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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. Om ma Ni
    Thank you so much for your super detailed tutorial for the PRIR with 2 stereo spk only!
    I think that i will start to think to do same thing to get used to the technique as i have a pair of bookshelf active speakers atm available (Audioengine 5+)
    Couple of questions: regarding the top speakers capture with the trick of using stereo ground spkrs and head inclination etc, are the real atmos top spkrs supposed to sound differently than the ground spkrs as they emit sound without ground reflection like the stereo ones?
    After your PRIR practice and "proper" mesurements, do you find the A16 capable of replicating the exact sound localization but also the proper acoustic signature of your stereo speakers?
    sahmen likes this.
  2. sahmen
    Interesting questions. I would like to know the answers as well.
  3. Richter Di
    Thanks did not know.
  4. audiohobbit

    What I didn't consider:
    The max. output voltage of the 16ch line out of the A16 is 2.5V rms.
    Input levels on consumer devices are normally lower. (Professional applications work with higher line levels than consumer application and the Realiser is also targeted at professionals).
    So we have to watch out to not overload our consumer AVRs, amps etc.
    There is a max. measurement sweep output level seeting to limit this in the measurement setup in "Realiser level numbers" (default setting 89), but I don't know to what voltage that translates.
    My AVR for example has a spec of only 200 mV input sensitivity (don't know if this is RMS) and max. 2.4V.
    So could be that I overloaded my AVR with my first experiments on PRIR measurements.
    I asked Stephen if he could give us some advice.
  5. Dixter
    From the manual ??? Line outputs - Sixteen channels of line-level outputs on 8 x 3.5mm stereo sockets. These should be connected to loudspeaker amplifiers for PRIR measurements or in the AV presentation mode (max output level 1.2Vrms)
  6. audiohobbit
    Still don't see the major problem here.
    It's much easier to leave the line outs plugged to the same channels all the time and create several PRIRs than the super complicated procedure you posted.
    Of course with 2 speakers or only one you will end up with many PRIRs.
    I intend to do it with 3 speakers, so I end up with 6 PRIRs, including "correct" Ls and Rs speakers for a 5.1 setup, and a back center that could be used for a real 6.1 setup, although this only really works with PCM signals, as there are nor specific 6.1 setups for Dolby or DTS in the A16.

    However, yesterday I experimented again with creating PRIRs and measured the levels at the seating position. I increased mic gain to +9 dB so the speaker signal should have been 6 dB quieter than the day before.
    During speaker calibration the level only peaked to 72 dB(C) but afterwards during the measurement it peaked at 92 dB(C).

    I made a quick and dirty 5.0 from 2 speakers always connected to ch 1 and 2.
    For the center I assigned only ch 2 to C, ch 1 was empty, and it happened that the sweep played twice for every look angle over this speaker, opposed to only one sweep per speaker and look angle normally. Don't know why this happened but the result seemed ok. I could put together a 5.0 listening room with those 3 PRIRs.

    I always use the headtracker and the HT assist mode with fixed look angles. It gives you guiding tones to reach the desired angle and if the angle is reached the sweeps starte automatically.
    Comes in very handy, especially when you have more look angles and smaller increments like 15 deg.
    Look angles will always alternate between left and right. So if you set two look angles with 15 deg. increment for example then the sequence will be like this:
    1. look center
    2. look left 15 deg.
    3. look right 15 deg.
    4. look left 30 deg.
    5. look right 30 deg.
    etc. if you have more look angles.

    Manual p. 113:
  7. audiohobbit
    Yes, you're right. I took the numbers from the KS update: https://www.kickstarter.com/project...al-3d-audio-headphone-processor/posts/2592312
    It could be that the quote from the manual specifically refers to the AV mode with 1.2V rms max. It's a bit unclear.

    And if you look on the Smyth webpage it says again a different number (2V rms): https://smyth-research.com/product/a16-realiser-2u/

  8. Dixter
    On a different subject.... During my testing of the USB port I loaded the drivers on Windows 7 and Windows 10.... The computer with Windows 7 worked perfectly.... The computer with Windows 10 loads the driver but the computer does not load the driver to the Windows Sound Control Panel Anyone else seeing this an can share in the fix..
  9. dsperber
    Well, it took a bit longer to finally find the time to get around to this project, but over this past weekend I finally made the commitment. Took at least 3 hours to get everything done, since there are a three distinct tasks. On the theory that a picture's worth 1000 words, and my experience may help others, I'm going to provide photos here.

    First, just one editorial post-mortem comment regarding the plastic clips provided for use in attaching the HT cable to my headphone (HP) cable. Smyth provided five different size clips (let's name them #1 - #5 in order of increasing size). The first three are smallish and "circular", clearly intended for a particular roundish shaped HP cable. The last two (#4 and #5) are flat and clearly intended to attach to a flat ribbon HP cable, with #4 being smaller. The clips are closed to start with, but one end opens slightly producing a U-shape which can then wrap around the HT cable (pushed into the closed U-end of the clip) and you can then push the open part of the clip onto an edge of the flat ribbon cable.

    The HP cable for my Stax SR-009 is of the flat ribbon type and is about 2.5m long, with 6 individual strands of wire running through most of the primary cable. The six strands then split into a Y, with two 3-wire smaller flat ribbon cables attaching to each transducer. In addition, I have a second Stax "extension cable" which adds another 2.5m to the overall cable length from the headphones to the amp. Total length is about 16ft so I used all 10 of the largest #5 clips provided, spaced evenly throughout the full 16ft cable length, as the primary method of securing the A16's HT cable to my HP cable.

    In addition, I used all 10 of the somewhat smaller #4 clips for special needs along the 16ft HP cable length. I used three of these #4 clips to secure the HT cable as it ran down the front-facing edge of the plastic HP band of the SR-009 from its 2.5mm 90-degree cable connection to the head tracker (HT) itself, and then down past the R transducer. I used two more of these #4 clips to secure the HT cable to the thinner 3-wire flat ribbon cable running from the R transducer to the Y-junction where it merged with the 3-wire cable running from the L transducer, to now form the main 6-wire primary cable. Total of five #4 clips used here.

    I used two more of these #4 clips immediately on either side of each of the two "extension" cable junctions to provide additional "cable tie" neatness, one for the Stax flat ribbon cable connecting to the Stax extension cable, and the other for the primary Smyth HT cable connecting to the HT extension cable (since I needed more length to reach the A16 than the primary HT cable provided). So four more #4 clips used here.

    Finally, I used the one remaining #4 clip to "tie down" the HT extension cable where the Stax extension cable plug inserts into the Stax amp. I then ran the remaining length of the HT extension cable under the Stax amp and behind my equipment rack, coming up out front again under the A16 on the shelf below the Stax amp, so that the 2.5mm plug could insert into the A16's front HT socket for UserA. I tied up the excess length of the HT extension cable behind the rack for neatness, with a twistie.

    My editorial post-mortem comment about the clips (specifically the #4 clips) is that they seem to lose their "spring-back memory" quite quickly, spread as they needed to be to press onto the my Stax cable and Stax HP plastic band as I used them. Perhaps they would retain their shape and tension better if they had to spread less. Bottom line: I'm not sure these are going to hold very well. As unattractive as it might be, I might have to use "painter's tape" to wrap fully around the points along the Stax flat ribbon cable where I've used those ten #4 and ten #5 Smyth clips to hold the HT cable, in order to securely keep the HT cable from coming loose. We'll see how well these clips hold up in normal use by themselves, but I suspect I may need to supplement them each with a piece of fully wrapped painter's tape (so as not to do damage to the cables from adhesive).

    Now for the pictures of the results. Really came out great. I'd been using my A8 at this location forever without a HT, simply because of the physical situation and that I didn't want to go through the trouble I went through this weekend to install the optical ST unit. But now that I've finally done it, I'm really pleased (ever since experiencing the HT back at CanJam SoCal in 2018).


    Part one of the project involved placing the ST unit on top of my wall-mounted bedroom 65" Panny TV using a strip of 2-sided tape. I also had to run the 3.5mm ST cable connected to the ST unit down behind the TV through cable guides, and out through a hole in the wall (in the middle of the wall mount) running into the open equipment space behind the wall where the TV is mounted. This is an old space (opposite my bed) where I used to have a very heavy 35" CRT TV built into the wall (sitting on a very strong shelf). Under the shelf is space (covered by a black speaker grill, as you can see in the pictures) for two audio speakers which are fed by my Yamaha AVR (in 2-speaker stereo "party mode"). As you can also see from the pictures below, there are even two cutouts above the TV for two VCR's (DVHS and ED-beta) which are no longer in use. The ST cable then ran (along with a number of other cables) out through an exit hole on the side outer wall of the equipment space, and over to the back of the equipment rack where it could connect to the ST input socket on the rear of the A16. Fortunately the total run length was under 15 feet so I didn't need to use the ST extension cable.






    Part 2 of the project involved attaching the HT clip to the plastic headband of my Stax SR-009. After figuring out which way was going to be "up" for the clip I attached the piece of black sponge (with 1-sided adhesive) provided by Smyth to the bottom of the clip. This prevents cosmetic damage to the plastic headband when the clip is attached using a rubber band.

    I used the largest of the three rubber bands provided by Smyth, which turns out to be the absolutely perfect length to secure the HT clip to the plastic headband of my SR-009.








    And finally, part 3 involved attaching the HT cable (and HT extension cable) to the side edge of the Stax HP cable (and Stax extension HP cable) securely, so that this second cable would not simply dangle off of my ears and HP and get tangled up on its 15 foot run to the amp/A16 equipment area. Furthermore, it initially had to be neatly guided and secured out of the 2.5mm connector on the side of the HT now clipped onto the top of my HP band, down the edge of the plastic headphone band and down the 3-wire ribbon cable out of the R transducer on my SR-009.

    And then the HT cable and extension cable had to make its way across my bedroom, to the equipment rack area where it could cleanly plug into the front HT socket of the A16 without just dangling off the front and onto the floor. It all had to be neat and "hidden" from view as a distinct second cable as best as possible given that it actually IS a distinct second cable now running out of my headphones.

    Turned out pretty decent.







    And yes, that is a dbx 14/10 computerized equalizer, circa 1987. I use it for "analog tone control" for the two speakers under the TV, for when I just want to hear sound through speakers instead of doing "serious listening" via headphones and SVS.


    Now to actually experience HT effect in my bedroom location. Haven't had this here since 2009. Finally.
  10. Sordel
  11. dsperber
    So I've now had one night of use of the new setup including ST/HT and cables. Looks like I was right about the three #4 clips used to secure the HT cable down against the edge of the Stax plastic headphone band. They seem to now be permanently "deformed" into their "open" state. Looks like the plastic has been "stressed" open beyond its physical memory to return with any grasping tension. They now have no ability to "grip" the plastic and remain securely fastened.

    In contrast, the other seven #4 clips used along the length of the flat Stax HP ribbon cable are still fine. But they hadn't been required to "open up" quite so wide as the three failing ones. So they still want to "remain closed", and thus still grasp onto the edge of the ribbon cable.

    I've decided to not use any tape (with some sort of adhesive) yet, since I don't want to do any damage to the Stax plastic headband as the adhesive ages and "cures". Instead I've purchased a roll of 1/2" wide Velcro tape, which is actually 1/2" strip that contains self-fastening Velcro on both sides. I will cut three or four small pieces and fasten them around the plastic headband and HT cable, trying to "squeeze" the three #4 Smyth clips against the edge of the headband. Let's see if I can make it work. I may do something similar down the full length of the HP/HT cable as well, just to keep the two wires together neatly better than I've accomplished with the #4 and #5 Smyth clips.

    Also, I did have to make a bit of a minor tweak on the mounting of the ST on the top edge of my Panny TV. Turns out my seating position on the bed was not DIRECTLY OPPOSITE (i.e. at zero degrees offset from the HT IR receiver) the ST unit which appears to be very sensistive. So I had to turn my head slightly (from straight ahead) in order to get the four green lights to illuminate correctly. I had to move the ST about 2" to the left of where I had originally placed it to compensate for this, so that I could simply look straight ahead at the TV.

    Along the same lines I also had to slightly "tilt down" the attachment of the ST to the top edge of the TV, and slightly "tilt back" the HT unit attached to the plastic headband, so that the vertical look angle (of my head) detected as also zero offset. The goal is to get just the four primary green LEDs to light with my body and head in their normal viewing position, as if I were looking "straight ahead and perfectly horizontal".

    So it may take another day or two to get all of this settled down and usable in "production mode".

    On an unrelated note, I did have TWO DISASTERS last night while watching. On two occasions while watching/listening an HDTV program (through my 5.1 PRIR, PCM room) all of a sudden the A16 display screen went red, and a bad buzz came through the headphones. Thankfully I was able to quickly press the POWER button on the remote and the A16 shut off. I waited a bit after the first incident and then powered back on, and it seemed to come back to life properly.

    About 10 minutes later the second event occurred, same as the first. Red screen and bad buzz. And I was again able to use POWER on the remote to shut it off. But this time, when I powered it back on it appeared that my preset had been blown out of the A16. The power-up sequence which normally shows "wait" for both UserA and UserB, and then "loading" and "active" for UserA, and then "loading and "active" for UserB... well, it showed nothing happening for UserA. Only UserB. Also, the speaker map display never appeared and I couldn't force it.

    I then pulled the power cord from the A16 and waited a bit, and then plugged it back in. Unfortunately there was no change to the power-on sequence, with UserA preset seemingly completely disappeared. And still the speaker map display never appeared. I was able to force the speaker map for the preset to appear (by PA + 1) but there was no speaker array shown. In the center of the screen was just a square block. I took this to mean there was no preset data actually loaded.

    I the went BACK, selected the UserA preset, arrowed over to the right and pushed OK (to re-load the preset from stored memory) and sure enough it now seemed to reload correctly. Note that when I entered the UserA preset screen the itext nformation shown for PRIR and HPEQ was correct, even though there was no speaker array shown. Anyway, now when I BACK to the main menu and then PA + 1, sure enough it presented the correct speaker map for the preset's PRIR. Everything now seemed back to normal.

    And in fact everything did seem to finally be normal. I now was able to complete my TV watching for the next hour, without further incident.

    We shall see.
  12. Dixter
    There was a guy over on the French site that reported an issue with User B not loading a proper PRIR and it caused similar but different errors and I have a feeling that firmware 1.76 fixes the issue.. ??? I think the IT guy is out of pocket or the firmware should have been posted by now...
  13. Richter Di
    Sounds horrible. Hope this will not happen to me or I will skip an hear beat.
    My worst thing at the moment is that I can not re-establish Dolby Atmos on my computer with the Realiser attached as the Dolby Setup procedure would require the A16 to send the response to the Dolby Atmos program on Windows that it is Dolby Atmos capable. As he obviously does not I am stuck. Any ideas?
  14. kh36267
    i have to say - after all of the waiting over the past 3 years - it's been such a treat to listen to the Star Wars movies in Dolby Atmos with the A16 via Disney+.

    very immersive experience!!
  15. mrmac
    I did my first PRIR’s in early September and I also utilised the ability to change the outputs to creat a 7.1 room with just the front 3 speakers. I used the C channel as SS by sitting +/-90. Works very well and it’s way easier then unplugging and changing cables. What I haven’t done is use guided HT during PRIR beyond the front 3. I guess it would just require moving the Set top to the required centre point. So laying it I the floor when doing height speakers...

    As future requests, I would like to add a way to know “reference volume”. With a simple AVR with a measurement microphone you have a reference for volume (0db). It would be nice to implement this on the A16. The microphones must be able to sense a specific volume once HPEQ is done. In conjunction to this I would like to have the option to have fixed level for SVS digital outs for us using a separate DAC/Amp.

    I would also like the tactile output to be able to be cutoff way lower. Down to 20hz if possible. Tactile is great but gets annoying if it’s as high as 60hz.

    It could also be useful to have the two tactile outputs be able to adjust independently. If your using tactile and a subwoofer with headphones. I’m not sure there is a way to “activate” the subwoofer pre out at the same time as SVS headphones are running. Anyone done this?

    I would like a dedicated button on the remote to turn on and off Dolby/dts upmixer. Feels silly to have to dive through the clunky menus to turn that on and off.

    There is heaps of other functions that would be amazing to see but has zero priority since there is still stability and error issues with the FW (and not to mention that there is still soooo many units to deliver...) Some I would like to discuss here (because it’s fun ) is the possibility of using the remote and slave outputs (that I doubt would be very useful for most users) as triggers for power amps. Not sure they have the voltage required, but would be very useful if possible.

    Furthermore, A 4.0 quad speaker setup, a 6.1 with center back (as mentioned by @audiohobbit). Sweep tones, delay settings and direc live would all be welcome eventually.

    Very much enjoying this miracle of a device!
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