At Alpha Audio, we often say that your room is responsible for half your sound. And that’s no exaggeration. Put your hi-fi system in a different room: it will play completely different. This is one of the reasons why we applaud the emergence of aesthetically pleasing acoustic products. Including the PSI AVAA C214: an active bass trap. Yes!
In 2018, Alpha Audio took a ‘hi-fi road trip’ through Switzerland. An unforgettable experience. During that audio trip, we also visited the Swiss PSI. There we had a good opportunity to see how the brand operates and what they were working on. And there was also the ‘studio version’ – THE AVAA C20 – of this new AVAA C214 operating in a small demo space.
The demo at PSI itself was already pretty convincing, but – we think – we were still dealing with an early version or maybe even a prototype. However, the whole concept of the AVAA intregued us. It never left the mind of your author.
If we can actively control the bass with a compact system, that would be great! It saves large, expensive bass traps that basically nobody wants: it takes up space, can’t be moved, and so they tend to be pricey. Although the AVAA C214 isn’t exactly cheap either at 3400 Euros.
How does a PSI AVAA C214 work?
Basically, the AVAA is a microphone with an active speaker attached to it. The microphone measures the room-mode and the amplifier plays it “out of phase”. As a result, the room-mode is absorbed.
Of course, it is terribly difficult to do that properly. After all: it has to be real-time, otherwise you’re always too late. Also, you must not absorb too much or too little and not take away information that is part of the music.
PSI explicitly reports that it does not work the same as noise cancelling. The unit “absorbs” room modes by moving with the pressure waves. It does not actively play anti-noise. By moving with the pressure wave, it absorbs energy. However, it does not color the playback. A very big advantage. More on that later!
The PSI AVAA C214 – like the AVAA C20 – operates between 15 and 150 Hz. Whereas the C20 did its work completely analog, the new C214 is fitted with a few gadgets. It can be controlled with an app – more on that later – and it has been made more compact (round, but it does not work omnidirectionally!), which is possible thanks to the help of very sophisticated, low latency DSPs (there are two DSPs in it). Additional advantage: the gain is now adjustable (both with buttons on the device, and via the app).
Installing the PSI AVAA C214 is child’s play. Basically, all you have to do is plug it in and flip the switch. The AVAA is already doing its job just fine. However. we have found that proper placement does have quite an effect.
What we did was walk around and see where the bass energy was getting problematic. There we placed the AVAA and then adjusted the gain. And that works like a charm. You can really hear an immediate effect.
Now there is an app for the new PSI AVAA. This app allows you to create groups and control the gain. This can also be done with the buttons on the back of the AVAA. And since the gain only needs to be set right once, we don’t really see the app as a must-have. fortunately, because…
we ended up not installing this app because it requires having a separate 2.4 GHz network. The Wi-Fi network at Alpha is controlled by a Wifi controller and works on 2.4 and 5 GHz (band steering). On which band our phone is connected, the controller decides. New Android phones no longer allow manual switching either. In short: we could not connect to the AVAA. Case in point for PSI, because we won’t be the only ones…