Opinions On Ampzilla Trinaural Processor?


I am asking for opinions on this odd piece of equipment. In effect it seems to take a traditional 2 channel source and turn what goes out into 3 channels worth of "3 channel stereo". Some old-schoolers have mentioned that when stereo was first invented, 3 channel stereo was said by some to have been superior. This device seems to try to go back and sort-of right that "wrong". The inventor also seems to be alleging that it would be superior to, or competetive with, a 3 channel or multi-channel solution offered by today's more-advanced processing.

It's hard to know which forum to place this question in, but that's sort of the point. I was going to place it in tech talk, but the electronics-related answers wouldn't be as meaningful to me. What I want to know is whether this might be a good way for me to explore and find more natural sound, going from 2-channel, as opposed, say, to going to HT sound whole-hog. I think we've all read a lot of posts from folks who had a good 2 channel setup that they were sort of satisfied with, and then they tried the multichannel thing and on balance it bugged them, so then they went back to 2 channel. I'm sort of wondering if this ampzilla device would be an interesting experiment to add a 3rd channel without "ruining" anything the way some purists seem to think happens when they try multi-channel.

One of the reviewers did mention, I think, that the sound takes getting used-to, and that someone else walking into the room would, upon initial hearing, possibly take the sound as not as meaningful as he (the reviewer) thought it was.

Last note: One other person tried to start a thread on this topic last year in amps/preamps. I tried posting in response to that topic and the moderator(s) in their infinite wisdom, somehow decided to nix my post. Why on Earth?

That is why I am trying to start a new thread... because I'm interested to hear if anyone has developed an opinion of this ampzilla 3-channel stereo (trereo?) sound.
I've had this piece in my system for about 3 days now. A dealer gave it to me for the week just to play around with. I currently have VMPS 626Rs with a LRC across the front.

I've known about Trinaural for about a year now, but never really thought about using it. I'm in law school at the moment, and I've had the system I plan on buying next year when I graduate planned out for awhile now. The Trinaural has completely changed my plans.

Intially, I've found it simply amazing with solo vocals. The center channel gives off the impression of a strong center image without seeming too "beamy." The sides really then help bring out the background music. I've noticed tons of musical qualities on many CDs that simply seemed lost before. There is a new "depth" to cuts from the likes of Norah Jones and Eleanor McEvoy. It honestly didn't take me any getting use to for simply vocals.

Large orchestra pieces have taken some getting use to, though. Sounds, initially, didn't have the same smooth flow across the front array that I had hoped for or that I had experienced with vocals. I feel the center channel feels hot most of the time, but I haven't had the chance to get "adjusted" to the sound much yet. I've found imaging to be AMAZING with the Trinaural. Instruments no longer seem lost in a sea of sound. I still experience a "gap" between the speakers with orchestra cuts, but I'm assuming this will fade over time. Who knows though...

That's my quick two minute review before I head out the door. I'll write more when I get the chance.

Throw any question at me you wish...
I'm glad to get such a detailed response so quickly. I also have known about this thing for some months, but when I went to look for extended discussion of it here on Audiogon, there didn't seem to be any.

The basic question I'll have for you going forward is how you think this compares to conventional high-end multi-channel setups.... and how it works for you in terms of transitioning from 2 channel listening. Appreciate your honesty (listening pros, cons, and also half-impressions). Will look forward to whatever you have to add.
I just spent several hours this afternoon going through numerous, varied CDs, so I feel I have a much better grasp of what the TRI has to offer. Also, I've had the house to myself, so I was allowed to turn the volume to a great listening level for orchestra demos.

Compared to multi channel formats -

I've yet to find a multi channel disk that I feel does a good job at recreating a live performance - isn't that what it's all about? Yes, some multi channel setups/disks sound "cool," but ultimately they seem to fall far short of recreating the feeling of a live experience. This is where the TRI really seems to shine.

It brings me closer to a live experience. There is currently a depth/realism to my setup that I didn't think was possible. Female vocals and jazz sets have really been unbelievable thus far. I find myself simply being "drawn into" the music itself. The soundstage is huge, but once again it's the depth of the music that is really blowing me away.

Orchestra pieces -

Turning up the volume to my normal listening level has greatly helped "fill in" the soundstage. The TRI has basically given me the orchestra in my room. Yes, my small speakers fall short of giving me the "impact" of the orchestra, but it is the imaging/detail which is really stellar with the TRI. I can actually distinguish between the sections of instruments in the orchestra on well recorded disks.

Going from 2 channel -

I really don't see how I'm going to go back to my two channel set up. Crap! It's going to be at least a year until I piece together my new system, so I'll just have to make due until then. I honestly didn't think I would like it this much, so the fact that I wouldn't be able to purchase it for a year really didn't concern me.

There has been a lot of talk about "getting use" to the sound of the TRI. Again, for female vocals and jazz I didn't need any time to fall in love with the sound. When this thing won at CES last year the judges didn't have time to "get use" to the sound, did they?

Cons -

Honestly, on many disks I have found the TRI to be pure magic. This "effect" hasn't been universal, though. The TRI is really dependent upon the recording engineer on your CD. A couple of CDs have simple turned out strange. This has been rare.

I feel I need to give a quick plug for the dealer who was so kind to let me have a week with the TRI. Julian Turner over at Sedona Sky Sound: www.sedonaskysound.com

Hope this helps...
This is nothing new. Center channel speakers have been around since the dawn of stereo, usually driven with an L+R signal. Of course this is the most simple "Matrix" multichannel. As with all matrix multichannel, gain riding logic can be applied to good effect, and this is what this trinaural device does. Matrix derivation of three channels out of two works very well. Going for four out of two is much less successful. The Dolby PL2 function of my SS processor has a three channel mode that is useful for playing stereo recordings. Benefit of a center channel is greatest for recordings where there is a soloist, vocal or instrumental. The soloist is solidly located in the center speaker, and not a phantom relying on imaging of the two stereo speakers. As with all matrix multichannel, some recordings will work better than others.

The particular unit in question may be an excellent example of the matrix multichannel technology. I wish it had been around three decades ago, when I kluged up a similar system using a DBX dynamic range expander. However, we now have discrete multichannel equipment, and no matrix system, however well implemented, can match discrete multicannel

Thanks for the further response. I like getting some historical perspective on this.

Thanks for the further report. It seems to me there has been a scarcity of reports on the TRI on the net, so it's good to read some first-hand impressions.

I'm pretty confused as to what I will buy when I, like you, make my transition to multi channel, or try to. As the other respondent noted, 3-channel apparently isn't new, even if the TRI presents us with a claim to be a particularly competent implementation of it.

I tend to think that, eventually, some sort of multichannel format should be in my future, as the best of the approaches are perfected and made affordable and hassle-free to me. At the moment though, my library is of 2-channel sound, I'm not about to "Buy the White Album Again" for the umpteenth time in a new format, ... not until I can sort of take stock of things.
It occurs to me to ask/add:

I wonder how this device does with a phonograph's analog 2-channel signal? Jason focused on discussing the CD-signal from his system, so we know that side of things a bit. But the phono sound I wonder about.
Joshl...A stereo signal is a stereo signal, so the device will work the same. However, the differential signal (Left minus right, which is vertical groove modulation) from an LP is noisy (rumble) and attenuated relative to a digital source, and therefore matrix multichannel will theoretically work better with a digital source. However, it all depends on mastering. Some LPs work very well, and some digital discs don't.

It doesn't look like the Trinaural processes a signal in quite the digitized way that some other approaches do.

Here is a quote from the information page:

"...Most importantly, the Trinaural Processor is a linear analog device with no digital processing whatsoever. There is also a bypass switch which allows you to connect your home theater processor as a pass-through thereby enabling you to use your very highly regarded analog preamp for music reproduction without having to go through the digital processor. You can have your cake and eat it too...."

If I start with a stereo signal that comes from Vinyl, my own view is that I prefer this somewhat, sometimes, (warts and all) to the stereo signal I get from a CD.

So, this all adds up to my being curious to hear a first-hand report or two on this thing at work with vinyl, even though vinyl and 3-channel stereo are both passe' for many including some audiophiles.

I don't think my interest is in buying... I don't have anything close to $1500 for entire-optional wierdo pieces of equipment, particularly now that I am on the cusp of SACD-DVD-A-software and all the associated hardware.

I can maybe sacrifice sound quality and use the Matrix Button on my preamp (which I now recognize a little better from your educational comments). This is when I get some other things in place like an amp for my centers and surrounds.

But those trying this device can give us their first-hand impressions, if-when they find time.
Joshl...Logic assisted matrix decoders were around before digital. Sure, it can be all analog.

However, there are some real advantages to doing the job in the digital domain. Most important, the signal that you are listening to can be delayed slightly so as to give the logic time to figure out how gains should be adjusted for the signal. With analog processing the logic is always just a little bit behind the action, and this can lead to "pumping". Some analog processors were much better than others in this regard. Also, if your signal comes from a CD player it is digital already, so it makes sense to process it digitally.
The points raised about the benefits of staying within the digital domain are by far my greatest concerns with this unit.

Though I love what the Tri P has done of my current system, I will likely go with a heavily modded all in one digital receiver using the digital out of a modded universal player next year when I spend some serious money. Digial receivers have made great leaps as of late, and will likely do so even more in the year to come. This will allow me to spend even more on my main speakers.

I feel the greatest benefit of the Tri P is is frees up the side speakers from having to create a phantom center image. This really lets them "breathe" and spend time focusing on the elements of music that most of the time may simply be lost.

I will be buying either the VMPS RM40s or E/Xs next year, and I really feel both of these speakers are capable of handling the complexities of most music on their own.

The all digital age in audio is upon us, and I feel I should move forward with my next purchase rather than staying behind in analog. The Tri P is a great product and has really made my current system sound fantastic. But onward to all digital I go.

Just my two cents...
Thanks for the response. I must admit, it mirrors some of my situation and thus may influence some of my decision-making. I have a decent affordable TT on the way that I just bought on audiogon, since mine's a bit worn out, and I *definitely* prefer the sound of vinyl up until now.

But I happen to have a third speaker I want to play, and two surround-speakers, and my music-purchasing is likely to be not only of used vinyl but also of downloads and multi-channel disks.

I spend much more on software than hardware (I refuse to get audiophilia nervosa and get obsessed with hardware). I want to get a chance to remain open to the future and see what there is to offer there. If the future is four or more channels, than I'm going to see what that sounds like.

For my analog listening, though, I'm going to keep an eye on that as a separate issue. I just find myself enjoying it more up until now, and that's the test of things for me. I guess I'm sort of like a photographer who preferred film to digital up until digital got very very good, and still wants to preserve some ability to do film for his art.

So for my analog listening I may maintain some separate ability to hook up some modestly-priced separate equipment pieces (i.e. a separate preamp going to my amp to my front two speakers), to play back the recordings in a straighforward less-lossy manner.
If I was staying with analog this item would be a no brainer for me. In fact, I was listening to it today - have to take it back on Thursday - thinking just how much I was going to miss it.

Just when I think I've finally made up my mind the Tri P does some magic with some of my favorite recordings. I guess I have a full year to make my decision.


I'll probably go digital, but I guess the pure digital route will really have to blow me away to keep me from going with this type of set up.