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Long awaited Smyth SVS Realiser NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE - Page 122

post #1816 of 2741

The way I was thinking was that the Wavelink -> Berkeley may give a better signal than HDMI-PCout for the Realiser to work with.  I actually spent a lot of time struggling with a good way to get good digital audio out of my computer, as digital audio often sounds a bit too etched and artificial to me.  I ended up trying out a lot of different devices and interconnects to get the sound I like.

 

I spent a lot of time this weekend with friends experimenting with the Realiser in a high-end mastering studio, and I found the Realiser a bit more etched than listening to the speakers (though this could be chalked to psychoacoustics).  I want to tame that as much as possible, but am not quite sure the best place to do that in the chain.


Edited by Elysian - 6/8/12 at 6:15pm
post #1817 of 2741

Hello folks, I'm new to this forum and was wondering if anyone could answer some of my newbie questions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read in this thread, I think the Smyth Realiser A8 does its work in the digital domain. So, if it's connected to an audio chain via analog inputs and outputs, the analog input signal will be converted to digital signal (by an in-built analog-digital converter), then the digital signal will be modified so that it becomes 3D surround sound, and the modified digital signal will be converted back to analog (by an in-built DAC). Am I correct on this?

 

While I am fancied by the concept of reproducing surround sound with headphones, I'm not sure how "good" the Realiser's in-built DAC functionality is, compared to dedicated external DAC's made by many reputable audio companies. Therefore, as TruBrew pointed out, I think it'd be a better idea to simply feed digital signal into Realiser, and get the surround sound-modified digital signal out of the Realiser (bypassing both the in-built ADC and DAC of the Realiser altogether) and connect it to an external, possibly superior DAC. I'd appreciate your opinions on this matter.

 

However, in order to do what I said above, I would need to use an HDMI cable (for digital input) and an optical Toslink cable (for digital output). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but those two are the only available digital input and output for the Realiser, right? I cannot use USB or coaxial S/PDIF cable, probably the most common types of digital audio cable? That being said, I don't get why they chose Toslink as the only available digital out, considering the fact that Toslink is generally less favored than coaxial S/PDIF.

 

Thankfully, my DAC also has Toslink input, but the problem is with HDMI. I use an iMac as my primary audio source, and it only has USB or Firewire applications. I know there are some USB-to-S/PDIF converters out there, but is there any way I can get digital audio signal out of my iMac in HDMI format, so that I can use it with the Realiser bypassing its AD and DA conversion? For example, any simple device (not overly expensive) that can convert, say, an audio signal via USB into HDMI, without compromising the original USB audio quality?


Edited by songmic - 6/4/12 at 9:48pm
post #1818 of 2741
You should search the thread, I believe someone mentioned it worked (recent mac with dvi to hdmi connector and setting pcm multi-channel output in the midi setting or something like that). It might have been the thunderbolt connector (to HDMI) which restricts it to the most recent machines, but I thought I read that dvi works (even though it's a display connector, how confusing wink.gif ).

In regards to filtering occuring in the digital domain and in/out options, you're correct afaik...
Edited by arnaud - 6/4/12 at 9:55pm
post #1819 of 2741
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post

Hello folks, I'm new to this forum and was wondering if anyone could answer some of my newbie questions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read in this thread, I think the Smyth Realiser A8 does its work in the digital domain. So, if it's connected to an audio chain via analog inputs and outputs, the analog input signal will be converted to digital signal (by an in-built analog-digital converter), then the digital signal will be modified so that it becomes 3D surround sound, and the modified digital signal will be converted back to analog (by an in-built DAC). Am I correct on this?

 

While I am fancied by the concept of reproducing surround sound with headphones, I'm not sure how "good" the Realiser's in-built DAC functionality is, compared to dedicated external DAC's made by many reputable audio companies. Therefore, as TruBrew pointed out, I think it'd be a better idea to simply feed digital signal into Realiser, and get the surround sound-modified digital signal out of the Realiser (bypassing both the in-built ADC and DAC of the Realiser altogether) and connect it to an external, possibly superior DAC. I'd appreciate your opinions on this matter.

 

However, in order to do what I said above, I would need to use an HDMI cable (for digital input) and an optical Toslink cable (for digital output). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but those two are the only available digital input and output for the Realiser, right? I cannot use USB or coaxial S/PDIF cable, probably the most common types of digital audio cable? That being said, I don't get why they chose Toslink as the only available digital out, considering the fact that Toslink is generally less favored than coaxial S/PDIF.

 

You're correct in everything you've theorized.

 

The only digital input supported is HDMI (discrete multi-channel LPCM via HDMI).  And the only digital output supported is optical (2-channel stereo PCM).  Using either or both of the digital input/output methods will of course eliminate the need to convert to/from digital when using analog input/output... thus allowing a presumably superior external ADC or DAC to perform the function otherwise performed by the built-in functionality in the Realiser for the same purpose.

 

In actuality, however, both the ADC and DAC in the Realiser are superb!  Would a "superior" (and expensive) high-end external DAC provide better sounding results than the analog headphone outputs from the Realiser (using its own built-in DAC)?  Probably, but the incremental improvement is essentially small.

 

It's hard to do a real A/B comparison because you'll very likely feed the XLR output of an external DAC to a high-end headphone amp that accepts XLR (e.g. the high-end Stax amps), and balanced XLR is "twice as loud" as unbalanced RCA (say from the same external DAC, feeding the RCA inputs of the same headphone amp).  Since "louder always sounds better" you really won't be able to do an honest comparison, at least not unless you have (as I do) an EQ in between DAC and amp on the RCA path, which can apply "gain" to the RCA output to make it "as loud" as the XLR.

 

If you feed the analog RCA audio output of the Realiser to the RCA input of the headphone amp, you'll probably again have an issue of balancing the levels between the XLR output of the DAC and the RCA output of the Realiser, most likely handled by the volume control on the DAC to equalize things.

 

In other words, it's more likely that XLR output from external DAC to the headphone amp is really where you'll get observable improved "sound quality" over any RCA approach, rather than any significant difference in the Realiser's internal DAC vs. use of a "high quality" external DAC.  As far as the two DAC's go, the difference that you will be able to hear in this multi-channel virtual sound is honestly small, probably.

 

And, much the same type of argument can be made on the input side.  The Realiser's analog-to-digital conversion is really excellent.  Eliminating it by using HDMI input directly again produces a small improvement, perhaps.  It is possible to do an A/B comparison using two presets on the Realiser (one set for HDMI input and the other set for analog).  But honestly, the difference (if any) that you will notice is small at best.  It will definitely not be large.

 

At least that's my opinion.

post #1820 of 2741

To add to dsperber's comments... 

 

It's also important to note (and I think this has been mentioned before) the Realiser digital output via Toslink is only 48kHz/24bit.  I've briefly connected my W4S DAC-2 via Toslink, saw that the signal was indeed 48k, and I didn't detect much of an improvement.  I might try to A/B the analog vs digital outputs at some point in the future, but at the moment, I believe a high-end external DAC would be overkill.  I'm sure there are others who might disagree.

 

Given the dramatic improvements the Realiser has brought to my headphone listening experience, I've become much less interested in achieving incremental improvements with equipment upgrades.  This is a very good thing.

post #1821 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

My Realizer has been collecting dust since I have set up my proper 7.1 home theatre, with Pioneer flagship receiver, Oppo BDP95,  McIntosh and Rotel Power amps, Dynaudio Confidence C4 as front speakers and a bunch of Monitor Audio speakers as center and surround / surround back speakers, the Panasonic AE7000 3D Projector and a 140" projector screen. If anyone is interested in a used Realizer, let me know.

 

 

After some time with the Realiser I have come to the same conclusion, as good as it is, it can never quite rival the real thing.

 

Edit:

 

After watching War Horse, I have to say it comes mighty close, the bombs flying over your head in that movie eek.gif

 

The only thing is the bass, it sometimes realy does not sound out of head, but I found when i introduced the tactile transducer, the attention was drawn away from the in your head bass and directed to the chair.


Edited by HDMan - 6/5/12 at 3:43am
post #1822 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsperber View Post

 

You're correct in everything you've theorized.

 

The only digital input supported is HDMI (discrete multi-channel LPCM via HDMI).  And the only digital output supported is optical (2-channel stereo PCM).  Using either or both of the digital input/output methods will of course eliminate the need to convert to/from digital when using analog input/output... thus allowing a presumably superior external ADC or DAC to perform the function otherwise performed by the built-in functionality in the Realiser for the same purpose.

 

In actuality, however, both the ADC and DAC in the Realiser are superb!  Would a "superior" (and expensive) high-end external DAC provide better sounding results than the analog headphone outputs from the Realiser (using its own built-in DAC)?  Probably, but the incremental improvement is essentially small.

 

It's hard to do a real A/B comparison because you'll very likely feed the XLR output of an external DAC to a high-end headphone amp that accepts XLR (e.g. the high-end Stax amps), and balanced XLR is "twice as loud" as unbalanced RCA (say from the same external DAC, feeding the RCA inputs of the same headphone amp).  Since "louder always sounds better" you really won't be able to do an honest comparison, at least not unless you have (as I do) an EQ in between DAC and amp on the RCA path, which can apply "gain" to the RCA output to make it "as loud" as the XLR.

 

If you feed the analog RCA audio output of the Realiser to the RCA input of the headphone amp, you'll probably again have an issue of balancing the levels between the XLR output of the DAC and the RCA output of the Realiser, most likely handled by the volume control on the DAC to equalize things.

 

In other words, it's more likely that XLR output from external DAC to the headphone amp is really where you'll get observable improved "sound quality" over any RCA approach, rather than any significant difference in the Realiser's internal DAC vs. use of a "high quality" external DAC.  As far as the two DAC's go, the difference that you will be able to hear in this multi-channel virtual sound is honestly small, probably.

 

And, much the same type of argument can be made on the input side.  The Realiser's analog-to-digital conversion is really excellent.  Eliminating it by using HDMI input directly again produces a small improvement, perhaps.  It is possible to do an A/B comparison using two presets on the Realiser (one set for HDMI input and the other set for analog).  But honestly, the difference (if any) that you will notice is small at best.  It will definitely not be large.

 

At least that's my opinion.

 

Thanks for your answers/opinions, and others too! One thing however, neither my DAC nor headphone amp has balanced XLR applications. They're all RCA inputs & outputs, and single-ended 1/4" headphone jack.

 

Here's my question then: what would be the best method in my current setup?

 

#1) iMac -> mini dp to HDMI adaptor -(digital input via HDMI)-> Realiser A8 -> headphone amp -> headphones

(DA conversion takes place within Realiser, thus excluding my external DAC off the grid entirely)

 

OR

 

#2) iMac -> external DAC -(analog interconnects)-> Realiser A8 -> headphone amp -> headphones

(DA conversion by external DAC, AD conversion & another DA conversion within Realiser...)

 

OR

 

#3) iMac -> mini dp to HDMI adaptor  -(digital input via HDMI)-> Realiser A8 -(Toslink out)-> external DAC -> headphone amp -> headphones

 

I think each has its advantages and disadvantages, but not sure what would be the smartest choice.

 

#1 chain is the simplest, yet it doesn't take advantage of a superior external DAC (then again, they say the Realiser A8's DAC is good too)

 

#2 chain takes advantage of the external DAC, but it does DA->AD->DA conversion... which may result in some loss.

Speaking of which, if Realiser supports up to 24/192 via HDMI digital input (utilized in #1 chain), then to which sampling rate does the AD converter convert analog signals?

 

#3 chain sounds good too, but is it true the Toslink out only does up to 24/48? Does it mean it won't play hi-rez files like 96kHz or 192kHz, or does it simply downsample them and still play them OK?

 

Lastly, since you seem to favor #1 chain, could you recommend some decent audiophile-grade HDMI cable? Also, since I'm an iMac user, I'd need a mini dp-to-HDMI adaptor as well. Does anyone know where to buy one, which gets its job done without compromising audio signal quality during mini dp-to-HDMI conversion?

post #1823 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic View Post

Hello folks, I'm new to this forum and was wondering if anyone could answer some of my newbie questions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I read in this thread, I think the Smyth Realiser A8 does its work in the digital domain. So, if it's connected to an audio chain via analog inputs and outputs, the analog input signal will be converted to digital signal (by an in-built analog-digital converter), then the digital signal will be modified so that it becomes 3D surround sound, and the modified digital signal will be converted back to analog (by an in-built DAC). Am I correct on this?

 

While I am fancied by the concept of reproducing surround sound with headphones, I'm not sure how "good" the Realiser's in-built DAC functionality is, compared to dedicated external DAC's made by many reputable audio companies. Therefore, as TruBrew pointed out, I think it'd be a better idea to simply feed digital signal into Realiser, and get the surround sound-modified digital signal out of the Realiser (bypassing both the in-built ADC and DAC of the Realiser altogether) and connect it to an external, possibly superior DAC. I'd appreciate your opinions on this matter.

 

However, in order to do what I said above, I would need to use an HDMI cable (for digital input) and an optical Toslink cable (for digital output). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but those two are the only available digital input and output for the Realiser, right? I cannot use USB or coaxial S/PDIF cable, probably the most common types of digital audio cable? That being said, I don't get why they chose Toslink as the only available digital out, considering the fact that Toslink is generally less favored than coaxial S/PDIF.

 

Thankfully, my DAC also has Toslink input, but the problem is with HDMI. I use an iMac as my primary audio source, and it only has USB or Firewire applications. I know there are some USB-to-S/PDIF converters out there, but is there any way I can get digital audio signal out of my iMac in HDMI format, so that I can use it with the Realiser bypassing its AD and DA conversion? For example, any simple device (not overly expensive) that can convert, say, an audio signal via USB into HDMI, without compromising the original USB audio quality?

 

Lots of discussion of all this on this thread.  But cutting to the chase regarding an external DAC, the consensus is that the Realiser's own DAC is quite good.  For me, the total effect is so stunning that the small incremental improvement that could be achieved by using a better external DAC is not all that significant.

post #1824 of 2741

This may just be the place to spruik my Realiser sale thread.

 

Non-HDMI.

 

Cheers.

post #1825 of 2741

I use my HDMI/toslink Realiser manly for Blu Ray movies, so 48/24 is fine for movies. 

 

RCA analog or HDMI digital/toslink.

For most all non balanced headphone systems you really don't need to go with a stand alone Dac. However If you go high end like my SR-009/SRM-727 combo then it would be advisable to go digital all the way to a neutral external balanced Dac, of course that's saying that your Amp has balanced RCA input and output.

 

It has become hard for me to use a speaker 5.1/7.1 system for movies, loose to much of the detail and a little of the direction.  

post #1826 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysally View Post

I use my HDMI/toslink Realiser manly for Blu Ray movies, so 48/24 is fine for movies. 

 

RCA analog or HDMI digital/toslink.

For most all non balanced headphone systems you really don't need to go with a stand alone Dac. However If you go high end like my SR-009/SRM-727 combo then it would be advisable to go digital all the way to a neutral external balanced Dac, of course that's saying that your Amp has balanced RCA input and output.

 

It has become hard for me to use a speaker 5.1/7.1 system for movies, loose to much of the detail and a little of the direction.  

 

Yeah, I'm finding it hard to listen to headphones that aren't connected to the realiser!  I've even started recording the toslink out of the realiser to make files for my iPod.  It is really a great way to spend the train ride into work!  

 

Speaking of recording, I recently bought an RME Fireface UCX audio interface for multi-track recording.  I did an experiment and routed the toslink out of the realiser in to the fire face and routed the output through the coax out of the fire face.  This essentially re-clocks the incoming digital signal.  I then connected the coax out to my perfect wave DAC.  I found the sound to be even more open, clear and definitely less fatiguing.  These are just preliminary impressions, but I do think there is value in re-clocking the toslink output of the realiser.  I didn't buy the interface for this purpose, but I think it may do double duty.  Of course it could mean that the coax in of the Perfect Wave Dac is better than the optical in.  

 

Also, someone on this forum mentioned that their PRIR was brighter than the actual speakers and room they sampled.  This also happened to me at AIX.  It was a very slight change, but Lorr explained that their is a reason why it happens.  I can't actually remember the reason, but we did discuss it.  The realiser does have manual headphone eq which can be used to correct for this.  Most users choose not to mess with that since by the time they get home, they can't remember the difference anyway.  This could be a problem if the speakers you sample are on the bright side I suppose.  

post #1827 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsilvio View Post

 

Yeah, I'm finding it hard to listen to headphones that aren't connected to the realiser!  I've even started recording the toslink out of the realiser to make files for my iPod.  It is really a great way to spend the train ride into work!  

 

What headphones do you use to listen these recorded outs on the ipod? How good does the speaker simulation get??

post #1828 of 2741
Thread Starter 

Big day on Friday.  My SR-009 has arrived at Yama's and I'm driving down to pick it up.

 

Very excited indeed.

post #1829 of 2741
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsilvio View Post

Yeah, I'm finding it hard to listen to headphones that aren't connected to the realiser!  I've even started recording the toslink out of the realiser to make files for my iPod.  It is really a great way to spend the train ride into work!  

 

How well does that work out for you?

 

I've noticed that even with a much simpler DSP, TB Isone, I get really dizzy and sick to my stomach if my head doesn't stay pretty still because the sound field doesn't change as I move my head.  I can't even do paperwork on my desk at the office while using it.  Having to keep looking down at my desk and then back up at the monitor again is enough to trigger it.

post #1830 of 2741

I use either Sensaphonics 2x-s custom monitors or my JH-3A.  JA-3A does a slightly better job but both are convincing.  Yes, they are not up to my stax 009's but still work very well.  The sennsaphonics block about 30db of ambient noise which really helps on the train.  Yes, you need to pick a point to look at and pretend its the center channel.  However, I have walked down the street while listening to the emulation without any ill effects.  I do notice however, that the 3d effect diminishes the more I move around.  But, sit in one place and there you are at AIX!  

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