- Written by Robert Kozel
- Published on 14 June 2010
- Sherwood Newcastle R-972 7.1 A/V Receiver with Trinnov Room Optimizer Technology
- Page 2: Design of the Sherwood Newcastle R-972 A/V Receiver
- Page 3: Setup of the Sherwood Newcastle R-972 A/V Receiver
- Page 4: The Sherwood Newcastle R-972 A/V Receiver In Use
- Page 5: Conclusions About the Sherwood Newcastle R-972 A/V Receiver
- All Pages
The Sherwood Newcastle R-972 A/V Receiver is the latest high-end receiver in the Sherwood product lineup. The Newcastle brand is Sherwood's premier product line. The R-972 A/V receiver boasts some impressive features including 7 channels of amplification at 100 watts per channel, 4 HDMI 1.3 inputs, on-board decoding of DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD high-resolution audio formats, XM satellite, and a Silicon Optix Reon video processor supporting upscaling to 1080p. In addition to all this functionality, the R-972 is the first product to offer a consumer version of the Trinnov Room Optimizer technology. The Trinnov Room Optimizer is a professional grade room optimization technology that is used in mixing studios at companies such as 20th Century Fox and the BBC. The professional version of the Trinnov system costs well over $13K for a single processor. The version of the Trinnov Room Optimizer in the R-972 is the first consumer-accessible version of this technology which is able to apply room corrections in three dimensions. Like a kid in the candy store, I was looking forward to putting the R-972 through its paces.
- Codecs: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS (ES Discrete/Matrix, Neo:6, 96/24), DTS-HD Master Audio / High Resolution Audio
- Power Output: 7 x 100 watts RMS/all channels driven @ .05% THD into 8 Ohms
- Precision: 24-Bit/192kHz A/D
- 2-Zone Operation; Zone 3 Copies Main
- XM Satellite Radio Capable
- Trinnov Room Optimizer with Microphone
- Dimensions: 7.9" H x 17.4" W x 19.3" D
- Weight: 40.8 Pounds
- MSRP: $1,799.95 USA
Before we get to Trinnov, let's cover some of the basics of the R-972 A/V receiver itself. The R-972 is very solid and exceptionally long at 19-1/4" deep. It is also really heavy weighing just less than 41 pounds. The receiver comes in black and has a straightforward front panel design. There is a knob for volume control as well as a multi-control knob for selecting options during setup or for changing surround modes. There are power and standby buttons, as well as two banks of buttons which are used to access surround modes and inputs respectively. On the left side of the receiver, the top vent is covered with an extra piece of plastic which is used to control heat dissipation.
The other controls are hidden behind the front panel of the receiver.
Opening the door reveals controls for room 2 and 3, setup and input assignment, as well as jacks for the 5th video and audio input of the R-972. If you need to plug in an external device such as a video camera, this is a real convenience given the depth of the R-972. You will also find a USB input behind the front panel that can be used to access MP3 or WMA media files. The USB input can also be used to apply software updates to the R-972.
The back panel of the R-972 is well organized and offers support for a wide array of components.
The receiver supports four HDMI 1.3 inputs and one HDMI 1.3 output. This is enough to handle a satellite or cable receiver / DVR, a Blu-ray player and a gaming system with one input to spare. The receiver supports a full complement of analog audio and video inputs with three component video inputs, five sets of S-Video, Composite and audio inputs, as well as dedicated audio inputs for CD and Tape. The R-972 supports 7 digital audio inputs (2 coaxial and 5 optical). The R-972 also includes external analog inputs to support up to 7.1 channels of analog input. This feature allows you to take advantage of the audio decoding of an external player such as a Blu-ray player or a DVD/SACD/DVD-A player, and enjoy the audio from the R-972.
The speaker jacks support a full complement of 7.1 speakers. If you don't use the Surround Back speakers, you have the option to bi-amp the front speakers using the Surround Back channels. This can be useful if your front speakers support bi-amplification. I would recommend that the Surround Back speakers be used for their intended purpose if you can accommodate the extra speakers in your listening room. If you connect both the Surround Back speakers and the Room 2 speakers to the R-972, the receiver will power the Room 2 speakers when the "ROOM 2" feature is engaged, otherwise the Surround Back channel will play when "ROOM 2" is turned off.
There are two additional jacks on the back of the R-972 which we need to discuss. The first is the microphone jack for the Trinnov system. If you think that the microphone jack looks like an RJ45 network jack, you are absolutely correct. The Trinnov microphone makes use of a Cat 5e network patch cable for its connection. We'll talk much more about this shortly. The other connection is for the R-972 RF remote control antenna.
One of the unique features of the R-972 is the inclusion of an IR- and RF-capable universal remote control.
The remote supports IR control of the R-972 and other source components, or it can be configured for RF control of the R-972. In RF mode, the remote can control the R-972 from a much longer distance and without the requirement for line-of-sight access to the receiver. In RF mode, the remote cannot control other source components directly. Instead, the R-972 provides an IR output jack on the rear of the receiver which can be used with optional IR emitters to control your other source equipment. Pressing a key on the remote causes an RF signal to be sent to the R-972, which in turn sends out the corresponding IR code for that command through the rear-panel IR output.
The remaining connections on the R-972 back panel allow support for an XM satellite antenna and of course AM and FM antennas for the built in tuner. A 12 Volt DC Trigger is also included which allows you to turn on another device, such as an external amplifier for room three. The R-972 also comes with a small, second remote for room two operations.
No discussion of the design of the R-972 would be complete without an introduction to the Trinnov Room Optimizer system which is developed by Trinnov Audio, headquartered in Paris, France. According to the Trinnov website, the original Optimizer was announced back in 2005. Since then the technology has been refined and developed into commercial products which are in use in the mixing rooms at professional broadcast and production studios. Per Sherwood's overview guide, the "R-972's Trinnov system flattens the frequency response of the system, providing an immediate sonic improvement. But the Optimizer goes far beyond, improving spatial fidelity, though its unprecedented ability to control the sound field. It can actually compensate for less-than-ideal speaker location and room boundaries – corrections that were never possible before. Trinnov can literally re-position the acoustic location of each channel electronically, even raising or lowering a channel's image, meaning that the acoustic images of a recording are correctly positioned."
The goal of Trinnov is to recreate in your listening room the original acoustic waveforms that existed "at the location where the mixing engineer created the final audio mix." To accomplish this goal, the Trinnov system measures the output of each speaker "in a variety of ways, among them phase, room modes, early reflections, and the physical location of each speaker in 3 dimensions." Once the data has been analyzed, the Trinnov software in the R-972 is able to re-mix in 3D any incoming music or cinema soundtrack to adjust for the speaker arrangement in your listening room.
After unpacking the R-972 and placing the receiver in my cabinet, I couldn't wait to get everything connected. I started with the speaker cables first since they tend to be the most time consuming. The speaker binding posts on the R-972 are three-way posts which allow cable to be inserted from the top, bottom, or directly into the post via banana connectors. It is tedious to hook up bare wire to 14 binding posts in a 7.1 system, so I would always recommend that you take the time to terminate your speaker cable with banana connectors. This greatly simplifies the process should you have the need to move or change the equipment in the future. One note about the R-972 speaker connectors is that they don't accept spade connectors.
Moving on to the HDMI connections was a breeze. The R-972 has 4 HDMI inputs, which I immediately filled with my satellite DVR, PS3, and two Blu-ray players that I was testing. I ran a single HDMI output cable from the R-972 to my HDTV. I connected my media server to the R-972 via component video. The R-972 is able to up-convert the video signal from Composite video, S-video, and component video to HDMI, so this really simplifies system configuration and minimizes your video cables.
I powered on the unit and made sure that I had basic functionality, and then started working with Trinnov. The first place to start is with unpacking the microphone.
The Trinnov microphone is really a collection of four individual microphone capsules arranged into a special configuration that Trinnov calls an acoustic probe. We'll just call it a microphone from here on. The microphone is just shy of four inches tall and rests on a circular base which is approximately 2-1/8" in diameter. The underside of the microphone is fitted for a tripod mount. On the front of the microphone is a very small red dot which is to be aimed at the center of the acoustic image that you are trying to measure.
Looking down from the top of the microphone you can see the arrangement of the individual microphone capsules. In the top left corner of the image, you will see the Cat 5e network patch cable that is hardwired into the microphone. The other end of the cable is a standard network connector which must be connected to the back of the R-972. I went to plug in the cable and very quickly realized that the cable was too short to reach my listening position. The microphone needs to be positioned at ear level in your desired seating location. Sherwood really needs to consider putting the connector for the Trinnov microphone on the front of the receiver since you lose almost 2 feet of cable trying to get to the back of the R-972. The cable that is connected to the microphone is only 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length, but thankfully you can extend the cable by using another network cable and a standard in-line coupler which is not included with the R-972. So, after a trip to the store, I was finally ready to start making some measurements.
The first thing you run into with the Trinnov microphone is that it is very challenging to get the microphone to not move. The network cable attached to the microphone is tightly packed during shipping and has a natural curve and tension to it that easily pulls the microphone at an angle. This is further complicated by the fact that the microphone itself is very light in weight, and easily moves at the slightest movement in the cable. The small red dot on the front of the microphone is hard to see when looking down from above the microphone. I found that it was much more straightforward to use the three outside microphone capsules to create an imaginary triangle to orient the microphone.
Keeping the two rear microphone capsules parallel to the center channel allowed me to align the microphone much more accurately. The other recommendation is to use a tripod. This helps keep the microphone from moving and really aids in keeping things level.
After orienting the microphone, the next thing to do is select the "AUTO SETUP Optimizer" menu which can be found in the "Speaker / Listening Setup" menu.
You can select up to three independent listening positions for calibration.
The Trinnov system as implemented in the R-972 only takes one set of samples at a given listening position. You can't sample the room at multiple locations and use the average of those samples. I highly recommend recording where the microphone was placed if you are calibrating more than one seating position in your room. In my testing, I used position one as the sweet spot in the room and the other two positions at various other seating locations in the room. After selecting the calibration position, you come to the start page of the Trinnov process.
This screen reminds you to position the microphone. Select "Start Calibration" to begin the process. What follows next is a series of screens which indicate which speaker is being measured.
It's quite obvious which speaker is being measured since the R-972 is producing an approximately 80 dB test tone from each speaker during this process. It is very loud and you probably don't want other people or pets around when you are doing this.
Once the last speaker in your configuration has been measured, you will see a summary screen.
This screen will show you every speaker that the Trinnov system identified, its horizontal and vertical angle with respect to the microphone, and the distance from the microphone. The distances are only displayed in units of meter which was extremely frustrating, but this does give you a chance to brush up on your conversions (1 m = 3.28 feet). If a speaker is missing, which is indicated by dashed lines in the display, then you should stop here and fix the problems before continuing. The distances and angles as measured by Trinnov were amazingly precise and accurate for my room. The beauty of the Trinnov system is that it allows you to stop at this point and adjust the speaker and microphone placement to your liking. My listening room allows for a symmetrical speaker arrangement surrounding the primary listening position. I chose to spend the time to align the microphone to accurately reflect the angles that were appropriate for my room. It was especially difficult for me to arrive at a zero degree horizontal angle for the center channel, but I finally got it. In my testing, I found that pursuing that last bit of precision made no perceptible difference on the results in the room, but Trinnov will certainly allow you to make the tweaks depending on your level of enthusiasm for the task.
Once you are happy with the speaker angles, you can start the Trinnov computations.
It took on average 11 minutes to complete the computations for my 7.1 speaker configuration. The next screen in the process is a recap of the original speaker and angle summary that you saw prior to starting the computations.
The last step is a summary of the overall level for each speaker and the corresponding delay.
For all channels except the subwoofer, the -6 dB point is the optimum crossover frequency as measured by the Trinnov System. For the subwoofer, the -6 dB point is the actual, measured -6 dB point in the room. Selecting "Finish" saves all the settings and turns off the R-972.
With the measurements out of the way, let's take a look at some of the other configuration options that need to be considered with Trinnov and the R-972. The menu system of the R-972 is very straightforward and is easily accessed via the SETUP button on the remote or the front panel of the R-972.
The menus are well organized and provide convenient navigation links including forward, backward and home from each page. I recommend that you spend the time to configure each input based on the devices that you've connected to the R-972. To get started, select the "Input Setup" menu and select an input for configuration.
Page one of each input-setup menu allows you to name the input, and assign the appropriate connections for video and audio. HDMI setup is as simple as selecting the appropriate HDMI input (1-4) for the device you're connecting and assigning "Video Mode" to "HDMI". The default "Audio Mode" of "Auto" will process the audio in order of precedence starting with HDMI audio first, followed by digital audio, and finally analog audio. If you are using component video or one of the digital inputs, those settings are also made on this setup screen.
Page two of each input-setup menu allows you to adjust various audio options. The "Audio Remaster" menu lets you turn on upsampling for two channel PCM audio signals that are 88.2/96 kHz or lower. The "HD Audio" menu should be set to "On" if your source player supports high-resolution bitstream audio formats such as DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD. From page two of any input-setup menu, you can also enable the automatic selection of surround formats, adjust lip-sync and assign a DC trigger to the input.
Page three of each input-setup menu allows you to select the Trinnov setup options independently by input. We will take a look at each parameter in detail. The first menu item, "Trinnov Position", allows you to specify which set of calibration data to apply to this input. You select from positions 1, 2 or 3, which correspond directly to the positions which you've previously calibrated using the Trinnov Room Optimizer. This is where it comes in handy to have recorded the location of each calibration location as I mentioned earlier.
The second menu item is "Trinnov Room EQ". The five choices for this menu are "None", "Flat", "A.Phile 1", "A.Phile 2", and "Natural". The "None" selection turns off the Trinnov processing for the input. The "Flat" selection applies a flat frequency response from 20 Hz – 20 kHz. The "A.Phile 1" selection adjusts the frequency response of all speakers, other than the front mains (L/R), to match the characteristics of the front main speakers. Sherwood states that "this can be used for systems that use large, full-range, speakers as the main pair and speakers with different sizes and voicing for the center channel and surrounds." The "A.Phile 2" selection adjusts only the low frequency response (less than 300 Hz) of all channels in the system. The last selection, "Natural", adjusts the frequency response of all channels with a slight bass boost below 200 Hz and a slight high frequency roll-off above 9 kHz.
The third menu item is "Trinnov Spatial Mode". The five choices for this menu are "None", "DLY + LVL", "Autoroute", "2D Remap", and "3D Remap". The first selection of "None" turns off any spatial remapping. The "DLY + LVL" selection applies the appropriate delay and level adjustments so that each speaker appears to be the same distance from the listener and each will play at the same relative volume level. The "Autoroute" setting will send each input channel to the nearest speaker based on the direction of the calibration microphone. For example, if you calibrated the system with the microphone pointing at the left rear speaker, the system will automatically make the left rear speaker the center channel and assign the other channels accordingly. This allows for some very unusual room configurations. The "2D Remap" selection applies Trinnov processing to correct for any placement problems in the horizontal plane only.
For example, if your left and right main speakers are not symmetrical around the center listening position, the R-972 will apply Trinnov processing to make the speakers sound symmetrical during playback. The last selection of "3D Remap" takes this process one step further and adjusts for the placement of the speakers in the vertical plane as well. For example, if your center channel speaker is too low or too high, the Trinnov processing will apply a spatial correction to make sure that the center channel audio is located in the center of the sound field between the left and right speakers.
The fourth menu item is "Trinnov Remapping" and offers a choice of "Cinema" or "Music". When the "Cinema" selection is made, the R-972 will use Trinnov processing to position the front speakers to be +22.5° and -22.5° relative to the center of the listening position. This allows for a 45° width around the center listening position. The surround channels are placed in a cinema orientation. When the "Music" selection is made, the R-972 will use Trinnov processing to position the front speakers to be +30° and -30° relative to the center of the listening position. This allows for a 60° width around the center listening position. The surround channels are placed in a music mixing orientation.
The last menu item on page three of each input-setup menu is "Cinema EQ". This allows you to apply a high-resolution equalization based on your preferences. This equalization is part of the R-972's processing features and not specifically a Trinnov feature. With all the selections out of the way, let's see how the R-972 and Trinnov performed.
For my listening tests, I was using a 7.1 speaker configuration from Definitive Technology including a pair of BP-3000TL speakers with powered subwoofers for the front mains, a CLR 2002 speaker for the center channel, and four Definitive Technology UIW 94/A speakers for the surrounds and rear channels. My normal reference processor is an Anthem Statement D2, and I'm normally listening to my room and these speakers using Anthem's ARC-1 Room Correction System. With the R-972, I started with two of my standard receiver listening tests – Gladiator and Master and Commander. Both of these movies offer some incredible sound effects and are a good test of any system. I started off listening with the "Trinnov Room EQ" and "Trinnov Spatial Mode" settings both set at "None". In this configuration, I was hearing my speakers and my room without any processing.
While the system sounded good, it completely lacked the wow factor that this setup is usually capable of. The center channel dialog was not as crisp, and bass response was nowhere near as precise as I'm used to hearing. I set the "Trinnov Room EQ" to "Natural" and started to notice a huge difference. The speakers sounded more accurate and the bass was dramatically improved. The system still sounded a bit off and the center channel seemed louder than normal. I set the "Trinnov Spatial Mode" to "DLY + LVL" and things really started to sound good again, to the point that I was getting wrapped up in the movies. Dialog was exceptionally clear and bass response was excellent. I turned on the 2D Remap spatial mode, and didn't really notice any significant change in the sound. My speakers are positioned well for this room, so I really wasn't expecting a major improvement.
I turned on the 3D Remap and did notice a subtle improvement in the surround effects. Everything seemed so much smoother, and transitions between the surround and rear channels were effortless. I was amazed at just how good the R-972 was sounding. Listening became really easy and very addictive. For Gladiator, the R-972 did a superb job reproducing the combat scenes and the noise of the crowds and chariots in the coliseum. Bass response during the fight scenes was very precise, with the clash of weapons on shields seeming to be positioned exactly at the point of impact. The sound of the mace being circled overhead in the "Battle in Chains" scene was perfectly seamless as it transitioned across the speakers. In Master and Commander, the sounds of the ship and the footsteps of the crew running along the decks of the ship were immersive. When the ship was being hit with cannon fire, I was amazed at just how precise some of the surround effects seemed. I really noticed the track of the cannon fire as it passed through the room or ship as it may be. In my testing, I found that I really preferred the "Natural" setting for the "Trinnov Room EQ". It really reminded me of the tonal quality that I've been able to achieve with the Anthem ARC-1 Room Correction System. Changing the EQ setting to "Flat" resulted in a less satisfying bass response from my configuration. The R-972 also supports the loading of additional target curves via the front USB input, which can further increase bass response if desired.
Another great surround sound example is the latest Blu-ray disc of Sherlock Holmes. The R-972 and its Trinnov processing did a fabulous job rendering the amazing soundtrack from this film. In the creepy meat processing facility, the villain Lord Blackwood torments Holmes and Watson by projecting his voice around the room. When you first hear the voice, it sounds like Lord Blackwood is standing right behind you. The character's voice then proceeds to move around the room. The 3D Remap functionality did an amazing job with this scene. I tried turning off the 3D Remap functionality, but quickly discovered that I preferred it. While the differences may have been subtle, I consistently felt that my surrounds were more effective with the 3D Remap functionality enabled.
The R-972 makes modifying the Trinnov parameters quite simple.
Off of the main system menu, there is a final menu selection called "Quick Audio Ref. / Adjust". Selecting this menu option brings up a quick adjust menu which lets you confirm and change the Trinnov settings.
This menu lets you easily adjust the Trinnov position, spatial mode, remapping, and EQ settings to suit your preferences. While the changes do take a couple of seconds for the R-972 to apply, the quick adjust menu is a much faster solution for changing your preferences as compared to navigating all the way through the input setup menus.
As for music listening, I frequently use the soundtrack from City of Angels as a good sampler to evaluate a receiver.
This soundtrack contains tracks from artists like U2, Sarah McLachlan, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Alanis Morissette, and Gabriel Yared and provides an excellent sampler of voices and styles. One of the characteristics of this disc is that the music offers a wide dynamic range which gives you an opportunity to see how well a receiver behaves. Examples of this are track 6, Sarah McLachlan's Angel and track 8, Peter Gabriel's I Grieve. Both of these tracks allow you to experience the full vocal range of the artists. What I listen for in these tracks is how well the receiver gets out of the way of the music. I want to hear the nuances of their voices, enjoy the quiet transitions, and feel the passion in their voices. With the Trinnov processing engaged, the R-972 did exceeding well at this. In stereo mode, the soundstage was wide and enveloping. I was amazed at the amount of depth I was hearing from the speakers. The piano in Angel sounded like it was right in the center of the room. The vocals were crisp and detailed, and I was pleased at the amount of texture that I heard in the artists' voices.
For multi-channel music, I was equally impressed with the R-972. Using the DVD-Audio of Diana Krall's When I Look In Your Eyes, I was amazed at just how great the 3D spatial mode with music remapping handled the multi-channel mix from this disc. The room sounded like an intimate jazz club with Diana and her band clearly positioned in the front center of the room. Instrument placement was well defined and the surround mix just added to the intimacy of the performance. I was really delighted at how much benefit Trinnov was adding to the experience.
Additional Trinnov Tests
My experience so far with Trinnov was very satisfying, but I wanted to see just how much I could throw at it. The first test I performed was to move the center channel speaker from its comfortable perch above my television to the floor. This lowered the speaker by approximately 5.5 feet. I recalibrated the position, and started listening again with the "Trinnov Spatial Mode" set to "None". Needless to say, the system sounded horrible. The sound was very clearly coming from the floor, and this would never be acceptable. I engaged the 2D remap and didn't notice much difference. I had left the speaker in the center, but just lowered its position. I turned on the 3D remap, and was blown away at how good it sounded. The sound was clearly centered and did sound as if the speaker had been lifted off of the floor.
My next test involved leaving the center speaker on the floor, but moving it to the left. The system also sounded horrible in this configuration. I engaged the 2D remap and did notice a convincing shifting of the sound to the center of the listening position, although the sound was clearly still on the floor. It still didn't sound great, so I enabled the 3D remap. Once again, the speaker virtually moved up off of the floor and sounded fantastic.
My last two tests involved further complications. I left the center channel on the floor and moved the left speaker toward the wall. I expected this to further shift the sound to the left of the listening position.
As you can see from the Trinnov computations, the angles and distances changed, but the levels remained almost identical, which is what I expected. The system didn't sound great, as expected, and the sound was definitely left of center. Once again, turning on the 3D remap cleaned things up very well. I started wondering just how this was happening and grew suspicious of whether the center channel was actually doing anything. I carefully disconnected the center channel speaker wires and the system continued to play as if it had a great center channel. Trinnov had created a phantom center channel for my system! I was amazed at the simplicity of the solution and at the same time blown away by how advanced the Trinnov algorithms must be. To simply disregard a bad or poorly performing channel and fabricate a new one was much more than I expected.
I tried my last test one more time and recalibrated the system without the center channel connected at all.
The system happily computed the solution and left the center speaker completely out the configuration. The system sounded very good, but I definitely felt that the system sounded better with the real center channel performing in the mix.
My final test was to calibrate the system with the microphone pointing directly at the rear channel speakers. I changed my listening position to the newly calibrated position, and turned around in my chair. I was surprised to hear the R-972 attempting to play my test disc, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, from the wrong side of the room. While it was certainly not as effective with my ceiling mounted rear speakers acting as front channels, it was a very cool demo of the Trinnov routing capabilities.
With the discussions of Trinnov behind us, we need to talk about a few more operational points. The R-972 was generally very good at switching between HDMI sources. The R-972 does have a problem with occasionally outputting static when playing digital bitstreams. The problem was intermittent and would generally happen when switching discs in a Blu-ray or DVD player. The problem was easy to correct by simply switching inputs and reselecting the offending input, but hearing the static coming from the speakers was very unsettling and fortunately was not loud enough to damage the speakers. I also noticed that the optical and digital inputs were much louder than the HDMI inputs.
The R-972 comes with a Silicon Optix Reon video processor which is capable of upscaling to 1080p resolution.
The "Video Scaling" menu allows you to specify the HDMI output resolution.
The "Advanced Config." menu allows for the selection of monitor aspect ratio and allows for the enabling of noise reduction and sharpness control. Other than these selections, there is no ability to adjust the video processing settings on a global or per input basis. The upscaling on the R-972 had a significant problem. When processing 480i analog or HDMI video sources, the video signal would intermittently flicker and would occasional result in momentary loss of the converted HDMI signal. The best solution was to let the source device process the signal and leave the upscaling off on the R-972.
From a usability perspective, I really wished that the R-972 would provide some type of on-screen status display for the user. While I felt that the menu system was well organized and easy to use, the R-972 provides no on-screen feedback on the type of signal it is receiving or how that audio / video signal is being processed. Status information is confined to the front panel display, which while very useful, is very hard to read unless you are on top of the receiver. There is also no user interface for USB music playback other than from the front panel display. As for the remote, it is very nice to have the RF capability, but I would have traded that in a second for a decent back light. The "Light" button on the remote only illuminates the LCD panel at the top of the remote, which only indicates which source component the remote is currently controlling. The remote is very hard to read in dim light.
To say that Trinnov is just another room optimization system would be a gross understatement. In its first implementation as a consumer product in the R-972, the Trinnov Room Optimizer is able to produce some stellar results. While not for the novice, the Trinnov setup requires a fair bit of patience and persistence, but the results are worth every bit of that effort. Trinnov is capable of transforming an average room into a very believable theater or musical venue. It is also able to compensate for a variety of room problems with ease. I can just imagine what it will do as the technology and its implementation matures.
The Sherwood R-972 A/V receiver with Trinnov has the makings of a fabulous product if Sherwood is able to get the kinks out of the product. As it stands today, the intermittent video and signal processing problems are show stoppers that will certainly affect interest in the R-972 itself. Sherwood is working on a new firmware update that will hopefully resolve the issues. If you are interested in Trinnov, then by all means give the R-972 a listen. This will certainly not be the last we'll hear of Trinnov and kudos to Sherwood for introducing us to this amazing technology.