StormAudio I.ISP 3D.16.12 16-Channel Integrated AV Processor Hands-On - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 218 Old 08-07-2017, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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StormAudio I.ISP 3D.16.12 16-Channel Integrated AV Processor Hands-On

Folks, this is one of the most exciting hands-on experiences I've had all year. This is the first StormAudio I.ISP to go out to a reviewer. And just in case you are wondering what that means, here's the scoop. The I.ISP is a $15,900 (MSRP) 16-channel integrated AV processor that features twelve 200-watt amplified channels. Yes, it's a beast.

To read the full hands-on, click this link: StormAudio I.ISP 3D.16.12 16-Channel Integrated AV Processor Hands-On

Update: I gave the I.ISP 3D.16.12 a Best of CEDIA 2017 award. Also, the company announced numerous upgrades at the show. Click this link for more: StormAudio Updates ISP Series AV Processors at CEDIA 2017


The I.ISP 3D.16.12 is an AVS Forum Best of CEDIA 2017 winner

I first saw the I.ISP at CES 2017 and instantly fell in love with its logical and clear browser-based interface. Most impressively, this processor includes Dirac Live processing for all channels, and is capable of handling a six elevation channels for next-level 3D audio immersion. This integrated AV processor can handle Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X with ease.

The twelve class-D amps in the chassis are rated to deliver 200 watts per channel with 0.1% THD from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, all channels driven. That's a ton of power and for space-challenged installations this device can replace a whole rack of amps. For this reason, the I.ISP is not equipped with preamp outputs for the twelve amplified channels. The remaining four channels do feature balanced XLR outputs.

Soon, I will show you how easy it is to create highly customized and optimized system setups with StormAudio's system. It's super slick and I can say that my first exposure to its capabilities has spoiled me. Stay tuned for more, it's already up and running in a 7.1.4 configuration, which is soon to become a 7.2.6 system (with five physical subs). This is serious business!

Also, for this unit, I promise to write a formal review when I'm done with the hands-on. I've got the I.ISP for one month, and CEDIA is just weeks away, so you can expect to see an update here really soon. This is, bar none, the most awesome AVR I've ever seen.


-----
The AVS Forum Hands-On Review Process (master list of hands-on threads)

Mark Henninger, Senior Editor at AVS Forum

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post #2 of 218 Old 08-07-2017, 09:34 PM
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I guess my first questions are:
Did the eval unit come with Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro3D codecs active? How audible are the fans? Can the 4 XLR outs be flexibly reassigned? L/C/R & LFE or L/R + Zone 2 for examples.
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post #3 of 218 Old 08-08-2017, 07:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
I guess my first questions are:
Did the eval unit come with Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro3D codecs active? How audible are the fans? Can the 4 XLR outs be flexibly reassigned? L/C/R & LFE or L/R + Zone 2 for examples.
The codecs are active. The fans are inaudible. According to StormAudio, fully flexible assignment of all channels is coming soon. But yes, you can flexibly assign different tasks to the XLR outputs now.
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post #4 of 218 Old 08-08-2017, 08:38 AM
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9.1.6 supported?

Tower Cinema - 9.1.6 in a 12'x12' room

Input : Nvidia Shield TV, Panasonic DMP-UB400
Magic : Marantz SR7010, Marantz SR6010, 2x NAD T743
Output : Pioneer KRP-600a, SVS PB13 Ultra, Monitor Audio GSLCR 2xGS20 2xGS10 4xGSFX 6xBX1
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post #5 of 218 Old 08-08-2017, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mashie Saldana View Post
9.1.6 supported?
No support for front wides (currently anyhow), so no you can't do that layout.

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post #6 of 218 Old 09-05-2017, 01:22 PM
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I imagine that design could make life a lot easier for the installers but with that much stuff (and money) in one box, it'd better have one hell of a warranty.
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post #7 of 218 Old 09-05-2017, 02:29 PM
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Nice find Mark ! Enjoy it.

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post #8 of 218 Old 09-05-2017, 05:03 PM
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I would like 9.1.6...might be possible some time later next year?
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post #9 of 218 Old 09-05-2017, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I would like 9.1.6...might be possible some time later next year?
I'll bring it up, it's such a recurring theme/wish. Even if nothing comes of it I may as well convey the message.
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post #10 of 218 Old 09-05-2017, 06:29 PM
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Honest question here....

Why is it that any processor doing 16 channels has to come at such a nosebleed price? Yes, I understand that this particular one is also full of amps, but its still a valid question.

What would practically keep some of the bigger firms (Denon-Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer etc) from offering a 16+ channel solution for under $5k? Am I missing something? Is it just because the firms currently offering these products do not have economy of scale like the big box companies do, therefore they must cost $15k?

My full disclosure is that I have absolutely no interest in anything with this many channels...unless of course it can use them to do 4 independent zones.
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Does Kaleidescape come with early access to movies? Wonder woman doesn't release for another two weeks.
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Very much looking forward to the loaner/demo I'll be getting of the processor version of this to test in our system. Hope in addition to 21st century ergonomics, the sound quality is clearly better than the 5K and unders and commensurate w/the price.
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post #13 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 06:04 AM
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. . . Kaleidescape Alto 4K HDR player . . .
No such device Mark AFAIK, the Alto is HD only, I assume you mean the Kaleidescape Strato which is 4K/HDR?

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Originally Posted by pattycake View Post
Does Kaleidescape come with early access to movies? Wonder woman doesn't release for another two weeks.
Yes, the Wonder Woman 4K HDR movie has been available in the Kaleidescape store for about 2 weeks already.
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post #14 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
What would practically keep some of the bigger firms (Denon-Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer etc) from offering a 16+ channel solution for under $5k?
Processing power of current generation DSP chips. That will change in time as DSPs get more powerful and cost less. Right now, the only pre-pro that can natively decode 16 channels (let alone 16+ channels) is the Trinnov Altitude, which avoids DSP limitations by using a CPU (Intel i7).

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post #15 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Processing power of current generation DSP chips. That will change in time as DSPs get more powerful and cost less. Right now, the only pre-pro that can natively decode 16 channels (let alone 16+ channels) is the Trinnov Altitude, which avoids DSP limitations by using a CPU (Intel i7).
No doubt. They'll be $1000 before long
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post #16 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Processing power of current generation DSP chips. That will change in time as DSPs get more powerful and cost less. Right now, the only pre-pro that can natively decode 16 channels (let alone 16+ channels) is the Trinnov Altitude, which avoids DSP limitations by using a CPU (Intel i7).
You mean, the same CPU that is found in $400 desktops?

Sorry, I don't buy the "processing power" argument. Not these days anyway. Processing horsepower HAS become cheap.
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Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
You mean, the same CPU that is found in $400 desktops?
The same (not like Intel makes a special version for Trinnov).
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I don't buy the "processing power" argument.
Then the answer will have to remain a mystery (for you).
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post #18 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
The same (not like Intel makes a special version for Trinnov). Then the answer will have to remain a mystery (for you).
If you think the answer is processing power, the mystery is yours. For enlightenment, I would encourage you to look into what very inexpensive processors are capable of these days. Or, just bury your head in the sand...doesn't matter to me.
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Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
If you think the answer is processing power, the mystery is yours.
Nope, I've spoken to manufacturers and asked them (including D&M reps). You can do the same at CEDIA tomorrow rather than take my word on. It's always the same answer. If you have a better answer why 9.1.6 processors haven't shown up under $5K, just says so.

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Originally Posted by pattycake View Post
Does Kaleidescape come with early access to movies? Wonder woman doesn't release for another two weeks.
Digital/streaming copies of a lot of movies have been getting released 2-3 weeks prior to the disc release for a couple of years now, at least.
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post #21 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Does Kaleidescape come with early access to movies? Wonder woman doesn't release for another two weeks.
Yes, if it's available on Vudu/UltraViolet then it's available to download (at UHD Blu-ray quality) from the Kaleidoscope store. So in effect, with some movies, you do get a 2-3 week window where the Kaleidescape UHD version of a movie is the highest quality that's available to consumers before the disc comes out.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Nope, I've spoken to manufacturers and asked them (including D&M reps). You can do the same at CEDIA tomorrow rather than take my word on. It's always the same answer. If you have a better answer why 9.1.6 processors haven't shown up under $5K, just says so.
It's a niche market and as such premiums (and a little greed) can be applied to it?

In the case of the Trinnov, I'd also wager that a lot of time and money was spent to certify a PC's hardware with the HDMI committee for securely processing the audio in an HDMI input feed through the entire digital domain until it hits the DACs (all while also certifying that the video signal isn't "pirate-able" off a board somewhere, or worse through a software hack). To the best of my knowledge, there exists no cost effective solution to get an HDMI input into a PC to process the audio streams contained there-in. If there were, there'd be a path to DIY a Trinnov.

In addition, Trinnov needs to recoup the licensing and costs to develop and certify the codecs for Atmos / DTS:X on a PC. Which, again to the best of my knowledge, exist nowhere else but the Trinnov machine; unlike the normal TrueHD, which has been in BD playback software for ages.

These are my guesses, since the power to process 32 channels of high bit-rate audio is certainly available "cheaply" (in relation to a Trinnov for sure) in a PC.
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
These are my guesses, since the power to process 32 channels of high bit-rate audio is certainly available "cheaply" (in relation to a Trinnov for sure) in a PC.
No disagreement with your guesses. Trinnov is in a unique position because, in avoiding the limitations of a DSP-based pre-pro, they spent a lot of money to start from scratch and code Dolby, DTS and Auro algorithms. ALL other manufacturers buy chips from the big three chipmakers (Analog Devices, Texas Instruments, Cirrus Logic) with those algorithms already coded onto the DSP. The latest versions of these chips are starting to hit the market, hence the recent talk of 13.1 (possibly 15.1) decoding in products releasing early next year. The new Analog Devices SHARC chips, for example, have 4 times the processing power of the SHARC chips currently being used in Denon/Marantz gear. So 3 years after Atmos was introduced to the home market, the processing power is finally available to go past the 11.1 limit while remaining with within the mainstream consumer price range.
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post #24 of 218 Old 09-06-2017, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
It's a niche market and as such premiums (and a little greed) can be applied to it?

In the case of the Trinnov, I'd also wager that a lot of time and money was spent to certify a PC's hardware with the HDMI committee for securely processing the audio in an HDMI input feed through the entire digital domain until it hits the DACs (all while also certifying that the video signal isn't "pirate-able" off a board somewhere, or worse through a software hack). To the best of my knowledge, there exists no cost effective solution to get an HDMI input into a PC to process the audio streams contained there-in. If there were, there'd be a path to DIY a Trinnov.

In addition, Trinnov needs to recoup the licensing and costs to develop and certify the codecs for Atmos / DTS:X on a PC. Which, again to the best of my knowledge, exist nowhere else but the Trinnov machine; unlike the normal TrueHD, which has been in BD playback software for ages.

These are my guesses, since the power to process 32 channels of high bit-rate audio is certainly available "cheaply" (in relation to a Trinnov for sure) in a PC.
I think your first sentence is pretty spot on. There aren't a lot of manufacturers currently offering products like these, so if the next guy's unit retails for $17k, why wouldn't I price mine at a "bargain" price of $15k? I bet when you add up the licensing, BOM, infrastructure, sales staff and marketing you'd get MAYBE $3k per unit cost landed, depending on how many you sold. The margin on these things must be enormous.

Even if D+M, Yamaha etc wanted to build units like this, which they certainly could do more inexpensively at scale, I'm not sure they could sell them (per your first point). It IS a niche market. Could you imagine at what expense "selling" current dealers, and then training their staff would incur? Most people's version of surround sound is 5.1, after all. Good luck convincing the wife to cut 6 more holes in the ceiling.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
I think your first sentence is pretty spot on. There aren't a lot of manufacturers currently offering products like these, so if the next guy's unit retails for $17k, why wouldn't I price mine at a "bargain" price of $15k? I bet when you add up the licensing, BOM, infrastructure, sales staff and marketing you'd get MAYBE $3k per unit cost landed, depending on how many you sold. The margin on these things must be enormous.

Even if D+M, Yamaha etc wanted to build units like this, which they certainly could do more inexpensively at scale, I'm not sure they could sell them (per your first point). It IS a niche market. Could you imagine at what expense "selling" current dealers, and then training their staff would incur? Most people's version of surround sound is 5.1, after all. Good luck convincing the wife to cut 6 more holes in the ceiling.
I think the units like Trinnov probably have a higher BOM than you'd think. I am sure being a niche product, they pay quite a bit for, say, their uniquely available HDMI/PC interfaces. Regardless, they are certainly being paid for their solution; as they should be, if we're being honest.

As @sdurani mentions, as the ability to process more channels becomes available in more mainstream DSP-based solutions, I think we'll see 16-channel models at "reasonable" prices (certainly not Trinnov prices). When Analog Devices or TI can spread their development costs over a large number of chip sales to companies like Emotiva / D+M, that's when the costs come down. Of course, since those use canned DSP solutions, there is only so much remaining horsepower for, e.g. room-correction. So, it limits what the units can do, or requires the manufacturer buy even more processing power to implement e.g. Dirac, passing that cost on to us consumers (at a premium, no doubt).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
I think the units like Trinnov probably have a higher BOM than you'd think...
Note that the Altitude is a lot more than a surround processor.

I believe a Trinnov box w/o any decoding is north of $10k.

What you get for that is extremely powerful and flexible RC (in particular user-definable target curves), 32 profiles/presets, active XO's, completely flexible input/output routing, matrix mixing of any channels you like, DRC (dynamic range control), input/output signal level metering, and lots more that I can't remember.

Whatever base level of channels you start with, additional channel licenses are $600 ea, so going from 8 to 16 ch is close to $5k right there.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwinfrombelgium View Post
After visiting the Storm Audio boot at ISE Amsterdam, I got this answer to my e-mail questioning about the advertised 7.1.6 Atmos:

Dear Erwin,

Further to your email, please note that we are currently supporting 7.1.4
and this is valid for all ISPs, including ISP16 Elite.
9.1.2 and 7.1.6 free updates shall be released within the next 2 months.

As far as the configuration with Wide (9.1.4 and 9.1.6) is concerned, we
are currently reviewing with Dolby their integration and certification
into our DSP platform. We have no date to provide on their release.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
Processing power of current generation DSP chips. That will change in time as DSPs get more powerful and cost less. Right now, the only pre-pro that can natively decode 16 channels (let alone 16+ channels) is the Trinnov Altitude, which avoids DSP limitations by using a CPU (Intel i7).
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
No disagreement with your guesses. Trinnov is in a unique position because, in avoiding the limitations of a DSP-based pre-pro, they spent a lot of money to start from scratch and code Dolby, DTS and Auro algorithms. ALL other manufacturers buy chips from the big three chipmakers (Analog Devices, Texas Instruments, Cirrus Logic) with those algorithms already coded onto the DSP. The latest versions of these chips are starting to hit the market, hence the recent talk of 13.1 (possibly 15.1) decoding in products releasing early next year. The new Analog Devices SHARC chips, for example, have 4 times the processing power of the SHARC chips currently being used in Denon/Marantz gear. So 3 years after Atmos was introduced to the home market, the processing power is finally available to go past the 11.1 limit while remaining with within the mainstream consumer price range.

Storm Audio's ISP 3D.16 ELITE and ISP 3D.32 ELITE processors use six SHARC DSPs. Two are used for decoding audio, two are used for for post-processing including bass management, and two are used to implement room correction. They claim this allows them to render 16 discrete immersive audio channels and output up to 32 channels (with post-processing) depending upon the model.

http://www.avsforum.com/best-of-ces-...amp-processor/

StormAudio's press release for CEDIA 2017 says they added several new features including an 4-XLR expansion module to the entry level 16 channel ISP 3D.16 ELITE processor to accommodate multiple subs for a total of 20 channels or 10.4.6.

https://avnation.tv/2017/08/storm-au...nd-cedia-2017/

4-XLR Channel Expansion Board

"Beginning November, the brand’s 16-channel preamp/processors can be upgraded to 20-channels. Called the 4-XLR, this option takes place via an expansion slot. According to Trélohan this is a huge capability for theaters that require more than 16-channels, for example those with multi-subwoofer configurations. MSRP of the entry-level 16-channel processors with 4-XLR is $12,500 to $13,000, which Trélohan says is a significant advantage as competitor’s similarly-equipped processors are $20,000."

With the 4-XLR expansion board and Dirac processing on all 20 channels, I think the ISP 3D.16 ELITE represents a good feature set for a processor at half the cost of a Trinnov Altitude 24. However, I wonder how are they accomplishing 16 channels with the DSP limitations Sanjay is talking about? Maybe they are using the newer Analog Devices Griffin Light DSP chip instead of the older Falcon DSP chip. Also why can't 16 channels mean support for 9.1.6?

Hope to ask them tomorrow at CEDIA.

Last edited by Peterc613; 09-06-2017 at 09:31 PM.
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post #28 of 218 Old 09-07-2017, 05:49 AM
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bravo Storm Audio

This is a really nice proof of concept, and not exorbitantly priced for a first of its kind prototype. (remember the first 19" OLED was price at ~$4000 adjusted for inflation) Also, it lends credibility to products like Anthem's AVR-1120 which uses similar setup with some class D amps (I think all receivers over 7 channels will soon go class D for efficiency and headroom and to keep the boxes smaller/more efficient) and the Anthem looks like a bargain by comparison. StormAudio's business model is exactly the opposite of D&M...they employ a small number of highly educated engineers who spent a TON on R&D to come up with this product and now they have a significant small business loan to pay off (or similar financial obligation) and seeing as how they have invested over ~$12K in licensing and parts per unit and no receivers selling for that much are going to sell a large number of units they tack on a seemingly large profit to recoup their initial expenditure...this amount seems high only against a business model of D&M who make a zillion receivers and need to sell them all at $50 profit to break even.

I'm recently in the market for a receiver and, though I would never afford one of these, makes me thing that more changes ahead in the HT market and maybe I should hunker down for a cycle or two.

If it weren't for companies like Storm Audio we'd rarely see new or innovative products released...the market leaders have very little motivation to innovate anything (as they're already winning so why take chances)!
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post #29 of 218 Old 09-07-2017, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Peterc613 View Post
Storm Audio's ISP 3D.16 ELITE and ISP 3D.32 ELITE processors use six SHARC DSPs. Two are used for decoding audio, two are used for for post-processing including bass management, and two are used to implement room correction. They claim this allows them to render 16 discrete immersive audio channels and output up to 32 channels (with post-processing) depending upon the model.

http://www.avsforum.com/best-of-ces-...amp-processor/

StormAudio's press release for CEDIA 2017 says they added several new features including an 4-XLR expansion module to the entry level 16 channel ISP 3D.16 ELITE processor to accommodate multiple subs for a total of 20 channels or 10.4.6.

https://avnation.tv/2017/08/storm-au...nd-cedia-2017/

4-XLR Channel Expansion Board

"Beginning November, the brand’s 16-channel preamp/processors can be upgraded to 20-channels. Called the 4-XLR, this option takes place via an expansion slot. According to Trélohan this is a huge capability for theaters that require more than 16-channels, for example those with multi-subwoofer configurations. MSRP of the entry-level 16-channel processors with 4-XLR is $12,500 to $13,000, which Trélohan says is a significant advantage as competitor’s similarly-equipped processors are $20,000."

With the 4-XLR expansion board and Dirac processing on all 20 channels, I think the ISP 3D.16 ELITE represents a good feature set for a processor at half the cost of a Trinnov Altitude 24. However, I wonder how are they accomplishing 16 channels with the DSP limitations Sanjay is talking about? Maybe they are using the newer Analog Devices Griffin Light DSP chip instead of the older Falcon DSP chip. Also why can't 16 channels mean support for 9.1.6?

Hope to ask them tomorrow at CEDIA.
I appreciate your post. I didn't have time to respond to sdurani's incorrect statements. Discussing future feature updates is one of my goals visiting SyotmAudio here at CEDIA.

Mark Henninger, Senior Editor at AVS Forum
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post #30 of 218 Old 09-07-2017, 06:22 AM
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. . . . I didn't have time to respond to sdurani's incorrect statements. . . . .
I can't see any of his statements that appear to be incorrect? Which are you referring to?
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