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KRK Ergo - Enhanced Room Geometry Optimization
KRK Systems Ergo
3.75 (2 Reviews) Lumpy room nodes? Got the low-end blues? This could ease your problems but it's not a replacement for acoustic treatment. Great little interface and monitor controller that can fine focus your audio like a camera lens.
The KRK Ergo is an audio interface and monitor controller with acoustic correction. KRK are known for making great monitors and they teamed up with the boffins at Lyngdorf to produce the Ergo which uses Lyngdorf Audio's 'Room Perfect' system. The unit is advanced: analytic software maps the room in 3D and tailors the 1024 dynamic filters to preserve good room characteristics and correct bad ones. The result is noticeable yet the sound is not coloured. The KRK website has some great info on the technology: ERGO Room Correction KRK SYSTEMS
Like all new technologies there were a few teething problems and a delay for 64-bit drivers but to KRK's credit they stuck with it and persevered. I suspect there are many happy users.
To start, the software is installed and the unit connected to a computer; a supplied reference microphone is plugged into the unit (which is also connected to the studio monitors). The software sends an audio signal (tones, sweeps, white noise, etc.) through the monitors which is then picked-up by the microphone - several room measurements are taken with the mic in different positions. When the software has received enough data the setting can be saved in the unit. From then on the unit can either work independently of the software and computer receiving either an analogue or S/PDIF signal; or, can be operated via firewire - this shows up in the DAW output settings.
Two settings can be saved and either is selected via the Ergo's front panel by the 'A' and 'B/Sub' buttons: this could be two different sets of monitors (each with it's own calibration); or, one set of monitors with a Sub On/Off (both calibrated; or, two sets of monitors - one with a Sub inline (again, both calibrated). Nice!
The unit is nicely-weighted at 610g and is about the size of a small hardback book with the top slightly angled to face the operator. It is unobtrusive and is a pleasure to operate having a large dial for monitor volume and backlit buttons to select A or B/Sub monitors; another button selects 'Focus/Global/Bypass' mode for bypass, fixed listening position, or room listening e.g. sitting back on sofa. The headphone volume is on a dial on the right-hand side which works well ergonomically; it's output level is independent of the main volume dial. Very nice sounding headphone amp too.
On the rear panel are all the ins and outs; all analogue audio on 1/4" jack.
The unit sounds great; pristine. I feed it via S/PDIF from a Focusrite Pro24DSP and onto Focal CMS 40's via analogue cables. The best analogy I can give for it's effect is that it acts like a fine focus on a camera - sounds that were previously muffled become clear and can be placed in the soundstage...also bass is much more defined. I have treated the mirror points around my mix position but bass traps aren't possible due to room size. The acoustic treatment behind my monitors made a bigger difference to soundstage quality than the Ergo but the Ergo works primarily with lower frequencies 20-500Hz and this is where I've noticed a real improvement. I can hear more now.
Amazing piece of technology; good advance for the home studio. Great ergonomics and sound quality. Unobtrusive. It's not a replacement for acoustic treatment but it has helped bring clarity to my monitoring. Recommended.
+ Room optimization sofware does dampen a few of the modal issues. Global mode seems to work the best in regular mixing situations.
+ DA converters are of decent quality.
+ Simple rooms (simple geometry, little furniture) show the most noticable results. In a 4x5x2.5m bedroom studio, the Ergo did produce a noticable difference between Focus, Global and Bypass mode.
- Complex rooms (asymmetric walls or with interfering furniture) show little or no improvement beyond placebo.
- Even after several firmware updates (latest at test time: v1.32.24), the ticking sound when adjusting the volume is still not solved completely.
- Phase response and stereo imaging is not noticably improved, probably due to the optimization only working on frequencies below 500Hz.
- A slow sine sweep after optimization revealed that one of the modal nulls is being corrected to the point of distortion (a clipping sound that resembles scraping the strings of a cello). Less of a problem in Global mode than in Focus mode.
Ease of Use:
+ No need for a degree in acoustics in order to use the device. Well-guided setup process.
+ Easy to operate controls during everyday use.
- Excruciating sound intensity during calibration measurements. Give your neighbors a notice that they should hide their pets! Makes you consider it as a high risk, if you have to take extra measurements or recalibrate the Ergo.
- Before calibration, you're asked to raise the volume up until the background noise is at a certain level (or when infra/ultrasound is above the background noise, I can't really tell what's being done). There is no user feedback on the signal that's measured, just instructions. So if you make a rookie mistake or use a bad cable when connecting your microphone, your eardrums will shatter as soon as the calibration starts.
+ Impressive amount of hardware features. Has basically every feature that is expected for a typical bedroom studio monitor controller.
- The room optimization is a black box. You must accept the results of the measurements with three options: Focus, Global, or Bypass. No other configurations possible, unless you want to recalibrate. But how do you know what to fix in your room before recalibrating?
- FireWire limits the user base somewhat.
Bang for buck:
+ Many features for a decent price
+ Measurement microphone and XLR-jack adapter included. Can be used as a regular SDC omni microphone, nice for recording ambience.
- Might not be efficient in your room. Makes a good case for why acoustic treatment is a better investment.
Last edited by Hjelmevold; 8th December 2012 at 12:59 PM..
Reason: removal of non-ASCII characters used in formatting
Well let's see. I had two units. Two same but different pieces of equipment.
Later I will explain why and how.
I haven't been using firewire port after room was calibrated. Had no problems to get it on 99% on main output. Later, Ergo was used as monitor controler/room correction device only (since I use another audio interface).
Great thing is SPDIF input. My audio interface has SPDIF, so it looked as a cool idea not to make unnecessaire double conversion. Well, it worked.
Nice looking little box with 2 speakers outputs, headphones output and two different input options (RCA and SPDIF) sounded like perfect small studio accesories. Especially if it helps to correct non flat low end response since room is only partially treated, but not with real deal bass traps..
Content of the box is pretty simple: You get measuring mic (I could not find anything about it on the Internet. No specification, manufactourer...), power supply, printed full colour user manual, mic adapter, and short TRS-XLR cable for mic...And yes, fancy USB stick with software...
Did it helped with room correction? Well, I get much better mixes when it was in bypass mode, but still, any other decent monitor controler costed same, so I used Ergo to control my two pair of speakers. Off course, I tested how my mixes translate to other systems with or without Ergos correction. Something that sounded controlled, firm focused etc (by that I am speaking about mid bas and low bass...)in listening room, on other systems sounded boomy, slow, and overall too bassy. Well, soon after few weeks of trying, I gave up on room correction with Ergo, becouse it just did not worked for me. I heard it in few other rooms. In some it work fine, in some others not so great.
Even headphones output was pretty strange. Completly different sound from my audio interface HP out and Ergo. So very soon after first test, I stopped to use it to..
I have been using it for exactly one year and 2 weeks after purchasing. And then, it stopped working. I went to local distributor, who send it to service. The unit was dead. some fatal malfunction on motherboard made it stop working. This was first time ever I took warranty paper in my hands and there was unpleasent surprise; Only one year! Even cheapest Krk monitors have 3 years of warranty, and lower price tag...Well, even average USB memory has 3-5 years of warranty.
Ok, guys from Audio Pro (local distributor) took this matter seriously. They contacted KRK about my case, and in 2 months brand new box with brand new device was at there office waiting for me...Everything was in the box but USB with software. This time, it was on cd
Very soon after I started to work with it, I noticed occasional static like crackling. I did not have this with my old unit, but since it was low level, I did not took it seriously. Soon after that, maybe 1 month since first time I turned unit on, while I was turning level up a bit (I monitor at low levels mostly), suddenly, there was massive blast out of my left speaker. I turned everything off. Later I checked my speakers, and both were OK. This explosion was so loud, that I heard hi freq sound few seconds after this happened. Well 3 weeks later same situation with right monitor. Then I unplugged Ergo. I just can not afford a pair of Genelec 1032 to be destroyed by malfunctioned device. Only response I got from Gibson (i guess they own KRK brand) was to update firmware. Do I need to say I had last firmware installed?
That was actually only advice or customer support from there side.
Well, conclusion is pretty evident: not so cheap half operational product with 1 year warranty and not so great support from the company. It looks fine, in some rooms it also works good, but 2 malfunctioned units out of 2 is probably worse statistic in my experience. So far
One more unit with similar problems at my friends studio 300 km away from here. His unit was producing blasts more often then mine. He had another issue; Volume pot did not reacted sometimes.
Also disconnected to prevent speakers to be damaged.
I am using the Ergo also. It is also my second one. I installed the first one and i felt it worked acoustically, until i also had those statical sounds when using the volume knob. Shortly after it died (i think also something on the motherboard). I had the idea the malfunction was due to the fact i bought it second hand so i felt conned bythe seller, not by the ergo.
Therefore i ordered a new one, sonce i felt ot really helped my mixes. Until now it works just fine. Got it set up just the way you have had: via an audio interface thru spdif to the ergo.
I Just acknowledge the fact that the ergo might be a very delicate piece of equipment. As i said right now my second one works really well.