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Long awaited Smyth SVS Realiser NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE - Page 157

post #2341 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post

So what do I make of this experience?  Was it just a bad measurement?  Or are some of these issues to be expected with the Realiser? 

 

 

If you want "best" results, there is no easy route. You need to take several measurements. I've never had two similar PRIRs from the same system, there's always a small soundstage or tonal change when microphones and your head are in different positions. In addition to that, you also need several HPEQ measurements. And to make things even longer, you really need to go though the long "manual headphone eq routine" to match the frequency response exactly.

 

So you see, there are lots of variables and config settings. It will take several hours if not a lot more to get everything perfect. Depending on the setup (including your ears), no one can guarantee that you do get the perfect results though, but very close.

 

My TH900 also sounded very bassy compared to LCD-3's. You need to go though the manual eq routine and/or tweak the HPEQ settings (never tried that, but there's the bass/mid/treble compensation settings, they might be too "safe" for some headphones by default).


Edited by hekeli - 3/19/13 at 11:41am
post #2342 of 2713
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post

 

So what do I make of this experience?  Was it just a bad measurement?  Or are some of these issues to be expected with the Realiser?  

 

If it was a bad measurement - what was the likely problem?  How difficult is it to get "good" measurements? 

 

Any thoughts appreciated - I really wanted to like the Realiser but this demo was quite underwhelming.
 

 

Hard to say exactly what could account for each and every one of your problems, but the "skill of the calibrator" could certainly contribute greatly.  The proper placement of the two microphones in your ears is THE most crucial factor when doing either PRIR or HPEQ calibration.  If they are in too far, or misaligned/rotated, then the resulting sound that "they hear" will not provide an accurate representation of what your own ears hear.  If the microphones are jostled a bit, or move when the headphones get put over them for the brief HPEQ calibration process, again the results will be impaired.  It's like similar non-optimal results from knocking your prescription eyeglasses out of alignment, or sitting on them, or even worse trying to borrow someone else's prescription eyeglasses and think you will be able to see properly.  You have similar non-optimal performance from the Realiser when you just try to use someone else's PRIR!

 

Also, although it takes somewhat longer, my own personal method of doing a PRIR is to do (a) long sweep of 12 seconds through each speaker vs. short sweep of 4 seconds, and (b) number of repetitions 4 vs. just 1 just to minimize the effect of involuntary body movements and other things which might get picked up in the microphones, with the results averaged out by the Realiser.  That's a total required time of 12x longer to create the PRIR, but my own feeling is that is will probably produce a "more accurate result" (though that may be a bit placebo effect).

 

Also, I can say that while the entry-level Stax headphone system is "acceptable" in providing what SVS requires, it cannot compare to the high-end Stax systems in just being a high-quality headphone system.  The better the headphone system, the better EVERYTHING sounds... including trying to duplicate a high-end speaker system through the Realiser. And I'm not just talking about loudness or "tonal quality" (although inevitably the brain handles sound with "louder seems better"), I'm talking about the ability to do what is needed to accomplish in analog form what the digital signal processing in the Realiser/PRIR/HPEQ system is trying to accomplish which also has a "spatial relationship of sound direction" aspect to it.

 

Bottom line, there could be a number of factors which contributed to your less-than-satisfying demonstration experience but I would "blame" the calibrator probably in microphone placement in your ears, since you say the actual sound in the room was very high-end and wonderful.  Your lofty expectations of being able to have the Realiser be able to duplicate EXACTLY all of the audio and spatial direction cues your own ears/brain pick up when listening to real speakers, well these are probably well-founded although this is obviously still just a process of trying to "simulate" multi-directional sound via DSP and just two L/R stereo headphones.  And of course listening to anything through headphones is not going to move huge air masses against your body like big speakers will for experiencing low-frequency sound the same way.  After all, it is fundamentally "headphone sound", not speakers, and the fundamental differences are obvious.  And if it was simply the entry-level Stax headphone system being used for the demo, well that too is a factor even for just listening to 2-channel stereo sound "straight through".

 

The Realiser does an amazing job of making that all happen, though a better headphone delivery system side of the process certainly adds to the illusion quality.  But at the core, the PRIR/HPEQ is really the most critical component.

 

Maybe give it a second try, given these new insights?


Edited by dsperber - 3/19/13 at 12:06pm
post #2343 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post
Was it just a bad measurement?

 

Besides the measurements, the Realiser also has many adjustable settings that can affect the results.  Those settings might have been adjusted by a previous user.  So to make sure that you start fresh, you can reset those settings by selecting "ERASE PRESET" before you load your PRIR and HPEQ measurements.

post #2344 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post

After reading all I could about the Realiser, I made a trip yesterday to a Midwest Realiser dealer to try out the unit.  My experience was fairly negative and I am hoping that those with some experience with the Realiser can help me understand what happened.

 

The system to be simulated was world class (Esoteric/BAT/Wilson) in a pretty good room.  When listening to the Realiser I noticed a few problems:

 

1)  The Smyth system had a deal more bass than the actual system.  On a symphonic test track, the basses were far too loud.  Similarly on a rock test track the kick drum completely dominated the mix, in a way not apparent on the real system.  (I was impressed by how much bass the Stax headphones could deliver, but this was just way out of balance)

 

2)  The soundstage presentation was much more forward on the Smyth system.  On the real system, the soundstage was at the plane of the speakers or behind.  With the Smyth system the soundstage was well in front of the speakers.  Since the real system was already a "nearfield listening" setup, this more forward presentation was not a good thing.  It got kind of "in-your-face"

 

3)  Sonic images on the Smyth system were larger and less precise than on the real system.  The real system was capable of pinpoint imaging, whereas the Smyth system gave images that were larger and less well defined.  On one test track a guitar sound that normally sounds about two feet tall, was rendered by the Smyth system as a huge guitar that extended from floor to ceiling.  Kinda interesting, but not at all what was happening on the real system.

 

 

So what do I make of this experience?  Was it just a bad measurement?  Or are some of these issues to be expected with the Realiser?  

 

If it was a bad measurement - what was the likely problem?  How difficult is it to get "good" measurements? 

 

Any thoughts appreciated - I really wanted to like the Realiser but this demo was quite underwhelming.
 

 

Could be a bad measurement.  Could also be the headphones you used.  Which one was used, the Stax that is usually bundled with it?  Also, did you have both the Speaker measurement AND the Headphone one as well?  There are two measurements.  PRIR for Speakers, HPEQ for Headphones.

post #2345 of 2713

Could it relate to the number of speakers? In particular, it seems like you virtualized a stereo setup and judged the quality by listening to a stereo recording (and what's more judging relatively subtle qualities such as plane of reproduction).

 

This might show defficiencies in the processing (be it incorrect prir / hpeq or any other approximations in the chain) more clearly than the more typical 5.1 or 7.1 demo? This may also relate to some not using the realiser for stereo playback?

post #2346 of 2713

Thank you all for your thoughts.  Much appreciated.  Some answers to your questions are below:

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post

Besides the measurements, the Realiser also has many adjustable settings that can affect the results.  Those settings might have been adjusted by a previous user.  So to make sure that you start fresh, you can reset those settings by selecting "ERASE PRESET" before you load your PRIR and HPEQ measurements.

 

Could have been a problem.  I will have to have the dealer check if I do another trial

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post

 

Could be a bad measurement.  Could also be the headphones you used.  Which one was used, the Stax that is usually bundled with it?  Also, did you have both the Speaker measurement AND the Headphone one as well?  There are two measurements.  PRIR for Speakers, HPEQ for Headphones.

 

I was using the Stax headphones that come with the system.  We did both the PRIR and the HPEQ.  The measurement used was a 12 second sweep done twice on each speaker.

 

I have some concerns that the microphone earbuds were not the right size for my ears, and that the microphones might have been jostled when I put on the Stax for the HPEQ.  (how could they not be?)

 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dsperber View Post

Maybe give it a second try, given these new insights?

 

     I will probably give it another go, but its a two hour drive to the dealership.   I could hear very clearly the great potential in the system but I don't exactly see how I can get that potential realized given all the complexities involved.  I would guess only a few folks really know how to set these up.

post #2347 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH
 I will probably give it another go, but its a two hour drive to the dealership.   I could hear very clearly the great potential in the system but I don't exactly see how I can get that potential realized given all the complexities involved.  I would guess only a few folks really know how to set these up.

Hi,

     You get acquainted with the setup and function of the Realiser pretty quickly. As someone demoing the unit and unfamiliar, it is overwhelming, at least it was for me. I have really enjoyed stereo setups on the Realiser, I will bypass it often, but I always seem to go back to the Realiser. As mentioned, the microphone fit is critical in getting a proper PRIR/HPEQ. Depending on your testing, someone watching your look angles will help , and I felt that the 2170 can certainly be improved upon along with the dac. There are so many more functions involved in very detailed testings, manual eq etc.

 

     What I have noticed with the Realiser, which has been mentioned, is the visual interaction in different environments other than which was measured, ie at your desktop. I have found myself using the head tracker much more, and getting some space in front of me when listening.  

post #2348 of 2713
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post
I will probably give it another go, but its a two hour drive to the dealership.   I could hear very clearly the great potential in the system but I don't exactly see how I can get that potential realized given all the complexities involved.  I would guess only a few folks really know how to set these up.

 

Just to show that "not all demos are unsuccessful" and obviously can vary somewhat due to lots of variables and factors, here's a quote of a private conversation I had with a member of the Oppo BDP-103 "owners thread" over on AVS Forum.  He had seen my comments about being motivated to buy the 103 mostly for its external HDMI inputs, so that I could plug my cable DVR into the 103 via HDMI and take advantage of the 103's ability to decode to LPCM and put it out over its HDMI-2 output (with video going out over its HDMI-1 to my HDTV).  The HDMI-2 audio-only decoded LPCM output then goes to the Realiser's HDMI-input, thus allowing me to use HDMI input on the Realiser for any source coming through the 103: true BluRay discs, or external HDMI input such as HDTV from my DVR.

 

Anyway, he was intrigued and told me about a private demo he'd had last year at DTS Headquarters, of a "new technology" he now decided was strikingly similar to SVS in the Realiser.  They didn't tell him what it really was or even have a name for it, though in retrospect their description sure sounds like SVS.  A bit of personal research by him after his visit uncovered the existence of the Smyth Realiser itself.  He has since concluded they might be working on a licensed version, to include somehow in DTS codec packages they already license to equipment manufacturers. When he told me about this, I observed it sounded very similar to the Yamaha project rumored to exist some years back to do the same type of thing, i.e. come out with a low-priced playback-only "imbedded" version of SVS technology which would not include PRIR measurement capability but could use a PRIR for listening... much like Dolby Headphone works in many AVR's.

 

Assuming he was getting a "demo" of something like SVS with a "generic PRIR" rather than a personally measured PRIR, here are his comments:

 

=====================================================================================

 

I don't believe that DTS is trying to build an AVR. I believe (and, again, this is just speculation) that they're trying to build a processor/decoder that they can license to AVR manufacturers the same as they license their current DTS decoders. What they played for me was fed from a computer workstation.

Whether this theoretical product will be playback-only or something else, I don't know. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to build the PRIR calibration into a receiver, similar to Audyssey and similar auto-calibration tools in receivers now.

In any case, when I visited, this was all proof-of-concept. They aren't ready to announce anything formally yet.

However, having experienced this, I was then very intrigued to learn that Smyth already has a working product available now. Sadly, it's a little out of my price range at the moment. smile.gif

In answer to your question, I did not have a PRIR calibrated to me. They had me listen to one that they said reflected an "average listener" and told me that it would be even better with a personalized profile. The "average listener" one was pretty darn amazing.

First, they played an audio clip through the 11.1 speaker system in the studio. Then they had me put on the headphones and played the same clip. At first, I thought they had screwed something up and were still playing through the speakers. But I was puzzled as to why the headphones over my ears didn't muffle the sound coming from the speakers. I had to take the headphones off and put them back on to fully process what was happening. The clip sounded absolutely identical to their speaker array, down to the precise location and directionality of each speaker. I couldn't tell the difference at all.

 

================================================================

post #2349 of 2713
He must have tried a prototype of DTS Headphone:X, demoed at CES last January. See http://www.dts.com/professionals/sound-technologies/headphonex.aspx. Wonder how this compares to the Realiser...
post #2350 of 2713
Also with HDMI 2.0 on the horizon (planned for release mid 2013), I wonder how long before Oppo and Smyth Research both release HDMI 2.0 versions of their BDP and A8, resp.

With HDMI 2.0, more than 8 audio channels would become possible. Perhaps then the A8 could become a A12 or better in a single box (I.e. no need for two A8s to get more than 7.1) though then the question would be could the next BDP "up mix" a 7.1 BD track to 11.1 (as DTS Neo:X does, not sure current BDP-103 can do that...) and transmit that in LPCM to the "A12" for 11.1 surround sound field simulation!? That sure would be a nice upgrade :-)
post #2351 of 2713
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerbHHH View Post

So what do I make of this experience?  Was it just a bad measurement?  Or are some of these issues to be expected with the Realiser?  

 

If it was a bad measurement - what was the likely problem?  How difficult is it to get "good" measurements? 

 

I can't really add much more to what others have already said. I totally agree with the comments already made regarding Realiser measurements. Their comments concur with my experience too.

 

The bottom line is that the skill and experience of the operator is critical. Things like mic insertion, look angles, etc. are all super critical. Also, for me, having done many measurements on lots of different systems and rooms with lots of different people, it seems like every time I go to do a new measurement, I learn something new. It always seems like something will happen which has never happened before. Fortunately between Lorr Kramer's vast knowledge and his willingness to explain everything, and being able to do measurements quite often on a variety of systems, I have been able to figure out most problems.

 

Doing good measurements takes practice! It's like having to be a recording engineer. You need to know what you are doing, or put some time into learning and practicing. I have no idea how much experience the operator had in this case. But even if they were very experienced, no body is perfect. Sometimes measurements need to be redone. I would have redone it right away once the listener said that the sound does not match.

 

One thing I do for my measurements is take a picture of each of my ears with the mics inserted. This way I can confirm proper mic insertion AND I can also refer back to the mic placement for each PRIR/HPEQ measurement. This can sometimes help figure out why one PRIR or HPEQ might sound different than another measurement on a different day. 

 

You can do a test and do two PRIR/HPEQ measurements and pull the mics out and re-insert them between each measurement. Then you can compare the two. More often than not, you will hear differences. Sometimes the differences are very small. Other times the differences are very great.

 

The Realiser is a very complex piece of equipment. It's not your typical audiophile component. It's a precision piece of test equipment. So along with that, it requires a lot more care and effort to get optimal results. But the rewards are also WELL worth it!

post #2352 of 2713
I would like to know whether realiser supports 2 headphones at once through rca and optical out. Anyone tested it?
post #2353 of 2713
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthmatin View Post

I would like to know whether realiser supports 2 headphones at once through rca and optical out. Anyone tested it?

 

There are analog L/R headphone outputs on both rear and front (primarily for connection convenience, as the outputs are otherwise identical).  So on the analog side, the device itself supports two separate headphone output paths with identical signal, which could be delivered to two separate headphone/amp paths.  Just remember you'd be sharing one common PRIR/HPEQ with this method, which might be fine for the person who "owns" the calibration set, but will force the second listener to be using the first listener's "ears" (not optimal at the very least, and not good at the very worst).

 

Alternatively, if both listener's have had their own PRIR/HPEQ calibrations done, the Realiser can run in "dual user mode".  In this setup with proper PRIR/HPEQ pairs selected for each user, the 3/4 main outputs on the rear serve as the L/R headphone outputs for the second user's PRIR/HPEQ set.  In other words, two totally independent internal CPU processes are going on simultaneously, with the results of listener #1's set of PRIR/HPEQ being delivered to the front/rear main analog headphone outputs, and the results of listener #2's set of PRIR/HPEQ being delivered to 3/4 main output on the rear.  You will of course need two separate headphone/amp delivery paths to go to the two listeners but you already implied you had that available.

 

In the digital world, there is only one optical output on the rear.  This is strictly for single user mode, or listener #1 in dual-user mode (as a digital alternative to the analog rear/front headphone outputs which is still available... for listener #1) with listener #2 still being delivered output on 3/4 of rear main output.

 

All outputs are always active.


Edited by dsperber - 3/20/13 at 7:10am
post #2354 of 2713

While I agree with what others have said, it sounds to me like something was seriously wrong with the measurement process.  Either the microphones were turned the wrong way in your ears, or something else was off kilter in a major way.  I agree that PRIRs are each different from one another in the same room with the same listener, but my experience is that the differences are simply not that huge, and I am a very critical listener.  In my case, I had Lorr Kramer do the measurements at AIX in Los Angeles; I had the owner of Audio High do measurements in Mountain View, and I had the owner of the Manhattan dealership do the measurements there.  Finally, I had Darin Fong do measurements at two dealers in San Diego.  The very best PRIRs for me were the ones Darin did.  But not because any of the others were strange sounding, had too much or too little bass, had poor sound stages.  None of that.  It was simply that the room/speaker combo is much more to my liking at Acoustic Zen in San Diego than anywhere else.  AIX is a somewhat dead room for me.  Audio High -- I think the speakers are not to my liking, etc.  

 

This is not to demean Darin's skills.  It is quite possible that someone else's hand might have resulted in  inferior PRIRs to the ones obtained in San Diego.  But unless the person doing the measurement is very inexperienced and inept,  I don't think the results would have been as off base as yours were.

 

Good luck, and go to another dealer the next time.

post #2355 of 2713

I will be buying the A8 soon, and I am considering alternatives to the Stax 2170-either the HD800 or the Koss 2170. Clarity is paramont.

Feedback would be appreciated. Correction-the Koss ESP-950


Edited by Mindless2 - 3/23/13 at 8:16pm
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