AV Processor + Power Amplifier of the Year
As comprehensive as the winners of our top AV receiver awards are, there is a level above to which the finest home cinemas can aspire. As with pre-power amplifiers in stereo hi-fi, the top level of cinema sound is delivered by separated processors and power amplifiers, and this year we spent time with a combination which is now being widely praised as the ultimate home cinema processing solution. Indeed the French company Trinnov also makes units for the professional market, where they are used in real cinemas as well as such places as Fox Studios, the BBC, NHK and, naturellement, France Télévision.
Such a professional level of product doesn’t come cheap. The Trinnov Altitude16 processor is $23,999 (a 32-channel version is also available), while the eight-channel Trinnov Amplitude8m power amplifier $11,499, and of course if you’re using all 16 channels of processing you’ll be needing two of those.
The processor is unlike anything we’ve previously seen, particularly in having two very different sections. First is a fairly traditional digital preamplifier with DAC and ADC capabilities (developed by Trinnov for its pro gear) and rather more advanced than usual in its switching capabilities. But alongside this is a computer. A real Linux-based computer, not just a conceptual one. Why? Because Trinnov doesn’t buy surround sound decoder chips from the standard suppliers. It uses its own custom software in a general-purpose computer to do the surround decoding (and, it seems, the speaker and room optimisation). Rather than waiting for chip companies to incorporate new standards like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, Trinnov runs the code into its computer, claiming thereby to be 18-24 months faster to market. New features or performance improvements can be delivered by software update. So how’s that for future proofing? This software also allows highly complex and effective EQ, bass management and room calibration.
We imagine most people considering Trinnov for the home cinema will be working with an installer, so won’t have to work out their system, but note that the Altitude16 is primarily digital in its inputs - seven HDMI, two each of optical and coaxial digital audio, but only two analogue inputs, one of them on balanced XLR, and no analogue video inputs at all. It does, however, support network audio streaming up to 96kHz sampling, and also fully supports Roon. All audio outputs are on balanced XLR.
So unsurprisingly the 30kg beast of the Amplitude8m has balanced inputs only, using the audiophile-level Ncore
JUDGES’ COMMENT “A processor offering the ultimate in home cinema flexibility, with a multichannel power amp offering the quality of the very best in stereo hi-fi.”
Hypex Class-D amp modules (also favoured, perhaps not coincidentally, by our top stereo amplifier this year, the Bel Canto ACI 600, see p70). These promise 200W each into eight ohms, 300W each into four ohms. We found the results astonishing in tone, in power, in clarity. The ultimate home cinema combination? Well, let’s just say we’ve not heard better in our 30 years of AV publishing.
More info: www.cogworks.io