Originally Posted by Celso
So has anyone tried these - here in China they cost a little more than the DIR800 and DIR2000 - only bummer is that they work on 110V so need an ugly converter...
Anyway would they be worth the trouble or are there much better ones out there now???
Hadn't known about these before now.
For one, it looks like they've eliminated the built-in powered amp and wired headphone output. Unless I'm not seeing the descriptions and pictures correctly, it looks like the "non-wireless processed output" is now limited to digital form, in optical-only! So presumably you then connect the optical output to your receiver or to some external DAC, and then eventually to your headphone amp/phones... if you don't want to just use the included wireless headphones.
Actually, building it for the US market directly, with it configured for 110V (instead being intended for the Japanese market with 100V, requiring Audiocubes to also include a free 100->110 converter as part of the package when I bought my DIR-SE1000C from them many years ago) is probably a good thing. The same was true with the similar Philips 1500U that I bought many years ago... with the US 110V market in mind as the way the unit came built.
Anyway, I must confess I have "moved WAY beyond" Dolby Headphone, from any manufacturer. To be honest, I used to think this was "terrific" and "a listening pleasure"... and I'm sure it must have been, years ago. Certainly I must have, since I started this thread myself!
However after waiting since 2004 for the "holy grail" of headphone-based (wired, not wireless, and based on high-quality electrostatic wired [Stax] amp/heaphones to deliver the best results... though other choices will also work), for more than a year now I have been using the Smyth Realiser A8 now available from Smyth-Research
There's simply no comparison. The Realiser is not based on Dolby Headphone, and does not accept encoded optical/coax digital input. It is based on a revolutionary technology named "Smyth Virtual Surround", developed by the same guy who developed the DTS codec.
Instead, it accepts pre-decoded (from a receiver, typically) preamp-level discrete analog inputs (for up to 8 channels, i.e. 2.0, 5.1 or 7.1, typically), converts the analog to digital, and then processes it digitally. The processed output is either (a) 2-channel stereo analog preamp-level output intended for delivery to a headphone amp, or (b) optical version of the processed output still in digital form intended for delivery to an outboard DAC and then on to your amp/headphones.
It is not an off-the-shelf "virtual surround simulator". Instead, it attempts to reproduce actual listening environments... that you visit with your own ears and perform microphone-based calibration measurements in. In other words, you go to a high-end audio studio with fantastic real loudspeakers and electronics and ambient environment. You sit in the sweet-spot with two calibration microphones inserted in your ears and the Realiser runs sweep signals through all the speakers individually, picking up through the two microphones in your ears exactly how YOU AND YOUR OWN EARS actually hear those loudspeakers in that room.
The Realiser processes those measurements and records them, as a "PRIR file" either in the RAM of the unit or on an SD flash card for backup. This file represents "how that room and everything about its electronics and acoustics actually sounds when heard by your own ears and ear canal, and skull, and brain, etc.,... by the two microphones inserted into your ears during the calibration process".
A second one-time measurement of your own [Stax] amp/headphone capabilities is similarly measured, calibrated and stored (this time as a "HPEQ" file), again based on using the two calibration microphones inserted into your ears. Essentially this measures how these particular headphones and amp sound to YOUR EARS, based on test sweep signals sent to the headphones which you've got on while also having the microphones inserted in your ears.
The combined result, of PRIR file (for the particular listening environment, as heard by YOUR ears) and the HPEQ file (for the particular headphone/amp you use to listen through, as heard by YOUR ears) is used to process source signals "in reverse" during playback of any multi-channel source through the Realiser and out to the headphones.
The effect is to DUPLICATE the precise sound (including amazingly identical duplication of the directionality, both horizontal and vertical, of the "virtual speakers") as heard through your headphones. The tonal and directional equivalence of what you hear through the headphone/amp and what you would have heard had that source been playing in the originally measured listening environment is truly stunning. Amazing. You would not believe it if you didn't experience it for yourself.
So, in summary regarding the Realiser... it is NOT Dolby Headphone. It is NOT meant to "simulate surround sound". It is meant to DUPLICATE A GIVEN LISTENING ENVIRONMENT when playing back any multi-channel source input. You must physically go to that listening room order to take an actual audio measurement (with two microphones inserted into your own ears in that listening environment) in order to "sonically capture in a digital photograph called a PRIR file" precisely how that room's gestalt sounded to YOUR OWN EARS. And then that listening environment will be duplicated when using that PRIR (and HPEQ for your own headphone/amp) to play back any multi-channel source input through the Realiser.
You obviously cannot "share" a PRIR or HPEQ with others, since it is 100% your own personalized measurement (since it was based on how YOUR ears heard test signals). However for YOU alone, it provides unbelievably accurate duplication of true loudspeakers... in that room, placed where they were, with carpet/wood/baffles on floor, walls and ceiling, through whatever electronics and loudspeakers were actually there when the "calibration" was taken.
You can obviously build a "library" of assorted listening environment, going to each one and taking a "calibration" of how that environment sounded to YOUR ears. You can then choose to use any of those PRIR files at playback time (combined with the probably just the one HPEQ file for your personal high-quality headphones), to duplicate any of those listening environments... at your whim.
Personally, I've settled on just one particular 5.1 PRIR from one particular studio (of the 6 that I have available, including both 5.1 and 7.1 measurements -> PRIR files) as my "favorite". The super quality of that room and its electronics/speakers is so realistic through the Realiser that I simply use it 100% of the time.
It's really remarkable. My Dolby Headphone equipment has been living in its carton since April 2009.
Smyth Realiser. Not cheap, but worth it. There is simply nothing like it (once you get a "calibration" done). Here in the States, Smyth has established a relationship with several audio studios here in the LA area, which allow us to go over there and do a "calibration" for a standard $200 fee that's seemingly become the going rate for say the one hour of studio time needed to set up and take the measurement.