Sherwood Newcastle R-972 7.1 A/V Receiver with Trinnov Room Optimizer Technology



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.