I confess. I’m into immersive audio. All you high end lovers should get addicted to it. It feels so good! Once you go Auro, Atmos or X, you never go back. Seriously, after 5.1 surround we went 7.1 and now… I’ve always preferred surround sound over stereo. I find it to be more engaging, you’re drawn more into the music or movie. The introduction of 3D audio aka the immersive sound formats actually makes a lot of sense. Wilfried van Baelen, CEO of Auro Technologies, once explained to me that traditional surround sound only operates in a 2D environment. Before the immersive sound formats there was no question about 3D audio. With Auro-3D you add an extra height layer and optional top layer (VOG or Voice of God) to recreate a sound field of 180°. I find this to be a very natural approach to sound reproduction. Just standing on the ground our ears experience sound in the same way. Auro-3D is a channel-based format and superior to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
I chose to review the Lyngdorf MP-50 because it was one of the first high end AV processors, able to process all immersive sound formats. Knowing Peter Lyngdorf, his technology and products I was expecting a lot from this test. In this first part of the review I’ll talk about the device, its onboard technology, discuss RoomPerfect and share some preliminary stereo and surround sound (2D) listening experiences. Getting to know and understanding the differences between the immersive sound formats and diving into real life 3D listening sessions will be preserved for the second part. Let’s dig in.
Lyngdorf. The name. The brand.
I got to know Peter Lyngdorf at the time that Lyngdorf Audio was still called TacT Audio. One of the first presentations of digital amplification and room correction was organized by an audio club in which I was on the board. A few months later, prototypes of the ‘corner woofers’ landed in my living room for extensive testing. So yeah, I guess I’m not the new kid on the block. At that time, I promoted this pioneering technology because I believed in it. I still do. RoomPerfect is a patented software system that enables you to calibrate the sound so that the influences of the room are reduced to a minimum. Think about the importance of this technology when setting up a surround system or an immersive sound system. All the sounds from the different speakers should reach your listening position at the same time. Time alignment and sound linearity therefore play an important role. Every positive influence on this raises the performance level to the next level. Imagine that!
Under the hood of the Lyngdorf MP-50
The Lyngdorf MP-50 is derived from the Steinway Lyngdorf Model P200. With RoomPerfect applicable to all channels, the Lyngdorf MP-50 can deliver a perfect sound experience to your living room, media room or home theater. Extensive acoustic treatment is not a must, although in most cases it elevates the performance level even more. You get a surround system with optimal frequency response, level alignment and bass management that integrates speakers and subwoofers. This processor offers full support of Auro-3D, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. Hell yeah! It features 16 balanced XLR outputs and can output 12 unique channels. The remaining 4 outputs can be used for additional speakers or woofers. The unit offers a variety of connections, including 8 HDMI inputs and 2 HMDI outputs, 4 optical and 3 digital coaxial inputs, a USB input (191kHz/32bit) and AES/EBU input plus an XLR connector for the RoomPerfect calibration microphone.
I can talk about the on-board media player, the stunning good looks, the flexibility in installation and how this Danish piece of equipment is built to last. Let’s get real. I’d rather talk some more about things that have a direct influence on the sound quality. After running RoomPerfect you can choose between the global or focus position. Spice up the sound even more with dedicated voicing settings like for example music, action or relaxed. Not enough? The Lyngdorf MP-50 has a built-in voicing tool that allows you to customize 32 voicings and thus changing the overall tonality of your system. Each voicing can be applied to each input and can consist of up to 8 filters with adjustable gain and Q. The movie aficionados can get an optional DCI-compliant digital AES/EBU input for integration with digital cinema servers. The unit is dead silent. This has 2 reasons: the extreme low background noise of the fully digital signal processing and the fact that the Lyngdorf MP-50 doesn’t generate much heat, therefore only passive cooling will suffice. Save the best for last? The Lyngdorf Remote Application automatically detects the unit on your local network. You can adjust all the basic functions from your handheld device. You have full control over the unit with the browser remote.
Preparing for liftoff
First things first. Let’s hook up the Lyngdorf Audio MP-50 to our local network. Accessing the browser remote offers full control of the unit. On the home screen you get all basic info like on/off, video source, video format, volume, mute, audio format, audio source, sources, voicing, focus position, post processing and lip-sync. On the bottom you can see all the media player info. At the top left you can switch to Zone B and Setup. Let’s dive into the Setup! The top left menu consists of: source, speakers & room, video setup, audio setup, zone B, system configuration and manage software. In menu item ‘Source’ you can add, edit, delete, arrange and name all sources. ‘Speakers & Room’ is where you want to be. It contains the following subsections: speaker setup, roomperfect, channel gain, adjust sub and verify speakers. In the ‘Speaker Setup’ you configure your setup by simply adding speakers on the preferred positions. You can indicate the speaker format and their crossover frequency. The processor highlights the outputs you need to use. Handy! RoomPerfect kind of speaks for itself. You start he calibration procedure by setting the test signal volume. The first measurement always happens on the listening position. You can add more measurements at different room positions. A room knowledge of more than 93% is advisable. The more speakers you have, the longer the calibration takes. To give you an idea: about 30 minutes for a 7.2 setup. Imagine how long a 13.2 system would take? Another menu subsection worth getting into is the ‘Voicing setup’ under ‘Audio Setup’. In the top drop down menu you can edit or delete the available voicings. At the bottom you can add a new voicing. Input a voicing name and start setting up filters (up to 8). Brilliant! Which processors offers you the possibility to create your own sound?
RoomPerfect and GLM 3 in the mix
During the summer of 2018 I had a pair of Genelec 8341 (The Ones) and 7370A sub over. This presented an interesting opportunity. I could compare both RoomPerfect and the Genelec GLM 3 software as a calibration tool using the same speaker setup. GLM software stands for Genelec Loudspeaker Manager software. The results were interesting to say the least. In terms of frequency response, the only audible difference presented itself in the lower frequencies. Bass was tight, light-footed and dry with the GLM software. RoomPerfect offered low frequencies with more weight, fulness and more physical presence. The spaciousness reached beyond the speakers using RoomPerfect. With GLM the soundstage stayed between the monitors. If you think logically, these results were predictable. When editing/mixing you want to hear what’s going on, very precisely, very accurately. That explains the GLM calibration. RoomPerfect presents a more pleasing tone. Personally, I tend to lean more to the RoomPerfect sound, especially during longer listening sessions. The differences are very subtle, but I’d rather compensate a little for a little more … if you understand what I mean. On IBC 2018 I talked with Andrew Goldberg, the developer of the Neumann KH-80 DSP. Turns out that all the engineer’s kind of know each other, they have worked in different companies, sometimes in the same companies. Why doesn’t that surprise me!?
From stereo to 2D surround and back
Ever heard of a cliffhanger? So, let’s start with stereo. Move up to 2D surround and preserve the 3D surround for part 2 of this review. I’ve hooked up the Lyngdorf Audio MP-50 to power amps from April Music, McIntosh and Exposure in our main listening room (80m2). The different setups all drove a pair of cobalt blue Estelon XB’s. A lust for the eye! I played some of my reference tracks from Tidal on my iMac (Thunderbolt 3 to HDMI). Surprise! RoomPerfect caused the biggest sound difference, not changing the amplifiers. Those differences were subtle. Switching the RoomPerfect on/off button had a major impact! The music became more transparent, clearer and it was easier to follow the inner message. Soundstage really opened up, with added height and depth. The music got more rhythm, feeling. Low frequencies started to shine and weigh in. I was drawn more into the music; the experience became more enveloping.
Moving on to our smaller ‘Junior Editing Suite’ and 2D surround. For most of the time I listened to the 7.2 Neumann system. At first this room was ‘untreated’. Later I placed bass traps in each corner of the room (from the ground up, all the way to the ceiling). In a second phase I mounted 4 acoustical panels on the left and right side of the room to handle first and second reflections. Still need to do some diffusion in the back and on the ceiling, it’s an ongoing project. Why would I bother installing acoustical treatment, when I have RoomPerfect? A justified and perfect question! In a normal situation you wouldn’t. I’m a perfectionist, so I want the best possible sound in my editing room. So, what about the differences? Are they that big? Yes and no. We’re talking microdetail, micro dynamics. Small things that make a big difference if you ask me. All that extra subtle information you get, brings you closer to the artists or directors’ intent. It adds emotional value. I remember listening to some early recordings of Jean Michel Jarre. In stereo, post processed to Dolby surround. Magical! I found myself in a sound bubble with synthesizer sounds from everywhere coming together to make a united musical statement. Watching blockbusters like the latest Spiderman, Venom and Incredibles 2 was a real treat. The bass performance was simply outstanding. At some point it seemed like explosions were coming from behind! The sheer impact and weight of the subwoofer(s) raged like freight train trough the room. Delicate, subtle when needed and powerful with full blown dynamics during action scenes. This is 2D surround at a whole new level!
To be continued …
Name your price
At the moment of this review the Lyngdorf MP-50 costs €11.990 in the Eurozone.
- Decoding: Dolby® Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS ES Discrete 6.1, DTS ES Matrix 6.1, DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, AURO-3D®
- Post processingDolby surround, AURO-MATIC®, Auro 2D, DTS NEO:X, DTS Neural:X, movie, game, music, stereo, party
- Audio inputs: 8 x HDMI™ (≤192kHz/24bit), 1 x AES/EBU S/P-DIF input (≤192kHz/24bit), 3 x S/P-DIF coaxial inputs (≤192kHz/24bit). 4 x S/P-DIF optical inputs (≤96Hz/24bit), 1x USB audio input (≤192kHz/32bit) , 1x XLR mic. input for calibration
- Audio outputs: 16 x XLR analog outputs (5.0 Vrms), 1 x SPDIF coax digital zone output (fixed 96kHz/24bit)
- Video inputs: 8 x HDMI™ (HDCP 2.2), Accepts 3D, 4K UHD & HDR10
- Video outputs: 2 x HDMI™ (HDCP 2.2), 1 x HDBaseT™, Upscaling of all video to 4K ultra high definition, No downscaling of 4K video
- Media player: Internet radio (vTuner), Spotify connect, DLNA Support, Airplay
- Optional module: DCI-compliant digital AES/EBU input for movie servers
- Placement options: Rack mount and freestanding
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 14.7 x 45.0 x 37.0 cm, 5.8 x 17.7 x 14.6 in
- Weight: 9 kg / 19 lbs
- Lyngdorf MP-50
- iMac 5K 27inch 2018
- Mac Mini 2018
- Estelon XB loudspeakers
- McIntosh MC462 power amplifier
- Exposure 5010 mono power amplifiers
- April Music Stello Ai700 integrated class D amplifier
- 7 x Neumann KH-80 studio monitors
- 2 x Neumann KH-805 studio monitors
- 7 x Genelec 8010A studio monitors
- 2 x Genelec 8020D studio monitors
- 2 x Genelec 8030C studio monitors
- 2 x Genelec 8341 studio monitors (The Ones)
- 2 x Genelec 7050B studio subwoofers
- 1 x Genelec 7370A studio subwoofer
- LG OLED 55C8
- Purist Audio Design cables
- Vovox cables
*The conclusion, pros and cons and score are preliminary, based on part 1 of the review.
- Pristine audio quality
- Support of Auro-3D, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos
- Fully digital processing
- Flexible setup
- User-friendly operation
- Voicing tool
- HDMI connections
- Only analog XLR outputs
- No DSD support
- Limited features media player
- No Dolby Vision support