Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Preamplifier-Processor Review
With the Altitude A/V preamp/processors, Trinnov Audio has created its vision of the ideal processor for a modern home theater. The Altitude16, which is the subject of this review, is packed with features to accommodate almost any home theater configuration. Thanks to its flexibility, the unique Trinnov Room Optimizer, and its 3D remapping functionality, it can transform your listening room into the perfect venue for enjoying stereo, multi-channel music, and movies, all from the comfort of your home.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Preamplifier-Processor
- Highly configurable supporting configurations up to 20 channels.
- No preset limit on the number of subwoofers or channel assignments for Dolby and DTS:X.
- Supports Dolby, DTS, and Auro-3D processing including DTS:X Pro and IMAX Enhanced.
- Utilizes the Trinnov Room Optimizer for room correction.
- Corrects for speaker placement issues by “remapping” sounds to their correct location in the listening room.
- Reference quality sound for stereo, multi-channel music, and movies.
- Certified as a Roon Ready network player and supports UPnP/DLNA Digital Media Rendering.
- The Altitude16 will be upgradable to HDMI 2.1 with support for 8K video via a future paid hardware upgrade.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16, Front View
Trinnov Audio has been focused on immersive sound since its founding back in 2003 and has a long history in the pro audio industry and commercial cinemas. My first experience with Trinnov Audio was back in 2010 when I reviewed the Sherwood Newcastle R-972. At the time, this was the first consumer product that featured a scaled-down version of the Trinnov Optimizer, and I recall being impressed with the Optimizer and its overall sound quality.
Since then, Trinnov Audio developed their own line of AV processors, and in 2015 they released the Altitude32 which was able to deliver 32 channels of Dolby Atmos! The hallmark of the platform was its extensibility, and Trinnov continued to innovate adding support for new formats like Auro-3D and DTS:X. To expand their customer base, Trinnov Audio introduced the Altitude16 in 2017, using the same technology as the Altitude32, but limiting the processor to 16 channels. I always wondered what Trinnov Audio included in their own processors. Read on and I’ll share my experience with this unique processor.
Preamp / Processor supporting up to 20 discrete channels
Intel® multi-core hyper-threaded
Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround
DTS, DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X Pro, IMAX Enhanced, DTS Neural:X
4K/60Hz Pass-through and switching, 4:4:4 color subsampling at 4K60 (18.2 Gbps), BT.2020 (wide color gamut), HDR (high dynamic range): Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG (Hybrid-Log Gamma)
Roon Ready, UPnP/DLNA Digital Media Rendering
8 In, 2 out (main, parallel); HDMI output 1 supports ARC (audio return channel), eARC (enhanced audio return channel), and 4K downscaling
Digital Audio Inputs:
2 optical and 2 coaxial
Digital Audio Outputs:
1 optical and 1 coaxial
Analog Audio Inputs:
1 XLR stereo balanced, 1 RCA stereo, 1 3D Microphone input 5-pin XLR
Analog Audio Outputs:
16 Channels (XLR)
2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0 (not available for USB audio)
Ethernet Port for Wired Network Connection
Video (DVI/HDMI/VGA), PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse, Audio ports (unused)
12 Volt-trigger (1 in, 4 out), IP Control, RS-232C
Dual network audio connectors (future use)
Browser-based, VNC client, direct connect
Remote Control, 3U rack ears
5.5″ H x 17.25″ W x 16.93″ D
$18,000 USD (calibration microphone $800)
Trinnov Audio Altitude16, Surround Processor, Preamplifier, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, DTS:X, DTS:X Pro, Auro-3D, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, Trinnov Optimizer
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Front Panel
At a glance, the Trinnov Altitude16 looks like a typical AV processor. The front panel features clean lines and is made from a thick piece of brushed aluminum with Trinnov Audio and Altitude16 silk-screened onto the corner. The front panel display, which measures 4” diagonally, is placed behind a sleek black panel which is slightly recessed into the faceplate. Controls are minimal with the power, mute, and volume controls on the left, and the menu and source selection/navigation buttons on the right.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Rear Panel PC connectors
When we look at the rear panel, we quickly realize that this isn’t a typical AV processor but rather a very specialized computer. The lower left portion of the rear panel has the typical PC connectors for video (DVI/HDMI/VGA), Ethernet network, USB ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, and audio ports, which are unused. The rest of the back panel will look much more familiar and includes 16 balanced XLR outputs. The Altitude16 supports 8 HDMI inputs and two parallel HDMI outputs. The HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0b-compliant and they all support HDCP 2.2. The Altitude16 supports HDMI video switching and video pass-through at 4K/60Hz resolution, BT. 2020 wide color gamut, 4:4:4 Subsampling at 4K60 (18.2 Gbps), as well as the HDR (high dynamic range) formats Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG (Hybrid-Log Gamma).
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Rear Panel
Trinnov includes one XLR stereo balanced input, one RCA stereo input, two optical inputs, one optical output, two coaxial digital inputs, and one coaxial digital output. A 5-pin XLR input is included for connection to the optional 3D calibration microphone. Trinnov includes IP control with support for major third-party control systems, an RS-232 jack, one 12-Volt trigger input, and four 12-Volt trigger outputs that can be used to turn on external amplifiers. The first trigger output tracks with the power of the Altitude16 itself, and the other three trigger outputs are configurable by source.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Rear Panel Detail
Trinnov recently announced that they will be supporting Ravenna/AES67 on the Altitude processors later this year. This feature will use network connections to allow for the transmission of audio over local IP networks. This feature will be especially useful to custom installers where the processor and amplifiers may be separated by long distances.
There are a few differences when comparing the Altitude16 inputs and outputs to those of other AV processors. You won’t find any RCA pre-out connections, nor support for phono inputs, or FM tuners. There also is no support for a second zone. While output can certainly be sent to a second zone, the Altitude16 does not come with a dedicated volume control for an additional zone.
The Trinnov Altitude16 is Roon Ready and quite uniquely, supports playback of multichannel music, but no Roon Atmos yet. It also supports UPnP/DLNA Digital Media Rendering. It does come with a small remote.
From a technology perspective, the Altitude16 offers several design differences that set it apart from other AV processors. First, the Altitude16 is not based on the traditional DSP-based approach used by other manufacturers. Instead, the Altitude16 runs a Trinnov customized Linux operating system running on an Intel® multicore processor and uses software implementations of the technologies it supports like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X Pro, and Auro3D. Trinnov also explained to me that one of the major differences in their approach is that the Altitude16 will adapt to the incoming audio signal and process the signal at 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, or 96k, depending on the content being played. This contrasts with how the typical chip-based processors are implemented which perform sample rate conversion, typically to 48kHz to match the DSP chip being used. Using a software-based architecture offers Trinnov Audio a great deal of flexibility and control over its implementation.
For example, the Altitude16 is a 16-channel platform. Or is it? Trinnov Audio recently announced a new feature called “+4” that adds 4 additional channels to all existing Altitude16 (and Altitude32) processors through a software update. Think about that for a second. A 16-channel processor now becomes capable of processing 20 channels! In the traditional AV processor, such a change would typically involve buying a new processor with additional capability. For Trinnov Audio, this magic is accomplished by using both the Toslink and the coax S/PDIF outputs of the Altitude16 (and the AES/EBU outputs on the Altitude32). Pair those outputs with one or two external stereo D/A converters and the Altitude16 processor is now able to handle 20 output channels and the Altitude32 up to 36 output channels!
For example, the Altitude16 is a 16-channel platform. Or is it? Trinnov Audio recently announced a new feature called “+4” that adds 4 additional channels to
Trinnov is also adding support for IMAX Enhanced to the Altitude platform. The licensed IMAX Enhanced technology, which combines IMAX digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content and enhanced DTS:X audio, will be added at no extra charge. This feature requires that you have an IMAX Enhanced certified display or projector.
In addition to its software upgradability, Trinnov Audio has made the overall platform modular and upgradable. For example, Trinnov has offered multiple HDMI board versions since the Altitude32 was launched, including HDMI 1.4 in an 8×2 configuration, HDMI 2.0 in a 7×2 configuration, and the current HDMI 2.0 version in an 8×2 configuration which also supports ARC/eARC and can down-scale 4K to 1080p on output 1. Trinnov will be offering another HDMI upgrade to support 8K video in the future, and owners of the Altitude processors will be able to upgrade for a fee when they are ready.
Getting started with the Altitude processors takes some patience and fortitude as they are quite different to set up than the typical A/V processors and receivers on the market. If you aren’t using the services of a custom installer, Trinnov offers excellent support for their products starting with an extensive user manual which is included in the box and available online, along with access to their technical support team via email. For this review, I started by reading the manual. After working with the processor for a few days, I also reached out to Chuck Back, Trinnov’s Managing Director in the United States, who graciously helped answer my many questions.
You may have noticed that there are just numbers listed on the rear panel by each of the inputs and outputs which provides a clue to the Altitude’s flexibility. I connected my amplifiers, components, and 4K TV to the Altitude16 and kept track of the source and output connections which would come in handy later. I had connected my left and right main channels to the first two XLR outputs and plugged in a network cable. I turned on the Altitude16, and after about a minute, the Altitude splash screen on the front panel was replaced by information for HDMI1. I turned on the corresponding source component and had sound and a picture. So far so good.
There are multiple approaches for configuring the Altitude16, but the first consideration is how best to connect to the processor. While the front panel allows for some basic configuration for things like network settings, it really isn’t used to configure the processor. To set up the Altitude16, the options are to directly connect a physical monitor, mouse, and keyboard, or to connect remotely over the network. For network connectivity, the Altitude16 provides a browser-based interface that is accessible from any web browser on your network. We’ll discuss this interface a bit later in the review. While it allows for some processor configuration, the normal browser interface does not provide access to the more advanced setup and configuration options. This leaves connecting to the Altitude16 remotely with a VNC client.
If you aren’t familiar with VNC, it stands for Virtual Network Computing and offers a way to remotely control a computer. The Altitude16 runs a VNC server that relays the display, keyboard, and mouse of the Altitude16 to a VNC client of your choosing. There are several choices available for VNC client software such as Mocha VNC or Chicken of the VNC as options. I used an Apple iPad for my testing and used the free VNC Viewer app from RealVNC as my VNC client. With the VNC Viewer application, I just opened a connection to the Altitude16 using its IP address, entered the password for the Altitude (its serial number), and was presented with the full Altitude user interface. If you don’t want to use VNC client software, Trinnov includes VNC access in the Altitude16 browser interface. In a browser on the local network, just type in the IP address of the Altitude16 followed by “/vnc.html” to access the VNC client.
The configuration options for the Altitude16 are extensive and can be overwhelming. I’ll do my best here to provide some perspective on what it’s like to configure the Altitude16. Trinnov Audio includes a basic wizard with the Altitude processors to make the setup process more approachable for new users.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard
Launching the Altitude Wizard opens with the option to start a new configuration or update an existing one.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Room Options
The next step in the Setup Wizard is to specify the speaker layout for the room. Trinnov includes a long list of predefined layouts covering basic stereo and surround, Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, and DTS:X. They also include hybrid layouts for popular configurations like 9.1.6 with left and right wide speakers. It’s a simple matter to select an initial layout and just start adding or removing speakers to create any desired configuration. It is also possible to just add all the speakers for the room individually without using an initial layout. The interface is simple to use and keeps one from doing crazy things like selecting just a left speaker without a corresponding right speaker to form a matching pair. The room graphic at the top of the interface also shows the corresponding speaker location in the room. Clicking on a speaker in the graphic also selects the speaker in the interface.
For my system, I tried several different configurations but settled on a 7.3.4 configuration. Another unique feature of the Altitude processors is the ability to map the speakers based on audio format. In my case (see speakers 10 and 11 in the above image), I was able to use my Height Left/Right Surrounds for Auro-3D, while also mapping them as Top Middle for Atmos, Dolby, and DTS. I thought this approach was brilliant and something that I remember wishing for with the Auro-3D implementations on other processors like the Marantz AV-8805.
The interface allows for sending pink noise to verify the speaker connections. You will also notice the output column in the interface. This allows for the selection of the physical output on the back of the Altitude16. If you mix up a speaker or two when connecting things, just select the correct output and the problem is resolved without moving any cables! This interface also allows for complex speaker configurations such as active crossover, parametric EQ, and the creation of speaker arrays which allows for the duplication of channels across multiple pairs of speakers. The active crossover settings in the Altitude16 enable 2-,3-, and 4-way crossovers, and speaker manufacturer PEQ settings can be entered eliminating the need for external boxes. In a separate calibration, the Altitude measures the individual driver responses and sets the active crossover levels and delays.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Bass Management Quick Setup
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Bass Management Individual Setup
The next step in the Setup Wizard is bass management. The Altitude processors do not specify a limit on the number of subwoofers except for having enough available outputs for the desired configuration. Bass management settings can be applied globally to all speakers via Quick Setup, or individually on each speaker and subwoofer. Settings like gain, filter type, slope, frequency, and polarity are all presented here, but it’s up to the user or calibrator to make the proper selections. Once a set of room measurements has been taken, the results can be used to further refine the bass management settings based on the capabilities of the speakers.
The Altitude16 also allows for intermediate bass management where non-subwoofer speakers could have their low frequencies sent to a nearby speaker. An example of this might be a Dolby up-firing speaker sending its low frequencies to the speaker underneath. There are also options for configuring how the LFE channel is managed, and a “stacked subs” option is included to adjust the perceived level when using multiple subwoofers. The bass management on the Altitude16 is very capable but requires some analysis and understanding of the capabilities of the speakers in the listening room.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Recommended XLR to RCA Wiring
I used the LFE connections on my GoldenEar Triton Reference speakers as two of my subwoofers. The Altititude16 does not provide a set of RCA channel outputs, so I asked Trinnov Audio how best to connect from XLR to RCA. Chuck Back sent me the above diagram which confirms that the recommended approach is to float XLR pin 1. Another method would be to use a transformer from Neutrik or Jensen. Trinnov said that “Using Pins 2 & 3 will maximize the voltage swing across a single-ended input, and therefore the s/n ratio – assuming the power amplifier can handle the full voltage swing. If not, you may be better off using Pin 1 (signal ground) and Pin 2 (non-inverting), leaving Pin 3 to ‘float’ (disconnected). The best connection depends on your power amplifier.” Emotiva makes a cable with the recommended wiring which was what I ended up using.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Microphone Setup
Each of the Trinnov calibration microphones comes with a serial-number-specific compensation file which can be loaded into the Altitude16 by plugging the provided USB stick into any USB port on the processor.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Microphone Position
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Microphone Directions
With the cable in place, the next steps are to connect the microphone, remove its protective cap, and power on the microphone.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Calibration Microphone in Cradle
Positioning the microphone is a bit tricky since it not only needs to be level, but the front of the microphone (indicated by a red LED), must be pointing directly toward the front of the room. Ideally, this should be at an azimuth of 0 degrees which is surprisingly challenging to align. The microphone comes with a cradle and attachment hardware to mount to a typical stand.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Master Level
With the microphone attached and powered on, the next step is to adjust the volume of the Altitude16 until the level indicates 80 dB SPL. I would like to see Trinnov enhance this interface, or provide a separate function, to help with the microphone alignment. In the current design, there is no way to find out just how off the microphone alignment is until the entire measurement process has been completed.
If you have speakers with Active Crossovers, the wizard will then walk through the calibration of the active crossovers. For this purpose, Trinnov has both an automatic calibration mode and an extensive manual interface.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Calibration
The next step in the process is taking the actual measurements for each speaker. This part is very interesting as the interface is updated to reflect where each speaker is in the room. The Trinnov Optimizer measures each of the speakers over the full frequency range. Unlike some room correction systems, it is not possible just to remeasure a single channel if a problem is encountered during the measurement process. After the first set of measurements has been completed, the microphone can be moved, and additional measurements can be taken and saved. The Trinnov Optimizer can use a single measurement position, or it can measure multiple positions up to a recommended limit of 10 per configuration for the Altitude16. It is also possible to update an existing room configuration with additional measurements taken at another time, and this can be done directly from the calibration menu in the preset without running through the Setup Wizard.
There are only two steps left in the process. The first is a simple weighting interface that allows for balancing the results across multiple measurement points. The default is to automatically distribute the weighting, but the interface allows for manual weighting. The measurements can be weighted however you like and the Altitude16 will take care of the arithmetic. For example, using a value of 5 for the main listening position and 1 for the others makes the main listening position five times as important as the rest in the resulting calculation.
The updated total cannot exceed 100%.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Filter Computation
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Setup Wizard Computation Finished
The last step is to process the measurement data and compute the room filters. The microphone then needs to be powered off and disconnected from the Altitude16. With the calibration out of the way, let me give you a brief tour of the Altitude16 menu system and discuss what happened with the calibration measurements.
Diving into the Altitude16 menu system we find a lot of functionality located throughout a tabbed user interface. Clicking the gear icon brings up the Advanced Settings section of the interface which allows for most of the configuration on the Altitude16. The Altitude16 supports 17 sources and up to 29 memory presets.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 Source Options
Sources can be easily renamed and assigned to any input and are fully customizable. Options include such things as name, listening format, levels, delay, preferred preset, remapping mode, etc.
Trinnov Altitude16 Memory Preset Optimizer Settings Top View
The Trinnov Optimizer results are shown on multiple tabs on each preset. The Top View tab provides an overview of the measured placement of each speaker in the room. The scale and reference radius can be adjusted, but surprisingly there is no option to switch the distance from meters to feet. (0.3048 m = 1 ft)
Trinnov Altitude16 Memory Preset Optimizer Settings Elevation View
A similar Elevation View shows how the speakers are vertically positioned in the room compared to their ideal positions (shown in degrees above or below horizontal).
Trinnov Altitude16 Memory Preset Optimizer Settings Summary
There is also a summary page that provides the measurement details for the speakers showing distances, elevation, levels, delays, etc. This is the summary that indicates how precise the microphone azimuth alignment was during the calibration process. In this example, I am off by 0.2 degrees for center azimuth which was more than acceptable. I managed a 0-degree result just once which was lots of nerdy fun.
Trinnov Altitude16 Memory Preset Optimizer Graphs
The Altitude16 provides a full set of graphs in the interface which can be customized. The graphs show the before and calculated after-results, and the filter computed by the Trinnov Optimizer. Numerous graph display options are included, and graphs are provided for amplitude, phase, group delay, and impulse response.
The Altitude16 also allows for custom target and excursion curves to further adjust the room correction to taste. There are also numerous advanced controls in the Optimizer Settings and Advanced Settings menus, many of which seem best left to Trinnov Audio Support or a custom installer.
Trinnov Altitude16 USB Key Detected Load/Save Options
The last setup feature that I wanted to mention is something that I didn’t discover until weeks after using the Altitude16. If a USB stick or key is inserted into the Altitude16, a menu appears with saving and loading choices for all the Altitude16 configuration options. Included in those options is a very nice PDF document which provides a detailed summary of the calibration results.
In my listening environment, I used a 7.3.4 GoldenEar Technology Triton Reference system with a pair of Triton Reference front speakers with powered subwoofers, a GoldenEar SuperCenter X center channel, a pair of GoldenEar Invisa MPX in-walls as surround speakers, two pairs of GoldenEar Invisa HTR 7000 as top-middle height and rear surrounds, and a pair of GoldenEar Aon 2 speakers for front height speakers. I used a pair of Bryston 7B3 Cubed Series mono-blocks for my main channels, a five-channel Bryston 9B3 Cubed Series amp for my surround and center channels, and a Rotel RMB-1095 to power the height channels. For the 3 subwoofer channels, I used an SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer, and I connected the subwoofers in the Triton Reference towers via their LFE inputs. I used an Oppo UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and an Apple TV 4K (2017 model) as my primary source devices.
My home theater is in my great room which is 18’ W x 20’ D x 12’ H, and while most of the speakers are positioned well, I have some compromises in terms of the placement of the rear surrounds and the front height speakers. My center channel is positioned above the television angled toward the main listening position. My height left and right surround speakers are also best suited for Auro-3D in terms of placement, but they also work well as Atmos Top-Middle speakers. I was always frustrated that I had to compromise on other processors between using a speaker for either Auro-3D, or Dolby and DTS, but not all three. While the formats don’t always agree on placement for each channel, the Attitude16 is the first processor that I’ve ever used that allows for speakers to be mapped based on format and user preference.
Unlike a more traditional processor, the power-on sequence on the Altitude16 takes just under a minute to complete. While based on a PC platform, the fans in the Altitude16 were very quiet in regular use. Despite its complexity, using the Altitude16 is as simple as selecting a source and adjusting the volume. Source and preset options allow for easy customization and can really help tailor the listening experience. The Altitude16 also allows for copying entire presets, so it was very simple to experiment with something without any concern of losing my current favorite settings. This was especially helpful when experimenting with target curves.
In my daily usage of the Altitude16, I preferred to leave the Trinnov Optimizer engaged with its normal processing defaults applying acoustic correction, level alignment, and delay alignment. I also left the 3D remapping functionality engaged, which is designed to correct for speaker placement issues by “remapping” sounds to their correct location in the room. The performance of the Altitude16 as a stereo preamplifier was superb. Music was wonderfully detailed and spectacularly imaged, with a wide soundstage that at times made me wonder if I was listening in a surround mode. Both male and female voices sounded natural, instruments had a distinct presence in the room, and I was consistently impressed by the layers of detail and nuance that the Altitude16 managed to extract from any content.
Listening to native Auro-3D content was another delightful experience, with the Altitude16 effortlessly delivering a stunning performance. It also illustrated that the Altitude16 is limited to processing 96kHz content. On the Auro-3D discs, recordings are also included for 5.1 DTS HD MA 24/192 kHz and 2.0 LPCM 24/192 kHz. Attempting to play that content via HDMI to the Altitude16 results in muted output which is expected. The Trinnov Audio Altitude32 processor can process the 24/192kHz content due to its faster processor.
I was also unexpectedly surprised at how much impact the Auro-Matic Upmixer could have on regular stereo content. While music sounded fantastic without any surround processing, enabling the Auro-Matic Upmixer along with the Trinnov Optimizer expanded the soundstage and effectively used all the speakers in the room to create a more intimate listening experience. This worked especially well with theatrical and live performance content, and it was surprisingly enjoyable even on regular television. I’ve heard the Auro-Matic Upmixer on other processors in my room, but the implementation on the Altitude16 along with the Trinnov Optimizer was impressive.
Listening to music using Roon was effortless as the Altitude16 also works as a Roon Ready network player. Selecting the Altitude16 from the Roon Remote interface immediately switches the Altitude16 to the Roon Ready source input. Basic Roon info like album and artist are also displayed in the Altitude16 user interface.
Roon Remote Trinnov Altitude16 Enhanced Signal Path
The Roon Remote interface shows detailed information about the enhanced signal path and the various processing applied by the Altitude16. It is important to note that playing any music with a bit rate higher than 24/96 kHz is automatically down-sampled by a factor of two by the Roon Server on the local network and then sent to the Altitude16 Roon endpoint for further processing and output. The process is completely seamless and works well.
Experiencing movies on the Altitude16 was equally thrilling thanks to the Trinnov Optimizer’s 3D Remapping technology. There were two primary differences taking place in my room. The first being that the perceived sound from the center channel speaker was now lowered, positioned directly in front of the listening position seamlessly blending between the main left and right speakers. The other difference was that many sound effects moved through the listening room in a more realistic and immersive way, creating a wonderful sense of depth and spaciousness that I’ve not experienced in my room from other processors. Listening to movies and especially Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content was simply amazing.
I also enjoyed how good DVD-Audio, especially multi-channel, sounded on the Altitude16. Again, in my room, this was heavily due to the Trinnov Optimizer’s 3D Remapping technology.
If I have any complaint about the Altitude16 performance, it is the unfortunate audio delay that occurs when initially playing some content. For example, if I started watching a movie with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the picture will start displaying and then in a couple of seconds, the audio will start playing. The audio is not out of sync with the movie, it was simply muted while the Altitude16 loaded up the required software and started processing the Dolby Atmos soundtrack. In many cases, this was not noticeable, but in other cases, it was obvious that about 3 seconds of the opening music was missing. If I restarted the movie by skipping back to the beginning, the content would then play correctly because the appropriate software was already loaded in the Altitude16.
While this processing delay was annoying at the start of a movie soundtrack, it proved to be a significant disappointment when playing Spatial Audio encoded with Dolby Atmos on Apple Music. I had tried to play the Spatial Audio sampler from my Apple TV 4K and while it worked, I lost seconds at the start of every song. For example, on “The Long and Winding Road” from The Beatles – Let It Be (2021 Mix), the words “The long and winding road” are completely missing from the start of the song!! The song starts playing at “that leads to your door” which just ruins the song for me. Fortunately, there is an easy solution, but it involves turning off the Dolby Atmos option for music playback on the Apple TV settings menu. This of course defeats the ability to listen to the Dolby Atmos music mixes. Trinnov Audio is already working on reducing the delay.
The following are some of the highlights from my listening experience with the Altitude16.
Nora Jones, “Come Away with Me”, Blue Note Records, 24/96 FLAC via Roon and Qobuz
This is one of those albums that never gets old for me. I felt a wonderful sense of comfort right from the opening notes in the title track, “Come Away with Me.” The Altitude16 helped melt away the stress of the day by impeccably delivering Nora’s smooth vocals, her beautiful piano notes, and the sounds of the guitars and drums.
Nidarosdomens jentekor, Trondheim Soloists, “Magnificat”, Blu-ray, 9.1 Auro-3D 24/96
This is an Auro-3D Blu-ray disc that demonstrates the full potential of the Auro-3D format on the Altitude16. On track 10, “Song of the Universal” composed by Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) and based on Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of the Universal”, the powerful swell of the string instruments bursts into the room with an uplifting, joyful sound that transports the listener into the performance space. The sounds of the strings provide a gorgeous canvas for the piece. When the choral vocals and piano emerge, the overall layered effect is absolutely riveting. The harmonies of the instruments and voices coupled with the echoes and gentle decay of the music left me speechless.
Les Misérables (The Original London Cast Recording), First Night Records, 16/44 FLAC via Roon and Qobuz
Les Misérables is one of my favorite musicals. It is based on the classic French novel written by Victor Hugo. This recording is from the original London cast. While it sounded great in stereo, playing this music on the Altitude16 with the Auro-Matic Upmixer was absolutely thrilling and took the experience to an entirely different level. Listening to “Do You Hear the People Sing” was like being at the theater with the glorious sounds of the vocal harmonies, the chorus, and orchestra filling the room. On “Master of the House”, the interplay of the male and female solos mixed with the chorus and orchestra provided delightful comic relief in this part of the musical. The Altitude16 delivered a wonderful sense of spaciousness to the sound. Listening to this brought back such fond memories of seeing this show performed live in Cleveland at Playhouse Square for the Broadway Series.
Taylor Swift – The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Disney+, 4K, Dolby Atmos
I had been listening to this new concert from Taylor Swift prior to configuring the Altitude16 in my room. After completing my initial calibration, I returned to Taylor’s music and was immediately struck with the difference created by the Altitude16 and the Trinnov Optimizer. Vocals were now placed front and center and were beautifully imaged between the front left and right speakers. The magic here was Trinnov’s 3D Remapping which had corrected for the placement of my center channel being just above the television pointing at the main listening position. The Altitude16 had succeeded in establishing an incredibly intimate space in my listening room, with Taylor Swift, and fellow musicians Aaron Dessner, Justin Vernon, and Jack Antonoff entertaining us. The system completely disappeared, and we were drawn into this lovely live music.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 4K UHD Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was the first stand-alone movie in the Star Wars franchise and it tells the story of Jyn Erso and the band of rebels that steal the plans for the Death Star. This 4K UltraHD Blu-ray features a stunning 4K picture and an immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack. I was amazed at how the Altitude16 took the experience to an entirely different level. In the battle and collision of the two Imperial Star Destroyers, the sound effects moved throughout the room revealing details that I had never noticed before. This was again thanks to the Trinnov Optimizer and the 3D Remapping. The impact of the hammerhead ship crashing into the Imperial Star Destroyer was impressive, with outstanding bass response. The Altitude16 made this a truly cinematic experience.
Alita: Battle Angel
If you can only demo one Dolby Atmos movie on the Altitude16, then look no further than “Alita: Battle Angel”. This futuristic story from director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron tells the tale of Alita, a cyborg who is trying to remember who she is when she awakens into an unfamiliar futuristic world. The 4K UHD Blu-ray of this movie offers a gorgeous 4K video presentation and an impressive Dolby Atmos soundtrack which will test any system. From the combat sound effects to the dramatic musical score to the spoken dialogue to the quality of the bass throughout, the Altitude16 delivered perfection.
Mad Max Fury Road, Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos
Listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack on “Mad Max Fury Road” was a visceral feast for the senses. This movie has it all from its orchestral soundtrack to the sounds of vehicles roaring through the room. Add in overhead effects and some scenes with thunderous bass like the crash at the end of chapter 11, and you have a heck of a demo. The Altitude16 brought this movie to life as I had never heard it before.
From an operational perspective, the Altitude16 supports a robust control protocol via TCP/IP which made it easy to control with Roomie Remote on my iPad. I also bookmarked a page in my iPad’s browser to open the Altitude16 browser interface.
Trinnov Altitude16 Browser Interface
The browser interface looks just like the VNC interface and most notably leaves out the Settings options. It was nice to just be able to touch the screen and interact with the processor without having to move the cursor around the screen as when using a VNC client. I would like to see the interface enhanced with some different icons for the sources. The current design shows everything as an XLR cable which doesn’t really help for things like HDMI sources. Ideally, some different icons for source devices would be a nice addition.
Trinnov Altitude16 Browser Interface Optimizer Settings Not Ready Yet
The browser interface is still a work in progress as trying to open the Optimizer Settings brings up this reminder to use the VNC client or a physical display to get to that part of the interface. The VNC interface can be accessed from the browser as mentioned earlier.
Trinnov Altitude16 Optimizer Settings Tab Navigation Confusion
We discussed earlier the importance of the Optimizer Settings menu in the VNC or graphical user interface. Here’s another look at the same “Fine Tuning” page but this time in the VNC client. The “Optimizer Settings” tab is located next to “Bass Management”. Don’t let this “tab” fool you. It is just a shortcut to the “Optimizer Settings” tab that is already part of the “Settings” tabs shown above. If you click this tab, the interface immediately opens to the “Home” tab under “Settings” for the current preset. While that sounds great, it means that I’m now in a completely different part of the user interface, and depending on what I had last opened on the “Settings” tabs, like “Optimizer Graphs” or “Processor” for example, I may be sent to those parts of the interface instead of the actual “Optimizer Settings”. It is outrageously confusing in practice and is a great example of the limits of a tabbed user interface. I hope that Trinnov can move all the setup and settings into the newer browser interface, and I hope that they use a fresh interface design and lose all the tabs – at least from the browser interface at a minimum. The current browser interface is also not a responsive design, so it doesn’t gracefully resize, so don’t plan on using it on a mobile phone without some patience and difficulty.
Trinnov Altitude16 Dolby Atmos Object Viewer
A very cool Dolby Atmos Object Viewer is built into the speaker layout interface. It shows the positions of the Dolby Atmos objects in real-time moving within a 3D representation of the listening room. It’s fun to play with and does provide some perspective on what’s going on within an Atmos data stream.
Trinnov Altitude16 Processor Meters
The Processor interface provides some very nice real-time feedback on the content being played including meters for both inputs and outputs for all channels. It is also possible to adjust individual settings per channel and isolate playback to specific channels.
From a video perspective, I ran into no issues with the HDMI side of the Altitude16 and it was incredibly fast to switch inputs, except for the already noted audio processing delay.
The source device for the HDMI and analog tests was an Oppo Digital UDP-205. The volume was adjusted for 4 VRMS at the XLR outputs of the Trinnov Altitude16. The Trinnov Optimizer was off unless otherwise noted, and I used the Builtin Preset without any processing engaged.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 1 kHz 24/96 Sine Wave 0 dBFS HDMI Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
Now we look at the results using one of the HDMI inputs, fed from test files played on an OPPO UDP-205. At 1 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.001053% at 4 VRMS. The spectrum is very clean with the harmonics at 2 and 3 kHz being about 103 dB and 105 dB respectively below 4 VRMS.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 10 kHz 24/96 Sine Wave 0 dBFS HDMI Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
At 10 kHz, and 24-bit/96k sampling rate, THD+N was 0.005805% at 4 VRMS. The second harmonic at 20 kHz is about 87 dB below 4 VRMS.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 19 kHz, 20 kHz Combined 24/96 Sine Wave 0 dBFS HDMI Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
Here are the results for the 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies using the HDMI input with 24-bit/96k sampling at 4 VRMS. We see distortion spurs throughout the spectrum. There is a visible B-A peak at 1 kHz about 88 dB below each test tone at 1 VRMS which is insignificant. The second harmonics at 38 kHz and 40 kHz are approximately 93 dB below the fundamentals which is insignificant.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 60 Hz, 7 kHz IMD 24/96 Sine Wave 0 dBFS HDMI Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
The standard IMD test signals of 60 Hz and 7 kHz resulted in 0.000981% IMD, which is excellent.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 1 kHz Sine Wave 0 dBFS Analog Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
Now we look at the results using one of the Analog inputs, fed from the same test files played on an OPPO UDP-205. At 1 kHz, THD+N was 0.001126% at 4 VRMS. The spectrum is very clean with the harmonics at 2 and 3 kHz being about 103 dB and 105 dB respectively below 4 VRMS.
Insert Fig. 45 (Caption: Trinnov Audio Altitude16 10 kHz Sine Wave 0 dBFS Analog Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS)
At 10 kHz, THD+N was 0.005347% at 4 VRMS. The second harmonic at 20 kHz is about 87 dB below 4 VRMS.
Insert Fig. 46 (Caption: Trinnov Audio Altitude16 19 kHz, 20 kHz Combined Sine Wave 0 dBFS Analog Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS)
Here are the results for the 19 kHz, 20 kHz combined test frequencies using the Analog input at 4 VRMS. We see distortion spurs throughout the spectrum. There is a visible B-A peak at 1 kHz about 87 dB below each test tone at 1 VRMS which is insignificant. The second harmonics at 38 kHz and 40 kHz are approximately 93 dB below the fundamentals which is insignificant.
Trinnov Audio Altitude16 60 Hz, 7 kHz IMD Sine Wave 0 dBFS Analog Input XLR Output, 4 VRMS
The standard IMD test signals of 60 Hz and 7 kHz resulted in 0.001041% IMD, which is excellent.
The TRINNOV AUDIO ALTITUDE16 is an outstanding reference-quality 20-channel processor.
- Outstanding sound quality for music and movies
- Trinnov Room Optimizer and 3D Remapping
- Mapping speakers based on channel and format
- No preset configuration limits on speakers or subwoofers
- Auro-3D and the Auro-Matic Upmixer
- Adding four extra channels to make the Altitude16 a 20-channel processor
- Planned upgrade for HDMI 2.1 and 8K video
- Long-term upgradeability
- Eliminate the initial audio delay when processing formats like Dolby Atmos
- An azimuth alignment interface during the calibration process
- A completely web-based interface with a responsive design
- A low-power standby-mode with HDMI pass-through
The Trinnov Audio Altitude16 is a unique reference processor in terms of both its design and the configuration options that it offers. Thanks to the Trinnov Room Optimizer and its unique 3D remapping functionality, it delivers a superb listening experience for music, movies, and multi-channel content. It was a pleasure to have the Altitude16 in my home, and if you have the opportunity, give it a listen.
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