This week, I was able to install and test the first of my “year end” gear additions, the KRK Ergo, a digital room analysis and correction system. I realize there are lots of skeptics with regards to room correction via equalization. In fact, I’m one of them! So I’ll say from the onset that, to me, room treatment is the first and foremost step to room accuracy. 80% of your gains will come from your room treatment, but the Ergo can provide some incremental improvement. It doesn’t work when you try this in reverse order…
Nevertheless, I have long suspected that I was suffering from a low frequency null smack dab in my listening position. Over time, I was able to compensate simply by knowing my room and literally sliding my chair back a few feet into the sweet spot. The Ergo took approximately 10 room measurements; so rather than equalizing just your focus position (as is the case with many competing products), the Ergo attempts to build a 3D image of your room. You use the supplied software to control the measurement/calibration process from a computer attached via firewire. The measurement process begins at your focus/mix position, and then prompts for additional random positions until the software is satisfied with its room knowledge. The software then downloads the settings to either the “A” or “B” speaker position on the Ergo- meaning you can store two separate room calibrations on this device (pretty handy)! After calibrating, you can disconnect the Ergo from the computer and use it as a standalone device anywhere between your DAW and your monitors, or keep it connected via firewire for an elegant DAC interface to your monitors!
In my case, the digital outs from my DAW feed into my Yamaha o2r96 mixing board which, in turn, connects to my monitors (Barefoot MM27s and Avantone Mixcubes). I simply redirected the XLR stereo outs from the o2r96 into the Ergo, and now use Ergo’s nifty A-B switching to toggle between the Barefoots and the Avantones.
So the question I assume your asking about now is whether the difference is noticeable? Candidly, it was very subtle in my case, which I take as a good thing! This tells me that my room was already dialed in, as I suspected, but I do believe it helped address that nasty little null. I’ve replayed four recent mixes that I thought were right on, and with the Ergo, the bass guitars were noticeably hot – makes sense because of compensating for that null at 100Hz right? I quickly revised the mixes and my tests indicate a better, tighter result. Again, we’re talking subtleties but as you know, it doesn’t take much to get the lower frequencies out of whack.
In summary, the pros outweigh the cons, in my opinion. The Ergo is relatively inexpensive and it is a better than average room correction gadget because it builds a 3D room image vs. focusing just on your mix/focus position. It can easily toggle between various filter modes including bi-passing all filters entirely so at the worst case, you’re back to where you started but with a well-built DAC/A-B switching/master volume control between your DAW and monitors. It’s worth adding that the monitor switching also enables you to configure subwoofer switching – but in my case, not required. The Ergo also includes a separate headphone out and level control although I wish the jack were located on the front of the unit instead of the back. Seems to me that the Ergo offers some nice utility beyond its core function so that was the tipping point for me… And, did I mention that it helped me dial in my mixes in less time?
Verdict: It’s not a game changer, but it’s still a winner!
Here is a link to the most recent trade press review I could find, courtesy of Mix Magazine.