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Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the chance to sit in on two Trinnov ST2 Pro installations and detailed listening sessions. When you’re working in a room that isn’t treated properly, most of the time you don’t even notice the problems, you just get used to them and work with what you have. This is where the old car test and listening on multiple sets of speakers in different listening environments came into play. Most of the time when the song leaves your mixing room for the first time, you often say, “Wow, there is way too much bass” or “Where did all the bass go?”
In smaller project studios, there is often times very minimal treatment, or none at all. This will result in large amounts of bass build up, ringing from the speaker stands or other objects in the room, incorrect phase response between the two speakers and inaccurate positioning of your studio monitors. A Trinnov system uses DSP to fine tune your studio monitors to your room, which will adjust the frequency response to make for a neutral listening environment, correct the phase correlation for any speaker setup (as well as the addition of one or two subwoofers), and show you optimal positioning for your speakers within the sweet spot of your room.
Some smaller rooms simply don’t have the room to install layers of treatment, whereas some professional rooms have three or more feet of insulation on each wall to absorb sound. A Trinnov system will help transform your project mixing room into a professional sounding facility without having to build out your room. The Trinnov system is not only designed to improve a lesser designed room, but it can also help commercial facilities and mastering rooms to improve the response of their room. In a studio where attention to detail is everything, the Trinnov will tighten the sound of the low end, extend the frequency range to the full potential of the speakers, improve the phase response and widen the stereo image with more focused phantom sources.
The Trinnov system is able to capture a 3D image of your room through its custom designed, four capsule 3D Microphone, each with an omnidirectional polar pattern. The measurement microphone is the most critical component of the loudspeaker and room calibration system, as each of the four capsules are placed at the exact same distance from each other which forms a tetrahedric polar pattern. This allows the microphone to analyze the room in both vertical and horizontal planes. The 3D microphone is connected to the rear panel of the main control unit through a custom built cable, with one small connection from the microphone, which breaks out to four XLR cables.
Once connected, position the microphone in the “sweet spot” of your room, with the Trinnov label pointing towards your monitors. You want to make sure the microphone is positioned at the proper height, around where your head is positioned between the speakers. Since you can save multiple presets, you can also set up optimal listening for other areas of your room, such as the producer or client's chair, so the “sweet spot” is moved to their listening position.
Once the microphone is in the optimal position, you are ready to do the speaker test. You want to make sure the microphone is off (a mute button is located on the bottom of the microphone) or else you will get a massive amount of feedback. You can use a standard computer monitor and mouse to view and control the software inside the Trinnov system, or add a Trinnov touch screen interface that can live on your workstation or console. Both of these system set-ups result in the same user interface.
It is recommended that you set your monitors to -40dB for the calibration, which is done inside the Trinnov software. Different speakers will have a different response, so you’ll have to find the ideal level for your room. In both setups I was a part of, we were set to -20dB. Once you activate the calibration, a message will appear on the screen to un-mute the microphone. Once the calibration begins, you will hear a series of sounds from your speakers similar to pink noise, but it is not actually pink noise, it’s a variety a signals all across the entire frequency spectrum happening so fast we just interpret them as such. It will start with the left speaker and then move to the right. The process takes less than a minute or so, it doesn’t say anywhere that you should be silent, or leave the room, but I recommend that you stay silent while the test is happening and try to stand in an area that won’t affect the standing waves in your room.
Once the test is complete you will be told to mute the 3D microphone for the last time. On the next screen you have to hit “Compute” before hearing the results of the Trinnov, this step can take up to a couple of minutes, but once this is done, you can dive into the Optimizer settings.
The Optimizer is where the all power lies inside of the Trinnov system. This is where you can get a visual representation of what is happening inside of the system, showing amplitude with or without the effect of the rooms early reflections, phase response between the speakers, group delay, and impulse response. If you look at the graphic above, the image on the left is showing the Optimizer graphs, the top graph is showing the frequency response before the Trinnov, and the bottom one is showing the results after the Optimizer was engaged. A third graph is also displayed (not shown above) showing exactly what the Trinnov system is doing in order to get to the end result. On the right side of the screen, it shows you the different speakers all labeled in different colors. This example is with a 5.1 surround sound system.
The system will try and pull all the frequencies as close as possible to the zero line. If you look at the “before” graph, you will notice that particular room has a pretty substantial build-up in the low end, ranging from 3dB to 11dB between 30Hz and 180Hz. This was probably causing some series translation issues, where in the mixing room is appears there is a full heavy bass response, but if you take it to another listening environment, it may be lacking a lot of low end. Also look at the 9dB dip at 2.5kHz. This can cause a series problem, where in your room the mix is sounding dull, so you boost 2.5kHz on everything across the board. As most of us know, that is a pretty harsh frequency, if that was amplified 9dB in a mix, it would more than likely translate to being very brittle sounding, and attack your ears if listening loudly or through headphones. Lastly, you will notice a pretty significant drop off of frequencies above 12kHz with a bump around 10kHz. This could make the mix appear to be bright in your room with the added presence around the 10kHz bump, but not have enough “air,” making you boost too much of the ultra high frequencies which would again make your mix sound thin, and easily fatigue your ears if listening at a loud level or through headphones.
The “after” graph is showing all the correction the Trinnov system is doing, and as you can see, it has a much wider frequency spectrum going all the way down to 20Hz and expanding all the way up to 20kHz. All of the problem areas are appearing much closer to the zero line with a maximum of 5dB boosts or cuts. Inside of the Optimizer's settings, you can fine tune the areas that are still a bit off of the zero line if you are looking for the most neutral speaker response, or you can adjust the overall Trinnov system to have an expanded correction range when it does the initial adjustments. The Optimizer provides over 12 different parameters to customize the behavior of the room correction algorithm, which open many doors for fine tuning the sound according to loudspeaker capabilities and listening tests.
Mixing on that system would give you night and day results before and after the Trinnov installation, the mix would translate much better to different listening environments on the first pass. The room would sound much more impressive when the client takes their first listen.
The Trinnov ST2 Pro is priced at $3,995, and the 3D microphone is an extra $699. The addition of the touchscreen module would be $349 for the 8” display, and the optional smart meter would be another $1,095. For around $6,100 you can get the complete Trinnov system installed to your room, which wouldn’t hurt the commercial facilities budget too much, but could be a bit much for the smaller project studios. It would still be cheaper than doing a complete acoustic build-out, and give you very close to the same results. Another plus to the Trinnov system is the ability to take it with you if you decide to move your location, so even in a different room can achieve the exact same results regardless of build-out.
In the end, using this Trinnov set-up would still be cheaper than doing a complete acoustic build-out and give you very close to the same results. Another plus to the Trinnov system is the ability to take it with you if you decide to move your location, so even in a different room can achieve the exact same results regardless of build-out.
If you'd like to learn more about how gear from Trinnov can help your project studio, please contact your Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or phone at 888.653.1184. For a brief overview of the Trinnov set-up process, watch the video below.