Music in the Round #42 Page 3

Even without the spatial manipulations and corrections, Sherwood Newcastle and Trinnov Audio have done an excellent job of the basics of system setup and room correction, as long as one is careful with mike setup, and willing to repeat the easy task if the results are not subjectively successful.

Out in Space
I won't try your patience and my memory by detailing all the other permutations and combinations of options possible with the Trinnov Optimizer, but will instead summarize my feelings about some of them. Please be aware that all efforts to reshape the frequency response and/or the spatial representation are so much a function of the specific system and room that what works for some will not work for others. A striking example is that Flat seemed ideal with the Paradigm Studio speakers but was too bright with the PSB Images, both as compared with bypass (figs.2 & 3). On the other hand, Audiophile 1 and Audiophile 2 were just right for the PSBs but dimmed the Paradigms, which needed the MF and HF EQ of Flat to make them sing. Same room, same ears, different speakers.

Fig.2 In-room response of PSB Image T6 loudspeakers (above) and cumulative spectral-decay plot (bottom) without Trinnov Optimizer EQ.

Fig.3 In-room response of PSB Image T6 loudspeakers (above) and cumulative spectral-decay plot (bottom) with Trinnov Optimizer EQ set to Flat+3Dremap. Note the smoothed and extended response (above) but the increased decay times (below).

In comparing Trinnov Remapping's Cinema and Music settings, I preferred Music (±30°), which widened the soundstage just a bit. Note that my front speakers are actually ±22° from midline, so the Cinema setting of ±22.5° would have negligible effect.

In comparing the Trinnov's 2D Remap and 3D Remap with the baseline DLY+LVL configuration, I was faced with additional constraints. First, aside from the front L/R, my speakers are pretty close to ITU recommendations, and, as described above, the Music setting for Trinnov Remapping was already engaged. Second, my L/C/R speakers are identical, and consequently already in the same vertical plane. The surrounds, however, are about 2' higher. So you won't be surprised to hear that 2D Remap had little effect, until I experimented by moving my right front speaker about 3' farther to the right, to the other side of a doorway. I then quickly remeasured, using 2D Remap to rebalance the soundstage to a degree I would not have imagined possible. To test 3D Remap, I again had to disfigure my system by laying the center speaker on its side, on the floor. Another quickie measurement, and I was able to virtually "raise" the center source to the level of the L/Rs. Remarkable.

All of this can come with a price. I found that, when listening in stereo using either 2D or 3D Remap and walking about the room, low-level sounds were coming from the center and surround speakers. This was not at all noticeable from the listening position, and logically is probably necessary to accomplish the spatial repositioning. I also detected some loss of detail in the upper frequencies above 10kHz when using 2D/3D Remap, and confirmed this with XTZ measurements that show significantly extended decay times across the spectrum (lower portions of figs.2 & 3). Again, this may only be revealing what the Trinnov Optimizer must do to accomplish its feats of Remapping. Given that my system doesn't demand this degree of tweaking, I don't have to pay that price. But even if I did, it's a more than reasonable tradeoff to achieve a better overall sound.

What's optimum, anyway?
The conclusion I draw from all this is that which of the Trinnov Optimizer's options you choose will be highly individual, and dependent on your room, speakers, and setup. The Trinnov's room-correction options are similar but not identical to those offered by Audyssey MultEQ, and the results I obtained with the two systems in my acoustically treated room were similar. I wonder how the Trinnov would deal with a more difficult room while keeping to only one measurement position, even with its four spaced microphone elements. The spaces between those mike elements are on the order of centimeters—less than the distance between the ears—and the impacts of room modes and reflections can significantly differ over distances of only a foot or two. Trinnov maintains that knowing the angle and timing of the impinging signals makes possible a full and critical correction. I wasn't about to disassemble my room or set up another to find out, but the corrections I achieved were good over a wide enough area to accommodate myself and a few guests.

The Trinnov Optimizer's spatial remapping will be more useful for some setups than for others; mine falls in the latter group. However, it will be ideal for those constrained to speaker arrangements that are asymmetric in the horizontal and/or vertical planes. It will also be very useful for those who want to optimize the sound of a system for more than one seating arrangement, either to accommodate different numbers of listeners, or to permit a single listener to enjoy being immersed in a centered and coherent soundfield while sitting in that comfortable recliner positioned off to one side. Heck, the Trinnov's ability to relocate and EQ those pesky, difficult-to-place center speakers should make the Sherwood Newcastle R-972 an obvious choice for many. For the rest of us, the R-972 is a damn good A/V receiver, even if you don't use every gadget in its toolbox. But they're there if you need them.