Trinnov recently announced their new vision for room acoustics, utilizing passive and active room acoustics in a unique way to help “make the room disappear” by means of Multiple source Multiple Controller (MSMC) optimization. This is done using specially placed loudspeakers and subwoofer arrays to help control and “steer” bass reflections in the room, creating a more uniform sound field.
Trinnov has partnered with Krix, an Australian speaker manufacturer, and Sony to deliver this innovative product to customers. The software is in its final stages of development and will be slowly rolled out. Trinnov has stated that it will be a free upgrade for Altitude 16 and 32 owners. Let’s examine how this new technique is addressing in-room reflections and is changing room audio for the better.
Here is a video from ISE 2023, by Build Montage with the announcement:
Who is Trinnov?
Trinnov Audio is a French company that specializes in high-end audio processing and room correction technologies. The company was founded in 2003 by a team of audio professionals who share a passion for creating the best possible sound experience.
Trinnov’s innovative technology focuses on improving sound quality by addressing acoustic issues in the room, such as standing waves, early reflections, and room modes. The company’s dedication to innovation and high-quality sound has earned it a reputation as a leader in the audio industry.
Trinnov Optimizer- Property of Trinnov
Trinnov’s altitude audio processor line can decode 16-32 channels of audio and costs between $18,000 USD and $30,000 depending on the model and are used in some of the most prestigious recording studios and home theaters worldwide. Included with the processors is The Trinnov Optimizer is which is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, room correction technology in the world.
Trinnov Products -Property of Trinnov Audio
The Problem: Interference
The main problem with placing a loudspeaker inside a room is the room itself. A speaker produces sound in the shape of a sphere with the speaker box helping direct more sound forward than any other direction. However, no speaker is perfect, so the sound is not only sent directly to the audience but also to the surrounding walls causing two main audio issues:
- The surface of the walls reflect the original sound and combine with the direct audio, creating either constructive or destructive interference. This changes how the listener perceives the sound, usually resulting in a less accurate representation of the source material. These reflections also increase the inconsistency of sound from seat to seat.
- A second way that interference can occur is through the use of multiple speakers producing sound at the same time. Speakers that are sufficiently far apart or are playing different signals will interfere with each other, creating the same effect mentioned above.
Sound Reflections from Loudspeakers
These are the primary problems that sound engineers face, and there is no single right answer to deal with them. Trinnov aims to solve these problems with their new approach, which is explained in the following sections.
For some more help on controlling sound in your own home, check out Simple Home Cinema’s Room Treatment Guide:
MSMC: Multiple Source Multiple Controller Explained
Trinnov has developed a creative solution to help control sound in a room called Multiple Source Multiple Controller (MSMC). This is a new way of thinking about room acoustics that uses multiple loudspeakers and subwoofers to help control the bass inside the room.
Multiple Source: refers to the use of multiple loudspeakers and subwoofers to create a more uniform wavefront of sound while only allowing a certain amount of bass to reflect off the walls. This has the effect of creating a more natural and deep sound stage.
Uniform Sound Front -Property of Trinnov Audio
So how is this done? My speculation this is accomplished with the same concept as phased array transmitters like the Starlink dish. These dishes direct radio signals to different parts of the sky without physically moving the antenna. By using multiple smaller antennas in a pattern, the system can direct the wavefront of radio signals more accurately to stay connected to the moving satellite. The phased array transmitters use the wave-like properties of radio signals to purposely create constructive and destructive interferences to focus the beam. Please check out this video by Branch Education on how phased array antennas work if you would a more detailed explanation.
So how does a radio dish relate to audio reproduction? Just like radio signals, we can use the wave-like property of sound to accomplish the same focus effect. Trinnov is most likely using the multiple sound sources in the room to help control how much sound is going in each direction by using the properties of waves. This allows greater directional control to omnidirectional frequencies, under 300 Hz. Trinnov can precisely control how much direct and nondirect bass you receive. This is all speculation though as Trinnov has not publicly stated how they are accomplishing this.
Multiple Controller: refers to the use of loudspeakers/subwoofers as acoustic absorbers. The absorbers are placed in the back of the room and cancel out the waveform produced by the front speakers. Trinnov has discovered that using an array of loudspeakers is optimal for achieving this effect. A single loudspeaker will absorb some of the original sound but will also produce more reflections defeating the purpose. Trinnov recommends the use of an array of loudspeakers in certain patterns to absorb the sound effectively.
With the combination of both multiple source, multiple control technologies, and passive treatments, Trinnov claims that they can treat almost 100% of the acoustic problems inside the room. The Multiple Source portion helps with the reflections from the sidewalls, floor, and ceiling, while the multiple controller section helps with reflections off of the back wall. Passive treatments will help with the mid to high frequencies.
Trinnov showed how this new approach to sound control improves the frequency response to plus and minus 2 dB over the whole listening area, which is impressive.
Spatial Deviation before and after MSMC optimization -Property of Trinnov Audio
The results also showed that the technology can uniformly reduce the decay time of the room, which helps with the overall clarity and precision of the sound as well as reducing variation from seat to seat.
While the results shown in the interview are impressive, they may be slightly worse in real-world scenarios. However, this new technique will be a game changer for those who are able to use it.
How / When to Get It?
How and when can you get this new technology? Unfortunately, this is where things get less exciting. According to the interview, Trinnov has stated that this is a new technology and requires optimal conditions to get good results. It’s likely that you’ll have to adapt your current system or design a new system from scratch. Trinnov is training integrators and trainers to design and implement MSMC effectively.
Currently, the technology is in the final stages of development and will be selectively rolled out for specific projects before being released widely. However, once it’s released for widespread use, Trinnov has promised that it will be a free upgrade for Trinnov Altitude 16 and 32 users. This will help elevate customers’ systems that can take advantage of the new approach, although it may require a room redesign.
Revolutionary or Hype
Short Answer: It depends, as it does with most new technologies. If MSMC optimization can become more flexible regarding room dimensions and speaker placement and the cost is reduced, then it has the potential to change room correction for more than just a small fraction of people who can afford it.
Overall, I am excited about this new technology as it has the potential to be game-changing in eliminating the room from the sound field. The concept of having the entire listening position within the 2 dB range is incredible, and it could render the prime listening position obsolete, especially when it comes to bass frequencies. Moreover, the improvements in decay time will enhance the clarity of the sound throughout the room.
However, there are several barriers to implementing MSMC:
- Cost: The high cost of the system is a significant obstacle. The processor alone costs over $18k USD, which is too expensive for the average home theater. Additionally, a minimum of six strategically placed subs are required, which makes the cost even higher.
- Placement: It appears that implementing this new format will be almost impossible for most people. Placing six subs vertically and horizontally across the front and back of the room will be difficult, if not impossible, for most people. The room will have to be large enough to accommodate behind-the-screen speakers and in-wall subs. It is unlikely that you will be able to fit this type of system in a normal-sized room without significant effort.
It’s great that Trinnov is planning to release this technology to current owners as a free upgrade. However, I fear that it will be useless because existing owners will be unable to set up the room correctly to take advantage of it.
I am hopeful that since this new technology is in the early stages, it will continue to improve, and the requirements will become less stringent, allowing the new algorithms to be used in less-than-perfect conditions. Over time this should allow the technology to reach a broader customer base.
Trinnov’s Multiple Source Multiple Controller (MSMC) optimization is an exciting new development for room acoustics. By utilizing strategically placed loudspeakers and subwoofer arrays, the technology can help control and steer bass reflections to create a more uniform sound field. Partnering with Krix and Sony to deliver this product, Trinnov plans to offer a free upgrade to Altitude 16 and 32 owners. While this new technology has the potential to revolutionize room correction, its high cost and the challenges of implementation may limit its impact for most people. Nonetheless, as the technology continues to improve, it could become more accessible to a larger customer base.
Trinnov Blog announcement here
Information on phased array transmitters here
Build Montage’s Video here
An elaboration of the Toole/Olive research on multiple subs? The results obtained with just 3 or 4 strategically placed subs and a dash of DSP are often astounding. The Trinnov solution seems far down the path of diminishing returns.
Hi David, I’m sure Tyler will respond as well if he has time. Toole / Olive research is very much focused on the frequency-domain – and in fact Toole mentioned this as a limitation of the research if my memory serves me.
We are ourselves using the pinnacle of that research which ended up in Multi-Sub Optimiser (MSO). While it delivers great results, there are major issues with ignoring time-domain performance of the system, which I also mentioned in my MSO review. Trinnov’s (and in fact Dirac’s) latest research is a lot more rounded in both the frequency and time-domain and will ultimately result in a major performance uplift for all seats in the house, not just a few. In addition, the ability to reduce ringing evenly across the frequency spectrum and across the whole listening space will impact transient detail massively, where auditory masking will be greatly reduced. This is a massive plus and in the past required a lot of heavy room treatment.
Traditional DSP such as PEQ cannot do much about time-domain artefacts, and in fact can introduce its own time-domain issues in the form of group-delay. This can add to the room’s time-domain issues smearing detail even more.
Now if you start out with subs which use heavy DSP to shape the response of the sub for great specs sheets – such as SVS – but end up with massive group delay – and reduced headroom – out of the box – this again negatively impacts time-domain performance of the system. Unfortunately, a lot of people use these subs as a baseline, which is not great.
I think there will be more and more chatter on time-domain issues as time goes by. Some online magazines popularising the idea that time-domain issues don’t matter as much in the lower frequencies doesn’t help – in fact it is flat-out wrong. Unfortunately, this is only obvious when there is a good baseline for comparison and people hear a properly time-aligned system across the whole frequency spectrum.
In any case, this is a massive deal and it will become more obvious as it is rolled out by both Dirac (in Dirac Active Room Treatment) and in Trinnov’s solution.
I do think that that Toole/Olive Research does get some really good results in the frequency domain, but the time domain is where it falls apart.
Take my current system. I have 4 subs all optimally placed for the best frequency response in my room. Then MSO was used to flatten the response too plus/minus 2 db from 18- 200hz. However, If you to look at my group delay, it is way beyond one cycle time below 100hz and I believe I have a peak of 500ms at some frequencies. I can here this in my room. It feels like bass notes hang out for too long making it sound muddled and makes it hard to hear voices over explosions. Music does not sound tight. I am working to fix this when I do my next upgrade.
Im not saying that one should ignore Toole/Olive’s research, just that it does not tell the whole story. As technology and time increase so does our understanding of the physics. Maybe, in future, we can do a piece that is an in-depth analysis of the Toole/Olive research to fully understand its advantages and limitations.
The exciting part of the new corrections systems for Trinnov and Dirac, is that they are now taking into account the time domain as well. Which may matter more than having a perfectly flat response. Also, to prefect the Freq and Time domain with current tools, one must spend hours and hours figuring out what filters work best. However with the the new corrections, this process should be automated increasing the number of people that are able benefit from it. I am interested to see if the new systems are a major improvement and the only way to find out is hopefully both us are able to experience it in person one day.
Extremely interesting! Thank you.