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15 years of Audio (R)evolutions

Historically, the decoding, processing and operating functions of an AV Processor have been distributed across multiple, specialized DSP chipsets, in rather complex and rigid architectures. These architectures are developed and made available to consumer electronics brands by a handful of OEM manufacturers. In a market that is driven by fast-changing technologies, this approach inevitably leads to short product lifespans and early obsolescence. Unfortunately, this paradigm is ubiquitous… except for Trinnov’s unique Altitude AV Processor range.

Determined to push the boundaries of immersive audio and to fight obsolescence, Trinnov chose to develop its own platform, exclusive to Trinnov products and JBL Synthesis top-of-the-line processors. Instead of repeatedly integrating third-party, short-lifespan technologies into new hardware products, Trinnov opted for true innovation, upgradability, and longevity. Rather than following the typical multiple-DSP approach described above, Trinnov created a modern and flexible architecture where decoding, processing, and operating functions are all handled by a single Intel multi-core processor. Part of this development was Trinnov’s own 64-bit operating system to host the software: TrinnovOS.

The benefits of Trinnov’s unique approach are perfectly illustrated by a typical development cycle. 

When confronted with the need to update their products, other manufacturers must wait for the availability of a new chipset and/or OEM board, and then go through a long hardware integration cycle, possibly forcing them to abandon an existing model and create a new one. By contrast, Trinnov achieves the same (often better) result faster, by simply incorporating the new feature or capability into a simple software update for the Altitude platform. Thanks to this architecture, Trinnov maintains its leadership and pulls ahead again at ISE 2020 with the first official, production release of DTS:X Pro – free to all owners of its 3D Codecs package.

Trinnov Audio started research on Loudspeaker/Room optimization in 2003 and released its first multichannel processor featuring its Optimizer technology in 2005.

The Optimizer was primarily intended for studios. Trinnov built its reputation with this technology while winning the trust of some of the most demanding sound engineers in broadcast, music, and post-production studios around the world. The Optimizer has been gradually refined over the years and is now the only “digital room correction” system widely used throughout the production chain, from studios to some of the finest commercial and private cinemas. It is used daily in over 1500 studios worldwide to produce some of the content you enjoy every day.

The Optimizer is also used in over 1500 commercial theaters. Here is the 800-seat UGC Normandie, Champs-Elysées, Paris.

Unique in many ways, the Optimizer relies on Trinnov’s iconic 3D Microphone to localize speakers and capture sound in three dimensions. This microphone is designed by and unique to Trinnov, and each one is individually calibrated for accuracy to ensure the most reliable acoustic measurement. Indeed, because Trinnov feels nothing should be left to chance, they keep the entire signal path within a Trinnov-controlled environment (in their processor) rather than relying on external software, operating systems and audio interfaces.

Trinnov microphone

The Optimizer captures a huge amount of acoustic information in each measurement and performs time/frequency analysis to better understand and characterize the behavior of the speakers in the room. (Indeed, without the time domain, frequency response alone shows irregularities in response but doesn’t provide enough information to correct the errors properly, with the appropriate method.)

The highly-detailed information is then processed using Trinnov’s proprietary algorithms, providing a full acoustic analysis of the room and revealing more information than any other automatic system. As an example, the acoustic graphs generated by the Optimizer for each measurement point include the phase response, group delay, and impulse response of each speaker, all of which are important to understand what is occurring in the room over time.

Most people understand that time-aligning speakers is important; but the point Trinnov has made since 2005 is that time-aligning frequencies is also essential for improving sound staging and transient reproduction. This is an area where passive acoustic treatment, although extremely important, cannot help.

The sophistication of acoustic analysis performed by the Optimizer may sound like overkill for the consumer world. However, Trinnov is understandably proud of its pro audio background and believes consumers deserve no less. The Optimizer simply can solve problems that other systems cannot, and this is an area where Trinnov reigns supreme. Fortunately, Trinnov introduced a setup wizard to simplify the initial measurement and calibration process.

Trinnov introduced a step-by-step calibration assistant to simplify the whole process.

Includes Bass Management shown here.

However, the manufacturer remains clear about the fact that every system is unique. Many acoustic parameters come into play, whether they are related to room acoustics, electro acoustics or psycho acoustics. The best possible results can only be achieved by a trained ear and experienced calibrator. This fact is not specific to Trinnov but is true for any system, regardless of its sophistication.

Trinnov really shines with respect to the level of integration of the Optimizer within their products. The Optimizer doesn’t require external equipment beyond the microphone. It takes only a few clicks to make the system sing, whether you do it locally or remotely over the internet. Since the measurement data resides in the machine itself, subsequent tweaks are easily made, all with 64-bit floating point precision.

All Trinnov products include the Optimizer technology, including the Altitude AV Processor range.

The measurement microphone is one of the most critical components of any loudspeaker/room calibration system. Trinnov’s sophisticated algorithms rely not only on extremely accurate acoustic measurements but also on the ability to localize the speakers’ positions and to detect early reflections. Our 3D microphone uses four mic elements in a precise tetrahedral arrangement. Each capsule is individually calibrated at the factory (±0.1 dB from 20 Hz to 24 kHz) The resulting microphone calibration file is included in the microphone’s box on a USB stick. This file is installed in the Trinnov product being employed and all subsequent measurements are filtered through the calibration coefficients to ensure accuracy.

As each speaker is measured, the resulting sound waves pass through this array of microphones, hitting each one at a slightly different time. Based on this timing, we can triangulate the location of the speaker from which the sound arrived.
By testing each speaker in turn, we build a three-dimensional map of where the speakers are relative to the mic (which is placed at the main listening position). We can do this to within 2° of azimuth, 2° of elevation, and 1 cm of distance. We use this information to enable our proprietary Remapping technology, in which we translate from the theoretical rendering of the soundtrack to the specifics of your particular room. Remapping uses the two or three speakers closest to the intended location of a sound to create a phantom image of the sound coming from the correct direction.

Among other things, Remapping serves as a bit of a “Universal Translator” between the various audio formats. This is especially important in home cinemas since all three Immersive Audio formats disagree about the specific details of where you should place your speakers. We can solve that problem for you.

Sound designers and mixers of major films have carefully-constructed listening environments whose only purpose is to allow them to perfect the soundtracks on which they work. By contrast, smaller studios are often quite challenged in terms of space and must place the speakers where they can. On the residential side, even the most luxurious home cinemas must contend with limitations like doors and windows, not to mention HVAC, lighting, and other architectural details that preclude “perfect” loudspeaker placement. Moreover, the three major movie soundtrack formats cannot themselves even agree on where the speakers should be placed. It’s a challenging situation.

Enter Trinnov’s patented Remapping technology: using a proprietary 3D microphone, the calibration process of a Trinnov processor builds a detailed, three-dimensional map of precisely where your speakers are located in the room. The recording itself provides information about where various sounds should come from; we also know where your speakers actually are. We can then translate from the theory of the soundtrack to the reality of your particular space. This process minimizes the spatial distortions found in even the best studios and home cinemas, allowing you to hear what is actually in the recording.