In today's BOOM TOOLS, BOOM sound designer Michael Schwendler is talking about the TRINNOV ST2 HIFI PROCESSOR / OPTIMIZER
- Integrated Monitoring Platform
- Room optimizer
- High end DA converters
- Price: 5.000,00€
1. Briefly describe the product. What does it do?
The „Trinnov ST2 HIFI“ is a hardware room optimizer, being interconnected between the sound card and my speakers. It comes with a software package that turns the processors into the most advanced loudspeaker/room correction system, taking the room acoustics into account to tune and align speakers in both frequency and time domains.
It has the following features:
Digital Room Acoustics Correction
After measuring the room with bursts of white noise (You can see the result in this screenshot: red marks the frequency of my subwoofer, blue and green are the left and right speaker) and a specially developed 3d microphone with 4 omnidirectional capsules its intelligent acoustic analysis engine automatically computes FIR (finite impulse response) and IIR (infinite impulse response) filters to dramatically improve the consistency of direct sound against late reverberation. Full-phase, time domain techniques are applied compensating for the loudspeaker’s group delay and for very early reflections (deconvolution), while later reflections are left untouched.
The Optimizer uses MLS (maximum length) signals to measure the full impulse response of every loudspeaker in the room. This adds the time dimension to the frequency response, and enables the Optimizer to see the full picture of the loudspeaker’s behavior in the room. Trinnov’s state-of-the art time-frequency analysis algorithms identify room modes, first reflections and late reverberation. Every acoustic aspect is analyzed and compensated with a specific technique. All the subtlety of the Optimizer resides in knowing which defects can be corrected with acoustic transparency.
Phase Response Improvements
The Optimizer improves the frequency response of the loudspeakers, both in amplitude and phase. Trinnov corrects the tonal balance to obtain a neutral timbre for every speaker, working in the time domain to achieve a high resolution stereophonic image with well-focused phantom sources. The loudspeaker’s sound (including the early reflections) and the room (energy response) are separately equalized, opening up the listening window.
2D and 3D remapping
Thanks to the microphone 3D measurements capabilities, speakers original placement can precisely be localized in the room, in terms of distance, azymuth and elevation. According to these reported informations, a more accurate speaker placement can be retrieved.
While 2D remapping deals mainly with the horizontal plane, 3D remapping will manage both azimuths and elevations. As an example, a central speaker placed below or above a video screen can be virtually repositionned in the same plane as the left and right speakers.
In addition to the above mentioned features the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” is also an active frequency crossover. I operate with a subwoofer in combination with a stereo setup and by help of the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” I can precisely set the crossover frequency and adjust the slope.
I connected a small TFT screen and a USB volume knob to it and can use it to adjust the volume totally lossless in quality.
High End DA Converters
BurrBrown converters with 119dB dynamic range, true 24 bits/96 kHz operations, separate power supplies, jitter attenuation better than 50dB above 100Hz and native 64 bits floating point processing.
2. To what extent has the TRINNOV ST2 HIFI changed / improved your way of working?
Each room has an influence on its sound caused by the reflections in the inner room. Although I optimized my room with absorbers and a bass trap, you can never completely rule out this effect – unless you have a highly optimized room. With the help of the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” I can be certain that the sound I’m hearing is very close to the real audio content of the material because the device lowers the influence of the room on the sound. Setting up the subwoofer normally gets a little problematic because you have to set the crossover frequency via leveling and hearing – but the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” does this automatically for me. Also the phase matching of the subwoofer to the speakers isn’t always easy – but now, I can also leave this part to the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI”.
3. What are the pros?
The quality is high class – the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” not only feels good, but also simply works. It does what it’s supposed to do and proves very satisfactory.
4. What are the cons?
I’d say the tool might be a little harder to use for a composer. When I’m working on sound design for videos, I have to pay extra attention because the signal calculation – being completely looped into the signal path – produces a small latency, due to the computing processes within the device.
However, I can compensate this by choosing different pre-sets with lower performance requirements for the computer. The sound quality isn’t quite perfectly perfect then, but you’d need to listen veeery very carefully to figure that out at all. Thereby you can definitely reduce the latencies within such range that it becomes uncritical. Yes, maybe you’d have to pay some little attention therefore.
It does not have a 192 kHz support yet, but it has actually been announced by the manufacturer to be released by the end of the year.
There might be another contra: the price!
5. What is the Killer-Feature? What do you like in particular?
I especially like that by means of the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI”, when it’s switched on, I hear exactly what really exists in the audio material. It provides certainty during the work process: what I’m doing represents indeed the actual sound of the audio material and I can be certain that my room doesn’t change or falsify the signal. Especially with the bass ranges it’s very critical and the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” helps to clear that up chiefly. The phase correction is such a cool feature: you’ll be thrilled with the effect of connecting it and hearing how wide and clear the stereo picture becomes. That’s some crazy stuff!
6. Compared with similar products from other manufacturers. What is better / worse?
I only know manufacturers, pursuing a similar approach, who are software-sided and these having to be switched into the master chain as VST. The advantage is pretty obvious: software-sided room optimizers are located between the Master bus and the bounced audio file in the signal chain. The sound design adjustments based on the optimizations are hence being overtaken into the audio file. The “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” however is located between the finished audio file and the speakers, therefore the audio material remains unaltered. So with the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI”, I don’t have to bypass anything and in my opinion, the quality is unrivalled. But it costs much more than the software versions.
7. The TRINNOV ST2 HIFI is best suited for whom / which area of application?
That’s a good question… There are people who say that even in their well-treated control rooms, the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” does so much good, that they still use it. Maybe it’s best for people who do not have the optimal room where the phase correction has to work at maximum service and the result is clearer. But still, even with an optimal room, you’ll come to enjoy this great effect of phase correction. One thing is important: the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” does not substitute for a good room! You should definitely put effort into building a good room in the first place because in a wholly unsuitable room the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” doesn’t achieve anything. Consequently, it can only turn a good room into a perfect one.
8. How is the price / performance ratio?
That’s not an easy question – everyone has to answer that question for himself. In my opinion, on one hand, the price-performance ratio isn’t very convincing because the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” is expensive. On the other hand, there’s no other product which can keep up with what the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” does. It simply provides me with certainty to be hearing what’s really effectively there. Other sound designers, even ours, aren’t using the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” and they’re producing totally awesome sounds. The only thing is: without the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI”, you simply work as you know it. Basically, you develop a unique feeling for your room… It may well be the case that you adapt mistakes into your working style – even if it sounds wrong - and automatically perform in a way it comes out totally okay in the end. […] You’ll develop a work-around by and by if you know your room. Then again sometimes, I get to hear a recording of a colleague which I then play for him in my room to show him that it sounds a little different in here – and the colleague discovers details he hasn’t heard before. Of course, the cost for equipment like this comes in a logarithmic curve: the more you spend, the less total bonus you get for the bug. You can get certain basic equipment for a certain sum of money, that’s pretty awesome. But the more you want to add in terms of technical features, the more you have to spend. And the lower is your marginal benefit effectively. These are principally the last 5% you can optimize. There you have almost reached the end of the line.
9. Your conclusion to the sound designers / BOOM blog readers out there?
It’s difficult to proclaim a clear buy recommendation – everyone has to decide for himself. The “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” costs around 5000€ which is a whole lot of money. You could also spend it on lots of other great equipment. Or you could expand your room with this sum… Actually, I recommend this to be your first step: upgrade your room condition. If you have a good room or at least think you do, you could borrow the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” – it’s actually not easily available because there aren’t many sellers – and get your own idea of how it works because you can’t simply imagine the effect. It’s pretty cool. You have to get an impression yourself and justify to yourself if you want to buy the “Trinnov ST2 HIFI” or not.
10. How many points do you give the TRINNOV ST2 HIFI (0-10) ?
The „Trinnov ST2 HIFI“ is a very specific product. It does what it’s supposed to do extremely well - therefore it’s worth 10 points.
TRINNOV Website: www.trinnov.com