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Long awaited Smyth SVS Realiser NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE - Page 137

post #2041 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by darinf View Post

I was messaging with jazzfan and he mentioned that he was surprised at how little interest there is with the Realiser not just among audiophiles, but even among headphone enthusiasts. WE get it, that;s why we own them, but why doesn't anyone else seem to be interested?

 

I don't understand it. Maybe people just don't get it. But with all the experienced people on Head-Fi, I would think a majority of the headphone enthusiasts would want one. Or maybe it's viewed as a novelty item, like Dolby Headphone or some other systems which work marginally at best. I am thinking everyone lumps the Realiser in with all the other headphone/surround processors. Or it's viewed as a binaural recording simulator.

 

Whatever the case, one would think that Smyth would market more heavily to the consumer market, but they don't. All their sales are to pro audio engineers, not consumers.

 

Another major factor is having to do the measurements. If you don't have access to any high end audio systems to measure, the box is basically useless. Yes, you can use other people's PRIR's, but for someone considering buying one, they're not going to spend the money on the hope that they will be able to use other people's PRIR's. Seems like that could be a big turn off for spending $3K.

 

I have also never seen a negative review of the Realiser or even a review that says it doesn't work that well. All the reviews rave about it and say it really works.

 

I have been doing a lot of PRIR's at various locations and so far I have only had ONE person show any interest in doing a PRIR for them. I did one for him and hew was very impressed. (I did do one PRIR session where everyone did a PRIR, but that was set up as a demo with Lorr, so all of the people who came, came specifically for the Realiser demo.) Other than that, everyone who has watched me do a PRIR has not shown any interest in doing one for themselves to demo when I am right there with everything hooked up an ready to go!

 

The most common reaction is, "Oh I don't like headphones, so I am not interested." What?! That's the WHOLE point! If you like listening to speakers instead of headphones, this is for you. Even when I tell them that at the push of a button they can A/B/C/D compare completely different systems AND rooms, they don't seem interested.

 

Oh well, at least we know what they're missing!

 

-Darin

 

I think one reason some of the headphiles don't take well to the Realiser is that it involves tons of DSP processing to the audio signal. To some, having any DSP processing corrupts and makes the signal less pure, and necessarily reduce quality, so they ignore it.

post #2042 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

 

I think one reason some of the headphiles don't take well to the Realiser is that it involves tons of DSP processing to the audio signal. To some, having any DSP processing corrupts and makes the signal less pure, and necessarily reduce quality, so they ignore it.


Ah yes, of course. I forgot about that aspect. I can totally see that. I guess it's like trying to sell a DAC to a die-hard vinyl person, never gonna happen.

 

I did  have one person not want to do a PRIR, but just listened to one of mine via the Realiser. It did not work for him. His comment was, "Um, the sound is coming from in my head still and it sounds like it just has a bunch of reverb applied." Ouch, I can see why he wasn't impressed.

post #2043 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post
I think one reason some of the headphiles don't take well to the Realiser is that it involves tons of DSP processing to the audio signal. To some, having any DSP processing corrupts and makes the signal less pure, and necessarily reduce quality, so they ignore it.

 

Indeed, to me the realizer, however beneficial it may be to the soundstaging, conflicts with my typical goals which are to ensure transparency in the reproduction chain. I was actually seriously tempted to jump in for 2.0 use even at some point but read too many users comments about them not actual using it for 2.0 but really mostly for movies / games.

 

What could lift the block for me? A dedicated audiophile unit with better quality mics, 24/96 processing and handling of corresponding digital in / outs. I know that this probably means nothing when you think about the actual resolution of the PRIRs but somehow the OCD audiofool in me can't settle for less atm... Also, on the practical side, including on board DD decoders even though there's license cost associated because it seems like a PITA to find equipment outputting multi-channel PCM.

post #2044 of 2713

The tech behind the Realiser is very sound (heh). One way to think about it, away from the nitty gritty of it is this:

 

If you believe in TV color calibration, then the approach to the Realiser is fundamentally similar. It's trying to calibrate the system to a certain reference. Most HDTV calibrations work by calibrating it to the professionally accepted ITU-R BT.709 recommendation. There's no similar professionally accepted, highly specified recommendation for audio, so the Realiser does the next best thing: calibrate your headphones to sound like a loudspeaker system that you deem to be the reference.

 

Like TV color calibrations, the process itself will introduce errors by itself, but it corrects likely much larger errors from other factors (ie lousy factory settings etc). In the same way, the Realiser's PRIR and HPEQ process itself will introduce errors by itself, but it corrects likely much larger errors from other factors (ie inherent design assumptions of the headphone that does not match individual users).

 

One thing many people don't realize is that any headphone manufacturer (Sennheiser, STAX etc) will make certain assumptions about a human head/ear physiology and choose some kind of average to target for their design. For example, when Sennheiser designs their transducer and enclosure, they need to decide what the frequency response should be...but on who? Their president? Their resident golden ear? Or some luminary person on Head-Fi? I don't know, but likely they use either a standard dummy head or a customized one and use that as a target. And I can confidently state that if you take any random person, that person's physiology will likely differ from that dummy head to some degree. So the very fact that a headphone design is fixed and targeted for some unknown model, means that it'll likely be suboptimal for any given random person. The Realiser improves the audio by calibrating the sound to account for individual uniqueness/deviation from that manufacturer target average.

post #2045 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

Indeed, to me the realizer, however beneficial it may be to the soundstaging, conflicts with my typical goals which are to ensure transparency in the reproduction chain. I was actually seriously tempted to jump in for 2.0 use even at some point but read too many users comments about them not actual using it for 2.0 but really mostly for movies / games.

 

Hmm, that's surprising to me. I seem to find that most people here talk about using it for 2 channel music primarily. Although being able to watch movies is a nice bonus, I probably use it more for 2 channel music. Regardless of how people use it, you can use it for whatever you want. I guess hearing that many people use it to watch movies gives it less credibility as a serious 2 channel system?

 

Quote:
What could lift the block for me? A dedicated audiophile unit with better quality mics, 24/96 processing and handling of corresponding digital in / outs. I know that this probably means nothing when you think about the actual resolution of the PRIRs but somehow the OCD audiofool in me can't settle for less atm... Also, on the practical side, including on board DD decoders even though there's license cost associated because it seems like a PITA to find equipment outputting multi-channel PCM.

I can definitely see that. With the idea that higher resolution content gets closer to audio nirvana, the Realiser does not have the typical high end upgrade path. It's actually a very "old" model in terms of the life of digital audio products. that's the reason why it doesn't have the latest digital technology.

 

Sure, it would be much better if the Realiser could decode multi-channel digital audio. (The Smyth brothers invented DTS for God's sake! They can't include it in their own product?) For me, the Dune HD Max has been perfect for the Realiser. I can play just about any audio/video disk or file and it decodes everything perfectly for the Realiser. Problem solved (for $600).

 

Anyway, I see your points.

post #2046 of 2713

I've tried my Realiser several times with 2.0, and even tried other people's PRIRs (mine were always better), but I prefer straight headphone listening.  The fidelity/timbre is not the same for me with the Realiser in the chain.  

 

Contrary to what you wrote, darinf, I think the people using it for 2.0 are in the minority.  It was not even designed with that in mind.  Pretty sure Lorr will tell you that.  My understanding is that the unit is primarily a tool for surround mixing engineers.  

post #2047 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post

I've tried my Realiser several times with 2.0, and even tried other people's PRIRs (mine were always better), but I prefer straight headphone listening.  The fidelity/timbre is not the same for me with the Realiser in the chain.  

 

Contrary to what you wrote, darinf, I think the people using it for 2.0 are in the minority.  It was not even designed with that in mind.  Pretty sure Lorr will tell you that.  My understanding is that the unit is primarily a tool for surround mixing engineers.  

 

Do your own PRIRs sound like the loudspeaker system/room you were measuring from the seating position in which you measured it? If it does that well, then that's mission accomplished from the Realiser's point of view.

post #2048 of 2713
It would require a poll but indeed I recall it like blubliss. Also, it's no secret the prime target audience has been pro market movie mixers. Hence the 24/48 processing, lack of decoder (the mastering is all done in multi ch. PCM I bet), limited connectivity for example to add an external dac for the needy audiophiles, ...

Now, question is if there's really a market for an audiophile version. I assume it costs serious bucks to bring this tech to the market (and was absolutely floored when I heard about the product) so hopefully they can leverage the already existing stuff and simply have but more horsepower and flexibility for the in/out. It seems doable...
post #2049 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

Do your own PRIRs sound like the loudspeaker system/room you were measuring from the seating position in which you measured it? If it does that well, then that's mission accomplished from the Realiser's point of view.

I don't know for blubliss but, personally, I am talking about these last few percents of resolution/musicality/whatever the attribute that transform a good sounding rig into a special thing. I bet for some, the realiser is all they need (for instance those who can't immerse themselves listening to stereo stuff through std headphones). For the traditional "high-end" headphone user, what makes or brakes the magic boils down to seemingly minor faults, such as any type of equalization is subject to induce for instance.

Another way of seeig this: well done parametric equalization is perfectly capable of turning a decent headphone into a better sounding one, even possibly measuring great, but subjectively it is difficult for the eq. to go unnoticed unless it is applied with extreme caution.
post #2050 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post


I don't know for blubliss but, personally, I am talking about these last few percents of resolution/musicality/whatever the attribute that transform a good sounding rig into a special thing. I bet for some, the realiser is all they need (for instance those who can't immerse themselves listening to stereo stuff through std headphones). For the traditional "high-end" headphone user, what makes or brakes the magic boils down to seemingly minor faults, such as any type of equalization is subject to induce for instance.
Another way of seeig this: well done parametric equalization is perfectly capable of turning a decent headphone into a better sounding one, even possibly measuring great, but subjectively it is difficult for the eq. to go unnoticed unless it is applied with extreme caution.

 

I have a fundamental disagreement with the point-of-view that any audible changes to the headphone audio path must be bad, because the underlying implication is that the original audio path cannot be improved in any way. See my posts above about calibration for more details.


Edited by YCH - 10/14/12 at 5:30pm
post #2051 of 2713
Ych, as a matter of fact, I don't buy into your explenation about the flawed nature of dummy head based design. There was an interesting conversation recently with one of the designers of the k1000 on this forum:
1. There's more variation between target curves type (DF, FF, ...) than between people.
2. Dummy head peculiar shape is taken out of the loop once you apply the compensation curve (e.g the inverse of the dummy head HRTF for the average of headings you are interested in).
3. Serious headphone designers don't use just one head but a variery of methods (from conversation with sony designer behind some of the xba line for example).
4. Properly designed head is actually close to a population average so it is a pretty good target to shoot for.
5. We all here with different ears, yet most everyone perceives music in similar way. What plays a major role is flavor and what sounds right in one's imagination. This is highly individual and somewhat cultural, hence designers sometimes voicing a headphone knowing their market (else their competition).
post #2052 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

Ych, as a matter of fact, I don't buy into your explenation about the flawed nature of dummy head based design. There was an interesting conversation recently with one of the designers of the k1000 on this forum:
1. There's more variation between target curves type (DF, FF, ...) than between people.
2. Dummy head peculiar shape is taken out of the loop once you apply the compensation curve (e.g the inverse of the dummy head HRTF for the average of headings you are interested in).
3. Serious headphone designers don't use just one head but a variery of methods (from conversation with sony designer behind some of the xba line for example).
4. Properly designed head is actually close to a population average so it is a pretty good target to shoot for.
5. We all here with different ears, yet most everyone perceives music in similar way. What plays a major role is flavor and what sounds right in one's imagination. This is highly individual and somewhat cultural, hence designers sometimes voicing a headphone knowing their market (else their competition).

 

Do you agree that the ideal headphone design would be one that was designed specifically for an individual? If so, then dummy head based design is by definition flawed, since it will not match everyone. It is a necessary evil of making a one-size-fits-all product like headphones.

 

Reply to #1: The manufacturer target I mentioned in my post includes field equalization. I should have made it clearer. But each type of equalization is also only truly valid for a certain head/ear physiology. In other words, your DF/FF equalization curve would be different from mine or from a dummy head, in all likelihood.

Reply to #2: The dummy head-type response is a necessary approximation for a one-size-fits-all design. And you would not want invert that dummy head response in the audio path for headphone listening, even for a pair of headphones designed with a dummy head. It's fundamentally wrong.

Reply to #3: I never said they can't use more than one design methods. But their final design is one FIXED design. It does not adapt to an individual.

Reply to #4: I use several B&K Head and Torso Simulators at work. I can personally attest to the fact that even within our company we can find significant deviations from that dummy head and those responses would not work well with those people. And yet I am not saying we should not use these dummy heads. It's a good average target to shoot for, probably, but when you're talking about attaining optimal performance for individuals a single average model is not sufficient.

post #2053 of 2713
We should probably take this off the thread at some point but ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

Do you agree that the ideal headphone design would be one that was designed specifically for an individual? If so, then dummy head based design is by definition flawed, since it will not match everyone. It is a necessary evil of making a one-size-fits-all product like headphones.

Same as for loudspeakers, yet nobody has had issue selling products for decades. As a matter of fact, a company like stax has successfully designed headphones for decades following DF or FF equalization targets.
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

Reply to #1: The manufacturer target I mentioned in my post includes field equalization. I should have made it clearer. But each type of equalization is also only truly valid for a certain head/ear physiology. In other words, your DF/FF equalization curve would be different from mine or from a dummy head, in all likelihood.

Bringing the issue of the presence of dummy head in the performance measurement is a red herring because the pinnae effect is effectively removed from the field equalized response graph. In that case, it matters more which headings you are considering proper (e.g following a DF or FF curve) rather than the peculiar characteristics of the measuring device which gets filtered out anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

Reply to #2: The dummy head-type response is a necessary approximation for a one-size-fits-all design. And you would not want invert that dummy head response in the audio path for headphone listening, even for a pair of headphones designed with a dummy head. It's fundamentally wrong.

I think we have a misunderstanding, nobody said to equalize out the pinnae reflections in the reproduction chain (that is unless you're playing a binaural recording). What I am saying is that one designs a headphone based on equalized response which effectively means the dummy head characteristics are taken out of the loop such that you performance target is then a flat line. It doesn't matter what ear shape, as I mentioned above, the reference headings is probably far more critical.
Quote:
Originally Posted by YCH View Post

And yet I am not saying we should not use these dummy heads. It's a good average target to shoot for, probably, but when you're talking about attaining optimal performance for individuals a single average model is not sufficient.

On the very contrary, I am convinced it is not so much about the "flat response" for an individual head shape as it is to 1) match that persons preferences 2) bench well against the competition (in store or short meet auditions), and especially 3) pay close attention to rest of the design parameters (transient response, distortion, ...).
Edited by arnaud - 10/14/12 at 8:37pm
post #2054 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

Same as for loudspeakers, yet nobody has had issue selling products for decades. As a matter of fact, a company like stax has successfully designed headphones for decades following DF or FF equalization targets.

 

That's because there's an important distinction between loudspeakers and headphones, even for as simple a thing as achieving a flat frequency response! Let's examine that.

 

For example, if person A set up a room with a particular set of loudspeakers and tuned it til it's frequency response is flat at a listening position, then if a mixing engineer mixes at that position and produces a recording based off that, and person B else sets up another room with a flat frequency response at a seating position, then you can be sure that when that recording is played back in person B's room, the spectral balance of the sound at person B's place is wholly accurate compared to person A's system. Now say you and me both go into person B's room and have a listen. Perhaps I like the sound and you don't. But whatever our complaints are, the frequency response of room B cannot be part of problem (if our goal is to reproduce the sound of the mixing studio of person A), because it is flat as much as we can make it and reproduces the frequency response of the room of person A used to produce the recording. In other words, Getting a flat frequency response from a pair of loudspeakers at a given listening position does not depend on a person's physiology.

 

Now say remove person B's room and you listen to the recording over headphones. Well now, how do you make sure you get a flat frequency response for a given person over the headphones? Without knowing your own head and ear response...you simply cannnot. So one way to get around this is to make yourself a new sound reference that is known flat and try to replicate that. Let's use person B's loudspeaker system that is known flat as the reference! So you go to the seating position and record your HRTF in there, and do and then equalize the headphones using that HRTF. And in doing so will make the headphones sound like the speakers of room B. But at least now we have made it so that the headphones over your ear has a flat frequency response as heard from room B's flat loudspeakers. Getting a flat frequency response from a pair of headphones depends on a person's physiology

.

 

I do not want to continue the discussion until we at least can agree on this.


Edited by YCH - 10/14/12 at 9:41pm
post #2055 of 2713
Thread Starter 

Let's not lose sight of the fact that the purpose of the Realiser is not to "optimize" sound, but rather to "duplicate how a given listening environment sounds to a given person".

 

It is meant to satisfy users such as myself, who don't have a home multi-channel loudspeaker system, and who will pay for the hardware equipment and PRIR measurement time to facilitate an "excellent simulation" of someone else's multi-channel loudspeaker system through headphones.

 

It is meant to support professionals who want to "take their studio monitor sound" home with them, to continue working at home through headphones instead of requiring them to be in the sound studio at the office.

 

And, I have to say, upgrading the "output side" of the mechanism is WELL WORTH ANY DOLLARS SPENT.  In other words, you get a relatively minor sound improvement from an external DAC, but you get a HUGE sound improvement from a high-end Stax amp/headphone upgrade (over the entry-level basic system provided with the Realiser).  And if you can afford an SR-009 (with either SRM-007 or SRM-727 amps), well this is a new world of headphone sound.

 

 

I actually had previously been of the opinion that I preferred listening to 2-channel CD audio "straight", i.e. bypassing the Realiser's SVS processing and just listening from CD player straight through to Stax amp/headphone (possibly through an external DAC, but definitely still without Realiser).  This is the "pure audiophile" headphone sound, presumably.

 

Well, doing an A/B comparison of 2-channel CD audio with my SRM-007tII/SR-009 between that "straight" headphone audio vs. using the AIX 5.1 PRIR and Realiser processing, I was astonished to find that I DEFINITELY PREFERRED the "loudspeaker sound" simulation through the Realiser and the AIX 5.1 PRIR to the "straight headphone" sound.  There was a wonderful vibrancy and 3D-like realism as if I was again in the AIX listening studio room and hearing the 2-channel sound through their two front speakers... as facilitated by the SR-009, which is just amazing.  In contrast, I'd have to say listening to the "pure headphone sound" of the SR-009 with the same 2-channel CD audio source was "flat" and "disappointing" by comparison... with the same SR-009 headphones.

 

I never thought I'd say that, because I don't believe I had the same feeling with my previous SRM-T1S/SR-Omega equipment.  But with the SRM-007tII/SR-009 it's very different... and just like "being there".

 

 

That's what this equipment is about.  So if you have your own wonderful home multi-channel loudspeaker sound system, you really have no urgent need for a Realiser-based headphone equivalent (unless you want to have the same experience outside of your home theater).

 

But if you're like me, with ZERO multi-channel loudspeaker capability, the Realiser "duplicating" the AIX listening room is nirvana.

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