Trinnov ST2 Pro Review

As the old saying goes, you really don't know what you are missing until you have it.

With my case, that is 110% true.

I am proud to announce the addition of a renowned French company, Trinnov Audio to Snow Wood Studios.  This amazing audio processor will enhance and help to improve mixes for all clients, no matter the genre.  In blanket terms, it is a room correction processor, but it is so much more.

Due in part to a grant from the French Government and many years of research, this processor takes any speaker system and corrects for frequency response, phase alignment, speaker positioning, crossover points, impulse response and more.  Those of you that are less inclined to read about technical things just need to know that this one upgrade is like watching an old VHS tape and comparing it to a 4K Blu-ray.  There is just no comparison to other units on the market that do similar things.  The Trinnov is the top of the line, partly because they use a full-featured Intel processor (instead of an off the shelf SHARC or other DSP processor) to do the heavy lifting and number crunching, along with a custom user interface.  No matter what I say, I simply can't tell you how much this allows you to SEE and HEAR in a mix.  You have to experience it for yourself.

Background

While I was doing some tracking down at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, I contacted my rep at Vintage King audio to pick up some gear that I needed to finish a mix for a client.  After talking shop with him for a bit on the details of my studio he mentioned the Trinnov ST2 to me.  To be honest, I tend to take everything that sales reps tell me with a grain of salt, because obviously, they have a incentive behind telling you about a product in the first place.  For a few days afterwards, I didn't think much about it but then I found myself with a few hours to kill and decided it wouldn't hurt to get a demo of this product and see what it can actually do.

I would like to let whoever is reading this to know that the room I demoed this in at Vintage King audio has easily $30,000 invested in the design/acoustics of the room.  And at the time I was there, $47,000 of Bearfoot Sound, Master Stack 12 speakers were on display.  It is an impressive system to begin with already.  If I could hear a difference there, then it would be without a doubt beneficial to my studio.  I arrived ready to spend several hours blind testing the system with my favorite reference tracks.  I expected to be listening for the minutiae in difference of the response of the system.  I expected to get maybe a 10-15% improvement in my studio setup.  What I expected, was wrong.

Why do I need this?

When a monitoring system is installed, high-end audiophile speakers can get you a long ways in improving the quality of your studio.  But at the end of the day, precision components and solidly built speakers can only get you so far.  Unless you mix in a anechoic chamber, what you hear is still influenced by your room, furniture in it, rack gear, mix desk and so on.  The Trinnov system takes all that out of the equation and makes both of your speakers work together in tandem.  

The biggest difference I felt was when you engage the Trinnov, your speakers don't sound like two separate sound sources.  There doesn't seem to be a left and a right speaker anymore, just one whole cohesive image spread out in front of you.  This gives you the ability to properly pan and position instruments like never before.  You can hear compression artifacts and the slightest of changes in reverb settings so much easier due to the phase correction algorithms.  Sound Field Editing on my Neve Master Buss Processor is much more pronounced as I can precisely place how wide I want the stereo image to be.

What about the competition?

This phase correction is the biggest selling point of the unit to me and is where Trinnov truly excels.  It is able to correct these issues because of the special microphone they developed with 4 omni-drectional capsules.  The three capsules in a triangular position allow for exact phase correction and remapping of the speakers to proper positioning.  The 4th capsule allows for remapping in 3D and placement of the speakers on a level plane.  Other room correction systems use a single omni capsule and only correct frequency amplitude.  Still after that, you have to remember to insert their plugin on every session you work on AND remove it before you bounce the session out to your client.  Not the most elegant solution in my opinion.  What would happen when you want to play reference material outside of your DAW?  You can't run a plugin with iTunes.  The competition becomes a half-baked solution that is inconvenient at best.

Cons

From the beginning, there was no manual included with the product and their website only has a French version that I could find.  Not super helpful there.  But if you are comfortable working with tech in general, it's not that hard to figure out how to plug everything in, and take a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the software.  

The one and only downside I experienced to the product is that during the setup process, I discovered that the unit did not have the latest firmware installed on it nor the correct map for the serial number of my microphone.  My sales rep unfortunately just forgot or was too busy to look into it for me, so I had to contact Trinnov directly and set up a time for them to remotely take control of the computer.  Since they are on the other side of the planet, after a few emails back and forth (over the course of a few days) I left my unit on overnight, hooked up to my network, and when I woke up in the morning, voila!  Through the magic of the internet, I now had a fully updated system.

Summary

To sum up my experience, it has been nothing more than incredible.  I can't tell you anything other than go buy it if you are at all serious about mixing audio.  It makes a world of difference and I will likely never sell it, unless Trinnov comes out with an upgrade to the current model.  It has become as essential to me in crafting a mix, as a hammer is for a carpenter.  Now, if I could just find enough time to go back and re-mix all of my old sessions...

Stay curious my friends.

JB