Originally Posted by Chuck Back
The Sherwood Newcastle R-972 with Trinnov Optimizer is up and running! Before getting into my listening impressions, I thought I’d run through the setup process to give you an idea of what it does and a bit about how it does it.
The first step is to place the Trinnov four-microphone array. I mounted it on a tripod set at ear height in my main listening position, pointed at screen center. The mic orientation determines the system’s center image location, in the both horizontal and vertical planes. The mic cable connects to an RJ45 connector on the receiver’s back panel.
Setup menus are accessed using the receiver’s on-screen display. To calibrate, you navigate to the Auto Setup screen and choose a memory setting for the current microphone location. Three settings can be stored to cover different listening locations or room configurations.
When calibrating, the receiver feeds test signals through each speaker, allowing the Trinnov Optimizer to locate each speaker in space. It measures distance, horizontal and vertical angles, level, frequency response, polarity, and more (for example, if the left and right front speakers are miswired, it figures out which speaker is on the left side of the room and assigns the left receiver channel to that speaker). Once these measurements are completed, an OSD shows the horizontal angle, vertical angle, and distance from the microphone to each loudspeaker.
This gives the user the opportunity to review the settings and make any changes to the system setup or speaker locations before the onboard processor makes its calculations. (If anything is changed, the test signals need to be re-run). The calculations take about 20 - 25 minutes, and include all system and Trinnov Optimizer settings. Once they are complete, an additional OSD screen shows the level and delay that the processor has calculated and implemented for each channel. The information from both screens is stored in memory for future recall.
Next is the Trinnov setup for each input. These choices made here will be the default for each input, but there is a menu available that allows these parameters to be changed while listening without changing the default.
1. Trinnov Position
As described above, there are three memory settings for listening positions. This selects the default position for the input.
2. Trinnov Room EQ
Corrects the frequency response of the system using one of the following characteristics:
- Flat – Flat frequency response to 20KHz.
- A.Phile 1 – Voices all speakers to emulate the qualities of the front left and right speakers. Can be used for systems with high-end speakers as the main pair.
- A.Phile 2 – Corrects only the low frequency response of all channels.
- Natural – Typical response of well-EQ'd room with slight LF boost and slight HF rolloff.
3. Trinnov Spatial Mode
This is where the magic happens. Makes spatial corrections to the system, giving users four choices. This capability is unique to Trinnov.
- DLY+ LVL – Distance and sound levels only are matched for all channels.
- Autoroute – Using the center location determined by the orientation of the microphone when the calibration is performed, it routes each input channel to the speaker located closest to the nominal channel location. For example, if calibration was done with the microphone facing the left surround speaker, Trinnov would assign the center channel signal to the left surround speaker, assign the right front channel signal to the left front speaker, and assign the other channels accordingly. Useful for unusual and multi-use room configurations.
- 2D Remap – The audio images for each channel are reproduced in the precise locations determined by Trinnov Remapping (see #4 below), in the horizontal plane only. For any speaker not in the proper physical location for its channel, Trinnov will apply correction so that the sound is heard in the proper channel location, in the same horizontal plane as the speaker. For example, if the surround speakers are not symmetrically mounted, listeners will hear the surround information as if both speakers were ideally located.
- 3D Remap – Provides the same Remapping as 2D, adding compensation for incorrect elevation. For example, this moves a center channel image from a speaker located below the screen up to the screen center along with the left and right speakers. This setting provides the full Trinnov spatial correction.
4. Trinnov Remapping
Two choices that produce soundfields based on speaker locations defined by generally accepted industry practices for multichannel film and music mixing. This gives listeners an unprecedented ability to hear at home what the mixers heard in the studio.
- Cinema – Front channel width extends ± 22.5° to the left and right of the center point (45° total width). Surrounds are placed in cinema orientation.
- Music – Front channel width extends ± 30° to the left and right of the center point (60° total width). Surrounds are placed in music mixing orientation.
The R-972 is set up in my theater room, which is a dedicated space about 13.5' x 22.5' with an 8' ceiling. There is no special room treatment, just a fair amount of fabric surface on furniture and carpet, so the room is quite live-sounding. I have a Stewart 49” x 87” 1.78:1 screen and a Projectiondesign 720p projector. The 7.1 speaker setup has original M&Ks: MPS1611Ps up
front with SS150 surrounds and dual MX5100 subwoofers. I also have a Samsung 46” LCD flat-screen available for 1080p evaluation.
The room's symmetry and lack of windows makes for reasonable imaging, but I am always aware of the room when listening. Everything sounds tightly contained within the room dimensions, and I’ve always wished that the room was wider and the ceiling taller.
I set up the Trinnov in Natural response, 3D Remapping and Cinema mode. Switching the Trinnov in for the first time was unlike any other new component substitution I’ve experienced. Typically, I can identify numerous sonic parameters where a new component is better, but Trinnov’s changes are at an entirely different level, improving the entire soundfield, or more accurately, the entire room environment, floor to ceiling and wall to wall.
The Sherwood R-972 with Trinnov is the first component that provides spatial correction, so it makes improvements that have never been available before. The correction produces a stunning change that is actually like being in a new room. The soundfield is now panoramic, and it defies definition by the room walls. My room has opened up both horizontally and vertically in ways that bring to mind the best listening rooms I’ve ever been in.
A couple of factors really stand out for me. First, everything is just easier to hear. Listening is so much more relaxed and natural, it seems like less ear/brain processing is taking place. Each element in the sound mix is easily resolved as a separate element among many. This ability to hear “into the mix” is a quality I’ve heard before in good recording studios playing master tapes, but never to this degree in home audio/video systems. Think of the resolution of a great recording heard over great headphones, but in three dimensional space around you instead of being inside your head.
The second factor, which is somewhat related, is the clarity of sounds panned in the mix heard in 3D space. Imagine the sound of an aircraft flyby that starts in the surrounds and moves through the room to the front (e.g., Pearl Harbor
). In a typical home theater system, the sound is heard first originating from one of the surround speakers, then moving somewhat erratically through the room, with the sound’s character changing as the front channels take over from the surrounds.
With Trinnov, the sound can be heard as if it originates outside the room’s side wall, then moving smoothly through the room without timbre change, until its complete fade can be heard in the front soundstage. This is a quality that I’ve heard in big mix rooms where there is plenty of space either around or to the speakers, but never in home systems.
A good example can be heard in the Pixar logo desk lamp sound. Its first squeak no longer appears within the right speaker. Instead, it’s heard first at a point outside the right wall of my room, with each subsequent bounce moving towards screen left with no change in timbre.
The front soundstage is now at vertical screen center, even though the center channel speaker sits more than two feet below that point and the left and right speakers sit above the center channel but below screen center. The coherency of the soundstage around the room is incredible, especially considering the asymmetry of boundary environments around my surround speakers. Trinnov’s cleanup of a couple of bass modes has significantly increased low frequency articulation, which particularly helps with the rhythm and pace of music.
Ah, music. Regardless of the source resolution, listening to music is especially addictive! I’ll try to post more on this later, but just let me say that The Beatles’ Love
with Trinnov is an incredible experience. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried a new audio component that was this much fun!