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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. arnaud Contributor
    Along the same lines, is there a specific audio driver for OS X and, if so, is it still functioning with OS X Catalina? Reason I am asking is that this latest OS supposedly supports Dolby Atmos on the TV app so that would be a use case for the A16. I guess 1 fallback is HDMI out without decoding but the 16 ch. PCM output to USB seems like a potential workaround while waiting for support for DTS decoding.
  2. sander99
    I only know that Smyth has Windows and Mac drivers on their downloads page:
    I think these are asio drivers, nothing Smyth-specific.
    You could try to find "usb class standard audio" drivers or asio drivers for OS X Catalina and maybe that will work... But I dont know anything about OS X specific

    [Edit: oh stupid me, I didn't know OS X is running on Mac, I confused it with OS/2 (IBM)]
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  3. dsperber
    I have not made my own PRIR for Atmos, taken "live" for real with 16-channels of input to the A16. Nor have I actually created a PRIR by myself, ever, in any way, single speaker or multi-speaker. So I can't speak from firsthand experience.

    But I can say that my "composite hybrid" Atmos 9.1.6 PRIR, created by combining the factory-provided generic (non-personalized for my own ears) BBC room 9.1.6 PRIR with my perfectly wonderful A8 AIX ear-level 7.1 PRIR for those speakers, seems to be working out fine. The primary listening ear-level AIX 7.1 speakers overlaid and replaced the corresponding speakers in the BBC room, leaving only the 6 overhead speakers and Lw/Rw remaining to be provided from the BBC room PRIR. Sure, these are two totally independent set of speakers/room/ambience, but working together quite well. I did not apply an "normalization", but simply used the underlying speakers as-is.

    All in all this seems to be perfectly satisfactory. I can solo all 16 speakers and hear them, and know where they are (i.e. around me or overhead). As a compromise solution until I may someday have access to a genuine high-end 9.1.6 environment in which to arrange a personalized PRIR measurement, I can't really say if a true personalized PRIR would sound "better". Whatever was provided from the generic BBC room sounds pretty good to me for just the 2.0.6 speakers being provided to my "composite hybrid" 9.1.6 PRIR.

    So I'm very appreciative of this other "sum of PRIR's" technology that is also available, given that I was an A8 user and already had a wonderful ear-level 7.1 PRIR I could build around for Atmos.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
    esimms86 likes this.
  4. phoenixdogfan
    Anyone know if Smyth Research still accepts Paypal or if the A16 can only be ordered with a Bank Transfer?
  5. Flash676
    I was also contacted by UPS to fill out a TSCA form. UPS said it was because of the tariff number listed on the commercial invoice.
  6. odib
    Backer #68 here. Just received an email from James regarding my shipping address and order details. Will let you guys know when I finally get my hands on this beauty. :smile_phones:
    Richter Di, jgazal and VandyMan like this.
  7. audiohobbit
    Good to hear that the shipments are ongoing.

    In the meantime I managed to create a better manLOUD HPEQ for the Surrey room for my Hifiman In-Ears. When setting up the manLOUD process you can select a B(P)RIR that you want to optimize the HPEQ to and from the PRIR you can select different loudspeakers: L+R, C, and L+C+R.
    L+R seems logical in the first place and I choose this for my LCD2 and it worked fine, but not for the In-Ears. The result there was bad, timbre-wise and localisation-wise.
    So I made two new manLOUD HPEQs for the Surrey room, one while selecting the Center C, and one while selecting L+C+R.
    Both results are nearly identical (have to compare the EQ settings though, which I saved using the BMP-saving function to SD-card) and much better than the first one. Not as good as the manLOUD HPEQ for my LCD2 but good enough to watch movies, which was the purpose.

    So if you have no personal RIR (aka PRIR) and want to try to use the factory defaults (BBC or Surrey) then I advise you to make a manLOUD HPEQ by using a speaker of that specific PRIR and if you don't succeed in the first place, try the other speaker options as well.

    I tested magnetic stabilisation now for headtracking with both of my head tops. I tried to calibrate both (connected to User A) as explained in the manual by tumbling around the headphone with the headtop on top in the space where my head will normally be.
    For one headtop that worked ok, the other one only works when tilted forward or backward by some degrees. When it is upright on my head there's no stabilisation and the center "leaks" to 0 degree as they describt it in every direction you look.
    When tilted (10-20 degress, can't say) it works like the other one in upright position.
    But I'm not satisfied. For a while the center is stable but then (without moving my head or something) it shifts 10-20 degree to one side (mostly right side I'd say). Then I have to press the button on the headtop to recenter. After a while it shifts again to one side. So it's not stable.

    Does anyone have better experiences with magnetic stabilization?

    Optical stabilization only works for user A, as I said. In the setup you can only selsct optical or magnetic, you can't select separately for user A and B. So if you have two users and need stabilisation for both, magnetic is the only way.

    With optical stabilisation I also have some problems now. As I said I put the set top behinde me, that worked fine, but now I moved the chair about 30 cm (one foot) forward and then I encountered similar problems with a center that is not stable.
    Set top and head top are at roughly the same height.
    I suspect that when I lean back in my chair the head top gets tilited to much and points way below the set top and that may cause the problems.
    I have a huge screen in front of me with a lot of black masking cloth around it, so it's difficult to mount the set top there, and it would not be level with the head top but either way below or way above and I don't know if it still will work, I suppose it might caue similar problems. Have to try it though but have to figure out how to mount the head top to the cloth...
  8. m8o
    To owners ... The comment from dsperber is nice to see. So how convincing is the surround to more people?

    When I demoed it before purchase, I was floored by the recreation of the surround effect with individual speakers; I did the whole headphone on/off thing. But that feeling was less so for the video that was played in the demo. I chalked that up to the material played and limited exposure time. I went ahead and preordered.

    So, is everyone happy with the illusion it creates for you when watching material with good surround separation?

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  9. sander99
    You mean with the video that was played during your demo of the A16?
    When you are listening to one single speaker playing (real or virtual) then you can localize that speaker pinpoint precise. That's probably the reason why Smyth is soloing the speakers in the first place, so you can experience how well the localisation works for the virtual speakers. When you are listening to a good stereo recording over 2 speakers, and even more when you listen to a good surround recording over many speakers (real or virtual) then ideally you would not be able to pinpoint the speakers, but a soundstage is created around and inbetween the speakers. Could it be that you expected that you could still pinpoint the individual virtual speakers when playing all together and were diasappointed that you couldn't? Or did you notice a difference between the real and the virtual speakers, a difference between the real and the virtual soundstage?
    What I found most fascinating during my demo was the feeling I had that the sound I heard was totally unrelated to the headphones on my head, as if the headphones were doing nothing at all and the sound was coming from a distance. Do you recognise that or didn't you have that feeling?
  10. dsperber
    Just read your updated V2 list on the other thread. Looks good. I'd like to suggest the following additions and/or changes. I've brought these ideas up before, and really do feel that they make some sense.

    (1) In addition to having a power-on VOLUME that can stored in each preset, the INPUT value should likewise be preset-specific and storable in the preset as a second power-on default.

    (2) The 12 numeric keys are not useful most of the time since they are currently only allocated for speaker solo purpose (ignoring # for BMP screenshot, if you enable it). And how often do you really do speaker solo? I suggest that the default operation of these 12 numeric keys be made user-settable to have purpose as singe-click PRESET-SELECTORS. So just like the A8 remote has four dedicated preset-selector buttons for P1-P4, the 12 numeric keys on the can be to be 12 single-click "instant" preset-selectors for P1-P12... at least by default. In my opinion this particular usage will likely get much more likely everyday, common routine use whereas allocating them for speaker solo use will be much less commonly used.

    Now if the user has opted in Settings for default preset-selector use for the 12 numeric keys, they can manually be temporarily reverted to have their today speaker solo function by pressing (a) TEST, for music loop solo, or, (b) ALL for "live" sound solo. And then when speaker solo feature is no longer needed, a second press of TEST or ALL serves as a "toggle" back of the 12 numeric keys to have the original Settings user-set purpose of P1-P12 preset-selector function.

    Or, if the user has no need for single-click P1-P12 preset-select, the Settings option can be chosen to simply leave the 12 numeric keys to function exactly as they do right now, namely strictly as speaker solo keys 100% of the time, either TEST or "live".

    Given that we have need for BOTH preset-select as well as speaker solo functions, and given that we don't have enough keys on the remote to individually satisfy all needs, it's obvious we need to invent some kind of compromise with keys being usable for multiple purposes. I believe the individual user should, through Settings, be allowed to decide which of the two functions is most important to be available by default. For me, for sure, it would be as single-click P1-P12 preset selector. I will also occasionally need speaker solo, but nothing like my "almost constant" everyday need to pick the preset I want to listen through as my source changes.

    And by including INPUT in the preset, having single-click P1-P12 newly available with both power-on default VOLUME and INPUT explicitly set in each preset, we have now DRAMATICALLY REDUCED the finger-action and onscreen navigation (assuming you're close enough to read the screen) required to just plain old USE THE A16 as an easy-to-use "production" device in your entertainment system.

    You only would have to single-click press one of the 12 numeric keys (i.e. P1-P12) to select a preset, and you would have thus implicitly picked your (a) speaker room, (b) INPUT, and (c) VOLUME, all with that one single key press. Zero additional navigation required. This would be the default setup. And you still would have the ability to easily temporarily revert the 12 numeric keys for speaker solo use, and then easily toggle back to preset-select use.

    NOTE: power-on defaults by preset are just that, namely the uniquely preset-specific initial default values that populate those same "dynamic" corresponding values in each of the in-memory presets P1-P16. As long as the A16 remains powered on (i.e. in the same "session"), these initial values loaded into each in-memory preset can either remain unaltered or can be manually changed in the individual in-memory presets. And of course switching between in-memory presets and then back does not alter whatever values are currently stored in that in-memory preset, either the unaltered original power-on defaults or whatever the manually altered value was last set to.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  11. jgazal
    Soloing the speakers and head tracking really helped me to comprehend the externalization the first time I listened.
    I did it without video, only stereo.
  12. sander99
    It is of course impossible for one person to know how another person experiences something exactly, for example to know whether the color red looks the same to you as to me. Or whether or not the virtual speakers sound as convincing to you as they do to me. But reading your comment makes me think that your PRIR (and maybe your HPEQ) measurement are possibly not 100% on the mark. Maybe you should try to do a few more measurements and see if you get better results. Are you sure the mics were properly placed? Are you sure the mics didn't move out of the proper position at some moment?
    Do you listen to your PRIR in the same position in the same room where you made it with the real speakers present? (I only had my demo so I have no experience with listening to a PRIR in another room but some say it can make a big difference.)
    During my demo my brain was immidiately fooled, it didn't seem like my brain needed to comprehend something strange, the virtual speakers just sounded natural to me.
  13. phoenixdogfan
  14. jgazal
    You are probably right, because my acoustical environment, my headphones and my own hearing might not be perfect.
    For instance, although my speakers are placed equidistant to me and to the adjacent walls, in a reflection free zone (I have rock wool absorbers), I hear male voices to the left and no dead center. It is probably because there is a corridor behind the left speaker and placing the absorbers made the reflections somehow uneven.
    Having said that, one positive externality of speaker calibration is that I hear, with them A16 filter and my headphones, all male and female voices externalized and dead center in front.
    I have an SR-207 and the ear pad is glued to the plastic ear cup but recently that glue has become less effective and sticky and I had some variation in its position. I have yet to try my other headphone that is better built.
    I am probably failing in one or more steps. Still, I am able to comprehend the externalization even without video.
    It will be better to measure a PRIR in a mastering studio. But I don't feel comfortable to do that yet without digital output of sweeps or the asynchronous measurement.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  15. sander99
    @jgazal: Of course your end goal is to have a PRIR (and HPEQ) that sounds like a good system, or maybe like a good system that compensates for problems with your hearing. But don't confuse that with the quality of the PRIR (and HPEQ) in it's basic function: how well it duplicates your real system, including it's shortcomings. If you did it right, the real and the virtual system should just sound the same, including any shortcomings. (And of course it won't be 100% the same, as we know certain aspects of the sound are not captured in the way the A16 works. But a change in balance, a change in whether you here a voice left or center in the soundstage is not what I would expect, to me that would be a sign that something didn't go as well as it should or could with the measurement. On the other hand: I don't have any experience with all this except for my demo, with maybe 5 or 10 minutes listening to the virtual speakers and comparing them to the real speakers so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt.)
    jgazal likes this.
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