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Cphonic Blog

Cphonic featured in RealTraps Newsletter

Cphonic Mastering’s Kevin McNoldy has been featured in the December newsletter from RealTraps! Here is the full article:

From James Lindenschmidt, General Manager of RealTraps:
Over the years, Kevin McNoldy has purchased a number of traps from us. He recently sent us pictures of his new facility and, frankly, they blew us away! We often say “the more bass traps you add, the better the room will sound,” but Kevin has taken this to a new level, as you can see in these photos of his new mastering room:

Cphonic Mastering Realtraps newsletter feature

Cphonic Mastering Realtraps newsletter feature side photo

What I love about Kevin’s design is how the extensive treatment is highlighted, as part of the overall room aesthetic, as opposed to trying to hide away enough treatment to make the room sound good without being seen. And of course, with this much treatment the room sounds amazing! Kevin emailed us about his experience with this room and RealTraps. It’s a bit longer than what we usually feature in a newsletter, but he offers some great insight that’s too good not to share in full:

A bit of background is needed to explain how I came to the RealTraps products. My last commercial studio, Crystalphonic, was a multi-million dollar facility with a tremendous amount of acoustical design put into the rooms. From the designers I hired, one thing that struck me about their philosophy was that the rooms felt open and alive, rather than the typical dead, slightly muffled quality you often hear in many designs. As a result, it was incredibly comfortable to mix and master in those rooms.

When I left the studio, my goal was to create the same quality of acoustics in a more mobile form. The main reason for this was because a producer / engineer in today’s world must be as flexible as possible. The definition of “being flexible” to me means you can work anywhere, anytime, in any environment. Well, how do you take a Crystalphonic-level control room and cart it around from location to location? How do you take a less-than-ideal environment and turn it into an excellent control room capable of putting out quality material?

Variable Acoustics
In my new location, I tested acoustic products from many different companies, but the ones that stayed were the RealTraps products. First off, they yielded the best results in taming the issues of the room, and they were simple and fast to install. Second, they could be changed or moved at will – creating a true “variable acoustics” design that could change based on room alterations. So, if a rack moved, if a couch changed, or any minor detail shifted and created a new problem in the room response, the RealTraps fixtures could easily accommodate. And, since RealTraps don’t only absorb low frequencies (they also are semi-reflective, absorbing some mids and highs), the end result was similar to the earlier facility – an open, natural sound with none of the muffled, dead quality I’ve found in so many studios due to an overabundance of broad frequency absorption.

Later, I moved to North Carolina and slowly put together a more permanent control room for mixing and mastering – Cphonic. I used the same RealTraps I had purchased previously, making them not only perfect for “variable acoustics,” but also for mobility. The new room was larger than the previous room, so MegaTraps were added to the corners to further refine the low frequency response, along with more MondoTraps to cover the extra space.

RealTraps are a game-changer
The results are stunning – the room sounds incredibly natural, open, and precise when listening to music, and I’m able to work faster and more accurately than ever before. Again, if I change anything in the room such as the back couch or a side outboard rack, and that results in an acoustic alteration that needs to be dealt with, it’s a simple fix. And should I ever change locations, or need to take these panels to a less-than-ideal room to handle a session remotely, it’s as easy as grabbing them off the wall. This is a complete paradigm shift for me – I’m a Berklee-educated producer / engineer who built studios in Los Angeles, Nashville, and Virginia before this, and those previous studios were all “permanent” designs that weren’t meant to move locations (and were all exorbitantly expensive). Achieving the same results with RealTraps and gaining the flexibility they bring me is incredible, and certainly a game-changer in how I work.

Visual Aesthetics: Highlighting the treatment
In terms of the aesthetic decision to put the RealTraps panels “front and center” in the room, and not hide them: In my experience, there are two things that attract the viewer’s eye when looking at a control room. The first is the mixing console / control surface / workstation desk, and the second is the acoustic design and setup of the room. Consoles are shrinking in today’s working environments, and certainly I’ve gone from large-format analog consoles to large-format control surfaces to custom-built workstations. At each stage of the modern studio’s evolution, I’ve noticed an improvement in the acoustic signature of the space. Nowadays, the look of the acoustics and fixtures in the room becomes more the “eye catching” part of the design. I see no reason to paint the walls a light color and “hide” the RealTraps or attempt to blend them in. These are gorgeous panels that are highly effective on a technical level, so I think it’s a great statement to feature them rather than to disguise them. Personally, I’ve always used darker blues and purples in my studios, which I love, but it can be a bit too dark overall. The lighter color of the RealTraps panels really brightens up the space, giving it a “lift” rather than the purple overwhelming everything.

The RealTraps experience
Start to finish, I’ve had nothing but excellent results with RealTraps. Certainly, I’ve put an extreme amount of panels into the room, but even a small number of traps improves any space considerably. The installation process itself is as fast as it can possibly be – measuring out the position of the wall and ceiling fixtures actually takes longer than physically hanging them. The entire time taken to hang everything in the room was maybe two or three workdays total, that’s it! And as each panel was added I could instantly hear the difference.

The results are perfect. I think your approach is truly the future of design, with how the music and pro audio industry has changed over the last few years. Achieving a world-class result from products that allow me to be more flexible, mobile, and to adjust to any situation is absolutely vital in today’s world. I give RealTraps my highest recommendation, as these products truly deliver on every level. My studio photos are the best endorsement I can provide. Thanks again, Ethan and James!

Kevin McNoldy