AVS Forum Club Gold
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Marina Del Rey, CA, USA
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For those of you who've been following this technology (Smyth Virtual Surround, aka SVS) for several years as I have, it's similar in concept to Dolby Headphone in its attempt to produce multi-channel surround sensation through ordinary headphones.
However it works differently (and vastly better, so I've heard and read), and also differs in that its source is already-decoded discrete multi-channel analog rather than the encoded DD5.1/DTS or newer digital datastream. The decoder is presumed to be external and the analog outputs of the decoder are fed to the inputs of the SVS box which has matching analog outputs for optional "relay" connection to your receiver, as well as L/R analog outputs for feeding to your headphone amp. The SVS box thus appears between the multi-channel analog source and your multi-channel analog receiver (if you have one) with no digital inputs or outputs of its own.
Having the decoder external to the SVS box insulates Smyth from (a) having to pay royalties to the owner of the codec, and (b) having to have firmware/software updates every time a new high-end HD audio codec appears or is updated. Relying on the discrete analog result of external decoding is clearly the optimal approach for them.
Smyth-Research is planning to have their high-end SVS box available very soon. And they've licensed the technology to Yamaha, which has a much less expensive box presumably also being available soon.
Smyth-Research has a booth at CES, SandVenetian Zeno 4805, and you should try to make it your business to visit if you're going to be there, for a demo. I was supposed to be going to CES but unfortunately have had to cancel. They'll be using Stax Omega headphones and amp.
I'm guessing (but am not sure) that you might also see the Yamaha box demoed at their HD/home theater CES booth, Central 12128.
Please provide feedback of SVS on the forum if you do go to CES and go to either of the SVS demos. I'm kicking myself for not being able to be there for the second year in a row.