Smyth Research Realiser A16
Apr 9, 2018 at 12:47 PM Post #2,446 of 12,513

sander99

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Maybe it's because those music tracks weren't recorded that way initially but re-processed into an Atmos track for the demo. Maybe it's because the demo room was open and people were talking loudly during my calibration and demo (no joke, I had to ask the person doing my calibration to shoo one guy away so I could get a quieter environment). Maybe it's because the monitors were set up at a distance and angle great for listening to movies, but way closer than I would normally set up any stereo setup of my own.
I think indeed all these things can have played a role.
Perhaps if they had a 2 channel demo track AND had a pair of stereo tower speakers meant for music (no HT overlap for the sound signature) AND had those set up for a more traditional stereo listening experience, it would have had a different impression on me.
I think that is very likely. But even if it is not sure, you can't know the opposite until you tried it. That's why I was a bit stunned by your conclusion:
I walked in to the room ready to preorder, but left the room confident in my decision that for my own purposes (strictly 2 channel stereo reproduction), this device would only detract and not add anything benefial for me.
Of course I don't say you should have bought it, not being sure if it can do what you want it to do, only in all honesty I think it is a little bit unfair to judge the A16 not based on trying it the way you want to use it: measure a high quality stereo system and compare that system to it's simulation over the A16.
I think one of the strongest points of the A16 is that you can do so many different things with it. You could create a collection of PRIRs of many different kind of real systems (stereo, multichannel, traditional speakers, dipoles, line sources, point sources, etc. etc.), you can do certain improvements like using direct bass, decrease reverberation. Create a high end surround PRIR using only a high end stereo set-up. Do special "manipulated" measurements like for creating cross-talk free, or reduced cross-talk PRIRs. And use what seems most appropiate, or sounds best for every recording you listen to. OK this is a bit extreme, a lot of work to do all those things, but I think there must be something for everyone in the sheer endless posibilities.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 12:54 PM Post #2,447 of 12,513

BombayTheIndian

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I think indeed all these things can have played a role.

I think that is very likely. But even if it is not sure, you can't know the opposite until you tried it. That's why I was a bit stunned by your conclusion:

Of course I don't say you should have bought it, not being sure if it can do what you want it to do, only in all honesty I think it is a little bit unfair to judge the A16 not based on trying it the way you want to use it: measure a high quality stereo system and compare that system to it's simulation over the A16.
I think one of the strongest points of the A16 is that you can do so many different things with it. You could create a collection of PRIRs of many different kind of real systems (stereo, multichannel, traditional speakers, dipoles, line sources, point sources, etc. etc.), you can do certain improvements like using direct bass, decrease reverberation. Create a high end surround PRIR using only a high end stereo set-up. Do special "manipulated" measurements like for creating cross-talk free, or reduced cross-talk PRIRs. And use what seems most appropiate, or sounds best for every recording you listen to. OK this is a bit extreme, a lot of work to do all those things, but I think there must be something for everyone in the sheer endless posibilities.

Haha, that certainly is a lot of work. You're right though, I don't need to offer a definitive "no way" opinion without having heard it set up in the way I personally believe may produce a more accurate representation for my own listening desires. I just think that if Smyth were targeting that stereo listening demographic, they would consider offering at least some of the considerations I mentioned during the demo that would better prove its capabilities for stereo reproduction. In my conversations with them, they made it clear that my setup desires are a very small representation of their majority demographics, and quite literally told me that "most people that want to do what you're trying to achieve already have two speakers and don't need this."
Believe me, I've spent years dreaming about the a8's (and now the a16's) capabilities to recreate $50-100k demo rooms at various dealers.
 
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Apr 9, 2018 at 1:01 PM Post #2,448 of 12,513

Dixter

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more probably like if you went to a IMAX theator and got used to that emmersive sound setup and then went home and turned on your two channel stereo... I bet your brain would be telling you the two channel setup sounds weak...
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 1:02 PM Post #2,449 of 12,513

profsbg

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Impressions:
Overall, I found it a more convincing illusion for movies; music tracks sounded more compressed than the actual yamaha monitors being used for the demo, which are just monitors and not "audiophile" speakers to begin with. With that being said, the movie clips were incredibly realistic. During the calibration verification, I did the exact same thing as others have commented: "Is this the speaker or headphone? Oh it's the headphone? Whoa...." Once again, very convincing for movies. Once it got to actually playing back audio though, Smyth was offering no stereo tracks. Every audio/video track was Dolby Atmos. After my converations and sitting for the demo, I came away with the feeling that they are now clearly going for movie watchers. Stereo listening doesn't seem to be the focus here, and doesn't seem to be the target demographic for this product. That's fine, I get that most people have a 2-channel audio setup and don't need this. However, as I've downsized my entire 2 channel stereo setup to reduce the physical footprint and noise in the house (now married and consolidated all belongings), I no longer have a stereo setup and sometimes yearn for that sound field presentation - something you can't get from headphones. If the Atmos music tracks sounded compressed compared to the original, I can assume that the effect becomes similar or worse when emulating a true 2 channel setup. If you are ONLY using the A16 and a low/mid tier headphone, you may not notice it. However, with the HD800 they had hooked up to the a16 today, it was clear enough even through their processing and eq that you're not getting a perfect clone of a music setup.

With all of that being said, it's miles beyond what OOYH is capable of, probably due to the personalized tracking and measurements. I just don't think a one size fits all can get anywhere near what Smyth has accomplished for movie enthusiasts over headphones. I walked in to the room ready to preorder, but left the room confident in my decision that for my own purposes (strictly 2 channel stereo reproduction), this device would only detract and not add anything benefial for me. This may have changed if they had even one 2 channel audio track to demo, but I was not going to put down $2k+ on something that wasn't even being represented or actively marketed by the creators.

Thanks for your comments. I am a Kickstarter backer and am interested in both movies and stereo, but primarily the latter. I heard the demo at Axpona last year and my impressions were similar to yours. However, going back to the original A8 thread, many commented on the need for fine tuning using the manual equalization procedure, to improve the emulation. This was not done at these conference venues. There were also comments in that extensive thread expressing a certain preference for Stax (even the low end models) over HD800, in some cases due to issues with equalizing the 6K region of the latter. I think this preference may have been more significant with critical stereo listeners. Smyth has apparently included some changes in the A16 to improve the manual equalization, such as increased resolution and (eventually) a parametric equalizer, as well as a more effective procedure to actually perform the manual adjustment. I have some optimism that the situation will be improved relative to the A8, even if stereo is not the emphasis. But I also believe for critical stereo listening it seems quite possible that fine tuning and the right gear may be needed.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 2:34 PM Post #2,450 of 12,513

BombayTheIndian

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Thanks for your comments. I am a Kickstarter backer and am interested in both movies and stereo, but primarily the latter. I heard the demo at Axpona last year and my impressions were similar to yours. However, going back to the original A8 thread, many commented on the need for fine tuning using the manual equalization procedure, to improve the emulation. This was not done at these conference venues. There were also comments in that extensive thread expressing a certain preference for Stax (even the low end models) over HD800, in some cases due to issues with equalizing the 6K region of the latter. I think this preference may have been more significant with critical stereo listeners. Smyth has apparently included some changes in the A16 to improve the manual equalization, such as increased resolution and (eventually) a parametric equalizer, as well as a more effective procedure to actually perform the manual adjustment. I have some optimism that the situation will be improved relative to the A8, even if stereo is not the emphasis. But I also believe for critical stereo listening it seems quite possible that fine tuning and the right gear may be needed.


Great, it's good to hear that I'm not the only one that felt this way. Your additional observations regarding tweaks to get this closer to true reproduction via headphones is interesting, and I do wonder if with those considerations + using the SDPIF output to my own DAC, headamp, and headphones, it would bridge that gap. Without an in-home trial and more opportunities to measure different rooms that's hard to say though. In hindsight my original conclusion of a hard pass is too harsh without being able to try all of these different things.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 3:14 PM Post #2,451 of 12,513

Richter Di

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Maybe it's because the demo room was open and people were talking loudly during my calibration and demo (no joke, I had to ask the person doing my calibration to shoo one guy away so I could get a quieter environment). Maybe it's because the monitors were set up at a distance and angle great for listening to movies, but way closer than I would normally set up any stereo setup of my own.

There is huge difference to my experience in Paris. The room in Paris was very small (hotel room) and the front loudspeakers were quite close.
In addition it was death silent and only one person was waiting to be next in line.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 3:57 PM Post #2,453 of 12,513

Richter Di

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In my conversations with them, they made it clear that my setup desires are a very small representation of their majority demographics, and quite literally told me that "most people that want to do what you're trying to achieve already have two speakers and don't need this."
Believe me, I've spent years dreaming about the a8's (and now the a16's) capabilities to recreate $50-100k demo rooms at various dealers.

I think they are very wrong. The headphone market of people listening to music is huge.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 4:38 PM Post #2,454 of 12,513

BombayTheIndian

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So I guess HD800,HD800s will remain best headphones for A16 for both comfort and sound? Wondering how LCDi4 and HD820 will work.

Smyth mentioned that in their opinion, there's no need to spend extra money for the HD800S because the eq post-a16-processing on the HD800 is already flattened out to meet the benefits offered by what the HD800s are should offer. Makes sense I suppose. Just save the money if you already have an HD800 or are thinking of purchasing new. I would have loved to hear the setup with another couple flagship headphones to see if the headphones are really transparent post processing, negating any differences in cans. The second ear measurements taken with headphones on (first is taken with them off) is supposed to be taking that into consideration, I believe.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 5:00 PM Post #2,455 of 12,513

MichaelJames99

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Im just wondering if it will be worth it to upgrade from AKG K712 PRO I have to the HD800 or HD800S
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 7:43 PM Post #2,456 of 12,513

StillaStillsFan

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No problem, happy to offer up some information and my own take on it!



I'm not an audio engineer and not one of the creators of this product, so I don't think I have an answer that will truly satisfy. All I can say is that I've never listened to movies with headphones for anything other than flights with a pair of Bose noise cancellation headphones. It's just not something I do. With that in mind, the a16 sounded realistic for those explosions and sound effects played in the demos. However, I've had a number of different iterations of great 2 channel and headphone stereo-only audio systems, and I know what great music sounds like both on headphones and via traditional stereo setups. I think every little piece of the sound effects used in the movie demos are already eq'd to high heaven, which serve as a natural and perfect fit for the a16 (which is one massive eq and processing system). I thought those movie effects were very realistic. However, listening to the audio tracks was a different story. Maybe it's because they were only playing surround sound tracks in Dolby Atmos. Maybe it's because those music tracks weren't recorded that way initially but re-processed into an Atmos track for the demo. Maybe it's because the demo room was open and people were talking loudly during my calibration and demo (no joke, I had to ask the person doing my calibration to shoo one guy away so I could get a quieter environment). Maybe it's because the monitors were set up at a distance and angle great for listening to movies, but way closer than I would normally set up any stereo setup of my own. All I know is that in my long and varied experience with listening to headphone and stereo audio, this product felt like a detractor rather than an enhanced for me, but once again they didn't have any stereo music for demos. Perhaps if they had a 2 channel demo track AND had a pair of stereo tower speakers meant for music (no HT overlap for the sound signature) AND had those set up for a more traditional stereo listening experience, it would have had a different impression on me. Without any of those things available, the demo I had showed an approximation, not a replica. I still think it's great option for anyone into movies, or anyone with a low/mid end headphone setup wanting to use it for music.

No problem, happy to offer up some information and my own take on it!



I'm not an audio engineer and not one of the creators of this product, so I don't think I have an answer that will truly satisfy. All I can say is that I've never listened to movies with headphones for anything other than flights with a pair of Bose noise cancellation headphones. It's just not something I do. With that in mind, the a16 sounded realistic for those explosions and sound effects played in the demos. However, I've had a number of different iterations of great 2 channel and headphone stereo-only audio systems, and I know what great music sounds like both on headphones and via traditional stereo setups. I think every little piece of the sound effects used in the movie demos are already eq'd to high heaven, which serve as a natural and perfect fit for the a16 (which is one massive eq and processing system). I thought those movie effects were very realistic. However, listening to the audio tracks was a different story. Maybe it's because they were only playing surround sound tracks in Dolby Atmos. Maybe it's because those music tracks weren't recorded that way initially but re-processed into an Atmos track for the demo. Maybe it's because the demo room was open and people were talking loudly during my calibration and demo (no joke, I had to ask the person doing my calibration to shoo one guy away so I could get a quieter environment). Maybe it's because the monitors were set up at a distance and angle great for listening to movies, but way closer than I would normally set up any stereo setup of my own. All I know is that in my long and varied experience with listening to headphone and stereo audio, this product felt like a detractor rather than an enhanced for me, but once again they didn't have any stereo music for demos. Perhaps if they had a 2 channel demo track AND had a pair of stereo tower speakers meant for music (no HT overlap for the sound signature) AND had those set up for a more traditional stereo listening experience, it would have had a different impression on me. Without any of those things available, the demo I had showed an approximation, not a replica. I still think it's great option for anyone into movies, or anyone with a low/mid end headphone setup wanting to use it for music.
I really appreciate you taking the time to provide your experience. I now know I need more time to evaluate this product for the purposes of high quality 2-channel reproduction.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 7:54 PM Post #2,457 of 12,513

StillaStillsFan

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For one user (in single user mode only) the two built in stereo headphone amps can be used as one stereo bridged (balanced) headphone amp.

Did you see the picture of the back of the A16 on this page:
https://www.kickstarter.com/project...al-3d-audio-headphone-processor/posts/1970925

Lots of info can be found on the A16 kickstarter pages. But beware some of it is outdated (because of changes made since the start of the project).

On the input side: via USB (type B connector on the back of the A16) up to 16 channels, of course also 2 channels, can be input. (ASIO standard is mentioned somewhere. I suppose the A16 "behaves" like a USB dac towards the source device in this scenario).
Many more inputs are available as you can see in the picture, like coaxial and optical.

I don't know anything about iPhones, so I have no clue how that fits in.
The iphone has a digital out that can be made usb via an adapter. This is how it attaches to the dragonfly red dac from audioquest. This dac has an analog out which can be connected to line level inputs of an integrated amp (this is what I do) or directly to headphones.

I know some of the info in the a16 faq is not correct because it conflicts with a few things Mr. Smyth himself told me (regarding compatibility of a16 and a8 files).

In any case, i have decided to wait to purchase. I simply cannot lay out this level of cash for the unit plus great headphones until I get a better feel regarding 2-channel performance.
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 8:20 PM Post #2,458 of 12,513

raband

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I simply cannot lay out this level of cash for the unit plus great headphones

I think I said it before, but the delays in delivery have allowed me to slowly bring the rest of my audio/video chain up to spec in preparation :wink:

Hopefully we'll have it before too long.

("couple of months" has been given a few times too many so far to put any faith in it as anything other than wishful thinking. Maybe it'll be true this time and product is delivered in June, but I wouldn't start quoting them on it yet)
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 8:26 PM Post #2,459 of 12,513

MichaelJames99

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I thought that it would have 2 outputs.. 1 HDMI to go to the preamp/processor (or receiver) as a pass thru and an HDMI direct to the TV. (Since many receivers cant pass HDR)
 
Apr 9, 2018 at 8:38 PM Post #2,460 of 12,513

Got the Shakes

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I think I said it before, but the delays in delivery have allowed me to slowly bring the rest of my audio/video chain up to spec in preparation :wink:

Hopefully we'll have it before too long.

("couple of months" has been given a few times too many so far to put any faith in it as anything other than wishful thinking. Maybe it'll be true this time and product is delivered in June, but I wouldn't start quoting them on it yet)

You and me both. When I ordered the A16 I didn't really have a great pair of headphones and was sorely in need of other A/V upgrades. Now I have a pair of HD800 with the SDR mod, a 4K HDR tv, and a UHD Blu-Ray player along with a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. The Realiser is now the thing I'm waiting on to complete my setup.
 

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