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Trinnov Altitude 16 Review (AV Processor)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Trinnov Altitude 16 AV Processor. I received one sample from a kind member after which Trinnov also contacted me and sent me another with an improvement (see below). The Altitude costs US $17,000.

In contacting me Trinnov expressed that they had made an optimization to the DAC that resulted in better measured performance but not audibly. For this reason, they have not promoted this change. They plan to make a more substantial revision of the DAC to come out later that they will offer as upgrade to current customers. They have asked me if I would participate in testing that and of course I said yes.

The Altitude 16 does a great job of hiding the fact that it is built on a PC architecture with a beautiful front panel and controls just like any "appliance" version of the same:

View attachment 132313

The display has a very high resolution and elegant look that I liked. It is a bit to fully refresh but the interface was responsive. On start up there is a faint fan noise but it goes away once it boots. The back panel shows all the balanced I/O you would expect in a high-end AV Processor:

View attachment 132314

Now you can tell its PC guts given the standard I/O panel on bottom left. But again, you don't really notice that there is a PC in there.

The measurements you are about to see were reviewed by the company and were agreed upon as being representative. On that note, the company was exceptionally nice to work with and brought a constructive attitude which I much appreciated. Support is a big deal for such expensive purchases and it is good to see it be available from Trinnov.

Trinnov Altitude 16 Measurements (DAC)
As usual, our focus is the hygiene of the basic audio pipeline in these AV products. We feed it a digital signal and turn off all effects and processing and see what the DAC is capable of doing compared to other AV products (and desktop DACs):

View attachment 132315

As usual, I adjust the output to 4 volts which is the standard for desktop/stereo DACs (over balanced output). Performance here is competent and inline with other better AV processors I have tested:

View attachment 132316

Hopefully in the future we get performance in "blue" region of our performance buckets.

Sweeping the input we see that performance gets to where we measured and stays there for good bit until it clips above 6 volts:
View attachment 132317

Dynamic range is good:
View attachment 132318

DAC filter showed a strange but minor kink:
View attachment 132319

Trinnov has figured out the cause of this and is working on a fix. It was not important enough for me to hold up the review.

For the rest of these tests I used Toslink input as HDMI out of my measurement computer truncates to 16 bit. Let's start with IMD:

View attachment 132320

Here is our jitter test on both Toslink and HDMI:
View attachment 132321

Both show room for improvement although in the case of jitter it is not an audible concern due to very low levels that are below threshold of human hearing.

Linearity shows some inaccuracy:

View attachment 132322

So we get the magical 18 bits again.

Here is our THD+N versus frequency:

View attachment 132323

I could not run my multitone test because it has a 192 kHz sampling and Trinnov Altitude 16 is not able to play anything above 96 kHz. You have to move up to Altitude 32 to get the processing power it needs for that.

Conclusions
We have been waiting a long time to test any Trinnov processor as it is considered the pinnacle of high-end AV processors. It was great that it came to pass and I did not find anything broken in there. We have our answer that high-end AV processors as they exist today do not bring better measured performance in their basic DAC pipeline. Good news is that Trinnov is among just a couple of companies that has promised new generation of DACs to provide better performance. And that our testing has motivated that.

On the strength of excellent company support, future direction and good measurements, I am going to put the Trinnov Altitude 16 on my recommended list.

Time permitting, I plan to test the Room Optimizer in there which is the main reason behind the strong reputation of Trinnov processors.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Do we think though, for the price and the money we should have better performance? Because to be fair, how close is the Denon x8500h in terms of processing performance at 3 times cheaper?
 

apgood

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Do we think though, for the price and the money we should have better performance? Because to be fair, how close is the Denon x8500h in terms of processing performance at 3 times cheaper?
Not sure exactly what you mean by "processing performance" but if you mean processing features then there is a lot like ability to array speakers, extensive active crossover and eq functionality, many more speaker layout configuration options, etc.. Then beyond processing the is the much more sophisticated room correction and an upgradable architecture that means (especially in the case of the Altitude 32) that it is still one of the most advanced processor after almost 8 years. If you bought on of the first run processors you still have a processor that is up to date with the only real thing that might need to be updated occasionally is the HDMI board.

Of course there are use cases where another processor might be a better fit. For example I went with a StormAudio because of its ability to do 32 digital channels out and multiform capabilities but could easily have gone with the Alt32. It was a close thing.

Before that I had a Denon 6300 (Anthem & Onkyo before that) and can say there is no comparison from a processing, configuration flexibility and upgradability perspective.

Of course nothing wrong with any of the big box brands if all you want is something you can have setup in a few minutes and happy to have surround sound with maybe a run of a autoroom correction that might improve things a bit.
 

Golfx

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Do we think though, for the price and the money we should have better performance? Because to be fair, how close is the Denon x8500h in terms of processing performance at 3 times cheaper?
Well I recently upgraded from a Denon A-110 to the Altitude 16. One of the major reasons was the Denon and most all other AVRs using room correction software have to down sample inbound sample rates to 48hz to handle all the simultaneous processing. The trinnov, being a software based computer, does not. If it gets an inbound 24/96 it plays it back at 24/96-not 48. That is unsettling for the majority of people demanding hi-res 24/192 sample rates but using Audyssey and Dirac. (I was one of those, and I didn’t know.) I don’t know about room perfect—perhaps it is like the trinnov or not.
 
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Not sure exactly what you mean by "processing performance" but if you mean processing features then there is a lot like ability to array speakers, extensive active crossover and eq functionality, many more speaker layout configuration options, etc.. Then beyond processing the is the much more sophisticated room correction and an upgradable architecture that means (especially in the case of the Altitude 32) that it is still one of the most advanced processor after almost 8 years. If you bought on of the first run processors you still have a processor that is up to date with the only real thing that might need to be updated occasionally is the HDMI board.

Of course there are use cases where another processor might be a better fit. For example I went with a StormAudio because of its ability to do 32 digital channels out and multiform capabilities but could easily have gone with the Alt32. It was a close thing.

Before that I had a Denon 6300 (Anthem & Onkyo before that) and can say there is no comparison from a processing, configuration flexibility and upgradability perspective.

Of course nothing wrong with any of the big box brands if all you want is something you can have setup in a few minutes and happy to have surround sound with maybe a run of a autoroom correction that might improve things a bit.

Did you notice a sound quality increase switching from the Denon to the Trinnov? Denon's, generally measure well, so how does it sound? Smoother? Cleaner?
 

Sal1950

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Did you notice a sound quality increase switching from the Denon to the Trinnov? Denon's, generally measure well, so how does it sound? Smoother? Cleaner
Nothing like putting words in a persons mouth.
And he heard it in a blind test too. LOL
And his wife in the kitchen
 

TGB

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If you have not heard the Trinnov Optimizer, you should not state anything here. The Optimizer is the absolute cutting edge room optimizers out there, it is the benchmark the others are measured against. You need to hear it to believe it.
 

apgood

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Did you notice a sound quality increase switching from the Denon to the Trinnov? Denon's, generally measure well, so how does it sound? Smoother? Cleaner?
I bought the StormAudio not Trinnov. From a sound quality perspective the biggest difference going from using the Denon as a prepro to the StormAudio audio was another more hiss coming from the speakers.

Then after that any other sonic benefits will more likely be to a greater level of configuration/ tweaking you can perform e.g. I can set my large speakers to be "Large with Sub" that allows the speaker to be bass managed as a small speaker based on a selected high pass and low pass filter and slope and also have it also act as sub and receive the Bass managed low frequencies plus LFE with whatever attenuation and subsonic filter I want based on the woofers capabilities. This means I can use the more capable floorstanding speakers to support and subs. There other features like bass zones that allow you direct bass managed sound from different speakers to be sent to different sets of sub, but in my view this is mainly useful where you have very large rooms or need to crossover certain speakers to subs at a higher frequencies and want to reduce the effects of localisation of in the crossover region. I have images of someone using something like those little Bose cubes when I think of this scenario
 

zorax2

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I come from using Denon and Marantz top AVRs and PrePros. With those, I used Audyssy with correction at Schroeder and without and also used a MiniDSP and MSO (Multi-Sub Optimizer). I was continually trying to tweak to squeeze everything out of my setup. I also had the Audyssey app.

My opinion is that the Trinnov Altitude 16 sounds substantially better with either stereo or multi-channel audio. Running Optimizer was so incredibly simple. I can tweak that measurement as much as I want without needing to bring out the microphone to re-measure anything. The only thing I needed to do after running Optimizer was to add a house curve to the bass. I play around with different things just for fun as it's easy to make changes.

As I've said before, it's an end-game purchase. I got off the merry go round of buying new processors and AVRs every few years and have what I believe to be the pinnacle of sound correction technology.
 

Sal1950

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I bought the StormAudio not Trinnov. From a sound quality perspective the biggest difference going from using the Denon as a prepro to the StormAudio audio was another more hiss coming from the speakers.
??? Which unit has hiss ?
 

peng

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Sorry badly worded. The Denon x-6300 using the preouts had hiss in my setup. The StormAudio is dead silent

Interesting, same power amp and speakers? Even my x4400h does not hiss unless vol is at >0 and ears within inches.
 

apgood

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Interesting, same power amp and speakers? Even my x4400h does not hiss unless vol is at >0 and ears within inches.
Yes, connected to power amps via q-sys core. Guess biggest difference is Denon is unbalanced out and StormAudio is balanced out. That was when I was running analogue out. Now I run digital out (AES/EBU) of StormAudio to q-sys core, so all the DA conversions occur in the core.
 

w3ua

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I'm curious, this device measured not better than Datasat, which costs less, has the same functionality, but this one is "recommended", but the other is not, why? Indeed, it's easy to do recommendations on the extreme ends, like Benchmark amp vs Monoprice; but in the middle, it can be a bit misleading. My two cents ... it would be nice to have a third grade "it depends".
 

Golfx

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I'm curious, this device measured not better than Datasat, which costs less, has the same functionality, but this one is "recommended", but the other is not, why? Indeed, it's easy to do recommendations on the extreme ends, like Benchmark amp vs Monoprice; but in the middle, it can be a bit misleading. My two cents ... it would be nice to have a third grade "it depends".
Hi you are new. If you read Amir‘s entire review he qualifies his recommendations about high end equipment based on the quality of customer service and willingness of the engineers to listen and work with him.
 

Matthew J Poes

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I'm curious, this device measured not better than Datasat, which costs less, has the same functionality, but this one is "recommended", but the other is not, why? Indeed, it's easy to do recommendations on the extreme ends, like Benchmark amp vs Monoprice; but in the middle, it can be a bit misleading. My two cents ... it would be nice to have a third grade "it depends".
Well I would counter that the Datasat isn’t equally capable. It’s bass management is still a bit less sophisticated. The Datasat, Trinnov, and Storm are all far more capable than most other processors. They allow custom mapping of input to output. But the Trinnov has more slope and crossover type options and a more flexible input/output mapping capability that allows for more sophisticated setups where needed. Trinnov also has its advanced 3D remapping, which currently nobody else offers.

If all you care about is the SINAD, then none of these make sense. Buy a Denon receiver. But if you are looking at these products, it’s not for their SINAD, it’s for their huge flexibility in setup. The audio performance of these is just the most basic factor in their desirability. It’s their sophistication in setup that should be the deciding factor on which one you get.
 

w3ua

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Well I would counter that the Datasat isn’t equally capable. It’s bass management is still a bit less sophisticated. The Datasat, Trinnov, and Storm are all far more capable than most other processors. They allow custom mapping of input to output. But the Trinnov has more slope and crossover type options and a more flexible input/output mapping capability that allows for more sophisticated setups where needed. Trinnov also has its advanced 3D remapping, which currently nobody else offers.

If all you care about is the SINAD, then none of these make sense. Buy a Denon receiver. But if you are looking at these products, it’s not for their SINAD, it’s for their huge flexibility in setup. The audio performance of these is just the most basic factor in their desirability. It’s their sophistication in setup that should be the deciding factor on which one you get.
Indeed, the three manufacturers you mentioned stand out not just because of their capabilities in analog domain, but because they have devices (not the ones reviewed) capable of feeding digital loudspeakers. I have Datasat RS20i feeding PCM signals directly to the set of 7 digital monitors and 2 subwoofers from Genelec -- and this combination is above and beyond most of systems running analog signals. Just take a look at Amir's excellent reviews of that speaker family. Indeed, when I designed this setup back in 2013, Genelec engineers I worked with told me, that I am the second crazy guy utilizing their digital monitors in the home theater. At that time they were aware of only one other HT using such configuration. The customer was Madonna ;) I bet she didn't design her theater herself, however... In such configuration nobody cares about slopes and crossovers or Dirac -- the AV processor needs to be simply flat in the digital domain, and all room corrections and other tuning is done using Genelec configurator. However, if the digital multichannel outputs are not used, then there is no doubts, Denon beat them all for a fraction of the cost. And at the end of the day, in my case having a pretty quiet, but still audible laser projector overhead, producing around 30-32 dB of noise in the viewers chairs, makes SINAD better than 90 dB pretty useless, anyway. That's exactly the reason why I suggested gradation "it depends". Especially if there is no way Amir can test and measure every unit of their families. Amir's reviews are the best for the technology aficionados like me (who hate BS about mellow midrange and better resolution of zillion dollar pieces of wire feeding 120V to lousy power supplies). I am just looking for a little bit wider recommendations regarding applicability of certain brands, especially exotic ones, which is difficult to evaluate without at least going to the CES. But indeed, it would be a very small improvement of the benchmark quality of Amir reviews, maybe visible for a small fraction of the audience.
But what do I know? I'm just a newbie in this forum...
 
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