MaxTrap in a corner is impossible due to doors or windows. The FullTrap presents the perfect alternative with a wall-mount version. Same great performance, different footprint.
The Primacoustic MaxTrap is a combination full range absorber and diaphragmatic resonator designed to control all frequencies right down to the deepest bass.
This is achieved by combining a full-size high density glass wool panel (F) with a closed air space behind (B) created by the wood frame (A) to absorb sound below 100Hz. Lower frequencies pass through the front face and then cause the internal diaphragm (D) to resonate. The greater energy contained in low frequencies causes the limp-mass diaphragm to naturally migrate to the frequencies where room resonance is most prominent, thereby reducing the effect of powerful room modes.
Made from easy to clean black melamine coated wood composite frame (A), the MaxTrap ships flat in kit form to save freight costs and assembles in about fifteen minutes using standard household tools. Once together, the device hangs easily in the corner using supplied French cleats.
The MaxTrap may be ordered in a choice of black, grey or beige fabric covering to suit most color schemes.
|Frame Material||Black melamine laminated MDF|
|Dimensions||24” (610mm) x 48” (1219mm) x 19” (See detail dimensions)|
|Panel Material||Formed, semirigid inorganic glass fibers; Density 6.0 lbs. pcf. (96 kg/m3)|
|Fabric Facing||Acoustically transparent polyester|
|Diaphragmatic Membrane||Loaded vinyl, 1.0 lbs. per square foot (4.88 Kg/m2)|
|Fabric Color Codes||Black=00, Beige=03, Grey=08|
|Mounting Hardware||Wall mounting cleat, wood screws and drywall anchors included.|
|Frequency - HZ||40Hz||50Hz||63Hz||80Hz||100Hz||125Hz||250Hz||315Hz||500Hz||1kHz||2kHz||4kHz||5kHz|
For reference, the standard Sound Absorption Coefficient wall-mount test was also performed. Although limited in scope, it provides typical data down to 100Hz and expected performance at lower frequencies as calculated by the laboratory. It should be noted that bass absorption tests are difficult to produce due to the extremely long wavelengths of lower frequencies and available room size. The tests as described above are as a result of our working with Riverbank Laboratories to deliver the most accurate findings possible given the limitations of the facility and practical mounting methods.
Easy to use and it works!
By combining the MaxTrap or FullTrap with standard Broadway panels, you will notice that bass will immediately tighten up and chatter echo will be reduced, which will help eliminate troublesome standing waves that cause nulls and lobes. With less interference, the listening sweet spot will expand, making your room more comfortable to work in. With a properly treated studio, your mixes will become more accurate and translate better as you listen to the results in different rooms, in your car, and on different sound systems.
Using corners to your advantage
It is well documented that sound tends to migrate into corners where it reflects and amplifies. This is one reason why acousticians tend to always treat corners first. Another great reason is that because sound expands at a rate of four each time you double the distance, by treating corners you can ‘capture’ or trap the sound as it hits the wall before it expands. This applies to all frequencies and is the reason why the MaxTrap is designed to be corner mounted.
The FullTrap employs the same construction in a wall-mount design. This can be a good choice when windows or doors limit corner placement. By placing the FullTrap near the corner, you can enjoy the same sound absorbing benefits.
Bass problems in the studio
Since the advent of affordable digital audio equipment, the proliferation of recording studios has expanded to the point where many successful recordings are now entirely produced in home-based project studios. These rooms are typically small preexisting structures that were never intended for audio.
Small rooms have several impediments: Due to the close proximity of the walls to the listening area, they are beset with powerful reflections that cause severe comb filtering. Since most rooms are rectangular, the parallel walls introduce room chatter and flutter echo in the mid and high frequencies. These reflections combine to collapse the effective listening position and cause ear fatigue. The immediate solution to these types of mid-range and high frequency reflections is broadband absorption using panels such as the popular Primacoustic Broadway series. Managing bass frequencies, however, presents a greater challenge commonly known as modal distortion or room modes.
Room modes are essentially zones in a room where two or more low frequency sound waves come together. When they combine ‘in-phase’, they reinforce each other (see graph A) amplifying the bass at that frequency. Alternately, these waves can combine ‘out of phase’ and cancel each other out, thus lowering the amplitude in that zone (see graph B). Neither case is ideal as it can cause bass to be too loud or too quiet depending on where you are standing inside the room.
The physical size of the room imposes limits where frequencies will resonate as they echo off the walls and ceilings. These are commonly known as standing waves. A typical room that is 12 feet long, 10 feet wide and has an 8 foot ceiling (3.6m x 3m x 2.4m) will resonate at 94Hz, 113Hz and 141Hz respectively as sound echoes between the parallel surfaces.
Calculating the Resonant Frequencies of a 12 x 10 x 8ft. Room
As detailed above, these low frequencies will either amplify each other or cancel each other out depending on where you are sitting within the room. This is precisely why studio owners often complain that the mix may sound great at the listening position, but when they move to the back of the room the bass can either be thin (lacking), or is so intense that it completely messes up the mix. This one of the main reasons why bass trapping is so important in small rooms.
You can predict the fundamental room modes in your studio by simply dividing the speed of sound (1130/ft. per sec.) by the room dimensions as shown. For instance, in a room that is 12 feet long by 10 feet wide and 8 feet high, we can predict modal frequencies at 94Hz, 113Hz and 141Hz.
The Power In Bass
Let’s take this one step further by understanding the ‘power’ that bass unleashes compared to high frequencies. You only need to stand outside a night club to realize how much more energy is contained in low frequencies. If you listen, chances are you will only hear the bass in the music as it travels through the clubs walls to the outside. To illustrate, try stopping a bicycle. Now try stopping a train. Once a locomotive starts moving it is almost impossible to stop quickly. The inertia of a slow moving train is monumental compared to that of a bicycle.
In figure-A below, the ‘energy’ of a 50Hz sine wave is illustrated in the red ‘area’. Figure-B shows 200Hz at the same amplitude. Notice the red area is so much smaller? Figure-C takes this a step further by illustrating the comparative energy at 800Hz. Bass contains enormous amounts of energy compared to high frequencies.
This is why the bass speakers in a PA system are usually supplied with as much as 20 times more amplifier power than the high frequency horns. Once that bass gets moving, it is practically impossible to stop. In fact, controlling low frequencies is probably the most difficult and challenging aspect of acoustic sound control because of the disproportional amount of energy bass contains.
Absorptive Panels… What they can and cannot do
One can ‘predict’ the performance of an absorptive panel by using the quarter-wavelength calculation. This will provide a relatively accurate cut-off point to where the panel will provide 100% absorption. Remember, high frequencies have very little energy, so they are easy to absorb and control using absorptive acoustic panels. The thickness and density of the acoustic panel will determine the actual performance. Controlling bass is where the real challenge lies.
The math is easy: To calculate the wavelength, use the following formula:
wavelength = Speed of Sound (1130) / Frequency
Divide the result by four to determine the 1/4 wave. Because most sound will hit the panel at different angles rather than straight on, we can divide the 1/4 wave by two to compensate.
Example: Material thickness required to measure 100Hz
1130/100 = 11.3′ wavelength
Convert to inches: 11.3 x 12 = 135.6″
135.6″ / 4 = 33.9″ 1/4 wavelength
33.9″ / 2 = 17″ for angle of incidence.
Therefore, you will need a 17″ thick acoustic panel to fully absorb 100Hz.
This is in fact how products like the London Bass Trap and the corner traps used in the London room kits are measured. They will do a good job down in this low region. But where they fall short is in the deep low bass, below 100Hz. If you were to try to absorb 50Hz using the same math, you would need a bass trap that would be 34″ deep!
In fact, this is exactly how anechoic chambers are calculated. They often have huge sound trapping wedges that will extend anywhere from 4 feet to 6 feet in depth (1.8m) depending on the size of the room and lowest frequency that they must absorb. This of course is clearly impractical for small room acoustics. Another solution is required.
The MaxTrap & FullTrap – A real solution for bass
Both the FullTrap and the MaxTrap were conceived from the ground up to control troublesome bass, while providing effective absorption throughout the audio listening range. In fact, you can think of these devices like a 3-way speaker working in reverse. With a speaker, the woofer produces bass; the mid range driver delivers the mids; and the tweeter delivers the high-end. The Primacoustic MaxTrap and Full trap follow a similar approach whereby it combines three different sound absorbing techniques in a single device to provide full bandwidth control.
Both the MaxTrap and Full Trap employ a 3″ thick 24″ x 48″ face panel that is made of 6lb per-cubic-foot high-density fiberglass. This is the same material used to control the acoustics in professional recording and broadcast studios around the world. This panel has been laboratory tested and will absorb frequencies starting from 125Hz to well above the threshold of human hearing. The front face panels work to control flutter echo, room chatter and resonance while helping to eliminate strong primary and secondary reflections.
To increase the low-mid frequency performance, a deep air cavity behind the face panel extends back to the corner or wall to absorb frequencies below 125Hz. By employing quarter-wavelength calculations, one can predict 100% absorption to 100Hz. The third piece is an internal diaphragmatic resonator. This magical device does the ‘heavy lifting’ to help reduce low frequency modes and control the standing waves that tend to clutter the sound field. This is how it works:
The Diaphragmatic Resonator
To understand how a resonator or membrane works, one simply needs to look at a microphone. Sound waves cause the microphone diaphragm to vibrate, which in turn causes an electric impulse. If a given frequency is louder, for instance the low bass from a kick drum, the microphone will resonate at that frequency and deliver bass to the audio system. The microphone is not selective. It is reactive. It simply picks up whatever is in the room and renders it to the best of its ability.
A diaphragmatic resonator works very much the same way. The one inside the Max Trap and Full Trap is basically a huge microphone diaphragm that is suspended so that it can float or vibrate. But, unlike a microphone that is made from a very light material so that it is sensitive to all frequencies, the heavy barium-loaded vinyl inside is so heavy it will only vibrate at low frequencies where there is sufficient energy in the wave to cause it to move. Herein lays the magic: The diaphragm will sympathetically vibrate at the loudest frequencies in the room and remove them by thermo-dynamic transfer… or in layman’s terms, by converting sound energy into heat as the membrane vibrates.
How efficient is it? To put it bluntly, it completely blew away the techs at Riverbank Labs. It was literally off the chart. They had never encountered such an amazing device. (A word of advice: If a company claims the performance of their bass traps is better than quarter-wavelength calculations, ask them for a lab test from an independent facility. If they claim to do the tests themselves, be afraid. Bass testing is extremely difficult and unless subjected to real scientific scrutiny, the tests will likely be unsubstantiated.)
To fully understand how the MaxTrap and FullTrap work, we need to first appreciate the differences between bass trapping options they employ.
As described earlier, acoustic panels will absorb bass, but their performance is tied directly to the thickness and density of the material that is used to build the panel. If the density is too high, then high frequencies will reflect. If the density is too low (like foam) then bass absorption will be minimal. Because the performance is tied to the thickness, they are limited in how low they will work. For the most part, even with an air cavity behind, they will typically absorb less than 50% of the energy down to around 75Hz.
The absorption of typical 3″ polyurethane acoustic foam vs. 3″ Broadway fiberglass panels.
These are typically wood panels that are suspended with some form of spring which is connected to an absorbent material. Because the panel is rigid, it will have a very specific resonant frequency based on the size, thickness and density. Hard membranes are narrow band by nature. This means that they will vibrate at some frequencies and effectively absorb energy in this narrow band but do nothing at other frequencies. So unless your room has a problem at that specific frequency, they will not provide an effective solution.
Curve comparing a hard-membrain resonator to the MaxTrap’s diaphagmatic membrain.
A Helmholtz resonator is best described as a big bottle. Just as you can create a sound by blowing across the Coke bottle like a flute, a Helmholtz resonator can be designed to suck out a specific frequency. Like hard membranes, Helmholtz resonators are narrow band and only work so long as you identify the problem and then create a very specific solution. But since every room has slightly different dimensions, a ‘one size fits all’ solution is impossible.
Curve comparing a Helmholtz resonator tuned at 125Hz to the Maxtrap.
The membrane or diaphragmatic resonator used inside the MaxTrap and FullTrap is different. It is a limp mass. In other words, it does not have a specific resonant frequency, but will vibrate based on the loudest or most powerful energy in the room. So no matter what the resonant frequency, it will self adjust to the problem and suck it out. The problem here is that the design is more complex and the heavy loaded barium impregnated vinyl is expensive. So these cost can be slightly higher. Ah, the price of perfection!
Curve comparing the MaxTrap to Real Traps.
A complete solution!
By combining the MaxTrap or FullTrap with standard Broadway panels, you will notice that bass will immediately tighten up; chatter echo will be reduced; and troublesome standing waves that cause nulls and lobes will disappear. With less interference, the listening sweet spot will expand making your room more comfortable to work in. Your mixes will become more accurate and translate better as you listen to the results in different rooms; in your car; and on different sound systems.