|rickcr42, do you think it would be more beneficial to have this (Dolby headphone) topic started as a new thread or has someone already done so?
yeah,gets kinda confusing and unfocused if too many technologies are discussed in one thread and you can lose the audience.
But here are my thoughts on this subject,just my opinion (but one coming from a perspective of from Hafler Ambience in the late sixties ,quadraphonics in the seventies,Audio Delay based ambience extraction in the eighties and finally Dolby Surround sound from ProLogic onwards plus the Binaural experiments and Dolby Headphone dabbling I have done) :
Dolby Headphone has the potential for great things but it is implemented as an afterthought and not taken seriously but the powers that be.Just like headphones as a serious high fidelity medium took years of banging the drum by Headroom and later Headwize until where we are now :
|Head-Fidelity as the main thrust pushing the manufacturers to take us seriously and because of this,offering serious high fidelity products specifically aimed at the headphone listener at all price points up to and including the high end.
So like many other good ideas never realised Dolby Headphone may NEVER become the standard bearer for headphone ambience/creation of the live event/movie FX.Why ?Because until someone that is into headphones takes control of the implementation of the gear and those at the other end ,the audio engineer laying down the track.mix the sound for SUPERIOR imaging with cans and not as it is now an afterthought this medium will be considered a "gadget" by the mainstream instead of a required feature.Something must be 1-easy to use by even the audio inept,2-easily heard as an improvement and something you must have,3-widely available so it can have the widest audience to show off the possibilities and get the discussion going among "common" folk instead of just audio geeks who as we all know are friggin weirdos
My first exposure to Dolby Headphone was at the N.Y. Hilton during the Stereophile Home Entertainment Show.While there were many cool exibits and the sound in some rooms to die for it was the Headroom exibit that kept drawing me back and where the REAL action was.
1-Grado cans specifically geared to the movie viewing experience.something i labelled in my Headwize show report the "Big Muffs" because of the size of the ear pads
2-Pete Millett showing off the first to my knowledge combination USB DAC/Headphone Amp which went on to become a headroom product and something i immediately
went home and "cloned" for my own use.
3-Dolby Headphone Demonstration
There were far many other interseting and cool things in the Headroom area (which BTW was a big draw to even the non Headfier) such as The Wall Of Cans
and the most extensive collection of headphone amplifiers on the planet assembled in one place ! Takes a lot of guts to put your products up against the competition head-to-head ,even products you do not carry,and allow direct comparison.The Max won over all to my ears BTW.
But it was the Wheatfield DAC/Grado Theater cans connected to a laptop which was playing a dolby Headphone Demonstration disc that impressed me most out of everything at the show and to say i was blown away would be an understatement !
The future was here and the future was sweeeet !
Multichannel audio/video from a laptop was for me the logical evolution of headphone audio and when demonstrated on high end gear all together in one place something you just KNEW would be mainstream in a very short time !
Well here it is four years later and it is still nothing special and same old.
the demo was of a race track and formula one car and the viewer was placed right there in the drivers seat or at the event accrding to the perspective, and the results were uncanny in the ability to position you wherever the mixdown engineer wanted you to be.The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I had to step back and go "WHOAH ! THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD DAMMIT !WHERE DO I SIGN UP !"
When i got back to Connecticut that evening from The Show I immediately logged in to Headwize and gushed about my findings .the discussion of Dolby Headphone was ON and no going back but.......????????????
Nothing .Little blips here and there but really not a damn thing new and anything "new" has been just a weak attempt at capturing what i personally heard in the Headroom exibit which initially blew me out of the water and brought a silly smile to my face-an uncommon event with anything audio related unless i build it myself
where are the DVD players with Dolby Headphone ? Where are the Surround Sound Receivers with Dolby Headphone ? Where are the Dolby Headphone encoded discs ? Where are the sound cards with Dolby Headphone ?
There are here and there
examples but mainstreamed it is not ! And only when a technology is mainstream does it mature and become what it was initially envisioned to be.
Over time i have come to the conclusion that while DH would be a good thing for sound cards for gaming and what not it would be a BAD choice as a DSP imple,mentation in receivers or surround sound integrated amps.Just too many ways for the manufacturer to screw it up,something they seem to relish.no way they are so damn retarded they do these things by accident !
But encoded on the DVD where there is PLENTY of room if you eliminate all the garbage added now just to fill up leftover space is the way to go.Just like i always choose the letterbox edition of a movie and the directors cut i should be offered the option of "filler" or "Dolby Surround".Hell,i would even pay extra as long as it was only a couple of bucks.Dolby Labs must be payed their cut too !
But I do not see it happening.If the technology were new and there was a clamor for it yes,but being that it has been out there for some time and it is beneath the radar screen of the audiophile AND average consumer i just do not see DH becoming the standard bearer like Dolby Surround has in the surround sound area.
Damn shame really.Only widespread acceptance of a standard allows a technology to be mainstreamed and once it is the more "out there" designers will find ways to improve upon the original but..........
So where do we go from here ? You got me man.I personally use a device i designed myself and use it for late night viewing or for music with live events.It does not have the WOW factor of DH but neither does it have the potential for music butchering.More it is a "add something good,do nothing bad" kinda add-on and since in my world there is no "one size fits all" flexability
rule the day.One mode for movies but add what you want or take it out,one for music-again : add/remove as you wish,and the main signal is left untouched while "passing through" my Frankenstein's Monster As Audio Device.
Being impatient I wait for no one and i want my,i want my,i want my "surround" Tee Veee (money for nothing and my chicks for free !)
so i went to the bench and made my "gadget" and stopped worrying about "if" and "when" multichannel headphone will arrive.Screw it.I'll take mine less but I'll take it NOW dammit !
Like I intially said,DH can potentially sound great but as you have reported in your post and others have also reported it is very "iffy" and does not produce universally good results.It CAN but often falls short.Is that a problem with the technolgy ? The realisation of it ? The Hardware ? The choices made by the engineer during mixdown and positioning ?
I don't have those answers but these problems do exist and until worked out DH is toast.Plus music reproduction is NOT a strong suit of DH.Instead of the recreation of the "space" of an event it tries to "surround sound" it and that is just not what you hear if you are there.
That is where DH falls short and Binaural whips major BUTT (betcha were wondering just when i would weasle that in and get back on topic huh ?
Binaural has the uncanny ability to not add anything to the sound other than SPACE and TIME !
Listen to a real
binaural recording,not a hardware/software/HRTF simulation but an actual binaural recording done with a dummy head and two omnidirectional mics positioned at the "ears" and over headphones and with your eyes closed to eliminate the visual cues you are there man !!!!
You have just been transported out of your listening room and to the actual "space" where the recording was made ! Every sound will come from the direction it was in when the recording was made and something that would startle you if you did not hear it coming from behind until it was too late will ALSO startle you in the reproduction of it !
Each sound event will be recreated exactly where it was positioned at the actual location of the recording.Damn impressive the first time you hear it and still impresses each time as the years pass.No "gimmick" but a recording technique used to realise a desired end result-speakers need not apply !
so this is what a True Binaural Recording
will sound like but what about studio recordings ? what about recordings that never were and never will be a "live" event Rick ?
Binaural simulation dammit ! the work being done in this field is AMAZING and will hopefully trickle down form the University and Government Audio Labs and down to the end consumer (you listening BIG company dudes and dudettes ?).THIS is where the action will come from on the "ambient music reproduction" and movie FX front.It may well be that some "bastard" step child of DH/Binaural simulation may in the end become the standard but DH alone is not cutting it and Binauaral is still too "out there" for the average consumer to grasp.It will take the maturity of head tracking in combination with "accurate" reproduction of the time and space
of the event to become something on the "must have" list but where else is there to go in the field of headphone audio ?
more amps ? More headphones ? a couple of more switching devices ?
No-IMAGING is where the action will be for my money,and the money of others if the technology ever gets moving
Just my opinion guys but damn,it IS time !(double meaning
Surrounded By Ricks