Had an opportunity to stop by Smyth's office in Camarillo today, where I had an opportunity to try out two things I'd not sampled before with the gracious and much appreciated assistance of Lorr (many thanks to him, as always, ... a gentleman and a scholar):
(a) HDMI-enabled Realiser, with Chapter 3 of "House of Flying Daggers" (stones and steel drum sequence) BluRay as the test reference (it's DD5.1, not DTS-HDMA), and
(b) tactile "shaker" chair, same scene
Additional equipment was my own headphone setup that I brought with me (Omega-1, SRM-007tii, and Audio-GD NFB9 DAC feeding through XLR to amp). And of course I also listened to the same scene through the real loudspeakers in the room, as the "control".
(1) HDMI-enabled Realiser is DEFINITELY superior to the analog-fed connection method which involves both D-to-A (in player or AVR) and A-to-D (in Realiser) conversions before even starting the digital SVS processing. In my headphones it seemed to be "clearer", with more precise directional cues as the stones flew all around the room hitting drums and falling to the marble floor. Same with the "clarity" of the saucer sliced by the sword shattering it into many pieces with them all falling to the floor making that wonderful sound of broken glass hitting a marble floor.
While at Smyth that was my visceral impression, and when I got back home and just to double-check played the same scene on my own Realiser with its analog feed ,I really confirmed for myself what I had already concluded: noticeably superior results are achieved with HDMI-delivered LPCM digital input to the Realiser than via analog. Is it "huge"? No. Is it discernible? Very definitely yes. Is HDMI the clear winner? Yes. Is it worth having? Absolutely.
(2) The "shaker" chair is no substitute for the feeling of room air hitting your body from a sub-woofer. Does it really enhance the Realiser experience? I don't really think so, at least that was my subjective opinion. Is it better than nothing? Perhaps, but maybe not. Is it a necessity? No. Is it worth lusting after? Not for me, anyway.
One more comment...
This is actually the first time I'd played that Chapter 3 "reference" clip since acquiring my NFB9 and SRM-007tii, and converting to straight XLR from the DAC to the amp (with no more DBX EQ on an RCA path). In the past, trying to turn up the volume for this scene on either the Realiser and/or my Yamaha RX-V863 while (a) still not causing input clipping (red light) on the Realiser, and (b) still not causing "protective shutdown" by the Yamaha from output overload has never been successful. I've just not been able to play it as loud as I wanted.
Well tonight, because of the increased output level on the XLR path from DAC to amp I was able to keep the Yamaha volume at +0, and my standard Realiser volume of -10, the DAC volume at 46 (which is my "standard setting" where I leave it permanently set for everything), and the SRM007 volume at "2 o'clock" which again is my standard setting. And yet, the sound was stunningly loud and clear, and no clipping or protective shutdown occurred.
So once again, I marvel at the benefits of this external DAC approach with XLR cables to the Stax amp.