They really do make a contribution to the sound, clarifying detail and space in the music. You can also see one of the four 16” round TubeTraps and the SubTrap on the right.
Now that I’ve had a few days to really listen to the effects of having TubeTraps in my listening room, here are my findings.
I have three TubeTraps (the fourth was damaged on shipping, to be replaced later), two at the front behind my main speakers and one at the rear left of the room, plus a custom-built SubTrap under my REL subwoofer to the right of the r/h speaker. I have positioned each one with their most absorptive face towards the centre of the room.
The first noticeable difference is how much quieter speech is in the room and the dryness apparent in familiar voices. Finger snapping also reveals much less room liveliness than before.
Listening to music, I was struck by the improvement, not in the bass area as I most expected to hear, but in the focus and clarity of detail coming through. The whole soundstage was as if rendered in higher resolution, with startling realism. It was exactly as if someone had turned the room off. All of that bloat around voices and the constrained and ‘loud’ wall of sound as the volume was increased turned out to be the room’s interactions, not inherent in the recording or system.
The overall sound seems lighter (lacking any bass boom) and also has more midrange kick. The lighter balance took a few songs to get used to, but is welcome as it allows such transparency in the midrange and especially with vocals. The reduction in echo means that hard hit drums and other percussion instruments seem lightning fast and have real visceral impact.
This lack of echo and flutter has made my old CDs sound fresh. I wish I could say the same about some more recent releases but their poor sound just does not respond in the same way. I was listening to some old David Crosby and Bruce Springsteen and was amazed at the natural soundstage they create. k d lang’s exceptional voice soars and Leonard Cohen’s raspy delivery puts you uncomfortably close to the action.
As for bass, the effect is interesting. Where there is little or no bass in the music, the sound is lightweight and very revealing. Play something with serious bass (Air’s 10000 Hz Legend or Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3, Edo de Waart) and it seems both more extended and more powerful. I did not make any changes to subwoofer crossover frequency or level from before installation of the traps.
One final observation: when upstairs in our bedroom I’m used to hearing a very boomy rendition of whatever’s playing downstairs. I noticed today that the boominess is mostly gone with just an attenuated, more natural sound coming through the floorboards.
I really can’t think of another way that I could have yielded such an improvement for so little (relative) cost. I wouldn’t advocate it for a less than optimal system, but it’s given me new respect for what tweaking a room can do for a well set up HiFi system. If you’re interested, talk to the people at Acoustic Sciences. They were friendly and knowledgeable and gave me excellent advice.