Surround Sound Processor comparisons: objective measurements... and psycho-acoustics! - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 56 Old 08-25-2019, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Surround Sound Processor comparisons: objective measurements... and psycho-acoustics!

Surround Sound Processors, no home cinema is complete without one. For the sake of this discussion, soundbars do not qualify. 😊

I have set out to objectively evaluate some of the immersive audio processors currently on the market (12+ ch), in a relatively controlled manner. Much of the information here will be heavily technical. But I will do my best to simplify. I will focus on objectivity, not subjectivity. Subjective experiences, opinions, and emotions should not override subjectivity. When they do, discussion devolve into bickering. We will do our best to avoid that.

I believe that practically everything we perceive (auditorily, visually, tactilely) can be measured objectively somehow. It's just a question of whether the instruments and tests exist yet? How accurate are the instruments? After all, our sensory system is a set of measuring instruments for the brain. How accurate are our instruments (eyes and ears)? While we cannot measure the effect of the psyche we can extrapolate by examining subjective impressions in comparison to objective metrics.

Let me first make it clear that I do not have a "trained ear". I am not immune to psycho-acoustical influences. If you believe you have a "trained ear", immune to psycho-acoustical influence of your perception I challenge you to re-evaluate. I feel that our subjective experiences and opinions MUST come into question in this discussion. Self-awareness is key here. Our Psyches are heavily protected by subconscious defense mechanisms. Please don't try to tear down someone else's defense mechanisms. Just explore yourself.

How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?

While my background is in Electrical Engineering, I am not an authority on measuring consumer electronics. Much of it I am learning as I go. There are many on AVS with more knowledge, experience, etc. Please do not hesitate to question & advice my methodology based on the tools available to me.
I live in Southern California on the edge of Riverside and Orange Counties. If you are interested in dropping by to listen or test drive the SSP interfaces PM me.
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post #2 of 56 Old 08-25-2019, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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SSPs currently in-hand:
Acurus ACT4 g1 (16ch)
Bryston SP4 (StormAudio)
Lyngdorf MP-50
NAD M15HD (updated to M17v2 equivalence)
Trinnov Altitude 16

TBD:
Trinnov Altitude 32
Marantz AV8805
Emotiva RMC-1/1L
Emotiva XMC-2
Monoprice Monolith HTP-1
ATI ATP-16

If you live in my area and have a newer Emotiva SSP I would love to hear from you!
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post #3 of 56 Old 08-25-2019, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Relevant Test Equipment & Software:
Audiomatica Clio 12 (analog in/out & SPDIF out)
Audiomatica Clio Pocket (analog)
Audiomatic MIC-01 & MIC-02
Room EQ Wizard
Yamaha MG10XU Mixer/USB sound interface
Roland Quad Capture USB sound interface (analog & SPDIF in/out)
ACO Pacific 511E Microphone Calibrator
ACO Pacific PS9200 Kit with 7012/4012 Reference Mic
UMIK-1 USB Microphone
Dayton Audio EMM-1 Microphone
Fluke 115 True RMS Multimeter
HDFury Vertex
Zektor HDS4.1 A/V switch
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post #4 of 56 Old 08-25-2019, 10:18 PM
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Awesome, Marc; I believe this will be the most ambitious SSP test ever.

Noah
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post #5 of 56 Old 08-26-2019, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
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I am not here to tell anyone what they hear or heard. I do want to share my own recent experience with psycho-acoustics and the power of suggestion. Keep in mind that english is not @[email protected] 's native language and often things get lost in translation (I believe he uses Google translate to post).

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Storm / Brysten is calibrated with Profi Micro, the sound is significantly better than Trinnov-16. The testers here have also noted significant difference in sound between Trinnov 16 and 32, just like me:
https://www.lowbeats.de/test-trinnov...mplitude-16/2/
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Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
According to what I read, the testers noticed subtle, not significant differences.

Maybe there is some ownership justification/validation going on here.

If the SP4 sounds truly performs significantly better than the Altitude16, I will keep the SP4.
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
At the test, LM says at 48:08 if he had to take out a device from StormAudio / Datasat / Lyndorf / Trinnov-32 and Trinnov-16, then he would take out the Trinnov-16, the Kling only 98% compared to the others. With him in the studio you can hear all. He has several Datasat customers who have switched to StormAudio. I meter with the Micro from the Datasat, Trinnov does not fit, the difference to UMIK is enormous.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWtlIpttf6s
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
With 98% he says that the A16 is restrained in the high tone and can not get to the good resolution of A32 and Storn.
On the A16, I also felt like I was playing with the curtain closed, the curtain went up in the A32 and Storm. I do not want to be influenced, it was my experience with 5 friends. Marc, Cal files were always loaded correctly.
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Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
Well I'll be damned! With straight from the initial default settings and 9.1.0.6 configs (no distance/delay or REQ corrections) I am observing the same as @[email protected] describes. The A16 sounds veiled compared to the Bryston SP4 and Lyngdorf MP-50 (Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns UHDs).

My son is watching Mary Poppins at the moment. I'm going to listen to the NAD M15HD and Sherwood R972 tomorrow. I have a Denon X4000 that sounds veiled in comparison to the Sherwood and Yamaha RX-V1800. I may compare them as well (in 7.1 of course). I am working on a test bed that will allow me to instantly switch between the MP-50 and up to three other processors (all fed by the same HDMI source), L C & R outputs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishore View Post
Regarding Trinnov- that is identical feedback I got - go for Alt 32.

Regarding Storm- preferred (or better) unit is using Storm Elite 20 model (not applicable for SP4) since 4 addon channels have double the DACs/better SNR for fronts. Will get interesting in Sept timeframe (when new HDMI boards are also available)
Regards,
Kishore
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I have my test bed for A/B'ing up and running. I can conclude that the SP4, A16, and MP-50 sound different. However, I cannot say one or another is better as I cannot detect any loss of details. It seems to be a difference between low/mid/high tone emphasis of the DACs. Tomorrow I will see if measurements support my ears. (I should probably start a separate thread).

I am highly suspicious of the assertion that the A16 and A32 sound different with a 48kHz source. I should have the opportunity to compare for myself soon.
I spoke to several folks last week (including at Trinnov) and all agree that there should be no SQ differences between the A16 and A32. While I highly suspect psycho-acoustics is at play once again, I am going to compare for myself... even if it means getting an A32!

I am going back and to repeat A'B listening. Lesson learned: Level matching via microphone at MLP is simply not accurate enough. Even a few tenths dB difference and my perception can easily be colored. The better way to level match is to utilize a high quality voltmeter to closely match the pre-amp output levels. Once level matched many of the differences I thought I could hear faded away.

I have tracked back to my AVRs [which I feel confidently sound distinctly different]: Denon AVR-X4000, Yamaha RX-V1800 and Sherwood R-972. I have long felt that the Sherwood and Yamaha sound convincingly better (no RoomEQ). After measuring, now I am not so sure. I will post measurements and properly level-matched subjective observations tomorrow.
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post #6 of 56 Old 08-26-2019, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
...While I highly suspect psycho-acoustics is at play once again, I am going to compare for myself...

Given that, you will be doing blind comparisons - right?

Otherwise, all is for nought IMO.
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post #7 of 56 Old 08-26-2019, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post
Given that, you will be doing blind comparisons - right?

Otherwise, all is for nought IMO.
Even double blind if possible.

Art
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post #8 of 56 Old 08-26-2019, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post
Given that, you will be doing blind comparisons - right?

Otherwise, all is for nought IMO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Sonneborn View Post
Even double blind if possible.
I hear you.

I'm hoping to host a GTG and attempt ABX comparisons. The Lyngdorf MP-50 is able to mirror it's HDMI input to 3 HDMI outputs. This gives me the ability to sync four processors from the same source (Oppo-203 HDMI Audio out). I could possibly chain more but the Zektor is only a 4 device switcher.
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post #9 of 56 Old 08-26-2019, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
I hear you.

I'm hoping to host a GTG and attempt ABX comparisons

Excellent.

Another looming issue is the calibration of each of the RC systems; as we know the results are highly variable depending on the luck and/or skill of the calibrator.

Oh, and what's the timeline for the testing?

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post #10 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
I have tracked back to my AVRs [which I feel confidently sound distinctly different]: Denon AVR-X4000, Yamaha RX-V1800 and Sherwood R-972. I have long felt that the Sherwood and Yamaha sound convincingly better (no RoomEQ). After measuring, now I am not so sure. I will post measurements and properly level-matched subjective observations tomorrow.
Things are not progressing like I would have predicted. I am going to repeat the AVR measurements again tomorrow (measurements must be consistently repeatable). The Sherwood R-972 seems to measure inferior in several areas (most significantly inter-modulation distortion, IMD). I just got a hold of the R-972 service manual (IMD specifications are not listed). I have access to another R-972 to measure.

I am testing analog, SPDIF, and HDMI inputs (keeping Dual Tone digital signals below -9dBFS) and preamp outputs.
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post #11 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post
Excellent.

Another looming issue is the calibration of each of the RC systems; as we know the results are highly variable depending on the luck and/or skill of the calibrator.

Oh, and what's the timeline for the testing?
RoomEQ will be tackled sometime after CEDIA (you stole my thunder Noah! ).
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post #12 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 01:38 AM
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Marc, do not you want to test NAD M17V2 as well? NAD does not have the settings like Trinnov or StormAudio, but in terms of sound the NAD plays on the same level.
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post #13 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 11:20 AM
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Unless distortion measurements are really bad, I wouldn't give them too much importance.

Because if I'm not mistaken t's the case that we still lack distortion criteria for assessing the subjective affects of different distortion components.

I believe a Harman-type approach based on blind listening would be preferable, because in the end the proof of the pudding is in the listening.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Alexander View Post
Things are not progressing like I would have predicted. I am going to repeat the AVR measurements again tomorrow (measurements must be consistently repeatable). The Sherwood R-972 seems to measure inferior in several areas (most significantly inter-modulation distortion, IMD). I just got a hold of the R-972 service manual (IMD specifications are not listed). I have access to another R-972 to measure.

Noah
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post #14 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Marc, do not you want to test NAD M17V2 as well? NAD does not have the settings like Trinnov or StormAudio, but in terms of sound the NAD plays on the same level.
I have the updated NAD M15HD which is essentially just a single ended version of the M17. If someone wants to lend me a M17 I would love to compare.
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Originally Posted by noah katz View Post
Unless distortion measurements are really bad, I wouldn't give them too much importance.

Because if I'm not mistaken t's the case that we still lack distortion criteria for assessing the subjective affects of different distortion components.
What objective criteria do you propose?
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post #15 of 56 Old 08-27-2019, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
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What objective criteria do you propose?

No idea.

It's a really tough nut to crack, which I presume is why it hasn't been, though I'd think a company with the will and resources would have tackled it by now.

Or perhaps they all believe, at least with electronics, that anything that can be heard can be measured.

It will be very interesting to see if the supposed sans-RC SQ superiority of the higher priced units is borne out in the blind tests.

There was a multi-processor comparison test done in the Receivers forum that included quite an array of units, including Dataset IIRC, that I believe failed to show a statistically significant difference.

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I got to play around with the Acurus Muse this morning (no measurements yet). I was surprised just how easy it is to use. Everything is just a touch or two away on the gorgeous touch-screen front panel display. At 2RU (3.5") high it is sleek and sexy. It is easily the best looking processor I know of. It makes the NAD M17 look outdated. This [as well as the ACT4] could be a great option for families that need ease of use.

The unit simply works. While there is no Auro3D or DSD support, the unit had no problems with a mix of 2.0/5.1/7.1 LPCM, Atmos and Dts:X clips from a USB drive connected to an Oppo in addition to discs. There is no OSD but there is a mobile app which I suspect mirrors the front panel display. One could easily repurpose an old phone, tablet or iPod touch for the remote.

Available discounted through dealers, this unit's competition seems to be the Emotiva XMC-2/RMC-1L and the Monoprice HTP-1. At $5500 list it likely isn't much more than the Monoprice after dealer discount. Plus it is available now.

The elephant in the room is the [lack of] RoomEQ. All this unit has is PEQ at the moment. The upcoming ASPEQT kit is going to be cost prohibitive for end-users. I've been told that it will be as good as other RoomEQs and much quicker (it takes measurements from 4 positions at once). Paying a dealer a few hundred bucks should be well worth it. I've been told that ASPEQT will not be demoed at CEDIA this year, but is only a few months away from release.
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post #17 of 56 Old 08-28-2019, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
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While nothing revelatory has cone out of the testing so far, it has been very beneficial for me. I am becoming more proficient with Clio (it is absolutely nothing like REW). I'm getting to know the Linearity and Distortion Analysis tool as it will allow me to succinctly graph the behavior I am observing.

I've got a couple of mysteries to solve. I do believe blind testing will be quite necessary.

I feel that the Yamaha RX-V1800/3800/1900 sounds the best of all of the AVRs I've owned (I've never had an Aventage as I simply hate YPAO). It measures quite spectacularly, consitently linear (0.002% THD). Now I'm wondering how it will compare vs the NAD M15HD and other pre-pros.

The Sherwood R-976 is a polar opposite with a higher noise floor and some very odd distortion characteristics (I tested separate units). There is a reason Sherwood/Inkel spec'd these out at 1kHz as it stays between 0.05-0.15% THD above 110Hz but never measured under 1.5% THD under 108Hz. No wonder the SMPTE IMD measures so poorly. Do I really want my pre-pro adding ~5% THD to my subs (no, I don't). It also has no protection against digitally clipping (and no way to limit max volume like the others). The other two will go into protection if clipping occurs.

The Denon AVR-X4000 falls in between. It has a lower preamp output voltage than the other two but has a voice floor as low as the Yamaha (10dB less than the R-976). It's linearity is much more consistent than the R-976.

So why does the R-976 seem to sound consistently better than the X4000 in my bedroom (no REQ)? Why does the X4000 sound better in my down than the R-972? I have the R-976 units specifically to use the Optimizer (lite). I'm not going back to Audyssey or YPAO. But, I could utilize Dirac with a miniDSP nano-AVR between an Oppo and AVR.

This is all practice for me before I profile the big guns (this w/e).
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post #18 of 56 Old 08-28-2019, 08:38 AM
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@Marc Alexander – I’m excited to see how this journey goes for you and to read about your findings.

Several years ago, a few of us did blind A/B testing with instantaneous switching of level matched systems in two different theaters in Pure Direct Mode (no sound processing) in two theaters with acoustic treatment. We tested the Marantz 8802A, 7703 and 7005 PrePros along with a Denon 4200 AVR.
The end result shocked us – we could not hear a difference between any of them. The interesting thing is that in prior “sighted” testing (no instantaneous switching) a couple of us had heard “substantial” differences. At that point, all of us really changed our approach to upgrading / purchasing PrePros and AVRs in the sense that none of us felt our systems could be improved with the “higher-end” products within the same brand family. The supposition being that Audyssey should theoretically calibrate each unit identically with exact microphone placement, etc.

Our take-away (similar to long ago Kansas City GTG results posted on AVS) is that the biggest difference in sound quality is likely due to the audio correction system (Trinnov Room Optimizer, Audyssey, DIRAC, YPAO, etc.).

The one regret we had during that testing was that we weren’t able to coordinate having a Trinnov or other “high-end” PrePro or AVR to test under the same conditions. My hypothesis is that in a non-processed, direct stereo mode, any mid-range or higher level PrePro or AVR will have sound that is indistinguishable from the others

All that being said, I think the room correction systems have the potential to make substantial improvements in audio quality in a room. I read the incredible reviews of those with the Trinnov Altitudes and would love to hear one in my room with my equipment for comparison. I’m guessing it would be an improvement over Audyssey in my room but the question is whether it would be very noticeable or substantial for gaming, movies or TV (I don’t do a lot of critical music listening). If a Trinnov, for example, is truly a marked improvement – I’d seriously consider buying one.

I really look forward to your findings!



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Surround Sound Processor comparisons: objective measurements... and psycho-acoustics!

Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post
No idea.



It's a really tough nut to crack, which I presume is why it hasn't been, though I'd think a company with the will and resources would have tackled it by now.



Or perhaps they all believe, at least with electronics, that anything that can be heard can be measured.



It will be very interesting to see if the supposed sans-RC SQ superiority of the higher priced units is borne out in the blind tests.



There was a multi-processor comparison test done in the Receivers forum that included quite an array of units, including Dataset IIRC, that I believe failed to show a statistically significant difference.


First off, I have not read the above mentioned multi-processor comparison thread to understand methodologies used.
IMO (and others), subtle differences sometimes require long term listening to distinguish between. These would often (always?) fail to show statistical differences in a stressful double blind comparison.
I do believe that differences should be measurable, just feel we either (1) don’t know how to fully interpret measurements that are available or (2) needed methods have not yet been created.
For subtle differences it would be nice to have A and B available for long term comparisons without knowing which is which, e.g. in a rack in the other room that you can switch to knowing only as A or B. These comparisons could take weeks. Obviously transparency and resolution of other electronics and speakers are critical including the switching gear.

I applaud Marc for taking this on.


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post #20 of 56 Old 08-28-2019, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zorax2 View Post
]

Several years ago, a few of us did blind A/B testing with instantaneous switching of level matched systems in two different theaters in Pure Direct Mode (no sound processing) in two theaters with acoustic treatment. We tested the Marantz 8802A, 7703 and 7005 PrePros along with a Denon 4200 AVR.
The end result shocked us – we could not hear a difference between any of them. The interesting thing is that in prior “sighted” testing (no instantaneous switching) a couple of us had heard “substantial” differences. At that point, all of us really changed our approach to upgrading / purchasing PrePros and AVRs in the sense that none of us felt our systems could be improved with the “higher-end” products within the same brand family. The supposition being that Audyssey should theoretically calibrate each unit identically with exact microphone placement, etc.

Our take-away (similar to long ago Kansas City GTG results posted on AVS) is that the biggest difference in sound quality is likely due to the audio correction system (Trinnov Room Optimizer, Audyssey, DIRAC, YPAO, etc.).

The one regret we had during that testing was that we weren’t able to coordinate having a Trinnov or other “high-end” PrePro or AVR to test under the same conditions. My hypothesis is that in a non-processed, direct stereo mode, any mid-range or higher level PrePro or AVR will have sound that is indistinguishable from the others

All that being said, I think the room correction systems have the potential to make substantial improvements in audio quality in a room. I read the incredible reviews of those with the Trinnov Altitudes and would love to hear one in my room with my equipment for comparison. I’m guessing it would be an improvement over Audyssey in my room but the question is whether it would be very noticeable or substantial for gaming, movies or TV (I don’t do a lot of critical music listening). If a Trinnov, for example, is truly a marked improvement – I’d seriously consider buying one.

I really look forward to your findings!


After your comparisons and findings I did one of my own. I was utilizing an AV7702mk2 at the time. I acquired a Denon AVR-X4300H and discovered that I could not determine any audible differences between the two. This was sighted, not blind. I then learned that the AV770x series are based on the X4x00s. The difference being balanced (XLR) outputs w/HDAMs vs single-ended (RCA) w/op-amps.

My complaints with Audyssey have always been w/music (not games or movies). This is in casual listening toggling RoomEQ on/off. I have heard systems in which Audyssey sounded better than without (w/music), but it hasn't been my experience in my systems. That being said, music is used extensively in movie soundtracks and video games. But, I don't consider games critical listening like when I am listening to music.

If you are happy with the improvements Audyssey makes in your room, I would look no further (JMHO).
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post #21 of 56 Old 08-28-2019, 10:53 AM
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After your comparisons and findings I did one of my own. I was utilizing an AV7702mk2 at the time. I acquired a Denon AVR-X4300H and discovered that I could not determine any audible differences between the two. This was sighted, not blind. I then learned that the AV770x series are based on the X4x00s. The difference being balanced (XLR) outputs w/HDAMs vs single-ended (RCA) w/op-amps.

My complaints with Audyssey have always been w/music (not games or movies). This is in casual listening toggling RoomEQ on/off. I have heard systems in which Audyssey sounded better than without (w/music), but it hasn't been my experience in my systems. That being said, music is used extensively in movie soundtracks and video games. But, I don't consider games critical listening like when I am listening to music.

If you are happy with the improvements Audyssey makes in your room, I would look no further (JMHO).
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Sub'd. I haven't sub'd to a new thread in a long time and the results of this I look very forward to. I know your attention to detail and have no doubt you'll do this the right way. FWIW I agree completely with your assessment of audyssey above and don't consider it good enough, even with the app for anyone looking for a "Higher than high-end" system at this point. Things can always change, but they aren't there just yet....much as the app has improved things.
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post #22 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 08:01 AM
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It will be very interesting to see if the supposed sans-RC SQ superiority of the higher priced units is borne out in the blind tests.
As you and I discussed, when I did the $2500 vs $25,000 processor blind test (Marantz vs Datasat), PERFECTLY level matched (no room EQ enabled), no one was able to pick the "higher priced spread" consistently. But, as I also noted, by accident, we had one of the processors set at 1/2dB louder, and it was elected 100% of the time.

As for perfectly level matching post room EQ, I think you will find that close to impossible. As I have stated ad nauseam, what you are really going to be testing is one room EQ solution vs another. This assumes that you will not be using amplification within the processor to drive speakers. THAT would not be a good idea.

Lastly, the only way this comparison will be 100% reliable, will be if the person who does the room calibration is an expert on which ever device they are calibrating. And this is particularly important as you look at both Dirac and Trinnov's Optimizer, since there are so many capabilities/options/features that can be employed during the calibration process. If this approach is not employed, you are no longer comparing processors or even room EQ software but rather the skill of the one who did the calibration.

You may want to reach out to some possible candidates for performing the calibration work. I would trust Mark Seaton and Adam Pelz for any of the products.
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post #23 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 01:42 PM
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As you and I discussed, when I did the $2500 vs $25,000 processor blind test (Marantz vs Datasat), PERFECTLY level matched (no room EQ enabled), no one was able to pick the "higher priced spread" consistently. But, as I also noted, by accident, we had one of the processors set at 1/2dB louder, and it was elected 100% of the time.

As for perfectly level matching post room EQ, I think you will find that close to impossible. As I have stated ad nauseam, what you are really going to be testing is one room EQ solution vs another. This assumes that you will not be using amplification within the processor to drive speakers. THAT would not be a good idea.

Lastly, the only way this comparison will be 100% reliable, will be if the person who does the room calibration is an expert on which ever device they are calibrating. And this is particularly important as you look at both Dirac and Trinnov's Optimizer, since there are so many capabilities/options/features that can be employed during the calibration process. If this approach is not employed, you are no longer comparing processors or even room EQ software but rather the skill of the one who did the calibration.

You may want to reach out to some possible candidates for performing the calibration work. I would trust Mark Seaton and Adam Pelz for any of the products.
I had never run across your thread on the $2500 vs $25,000 processor blind test (Marantz vs Datasat) that you had run. Your results are exactly what the group I was with determined in similar testing.

After your identical findings, I completely agree about everything boiling down to the room correction system and calibration expertise to allow for comparison of the system. The real challenge is that I can't imagine how to wire a full blown ATMOS system to do instant, blind A/B testing.

As I think @Marc Alexander intoned, for movies, games, TV - it will likely be very difficult to discern or quantify any sonic differences between any room correction system if the calibration was done well. Critical music listening is where I think the differences are more likely to be heard.

Following this line of thinking for my use (movies, games, TV), the money I'm considering to use for a Trinnov would likely be better spent on potentially upgrading my speakers. I've got a full ATMOS system using the 2000ish Kef Reference 201, 202, 203 series. My curiosity then becomes whether a JBL M2 or Revel Ultima system would make a clearly noticeable improvement in sound quality in my room. I love what I have but like everyone on this thread, I'm always striving to improve my system but am rapidly approaching the logarithmic curve of very small gains for very large capital investments.

Has has anyone gone from the Kef References to the M2s or Ultimas? If so, was it a "WOW!" type of change?

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post #24 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 03:24 PM
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As I think @Marc Alexander intoned, for movies, games, TV - it will likely be very difficult to discern or quantify any sonic differences between any room correction system if the calibration was done well.
On that point, I could not disagree more.

As for being able to blind test an Atmos configuration, I would do it exactly as I did when I did my 7.1 test. Just as more of the XLR switching boxes until the required number was used. And the spring loaded bar I used to press the switch button would just have to be longer. I just didn't want to spend more money. The differences between the two processors with their respective room correction systems engaged was so huge, at 7.1 that adding ceiling speakers would most certainly have not affected the outcome
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post #25 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 03:47 PM
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On that point, I could not disagree more.

As for being able to blind test an Atmos configuration, I would do it exactly as I did when I did my 7.1 test. Just as more of the XLR switching boxes until the required number was used. And the spring loaded bar I used to press the switch button would just have to be longer. I just didn't want to spend more money. The differences between the two processors with their respective room correction systems engaged was so huge, at 7.1 that adding ceiling speakers would most certainly have not affected the outcome
If I understood your post correctly, you believe that there will be substantially noticeable differences even for movies, TV and gaming between rival well calibrated systems. Basically, the difference will be clearly apparent not only for critical music listening - but also movies, TV and gaming. I hope I got that right.

While I agree, my thought process was more along the lines that I've heard lousy Audyssey, MCACC, YPAO calibrations so I know those can happen in some cases as they sound like trash. I've also heard very good sounding calibrations with Audyssey with and without MiniDSPs in the loop but I imagine that the incredible flexibility of the Trinnov and Dirac would allow you tweak things so much more to potentially wring out 100% of the capability of the system. I think I was trying to articulate the difference of sound quality of a really good Audyssey calibration vs. a professionally done Trinnov calibration and how big of a subjective difference that might be.

I somewhat recall the Kansas City GTG where they tried to do this but they ran into some challenges in setup. Nevertheless, there was a lot of variation in what people enjoyed most with the various room correction systems.

My hope is that some of these tests will really highlight the differences in a way to provide some subjective value of going from a B+ to A- to A sort of comparison.

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post #26 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 04:26 PM
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......I imagine that the incredible flexibility of the Trinnov and Dirac would allow you tweak things so much more to potentially wring out 100% of the capability of the system....
Trinnov has several configurable parameters - easily audible in a 2ch system, at minimum - that Dirac does not.
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post #27 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 05:44 PM
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As I think @Marc Alexander intoned, for movies, games, TV - it will likely be very difficult to discern or quantify any sonic differences between any room correction system if the calibration was done well.

That may not necessarily be the case, especially for RoomPerfect, which doesn't have a target curve per se and doesn't aim for a flat response.

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post #28 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 08:11 PM
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I can't make any comments about gaming as I have never done or heard that in a home theater environment. There were many differences between Dirac and Audyssey, but two that just jumped off the page were overall envelopment and bass integration. And this was a 7.1 configuration. It was not even close. And Room Perfect, at least on a McIntosh, has no ability to define a target curve so at least for product comparisons, it may be at a severe disadvantage. And once you get to a high channel count rooms, there is only one player.
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post #29 of 56 Old 08-29-2019, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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That may not necessarily be the case, especially for RoomPerfect, which doesn't have a target curve per se and doesn't aim for a flat response.
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And Room Perfect, at least on a McIntosh, has no ability to define a target curve so at least for product comparisons, it may be at a severe disadvantage. And once you get to a high channel count rooms, there is only one player.
While you do not set a target curve with RoomPerfect per se, you can easily customize frequency response via the voicing tool (32 custom slots). While the McIntosh MX-160 did not launch with the tool, I believe it was added coinciding with the launch of the Lyngdorf MP-50.

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post #30 of 56 Old 08-30-2019, 01:19 AM
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Trinnov has several configurable parameters - easily audible in a 2ch system, at minimum - that Dirac does not.
Having played with different amps on a Storm for the last few months and having had a Trinnov set up in its place yesterday and calibrated by a Trinnov professional I think you can easily hear differences in amps, processors and eq.

The Storm (dirac)/Arcam/JBL synthesis synergy has produced for me a very engaging combination. I can’t currently see how I’m going to match that with the Altitude which seems considerably less engaging. My partner summed it up as ok but rather boring; she also loves the Storm setup.

I think that the Altitude does produce a more consistent precise soundfield if that’s what you are looking for (it look the chap ages to get the speaker positions to be seen correctly by the Trinnov - I think the compression driven tweeters in the JBLs were confusing it a bit in my room) but so far we are just not feeling the love!

3D remapping sounds just odd to me; I doubt you would want to use it.

The other aspect is useability. Despite it’s extensive tweak ability I’m not feeling any confidence that I can make the Trinnov sound more engaging than it does now as I wouldn’t really know where to start.

I can’t yet find a power command in the Harmony database either which is another small irritation......

I have it for a fortnight so it may grow on me but often first impressions are the ones that end up being accurate. I think I may well just quit while I’m ahead as getting all this gear together to try takes loads of work. Great combinations don’t present themselves that often either - it’s often more luck than judgement.

I’m lucky to have some very accommodating dealers

Not a scientific post at all (I mean how does one measure perceived engagement?!) and we all hear things differently but these are my initial impressions for what they are worth.
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