The Comhear beamforming does not require customization, although I beleive it would perform better in rooms with controlled back reflections.
It actually seems like a soundbar.
You know what "every headphone listener" has access to now? Precision headphone-specific EQ developed from high resolution measurements. It's available on the most common headphone listening platform in the world, and is so cheap as to be a non issue. Ever heard of that? Didn't think so.
I believe they are two different things and don't present the same way.
That's not a small problem, though, it's actually a deal-breaker. And because it's hard to get it right without customizing, it severely limits the commercial application of the technology. And yet, without a good listener HRTF in there somewhere, the whole thing just doesn't work very well.
I have not played much with Ambisonics, but from my binaural work, matching the HRTF to the listener is critical to the palpability of the resulting image. It's not so much a tonal issue as an imaging accuracy issue. There's also an artistic problem too. It isn't always desirable to have that full 3D sound field.
Every time I listen through headphones to a Neumann KU-100 binaural recording the externalization is on the back of my head. Definitely my HRTF does not match the one from that dummy head microphone. But that is without any externalization DSP.
So my question is not about regular binaural.
It is about comparing Ambisonic content versus binaural encoded content with a Realiser (that uses a personal room impulse response set to not add crosstalk and headtracking for externalization).
Or if you prefer comparing binaural through loudspeakers (with "customized crosstalk cancellation - xtc" or a beamforming device without customization) versus third order ambisonics in regular listening rooms.
I do agree that custom xtc or 16 ambisonics speakers probably won't be mass marketed.
I also agree that custom headphone externalization device only could proliferate if it had easy HRTF acquisition.
But I am not so sure why you are so pessimist about beamforming devices that fire separate beams and therefore avoid crosstalk without customization.
Anyway, if the future scenario you described holds true, I would expect object based codecs (and maybe binaural encoded beds to reproduce the ambience) to become an standard, so that all those playbacks environments can interoperate with DSP.
Thank you very much for your elucidative post. Now I sort of understand why Dolby and DTS went the object based route.
Edited by jgazal - 3/20/17 at 3:24pm