Well I'm mainly interested in the Realiser for 5.1/7.1 games and movies honestly. And I'm sure once I hear it, I'll love the 2-channel setup as well with the right PRIR. I was asking about the straight dac aspect mainly as I'm curious if it can compete with my DP1, though I would doubt it. I am a little confused how/why you could use an external stereo dac with the Smyth while still getting the 7.1 processing fed through a stereo dac. Much to learn I suppose, most of which will become clearer once I get my hands on one (thinking early February). Where's a good place to buy-any discounts?
Yes... "much to learn".
The input to the Realiser is where the multi-channel comes in. The SVS processing then processes this multi-channel input "convolving it" with the PRIR "filter", which is actually a measurement of some sound room listening environment as heard by your own actual ears (based on small microphones inserted into both of your ears while sweep signals are sent individually, one at a time, to each of the speakers in the room). The "capture" of what those microphones heard inside your ears (which is a function of the room, baffles, carpets, walls, ceilings, electronics, speakers, speaker placements, etc.) is digitally processed, with the results producing a PRIR file "filter".
When that PRIR "filter" is used (in reverse, you might say) to then listen to any arbitrary sound source (with any number of channels up to 8), this playback functionality converts the multi-channel input to be listened to through 2-channel stereo headphones. It is a "virtual surround", with a simulation of the multi-channel input as heard through the magic of the DSP inside the Realiser... through headphones which are obviously only 2-channel devices. That's what SVS is ("Smyth Virtual Surround"), and that's what the Realiser does.
So, you first find some listening environment that has fantastic sound. Million dollars worth of electronics, speakers, treatments, etc. Then you pay them some money to let you come there and take a PRIR measurement (doesn't take but an hour top, given setup/breakdown and the sweep measurement itself), which gets recorded onto the Realiser's internal memory and also onto an SD flash card for you to take home (through the SD card reader in the Realiser). Then you also take one HPEQ measurement with whatever headphone/amp you own, which provides a second piece of information for the Realiser's EQ/DSP circuitry to be used during playback. Then you combine the PRIR and HPEQ into a "preset" (for convenience), and use it while still in that million dollar sound environment to perform an A/B-comparison, of the real speakers vs. how it sounds in your headphones. You will be astonished at how precise is the DUPLICATION of the exact sound/placement of those real speakers vs. what your brain thinks it's hearing when you have the headphones on. You probably won't be able to tell the difference, and will likely ask "are the headphones on yet?? Is this the speakers??".
There are two DAC's in the Realiser: (1) one on the input side to support converting the 8-channel analog input to 8-channel digital form for DSP processing, and (2) one on the output side to support converting the 2-channel digital output of the SVS processing into analog for feeding the 2-channel stereo headphones. It is this latter 2-channel DAC where the option exists to feed the digital output via optical to an external DAC, for feeding the 2-channel stereo headphones. And of course if you have a discrete multi-channel LPCM source (e.g. output from a BluRay player) you can feed the HDMI input to the Realiser and avoid the input DAC process completely, with the 8-channel digital signal arriving directly for SVS processing.
But the output of the Realiser is always 2-channel stereo for headphones, but when you listen to it you'll swear you are in that original listening room modeled by the PRIR you're using for playback. You will believe you're hearing multiple speakers all around you, exactly as it was in that room. Not better than that room, not worse, but a DUPLICATE of THAT PARTICULAR ROOM. That's the purpose of this Realiser device... TO DUPLICATE THE SOUND OF ANY GIVEN MULTI-CHANNEL LISTENING ENVIRONMENT, via 2-channel headphones.
So if you measure a crummy room that PRIR will sound equally crummy when you use it for playback. Hence my suggestion to try and find a million dollar studio willing to rent an hour out to you for a PRIR measurement.
Oh... no discounts on price. The only option is to leave out the entry-level Stax headphone/amp which is bundled with the Realiser, which saves the retail price of that item (Smyth doesn't make any money on the Stax headphone/amp they provide).
Edited by dsperber - 12/15/12 at 10:28pm