Tone controls. As audiophiles, we tend to lift our noses. Only a ruler flat frequency response will do. Yet listening to music through loudspeakers means we’re likely already wide of the mark. The listening room itself is the biggest tone control of them all, its dimensions and acoustic make-up causing a bump in the frequency response curve here, a dip there. What to do?
Passive room treatments like bass traps, absorbers and diffusing panels would be the acoustician’s starting point. Likely that’s not you. Hiring such an expert isn’t cheap. Neither is the list of panels and traps he recommends. Room treatments are expensive. Good-looking room treatments are really expensive. Such physical/aesthetic intrusion might not play at all if the listening room is also the family room, shared with others.
Moreover, the loudspeakers that we thought sounded terrific at our local audio show will almost certainly sound different once we get them home. A different room – different dimensions, different surfaces, different reflections – will beget a different tone control.
And whilst many audiophiles quite rightly claim that the only worthwhile audition is the home audition, the tyranny of distance can make such a proposition impractical. Doubly so if our dealer doesn’t know us well enough to lend out multi-thousand dollar loudspeakers.
Enter Peter Lyngdorf whose Danish company has been matching loudspeaker output to room using DSP for over twenty tears. Lyngdorf’s ‘room correction’ hardware is for audiophiles who live in the real world where the room is a long way from optimal and for whom treatments are impractical and/or sit beyond financial limits.
To wit, from the Lyngdorf website: “At Lyngdorf, we recognized that just focusing on creating processors and amplifiers with a linearity of +/-0.2 dB makes no sense when the music is being played in a room with a linearity of perhaps +/-10 dB.”
The Dane’s latest product is the TDAI-3400 (€4999) which despite officially launching at ISE 2018 in February, only began shipping two weeks ago (when pricing was also confirmed).
Inside a Braun-nodding chassis sits a PWM loudspeaker amplifier – 200wpc into 8 Ohms, 400 wpc into 4 Ohms – and fully-loaded streamer: Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, UPnP.
That front-panel USB socket is for digital playback from a directly attached hard drive. Look, Ma, no server!
For those wishing to feed the TDAI-3400 with an existing CD player, digital streamer, TV, games console, PC or Mac, we count seven hard-wired digital inputs: “1 x AES-EBU (≤192kHz/24bit), 2 x Coaxial (≤192kHz/24bit), 3 x Optical (≤96 kHz/24bit), 1 x USB B (≤384kHz/32bit, ≤DSD128, DXD)”.
And for those wanting to tap the TDAI-3400’s talents as pre-amplifier or streamer, Lyngdorf have specified single-ended and balanced outputs for connection to a power amplifier and a digital coaxial output for DAC hook-up.
Deploy the TDAI-3400 as single system-in-a-box – just add loudspeakers – or mix it with pre-existing hardware. The choice is y/ours.
However, this super-integrated goes a step further than its rivals. Between input and output sits Lyngdorf’s trump card: room correction.
“With our proprietary RoomPerfectTM room-correction software to eliminate the negative influence of the listening room, the TDAI-3400 delivers a perfect sound without the need for extensive room treatment.”
Lyngdorf’s proprietary RoomPerfect algorithm is powered by DSP and takes a multi-measurement approach to mapping the room’s tonal imbalance.
From the Lyngdorf website: “Our first processors and amplifiers had digital signal processing (DSP) which makes filters relatively easy to create, so our initial approach to room correction was an obvious one. We took the following steps:
1. Measure the frequency response at the listening position
2. Add the target curve in the form of a perfect frequency response
3. Create filters that cancel out all imperfections and upload the filters to the DSP
There was only one problem with this approach: it did not work!”
More on where that R&D story went next can be found here.
Using the supplied microphone and stand, the TDAI-3400 reads the listening position before taking more readings at random places around the listening room. Random means ‘we decide’, moving the microphone around the room, varying its position and height, being careful not to place it too close to the wall, ceiling or floor.
In eliminating the negative influence of background noise, the TDAI-3400 will reportedly re-measure a single spot until it is happy with the result. More on the Lyngdorf room measurement process can be seen in this video for the TDAI-2170:
And if turntablists find themselves turning their noses up at the TDAI-3400’s standard RCA inputs’ instant digital conversion, they might consider how correcting for the room addresses an issue far larger than any colour introduced by digitisation.
An optional “high-end analogue input module” (€400) adds a trio of stereo single-ended and a stereo balanced input and arms them with superior (onboard) A/D conversion. Eagle-eyed readers will have also noted an (optional) 4K HDMI module (€400).
Further information: Lyngdorf