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ASC’s Early Days: the 1980’s

Published On: March 12, 2021Tags: , , , , ,

Sometimes it is good to remember. Sometimes to learn, sometimes to grimace, and sometimes to simply smile.

Many of you may remember the 80’s for big hair, square cars, the demise of those beastly rotary AT&T desk phones and the emergence of cordless remote controls. Some of you may also remember the amazing audio reproduction products of the day: Apogee, Infinity, B&W, & Chapman built classic speakers, while Wilson and Martin Logan came into their own. Many hearken back to this “heyday of HiFi,” when countless companies and people brought the home listening experience to never-before-heard levels of musical quality, realism, and immersion.

We call it the decade that gave birth to the TubeTrap.

Art Noxon, TubeTrap inventor, with the first TubeTrap, pulled from the ASC archives.

This early TubeTrap locked together in a stack using wooden pegs.

Why a Portable Bass Trap?

Well, the answer may be obvious now, but in the 1980’s, really powerful bass was something of a newcomer to home audio systems. Normal rooms were not built to contain or control this bass, but golden-eared listeners needed the sound to be accurate and the bass tight. The world needed a relatively small device that could be purchased and placed in a room after construction was long finished, and Art delivered.

An early flyer discussing, among other things, reduction of phase and amplitude distortion by TubeTraps. Cool!

     

Who used it?

It came as little surprise that golden-eared HiFi enthusiasts were not the only crowd in need of pristine audio reproduction. Top Studio Engineers literally made their living off of good sound.

Naturally, a new product line was developed specifically for these masters of their craft.

Predictably, classic albums emerged as a result.

A Few More Benefits, Presented Old-School Style

Before the internet, before advanced layout software, before a second area code graced the great state of Oregon…there were TubeTraps!

     

At their inception, TubeTraps legitimately claimed many firsts. Today, they remain the most musical of all acoustic treamtent devices. After all, what are we listening to?

A Little Nostalgic Fun with Math

How loud would a sound need to be to knock you onto your back?

Ok, let’s run some easy math with quite a few approximations and simplifications. Pull out your old physics textbook to check our work!

Marty McFly is a fairly small guy who can be pushed over relatively easily (but, hey, he’s charming and smart, that counts for something!). Let’s say he weighs 130 pounds and is thrown backward at an angle of 10 degrees from horizontal.

About 600 Newtons are needed in the vertical component of the force applied by the sound wave to lift Marty off the ground. This equates to a force of around 3,400 Newtons against his torso, slightly upward. If his torso is about 24″ tall and 16″ wide, the force is distributed over 0.25 square meters for a pressure of 13,600 Pascals. Lets see what this looks like in pounds per square inch and also sound pressure level (SPL).

13,600 Pa ~ 2 PSI. OK, that doesn’t seem too painful.

Recall: SPL, dB = 20*log10(P/P_0), where P_0 is the reference pressure of 20 microPascals.

SPL(13600 Pa) = 176 dB !!!!!!

This is louder than standing 25 yards from a jet takeoff, and can cause eardrum rapture. Plus, it doesn’t even take into account the room gain effect on Marty! So it turns out, Marty’s hearing was quite impaired for the remainder of the Back to the Future series.

The 1980’s: The Decade that Gave us Small Room Bass Control

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with us and joining in some math fun. Stay tuned for more blasts from the past in coming weeks as we start spring cleaning and the sun emerges to brighten our days. All the while, your TubeTraps will clean up the bass in your room and keep it bright for those evening listening sessions.

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