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Smyth Research Realiser A16

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by jgazal, May 7, 2016.
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  1. Fox1977
    With Out Of Your Head, i currently use the AKG Q701 and i'm quite satisfied with them. They have a good soundstage, bass are not ultra strong but they are present when needed. And they are comfortable to wear, even for a 2-3 hours in a row.
  2. musicday
    Ether Flow is another great, very comfortable headphone. When we finally get the A16 we will experiment with various headphones for best ratio/sound : comfort.
  3. krismusic Contributor
    I think what Stephen Smyth meant was that any capable headphone would sound the same. I was asking if my 600's would be OK or if I needed to buy the 800's. He said the only reason to buy the 800's was comfort, which he felt was important in creating the illusion of speakers. Incidentally, soundstage and imaging is what the Realiser is all about, isn't it?
  4. castleofargh Contributor
    the main cues are fairly easy to create (acoustically!!!!). and of course subjective impressions of soundstage on a headphone without DSP are often irrelevant when using the A16. so that IMO is a very poor way to judge what headphone will be best for that job.
    what was already suggested a few times is the obvious safe bet: get a FR fairly well extended, not too chaotic, and try to avoid headphones with already high distortions(I'd stay away from above 1% THD in the midrange, but then again I'd avoid such headphone even without the A16). not that it would be sure to ruin our impressions or sound bad subjectively, it's simply to allows for more flexibility should the compensation be drastic for some rooms.

    about what to do, I've spent enough time on Head-fi to know that many people will get an ulcer and lose sleep so long as a tiny cloud of doubt remains. "what if I'm missing out?", "what if I could get the very important +0.07% of extra goodness with that other super expensive headphone?". you guys know yourselves the best, if you're going to get sick and still end up getting some fancy headphone in a year as the only way to calm your anxiety, then better purchase it today and save your health.
    I'm not like that at all. if nothing is explicitly annoying me, then I tend to believe that life is good. so of course I will wait to see if I have issues with my headphone before looking to get a new headphone to solve the problem I don't even know I have. ^_^
    different strokes for different folks.
    mbyrnes and Sordel like this.
  5. Sordel
    This is my understanding as well, and here's an experiment to try. Rest your hands lightly on your ears, then listen to the sound in the room while moving your orientation. The impression of listenening in a real 3D space is still there. Now take your hands away. Although you can now hear that environment with much higher fidelity, I don't think that the 3D environment is any more “realistic”.

    Once the A16 does its per-ear dynamic filtering (assuming it's set up correctly) the choice of headphone doesn't really alter the effect that Smyth are trying to achieve. You don't get “more 3D” with Focal Utopias; instead, you get more fidelity. But as we know, the fidelity improvement between a good set of heaphones costing $100 and a set costing $4000 is not massive ... it may be all the difference to an individual listener but a good pair of cheap phones (if we were to quantify it) might well be presenting over 90% of the same information. (Perhaps even more ... I'm guesstimating here!)

    There will be scope to get an improvement using the A16 and better phones but no one (at least on this forum) is going to hear the A16 and lose the effect because their headphones aren't up to it. If anything is a limiting factor it will be bass extension but, as we know, bass frequencies are the least used for positional data.
    mbyrnes likes this.
  6. edwardsean
    Completely agree! However, in all fairness to the original poster, he was talking about the differences among "high quality" headphones. I think in the conversation, he and Smyth were assuming a certain level of quality of soundstage/imaging, resolution, dynamic ability, full spectrum reproduction, etc. Once you're in that "high quality" range the characteristic differences between e.g., an HD800 and e.g., Utopia are going to be minor relative to switching PRIRs. The processing is going to attempt to compensate for the different behaviors of headphones.

    This is not to say the result is going to be identical; it won't be. It is a change of strategy though from primarily matching the phones and amps you like to devoting time, effort, and resources to gaining the impulse responses you like.

    So, I think good advice would be to aim for the best performing, most transparent, and neutral phone you can afford. This seems to me a better route than choosing a unit with, say, your preference of tonal color since that is going to change dramatically with the Realiser.
  7. Erik Garci
    It would be interesting if the Realiser offered a way to evaluate the final result. The Realiser would measure a PRIR of the virtual speakers while you are wearing headphones, and then provide a score that tells you how well it matches the PRIR of the real speakers.
    Richter Di likes this.
  8. bearcatsandor
    That's the crux of my question. If i record the PRIR of a super speaker like a pair of <a href="https://www.stereophile.com/content/mbls-extreme-x-treme">MBL 101 Extreme</a>, an <a href="https://www.wilsonaudio.com/products/alexandria-xlf">Alexandria XLF</a> or <a href="https://www.genelec.com/theones"<Genelec "The Ones" 8351 at $6k a pair</a> am i *really* going to say "Wow. These $4k headphones sound just like when i was listening to that pair of $250k (plus associated amps etc) pair of speakers!

    If so, i'd imagine that the higher the quality of the headphones, the closer we are to that reproduction and that obviously a Focal Utopia has a better chance of doing it (does it?) than a 800HD S, and that a Beats just can't at all.

    So, if this actually works of course i'd pay a total of $8k for a headphone and processor that can give me 16 Alexandria XLFs in surround sound. That's a savings of at least 1.68 million dollars. How close does it get?
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  9. mikemav
    I apologize for getting a bit off-topic, but when you linked to the Wilson Alexandria XLF, it reminded me of the first time I ever heard stereo reproduction give me very realistic height cues. It was Wilson (Watt/Puppy at the time) paired with Krell amps at a local high-end store. Symphonic recording (think it was Dance of the Knights by Prokofiev on the old AutoSound 2000 IASCA "My Disc" test tracks) and I could easily hear that the female portion of the chorus was standing on stage on a higher step than the men, or something along those lines. Remarkable. If the Smyth can reproduce that level of staging detail it would be amazing bargain indeed. Can't wait to get my hands on one.
  10. castleofargh Contributor
    I expect to be able to check a few variables with the in ear mics but plugged into my ADC instead of the A16. not sure that will give much clues about the similarities of the subjective impression, but I hope it will help me learn how to calibrate in an optimal manner.
  11. Fox1977
    I guess it will all depend on the main purpose of the A16 for each user. In my case, i will use it 99% for movies and series to enjoy Atmos soundtracks. So i'm not sure i'd really get much benefit from a 4000$ pair of headphones compared to a 200$ one...
    It would probably sound a bit better or clearer, but for me it wouldn't worth the huge bump in price.
    For audiophile purpose though, i suppose it's a different story (even though i don't see how a 50,000$ pair for example can justify such an enormous price in terms... does it sound 15 or a 100 times better ?)
  12. musicday
    I will be using the A16 for 99% movies and if the music sounds good will do that too. I think if you really care about sound, and comfort you should invest at least in HD800S.
    And you can have this headphone for life. You can replace everything easy: headband,earpads with genuine leather ones, cables.
    Not many headphones out there that are comfortable, great sounding and that you can replace everything.
    Just my thoughts, and of course everyone is free to do anything they want.
  13. MichaelJames99
    I plan to use my AKG K712 Pro and see how they perform. They are also very comfortable, large sound stage and OK on bass. Ive been itching to try the 800 or 800S for a long time now.
    Not sure how the 800/800S compare to the AKG's.
  14. mbyrnes
    I'm a pretty big gamer, and a thread I would hope everyone has read here is "Mad Lust Envy's console headphone gaming" thread. I have a strong feeling that the really good gaming headphones, will be good with the A16. Most are lower cost options, which could be nice for a spare set, for the less discerning listener, (while you wear whatever awesome headphone you have).

    I'm more excited to try my bass heavy headphones, than my technically better ones. I'll get an idea of what I need through my current lineup, and upgrade if needed. I need less headphones, not more!

    My sleeper headphone guess, is the Massdrop/AKG K7XX for $199. I'll test the model it was based from, K702 65th, which is great for VSS gaming. Headphone upgrade should be looked at like a speaker upgrade. Justify it however. Get what you want sound wise to your desire.
  15. iAudio365
    Just wondering when does the a16 launch and how do you buy one? Was looking for pre order page but it’s gone now. (Was gonna wait till reviews etc were out anyway) but will you be able to buy at retail outlets somewhere?
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