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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. blubliss Contributor
    It's so refreshing to be asked permission. I'm fine if you use my files personally, that's what they were for. I don't recall the drop box owner, his name started with an S I think. There is a thread, so maybe search.

    There is absolutely no permission needed from Darin since he took files from there without asking anyone for permission and now he actually charges money for them. That to me is unethical. I emailed him once, no reply. I know he took my Egyptian Theater PRIR because there were only three of us there and I know Daryl didn't put up his PRIR, I did. Anyway, karma is karma, but it is difficult for me to watch people praise OOYH. I think he also did some slimy things with Smyth but Lorr wouldn't say.
     
    sm0rf, Richter Di, VandyMan and 2 others like this.
  2. dsperber
    I'm still learning, so maybe I'm just having beginner's bad luck. For those of you who've had better luck, please let me know what I need to do that I haven't done, in order to explain or overcome my issues.

    (1) I was successful in converting my old-format A8 files (and by the way, it was not just PRIR0xxx that needed to be recreated in PRIR2xxx form by writing out new files from A8 memory to SD card, but also HPEQ0xxx files). And I was successful in then configuring both a 5.1 and 7.1 PCM room (since my Oppo 103 configured for LPCM output via HDMI is feeding HDMI1 into the A16, thus performing the upstream decoding for DTS-HD MA as well as Dolby). I also configured a 5.1 and 7.1 Atmos room (since my Oppo 203 configured for BITSTREAM output via HDMi is feeding HDMI2 into the A16). I also configured preset 1 to be 5.1 and preset 2 to be 7.1, using the AIX PRIR's stored in the corresponding Atmos and PCM 5.1 or 7.1 rooms, plus my Stax HPEQ in each preset. Everything looks good and plays back properly.

    And I've tested this, and remarkably the A16 actually does detect what it is being fed and automatically picks either the PCM or Atmos listening room for each preset, depending on whether the input selected is HDMI1 (LPCM) or HDMI2 (BITSTREAM). Very impressive.

    However the VOLUME is much too low. I am feeding optical out of the A16 to my Audio-GD NFB9 external DAC, which feeds XLR to my Stax SR-009/SRM-tii. both the DAC and the Stax amp have their volume controls unchanged from what they were at when using the HDMI A8 instead of the A16. The digital volume in my A8 presets was set to -10db, and in combination with the DAC volume (46 out of a max of 47) and the Stax amp volume (2 o'clock, or 7 out of 10) I would call this volume "perfect" for normal movies and other content. Occasionally I had to increase or decrease the volume (either using the Stax volume or A8 remote digital volume) if the source volume was either unusually low or high), but generally everything was just fine by default.

    Not the case with the A16. Starting with a normal volume of 50 it's too low, and I have its volume up to max of 79, and I still have to turn the Stax volume up to 4 o'clock to get the sound level to be "acceptable".

    Assuming this is exactly what the GAIN control is for, I have tried sliding the GAIN control for UserA over from L to M to H, but I can't hear any difference. Seems to have no effect whatsoever. Is this switch supposed to be moved only at a certain time or according to some certain timing rule, or when the A16 is powered off, or no source is playing? Can you just slide it while the A16 is "in use" and playing and should you hear a volume change instantly? I assumed this would really be the answer for my volume problem, but the GAIN switch seems to have no effect at all.

    What am I doing wrong?

    (2) I was fooling around, and used the TEST button on the remote to SOLO each of my speakers. I wanted to see how well the AIX 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's came through.

    Well, looks like there's something wrong in my 5.1 room. The only solo speakers which produce actual sound are L, C, R, and LFE. The LS and RS speakers produce zero sound in solo mode.

    In contrast, my 7.1 room is working perfectly. Directional sound coming from L, C, R, LFE, LS, RS, LB, and RB. All speakers produce solo sound.

    Looking at the audio meter, the TEST pattern is certainly putting out sound on all 16 channels, no matter what the room. But something seems to not be working properly when using my 5.1 room (displays as Atmos), with LS and RS strangely silent in solo mode.

    Note that in TEST mode I followed the manual's suggestions, starting with GAIN in L and volume at 50, with Stax volume set at 2 o'clock. And certainly the loop signal is at a "quiet" (i.e. low) volume. I can turn the A16 volume up to 79 and it definitely gets nice and loud. If only listening to genuine source at a volume of 79 were this loud, I'd be thrilled. But it's only from the internally generated loop signal that the sound volume is working fine (even though the GAIN switch still has zero function, no matter whether in L, M or H). HDMI audio delivered by the Oppo 103 is simply resulting in too low a volume, especially when compared to how the A8 worked.

    Anybody else with a 5.1 room able to confirm that TEST either does or does not solo LS and RS properly?


    NOTE: I accidentally discovered that whereas the A8's initial digital volume level for each preset had to be manually set and saved, and was reloaded to the saved default value when the preset is freshly loaded (or the A8 is powered on), with the A16 the manually set digital volume for each preset is simply automatically remembered to be whatever value you last set it at when leaving that preset or powering off. So when you power on again or return to that preset, the digital volume is automatically restored to be whatever was the last value in use on that preset. Nice and convenient.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
    ajax1 and Evshrug like this.
  3. Videodr0me
    The gain control only affects the internal headphone amplifier. It has no effect on the digital out. The difference in volume might be due to a different HPEQ. Did you also import that from the A8 or did you redo it with the A16? If you also imported it, it would point to a bug. On the other hand maybe its normal for the A16 to produce lower digital output, most people use the internal headphone amps and thus won't really notice. In any case please investigate further and contact the Smyths to ask whether this is normal or a bug.

    Please check the assigned speakers in your profile, if done on the A8 you might have accidently assigned the LS and RS to LB and RB. With PCM input the realiser A8 just assigns the speakers in sequence and does not really check for the speaker identifiers in the stream. Thats why everything might have seemed fine on the A8 with PCM input. So recheck if on the A8 the solo speakers produce sound on the LS RS speakers or LB RB speakers in your 5.1 setup. If it behaves the same as the A16 you need to reassign. If it works properly on the A8 please file a bug report.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
    Evshrug likes this.
  4. phoenixdogfan
    Has anyone ever had any experience taking a PRIR of a large planar speaker like, say a Magnapan 20.1, for a multi channel surround set up? If so, I'm wondering how it turned out, given planars tend to cast larger images than point sources?
     
  5. CaptainFunk
    I had the same problem with my 5.1 setup, you need to reassign the LS and RS buttons on the remote to the LS and RS speakers. Per default, they are assigned to some other speakers. You can reassign the buttons in the settings, there is a chapter about this in the manual.
     
  6. dsperber
    You seem to have found the problem.

    The solo buttons (Settings -> System -> assign solo buttons) by default assign LB and RB buttons to the Lb and Rb speakers, and the LS and RS buttons to the Lss and Rss speakers. These four speakers are in fact what appear, both as "REF" and "VSPKR" in my 7.1 soundroom derived from my converted A8 7.1 AIX PRIR.

    However in my converted A8 5.1 AIX PRIR, the left and right surround speakers are labeled (for both "REF" and "VSPKR") as Ls and Rs. And of course the default LS and RS buttons on the remote are to Lss and Rss, not Ls and Rs. The use of Ls for 5.1 vs. Lss for 7.1, and Rs for 5.1 vs. Rss for 7.1, this might be an arbitrary and non-critical designation or it might be critical to rendering of 5.1 vs. 7.1. I don't know. However it was decided, Lorr did this when creating my 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's, so I assume it was the correct setup.

    So if I now want to reassign the LS and RS buttons on the remote to the Ls and Rs speakers instead of Lss and Rss, this should now work fine for the 5.1 PRIR. But it would then break the soloing of those two speakers for the 7.1 PRIR. Again I don't know if the choice of Ls/Rs for 5.1 and Lss/Rss for 7.1 is correct or not or arbitrary, or perhaps if they should just have been Ls/Rs for consistency and just given their different angles, and the rendering of both 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's wouldn't have been impacted. I don't know.

    What I do know is that if I tamper with the PRIR speaker names (in listening room configuration, where you can actually only change the REF name and not the VSPKR name, so this is confusing to me), I at least think I'm asking for trouble. I don't want to ask for trouble.

    [​IMG]

    What I've decided to do instead is simply use two currently unassigned keys on the left and right bottom of the remote (* key and # key), and assign them specifically to Ls and Rs which are unreferenced anywhere else on the keypad. For me this applies only to the 5.1 PRIR, and solves my objective. And sure enough now I can solo my Ls and Rs speakers in my 5.1 room using these two new keys.

    Thanks very much for pointing this out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
    esimms86, Evshrug and CaptainFunk like this.
  7. CaptainFunk
    @dsperber Glad it works for you now!

    Regarding the latency issue, I have noticed that setting my devices to PCM output instead of bitstream has fixed the issue for me. Ultimately, I would like the A16 to do the decoding, so more than 8 channels are supported. But at least the A16 is usable for me now, my PRIRs are 5.1 anyway and measuring an Atmos room is still future talk.
     
    Evshrug likes this.
  8. dsperber
    You've made a very interesting observation.

    I went back to my A8 and ran a SOLO test of all channels on both my 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's. The A8 remote also only has a LS and RS button, but in fact using that button correctly solos just that side speaker (no matter at what angle it might be, which would be different for 5.1 vs. 7.1) no matter whether I'm using a 5.1 or 7.1 PRIR. This with the very same two A8 PRIR's (originally in old-format when created on the old analog A8, perhaps automatically upgraded to new-format when installing into the new HDMI A8) that I then brought over to the A16.

    I don't know how to see what those two side speakers are named on the A8. On the A16 their names are easily seen on the screen in the "listening room" configuration, and it's clear that when I simply pushed the "all speakers" button to auto-assign A16 speakers from the converted A8 PRIR those two side speakers got named Ls/Rs with the 5.1 PRIR and Lss/Rss with the 7.1 PRIR. And that's why the LS/RS buttons on the A16 remote only successfully solo the side speakers for the 7.1 PRIR (since the LS/RS buttons are assigned by default to Lss/Rss speakers, not to Ls/Rs) and not for the 5.1 PRIR.

    So it appears the problem stems from the migration of the A8 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's, automatically assigning speakers in the A16 "listening room" setup. Because of the apparent difference in speaker names that got automatically assigned, along with the default SOLO button speaker assignments, there is no question the SOLO function works slightly differently on the A16 than on the A8 with the exact same 5.1 and 7.1 PRIR's.

    I've "resolved" this by assigning two unused keys to Ls and Rs for SOLO key assignment, so that I can now hear those two side speakers in my 5.1 PRIR. But I think this is at least "unfriendly and confusing" for the user and an unnecessary and unintuitive "solution" to a problem that really shouldn't have existed in the first place. The LS/RS buttons on the remote should handle those two side speakers, no matter what angle they're at, and no matter whether used in a 5.1 or 7.1 PRIR. The additional to LB/RB speakers (Lb and Rb in the REF/VSPKR speaker configuration) do not present any conflict, so I don't know why the import of the A8 PRIR automatically assigned two different speaker names of Lss/Rss for 7.1 and Ls/Rs for 5.1 but it's clear this is the reason for the problem in the first place since the LS/RS buttons on the remote can only be assigned to one speaker name.

    I will communicate my findings to Smyth, and let's see what they suggest. In the "listening room" configuration only the REF speaker can be adjusted (e.g. from Ls to Lss, or vice versa). The VSPKR cannot be adjusted. I don't know if adjusting REF name will cause problems for PRIR rendering, or if it's simply cosmetic and associated with the SOLO key names and assignments. That's why I decided to steer clear of tampering with the PRIR speaker names, either REF or VSPKR, and simply assign to unused remote keys to Ls/Rs in order to allow me to solo those speakers in my 5.1 PRIR. But this does seem like it all needs to be sorted out by Smyth.
     
  9. Evshrug
    @dsperber,
    79 is a funny number to make maximum volume... makes me think of Spinal Tap:
    “Woah, this one goes to 11!”
    “That doesn’t make any sense, why not just make 10 louder?”
    “... but this one goes to 11!”

    I noticed on low gain, I can turn the volume of the A16 to Maximum (79) on low gain with the HD 650 (~300 Ω and 100 dB SPL sensitivity) and have a plenty comfortable sensation of loudness, sometimes wishing for more. I’ll mess with the gain settings and try medium/high at some point, but I intended to use the digital outputs most of the time anyway (and my Sennheiser HDV 820). With the external DAC/Amp, I noticed the digital out has variable volume, so I set headphone user B to max volume (leaving user A at something lower, to keep ears safe). Even at max digital volume, using the BBC room and HD800/Neumann KU100 preset, I have to increase the volume dial on my HDV 820 amp noticeably higher than usual, but it’s only halfway with my balanced HD 800 so it’s not much of an issue. It may be an issue with my notoriously low sensitivity Fostex T50RP, which is SE and needs much more output gain (power?) than my other headphones.

    @Videodr0me you make some very interesting insights, and seem very familiar with the workings of the Smyth A8 and A16! Regardless, thank you for your assistance, as surely everyone here wants to figure this stuff out :)

    @CaptainFunk Interesting on the PCM vs Bitstream observation, I want to go try that out right now! I was theorizing that the upconversion from Dolby 7.1 to Atmos using illusonics might be the cause, due to the extra processing overhead. I’m more than happy to try the PS4’s Native 7.1 LPCM HDMI output, instead of hearing false positives for height signals anyway. I do wonder about certain games like The Last Of Us, which has a built-in binaural mix (with a generic HTRF, not as good as a SVS calibrated HTRF) that includes azimuth height cues, and if illusonics could do anything interesting processing that... TLOU is the kind of tense but unhurried game that probably would not make processing lag very noticeable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  10. Got the Shakes
    @dsperber

    I’m not at home currently and won’t be able to check until tomorrow evening, but I believe that there’s a setting to change what the max volume is. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that right now, but I think I remember changing the max volume in a menu somewhere.
     
  11. Evshrug
    There was also a “normalize loudness” option, which I think would analyze the SPL of each speaker position and make sure they can all play at the same volume. If some speakers were placed far away, that could help too? I think the measured response from speakers would lower the volume a little compared to a pure digital signal played straight to headphones anyway.
     
  12. teacher1000
    Well I've finally had a chance to try my A16 out - I've got to say I've had only limited success getting a decent PRIR so far from my own system

    1. Damn those wires! Constantly snagging in my awkward little room, but that's just part of the game
    2. Has anyone successfully used 'multiple look angles'? It doesn't tell you which of your chosen angles to look at, just 'centre' 'left' 'right'. My first PRIR ended up sounding the exact right tone, but no localisation whatsoever. I tried using the 'headtracker assistance' but it didn't make any difference. i was using the magnetic headtracker mode.
    3. My second effort I just did the plain vanilla +30, 0, -30 angles, and got better (but by no means perfect) localisation, but the tone was off. Perhaps a car went by outside or something similar.
    4. The optical set-top has been hopeless for me. It starts off fine, but after a minute of so it will 'detect' that I've moved my head and sweep all the sound one way or the other, despite me sitting unnaturally still
     
    Evshrug likes this.
  13. sander99
    @dsperber:
    Try if the following Max Vol values can be set higher than 79:

    Home Page menu >> Settings >> System >> Volume settings >>
    Max Vol A
    Max Vol B
    ...
    Max Vol line
    ...
     
  14. Evshrug
    @teacher1000,
    When you were using multiple look angles, were you using a 7.1 sound system, or trying to use one or two speakers and repositioning between sweeps?
     
  15. sander99
    @teacher1000:
    Did you double check mic placement, and that they didn't move for example when moving for different lookangles?
    Wrong mic placement would cause bad localisation.
    I have been looking at jaakkopasanen's impulcifer and saw a picture of someone with the mic wires taped to the cheeks (with band aid?), maybe a good idea to provide stability of the mics?
     
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