RPGWiZaRD's Dolby Headphone foobar2000 info & tweaks
Here I present you my carefully tweaked custom foobar2000 Dolby Headphone config, basicly I'm the kind of guy that can't keep my fingers off when it comes to settings and tweaking for the best possible result using my own ears (or eyes when it comes to calibrating TVs etc) and can spend literally months tweaking all sliders one by one, making one or a few step change and listen if I find it better/worse until I'm certain about it etc until I eventually get a really nice (in my opinion obviously) result. I realize different headphones or especially DACs/sources may skew the results or the same setting may not be ideal for every DAC/source but trying it with my different headphones it all sounded pretty much optimal or near it so headphones themselves shouldn't have a large impact, DACs might have though
Soundcard users get the best result when the output device is set to 5.1 speakermode. Also please note it seems like Dolby Headphone plugin only supports max 48kHz sample rate.
Here's some examples of my custom Dolby Headphone config recorded video
You can download a preconfigured foobar2000 archieve from here if you don't feel like manually setting it up and you only need to extract it somewhere but if you already have foobar2000 installed I'd recommend you try it out first if you like it or not by extracting it somewhere else and then open the foobar2000 exe from that path you extracted the preconfigured foobar2000 config to and then drag the songs to the playlist (or importing your playlists) to be sure you hear this effect as it's supposed to sound like. If you were to double click your songs it'll most likely open your own foobar2000 and it'd need to be replaced to work, in order to do that you'll first need to uninstall your old foobar2000 from Windows control panel and then put the portable install into the same location as your previous foobar2000 install. Please note the preconfigured configs are portable installs so won't mess with your own foobar2000 settings unless you overwrite them.
UPDATE: As of 11.1.2012 I introduce both a "forward" and "laid-back" config as different people have different preferred sound signatures and this should at least better cover them as these two are a bit of the opposite to each other in soundstage especially. Please note these two different presets is not just an EQ difference, "Forward" config uses Channel Mixer plugin and "Laid-back" config uses Free surround plugin to tweak the soundstage so therefore they sound quite a bit different!
The "forward" config is suitable for: People who prefer a more forward/"in-your-face" sounding soundstage (but improved/larger stage with better imaging/positioning and separation over stock foobar2000), more engaging listening experience. Suitable for people who like the Grado sound or listen to lots of rock, EDM, dance, pop and acoustic etc music. If unsure I'd first try this one as it's more closer to stock foobar2000 sound.
The "laid-back" config is suitable for: People who prefer a more laid-back sounding soundstage with better transparency and more spacious/wider soundstage, more relaxed listening. Suitable for people who prefer sound signatures by for example AKG K70x or Sennheiser HD800 or listen to a lot of classical/orchestra, blues etc. music. Try this if you think the "forward" config is fatiguing or the vocals too "in-your-face".
Portable foobar2000 v1.2.2 "Forward" configuration: foobar2000.v1.2.2.Dolby.Headphone.(Forward)-RPGWiZaRD.zip - (Updated on 27th January, 2013)
foobar2000 player (obviously): http://www.foobar2000.org/
Channel Mixer DSP plugin: http://skipyrich.com/wiki/Foobar2000:Channel_Mixer
Dolby headphone Wrapper: http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_dsp_dolbyhp
VST adapter (beta): http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=84947
Electri-Q Posihfopit edition: http://www.aixcoustic.com/index.php/Electri-Q-posihfopit/30/0/
Matrix Mixer: http://skipyrich.com/store/foo_dsp_mm.7z
Freesurround (beta): http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?act=attach&type=post&id=6246
DSP chain serialization helper: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=86873
Graphic Equalizer (optional): http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_dsp_xgeq
Dolby Headphone dll I won't directly link to as such but it's found in my preconfigured package as well as for example in the trials for the most media players such as PowerDVD and WinDVD etc. Latest version I'm aware of would be v18.104.22.1686 (Thanks Roller), usually named DolbyHph.dll.
DSP plugin load order
Should be noted that Channel Mixer plugin should be ABOVE the dolby headphone plugin in the active DSP list to work correctly. As far as Electri-Q VST EQ plugin goes, it's not that much of a difference if putting it first or last.
Channel Mixer settings
The rest of the settings that isn't seen in the pictures are remain unchanged. You can if you prefer a wider soundstage play around with Stereoimage width but I feel in my ears 0.96 brings the most natural sounding width and above that the vocals/mids are starting to sound off-centered, too far to the sides, this value is the last one in my ears which has the mids positioned where they should be in my ears. "Rear in front" and "Front in rear" settings affect laid-back or forwardness characteristics, the higher values the more forward sounding or vice versa while the rear volume setting seems to impact width/depth of the soundstage.
Matrix Mixer settings
Value 0.731 for the multiplier should give you roughly similar volume levels as stock foobar2000 with above Channel Mixer settings but you can adjust the volume levels according to your preferences. If you experience distortion, this would also be a good place to tweak first (additionally you can adjust gain in Electri-Q).
Dolby Headphone settings
The amplification slider works mostly as a volume control but may also add some audible reverb as well as increase the dolby headphone (surround) effect depending on how high it's set. I prefer the DH2 - Live room setting which doesn't add any noticable amount of reverb and therefore reveals fine details a bit easier, if you love to have a bit of reverb you can try DH1 - Reference room mode instead. The Dynamic compression ruins the sound quality more than it helps so stay away from that one too.
Before you ask why, I feel this is REQUIRED to neglect the frequency response change dolby headphone plugin adds, especially to the significantly boosted lows as well as recessed treblerange, without fixing this, you'll loose fine details in music and it sounds more "muffled". I've compared the EQ settings with dolby headphone enabled on foobar2000 vs stock foobar2000 but also for example Winamp and iTunes and maybe a bit Windows Media player to get a roughly similar frequency balance or just a "good result" (sounding great has slightly higher priority than sounding EXACTLY the same as other players but yea it's roughly the same anyway).
To load the VST EQ plugin Electri-Q (poihfopit edition) I recommend using the new VST host adapter by Yegor Petrov. After having placed the foo_vst.dll file in the components folder as usual, go to File -> Preferences -> Components -> VST plug-ins and add the Electri-Q plugin. Now press "apply" and it should ask if you want to restart foobar2000 and let it do so. Now go to DSP manager and add the Electri-Q (posihfopit edition) to the active DSPs list and you should be now able to bring up the EQ window.
To add a new dot, double click anywhere on the line. To change type of the filter, right click on dot and navigate to "basic" and then pick the appropriate type. To modify a dot's value, double click on it to bring up a small window where you can enter following values:
1: Filter: Peak Freq: 22,676 Gain: -1,386 BW: 1,101
2: Filter: Peak Freq: 40,425 Gain: -1,538 BW: 1,076
3: Filter: Peak Freq: 69,000 Gain: -1,100 BW: 1,096
4: Filter: Peak Freq: 123,49 Gain: -0,958 BW: 1,057
5. Filter: Peak Freq: 198,27 Gain: 0,387 BW: 1,100
6. Filter: Peak Freq: 375,89 Gain: 0,037 BW: 1,000
7. Filter: Peak Freq: 718,00 Gain: -0,159 BW: 1,088
8. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 1197,0 Gain: 0,937 BW: 1,128
9. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 1737,3 Gain: 1,137 BW: 1,100
10. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 2475,1 Gain: 1,172 BW: 1,100
11. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 3359,9 Gain: 1,038 BW: 1,041
12. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 4581,6 Gain: 0,929 BW: 1,117
13. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 6760,1 Gain: 0,404 BW: 0,738
14. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 9966,7 Gain: 1,176 BW: 0,990
15. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 16444 Gain: 0,531 BW: 1,174
16. Filter: Gain only Freq: doesn't matter Gain: -2,972 BW: 1,000
A DSP chain preset with the EQ setting above (as well as rest of the plugin settings) can be downloaded from here: foobar2000.EQ.Balanced.(Forward)-RPGWiZaRD.fbcp - Use DSP chain serialization helper plugin to load the .fbcp file by holding down shift while accessing playback dropdown menu -> DSP chain serializer -> load.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
DSP plugin load order
Free Surround (beta) Settings
Matrix Mixer settings
Dolby Headphone settings
1: Filter: Peak Freq: 22,676 Gain: -1,447 BW: 1,100
2: Filter: Peak Freq: 39,150 Gain: -1,497 BW: 1,109
3: Filter: Peak Freq: 63,300 Gain: -1,457 BW: 1,235
4: Filter: Peak Freq: 115,40 Gain: -0,969 BW: 1,110
5. Filter: Peak Freq: 198,27 Gain: 0,387 BW: 1,100
6. Filter: Peak Freq: 725,00 Gain: -0,247 BW: 1,150
7. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 1151,8 Gain: 0,852 BW: 1,265
8. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 1665,8 Gain: 1,269 BW: 1,100
9. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 2391,8 Gain: 1,377 BW: 1,200
10. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 3218,4 Gain: 1,322 BW: 1,100
11. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 4585,2 Gain: 1,322 BW: 1,120
12. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 6393,0 Gain: 0,747 BW: 0,831
13. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 9966,7 Gain: 1,548 BW: 0,857
14. Filter: Peak (Orfanidis) Freq: 16987 Gain: 1,149 BW: 1,227
15. Filter: Gain Freq: doesn't matter Gain: -2,416 BW: 1,000
You can add whatever plugins you want to use, for example WASAPI is heavily recommended to bypass the Windows own built-in mixer/EQ to get a cleaner output! I decided to not enable this output as default as it usually requires the correct bitrate and sampling rate applied and may be a hazzle to newbies which haven't used foobar2000 to figure out how to fix it. Comments are highly appriciated.
Q: What's the goal of this foobar2000 Dolby Headphone config?
A: The goal is to enhance the "out-of-box" experience, make recordings sound more "live"-like with as realistic and clear positioning as possible while maintaining sound quality as close to the original signal as possible. Also it makes the sound a bit more "forward" sounding for more engaging experience that makes you wanna tap to the rythm or dance along with the music as well as having vocalist standing almost within reach to you while background instruments may sound like they'd be coming far from the background or to the sides for a more dynamic and wider listening feeling like you would forget you're wearing any headphones!
Q: Why share this config here on Head-Fi?
A: Because I realize everyone doesn't like tweaking but I do and find that if people like grasping the settings just like that and enjoys them then I'm also happy they are enjoying it, it's a win-win situation.
Q: How do you know how to adjust the settings?
A: I only go by ear really. I've been EQing my headphones for many years and tried out different VST plugins or standalone apps that try to modify the sound in different ways so I've gotten used to hear the tiny differences in sound. You can train your ears as well! EQing is one good way to start which can be suprisingly educative.
Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 1/26/13 at 6:02pm