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"Dolby Headphone" software rocks but...

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So I just downloaded the free demo of WinDVD 4 on my laptop. I put it in headphone mode and slipped a CD ("absolutely the best of Keely Smith"). The CD started playing, and then I switched on "Dolby Headphone" processing.....

>>>YOU GOTTA TRY THIS!!!

I was very impressed with the expansion of the soundstage. It not only got the "blobs" out of my head, but it seemed to improve the imaging of the instruments and vocals without blurring the sound. To my ears, it works much better than other "Crossfeed" circuits I have listened to in various headphone amps. There is nothing subtle about the effect, it makes a huge diffence.

OK, so what's the downside?

I hate listening to music out of my laptop. It's incredibly noisy and generates lots of weird, distracting, transient sounds. I would really like a solution that works with my home stereo and or my portable player.

WinDVD 4 really is aimed mostly at playing DVDs. If I have other programs running, (...like my web browser), while I am running it, it often hiccups.

The thing that surprised me most is that from what I have read, I expected Dolby Headphone to really only be effective when feeding it a multichannel dolby 5.1 audio signal ( like from a DVD). It seems, to me, that it works just fine on regular stereo CDs. I have read, in other posts, that some "Dolby Headphone" software players only process multichannel sound, not stereo.

The free version of WinDVD only last for 30 days. They say that it only plays the first 5 minutes of a DVD. It seems to play all the way through the CDs, however.

I haven't done extensive listening yet with different types of music.

I guess lot's of people have been waiting for some time for someone to build a headphone amp that includes "Dolby Headphone". If anyone knows of one please let me know.

The other alternative is if someone wrote a program that let you "Dolby Headphone" encode wav/mp3 files. Then you could burn them to CDs and listen to them on regular home or portable systems. Of course pre-encoded CDs would only work well for headphone playback. It would be a drag to have to re-encode and re-burn my collection...but it might be worth it!!!

If anyone else tries this out, I would be very interested in you opinion.

-z
post #2 of 29
I've got PowerDVD 4 with Dolby Headphone. Most of my CD listening is done with it and a pair of headphones plugged into my EMP, which in turn connects to my Audigy out.

DH definitely creates a more realistic soundstage, but (in my experience) at the loss of some detail. Nevertheless I prefer it for most of my music listening.
post #3 of 29
I have not seen any reasonably priced product that includes dolby headphone. A few pro devices and high-end recievers have the processor, but they all cost several thousand dollars...

The DH chips are not expensive, and even some Sharp minidisc players have the decoders insided... but for some reason very few people in the home theate business wants to adopt it. (i haven't looked to much lately, they may be some new products with it)...

Try bypassing your laptops internal soundcard, which is probably adding all of the noise. There are several products available, from the Xitel USB-TOSlink convertors and Sounblaster Extigy (can also pass through dolby digital) that can supply a digital out to your reciever/standalone DAC. There are also devices that have analog outputs, from companies such as Xitel, Yamaha, stereolink, etc...

I was very impressed with dolby headphone when it was released almost 2 years ago, but i have only heard it with music. I prefer listening to music without any processing, but the DH effects was by far the most realistic i have heard... (i just bought a laptop with windvd, and expect to use dolby headphone a lot more for movies)
post #4 of 29
I heard Dolby Headphone for the first time the other night. This particular demo was via a PC with DVD software, a Headroom Cosmic and the Sennheiser HD580 playing the movie Star Trek: First Contact. It had three modes for various room sizes and actually sounded a lot like a movie theater. I was very impressed. It made me question a little bit how much money I've spent on a speaker based home theater system. Hmmm.

Anyway---it's surprising that no one has included something like this into a headphone amp.
post #5 of 29
I would like to see a stand alone product , a "black box" add on to my present system.I see no reason to purchase a receiver just to get Dolby Headphone , or use my pc.

For music I like mine striaght.But for movie viewing multichannel is the only way to go.And since I play mine loud headphones are an ideal solution and DOLBY Headphone is the only enjoyable format I have heard.


PISS ON THE MAJOR CORPORATIONS !

This technolgy is proven and has been around long enough to have become mainstream but headphone users are treated like red headed step children.We get no respect.A headphone jack is more of an afterthought to please the "fringe listener" and not something that any engineering or thought has gone into.
I mean , c'mon,if just about anyone here can whip up a pocket amp for about thirty bucks that can whip the pants off just about ANY receiver or integtrated amp.Are we supposed to beleive that WE are smarter than the engineers at SONY or Pioneer ?
Not friggin' likely.
They just don't give a rats ass.

The solution ?
I have it on GOOD authority that more and more you will see DVDs encoded with dolby headphone.I LOVE IT !
The best demo I have heard was in this format.
And best of all you can use your OWN gear for playback and not have to settle for the crappy headphone out on the receiver.
Best of all it cuts out the big boys.
Like I said , piss on 'em
post #6 of 29
It's ironic that they're going to start doing it in software. It's ironic because the largest audience for it is laptop users (businessmen flying between cities and such) and laptops are the sources that already have the ability to output Dolby Headphone. I won't complain, though--I'll take it where I can get it.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
It's ironic that they're going to start doing it in software. It's ironic because the largest audience for it is laptop users (businessmen flying between cities and such) and laptops are the sources that already have the ability to output Dolby Headphone. I won't complain, though--I'll take it where I can get it.
Granted.But consider the reason the majority of users are laptop otiented is mostly due to the lack of other avenues .

The DVD encoded route is a start , ideally suited to latenight viewers or those individuals with young children ,or say the family is watching one movie on the big rig and the only way to watch something different and still have surround sound is with cans (unless you have soundproof rooms multiple systems just don't work out too well).
But there are inherent limitations.One is due to storage limitations of the DVD you could not have a full soundtrack for each theater size.Multi-language would also be ruled out as would be control over the audio signal (eq,crossfeed ,channel balance ,etc.).
Still a viable solution for the general populace who want things "plug 'n play",simple.

What would be the ultimate for my money ?
A stand alone DSP based decoder with bass management,eq,individual level control for each "perceived" channel,selectable crossfeed,and all this remote controlled.
Quality analog output,digital output,possibly digital input,quality power supply to feed it,a black box say 1.5 X 5X 5.
Maybe an internal headphone amp but if so a line output.I should not be precluded from using my own headphone amp if I choose.It should be a system enhancer not THE SYSTEM.
This is a doable enterprise.

If I had the resources available for the hardware and the Dolby Headphone liscence I would manufacture such a device.I KNOW it would be successful considering more and more folks getting into headphones as an alternative to loudspeaker listening.
And if it were successfulwatch how fast the so called innovators,sheep more likely,follow suit.No one wants to be first.
Really sucks
post #8 of 29
I've been reading more about Dolby Headphone on the web. Did you know there is a 2 channel Dolby Headphone? And that it does not require an encoded track? Have you heard it?

Is there any software program for the PC that would allow me to playback 2 channel Dolby Headphone of music files and/or CDs via the CD ROM drive?

I realize it's probably overhyped, but it'd be nice to have something that could algorythmically convert a 2 channel signal into a binaural-like presentation better than the crossfeed on current modern headphone amps can do. If it's not there yet, it seems like this is only a matter of time.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

Stereo "Dolby Headphone"

Quote:
Originally posted by kelly
I've been reading more about Dolby Headphone on the web. Did you know there is a 2 channel Dolby Headphone? And that it does not require an encoded track? Have you heard it?

Is there any software program for the PC that would allow me to playback 2 channel Dolby Headphone of music files and/or CDs via the CD ROM drive?
Argggh! Am I writing in Japanese??? <;^)
Please read my initial post that started this thread!

Yes, Yes, Yes!!! WinDVD 4 will play the normal stereo CD you have, right now, in "Dolby Headphone". The only limitation is that you have to play back through your computer, obviously since that is where the software runs.

Please try the demo now. If you are like me you will be quite impressed. Apparently PowerDVD 4 is another program that will also will play CDs. I haven't tried it myself and I had heard that earlier versions didn't handle stereo input (only 5 channel). I would be very interested in your opinion. In particular I would like to solicit opinons on the following questions.

1. Does DH get the sound outside your head?
2. Do you find it more relaxing, and can you listen for longer periods without stress?
3. Do you find that the sound is "blurred" or has less detail?

I am VERY interested in this as an alternative to the "crossfeed" found in many headphone amps.

-z
post #10 of 29
There was a plug-in for real player that produced dolby headphone effects for stereo... Unfortunately real player is crap (and its mp3 decoder has serious flaws) and you have to pay for the plugin (30 day trial).

And the sharp Md players with dolby headphone are also stereo, and do not require special encoding.

Quote:
I realize it's probably overhyped, but it'd be nice to have something that could algorythmically convert a 2 channel signal into a binaural-like presentation better than the crossfeed on current modern headphone amps can do. If it's not there yet, it seems like this is only a matter of time
These are called virtualizers, which go beyond crossfeed and use HTRFs to simulate real 3d cues. Unfortuantely, HTRF's are standardized for an "average" ear and head shape, and no one fits that perfectly. The closer your head/ear shape is to the average, the better it will sound. (I think this also applies to Binaural recordings, as the dummy head does exactly the same thing as the virtualizer processor, except it does it acoustically) There have been great advances in this technology over the last 2 years, with dolby headphone being the best. Sensuara has developed Virtual Ear technology, which allows you to adjust the algorithms to match your ear/head shape, which could make them sound even more realisic...

Personally, i don't use any virtualizer or crossfeed with music. I'm guessing anyone on these forums who does extensive headphone listening will have adjusted to the "in the head" effect. Crossfeed seems more useful in helping audiophiles used to a speaker setup adjust to headphone listening than for regular use. Any processing will add artifacts and colouration, with crossfeed being less intrusive and virtualizers being more intrusive... I only use crossfeed on old "ping-pong" stereo recordings where instruments are recorded in only the left or right channels.

For movies, DH is much more useful, and definately adds to the experience. I remeber that a major chip manufacturer (crystal, ad?) release an all-in one chip with dobly digital/DTS decoders, multichannel DACs, line-level amps, and doby headphone all intergrated into one chip. Using this chip in a design would cost manufacturers basically nothing, yet i still haven't seen anything use it (except marantz?)

And i don't know if you read my test results back at headwize a loooong time ago, but i found dolby headphone's effect to work much better when combined with jan meier's crossfeed. It still doesn't make sense to me, but the combination sounded amazing. It probably has somthing to do with HTRF models, maybe i have strange ears
post #11 of 29
Nihon go dekuru kai?

I'm sorry, Zurg, I did read the original post the other night but lost track of it during the thread.

Earlier today, I found that a coworker of mine had a commercial copy of WinDVD 4.0 and did some listening--unfortunately, it seems WinDVD can only play Dolby Headphone Stereo directly from the disc--not from sound files.

Luckily, Dparrish emailed me to tell me about a plugin for Music Match by Lake PLS. You can get a trial version of this plugin here:
http://www.musicmatch.com/info/plug-....10.0162&os=pc

My work PC's soundcard doesn't really get along well with the rest of my PC, even after some amount of driver rolling. Therefore, playing from the disc was problematic for me. Meanwhile stuff I rip to (for example) .ape format via EAC (with on error repolling) works wonderfully. Thus, I am now listening to those files via MusicMatch.

I'll see what I think of it longterm but I'm initially very impressed and like it better than Headroom's crossfeed filter. I'm also playing with the Meier passive crossfeed to see how that combines. If I were a company like Headroom, I think I might opt to have the front panel look something like this:

jack1 jack2 dolbyhpn/off dolbyhp:small/med/large xfeedff/1/2/3 gain:1/2/3 pot power

I know that's one more switch than they have now but...

EDIT: CRAP! MusicMatch is the only music file player that does Dolby Headphone Stereo, but it does NOT support .ape (Monkey's Audio format). So, long term I have to choose between the file format I like and the processor I like. Bummer.
post #12 of 29
UGH!

MusicMatch ONLY supports the following: mp3, .mp2, .m3u, .asx, .asf, .pls, .wma, .wm, .wmx, .wav, .avi, .qt, .cda, .mpg, .mpeg, .mpv2, .mp2v, .mpa

Why the hell isn't there a Dolby Headphone Stereo plugin for Winamp?
post #13 of 29
The Denon 5803 receiver (very expensive, it's true) includes Dolby Headphone processing, and also allows you to record sound processed with DH. Here's a quote from the Denon literature on the 5803:

Quote:
Dolby Headphone Since sound from a headphone enters the ears directly, it can cause fatigue during extended listening sessions. Dolby Headphone replicates the effects of sound from speakers in a room by localizing the sound source at the front or the side as though the listener were enjoying 3D sound at a movie theater. Dolby Headphone is effective not only with Dolby Digital or Dolby Pro Logic but with CD and other 2-channel sources as well. The AVR-5803 also lets you record signals encoded with Dolby Headphone to other recorders so that you can enjoy the effects of Dolby Headphone with a portable MD player or other device. (This is possible with both analog and digital recordings.)"
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
>>> Nihon go dekuru kai?

zen zen wakarimasen!

Thanks for the heads up on the MM plugin!

As far as the Denon reciever goes, >$4000 is a bit over my budget at the moment.

As far as messing with the sound goes: I suppose there is a tradeoff between getting the most accurate sound and creating a (virtual) spatialized soundfield. The thing to remember is that most albums are mixed to be listened to from speakers. When listening through speakers, you reproduce an approximation of the original, ( or at least intended) soundfield and thus produce the sonic "image". Listening through headphones avoids the muck created by the early echo reflections, reverb and the Head Related Transfer function, (HRTF). It also, however, distorts the spatialization information presented to the ears/brain and thus does not reproduce the original sonic "image". In theory, playing with spatialization software may allow one to optimize spatial cueing while limiting the masking effects things like reverb. Clearly, it allows a level of control not possible with actual speakers and rooms and the effect they have. I guess I for one do NOT hold the signal as recorded on the disc as sacrosanct. Everytime we "optimize" our equipment we "mess" with the sound. If anything should be considered inviolate it should be the experience that is created in the listener when immersed in the soundfield of the original live performance, (or at least the recording intended by the original artist). In the end, it is a tradeoff which is best left to the individual listener.

...my 2 cents

-z
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Zurg

As far as the Denon reciever goes, >$4000 is a bit over my budget at the moment.
What's interesting is that you don't need to own the Denon to get the benefit of DH, at least according to their literature. You can listen to files encoded for DH with the Denon on other players.
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