KRK Systems Ergo by Arthur Stone
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.