When JBL fired up the latest iteration of its state-of-the-art Synthesis system at 2015 CEDIA Expo, more than a few jaws dropped (ours included). The system mated a mind-blowing array of 32 speakers with a 17-foot-wide screen and a battery of amplifiers that delivered 10-plus kilowatts of power to the (eight) subwoofers alone. Talk about visceral. At the heart of the setup was the SDP-75 A/V preamp/processor, the embodiment of a new partnership between JBL and France’s Trinnov Audio, an innovator in home theater audio processing. Under the partnership, Trinnov contributed “powerful processing capabilities and exclusive technologies” for decoding the three surround sound formats that are rapidly reshaping the home theater landscape: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. In case you’re not familiar with Trinnov, the company was formed in 2000 to conduct research in 3D sound and, within two years, was named one of the most innovative young companies by the French Ministry for Research. Trinnov went on to introduce a number of high-end products for the professional and consumer markets, including state-of-the-art loudspeaker/room-optimization technology used in post-production facilities, broadcast control rooms, music studios, and high-end home theaters around the world. The same “powerful processing capability” that earned Trinnov a coveted spot in the rarefied world of JBL Synthesis is also a key component of its newest consumer product, the Altitude32 —one of the most sophisticated A/V preamps on the planet and a hot topic in high-end audio circles. What makes the Altitude32 so special? A lot. For starters, it’s built on a scalable PC-based platform that’s easy to upgrade via software, making it ready for whatever the future holds. It eschews third-party chipsets in favor of homegrown technology and is “networkable” via onboard Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi. It also supports 4K video (up to 60 fps), 192-kHz/24-bit audio (with a floating point resolution of 64 bits), and is capable of delivering up to 32 discrete channels, accommodating any format or speaker layout. For Dolby Atmos, the object-based surround format that’s been around the longest, Trinnov collaborated with Dolby on an implementation of its decoder that supports up to 32 channels of decoding to achieve what Trinnov calls the “highest possible spatial resolution for object rendering.” Assuming a well-executed Atmos soundtrack and a high-caliber speaker system that has been properly set up, the expected outcome is a three-dimensional sonic experience that’s as good as it gets. All very impressive, but not as remarkable as 3D Loudspeaker Remapping, a patented system that reconfigures speaker outputs to compensate for less-than-ideal speaker placements. The system uses a “3D microphone” with four elements to locate each of the speakers in a surround sound array and acoustically corrects the position of each speaker by sending signals to other speakers in the room, creating a virtual (or phantom) image for each speaker. The result is a speaker array that can be optimized for any room and any format—including Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D—which can be a life-saver in spaces where ideal speaker placement isn’t practical. As Trinnov puts it: “The remapping process automatically distributes the signals to recover the original 3D sound stage, as intended by the artist.” Visit trinnov.com for a more detailed technical explanation. Trinnov offers the Altitude32 in four versions: the eight-channel AL32-88 base model ($17,500), 16-channel AL32-816 ($21,000), 24-channel AL32-1624 ($25,500), and 32-channel AL32-1632 ($29,000)—all priced without the $2,500 3D Audio package that brings Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D into the fold. More information is available at trinnov.com.