Smyth Research "SVS" is finally available for purchase! - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 280 Old 04-05-2009, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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If you have been following the story of Steve Smyth and his "Smyth Virtual Surround (SVS)" product (as well as my threads on the forum regarding progress in bringing it to market) for years, the long awaited arrival of the product has occurred.

In fact, I am now the proud owner of "serial #00001" of the Realiser A8 Headphone System! I drove to their offices today and paid my money!

Not having any 5.1 loudspeaker system of my own (I have been listening to things through Stax headphones and a Pioneer DIR-SE1000C Dolby Headphone processor for years) they were kind enough to let me calibrate (i.e. "personalize") my system using their demonstration room equipment. Recording the results on SD flash card (for backup) and storing in "preset 1" of the unit allows me to bring it back to my own home and recreate the precise sound of their demonstration room to my own ears.

I brought up my own Stax Omega-1 headphones and SRM-T1S amp, because I intend to use this equipment in lieu of the entry-level Stax 2020 system which comes included as part of the retail SVS system. So the calibration/personalization process included my own Omega-1 headphones instead of the 202.

And this brings me to the most amusing moment of the day... at what I thought was a next step in the calibration process. The Omega-1 headphones are "open-air electrostatic" and consequently you can pretty much hear everything in the room around you. Well the calibration process sends sweep signals to each of the various speakers individually, and as the process proceeded I thought I was still hearing those real loudspeakers all around me. I was waiting for the next step, I thought, which would be the playing of sound through the headphones (to be measured by the two calibration microphones which had been imbedded deep into my ear canals).

Well when the process stopped, or seemed to stop, I turned to Steve and asked him what I had just been listening to and what was next. He said I been listening to my headphones, not the loudspeakers!!! I could absolutely not believe this!

In other words, not only was the spatial cueing and 3D-sensation through the headphones precisely localized to duplicate the sound of the actual loudspeakers on the floor around me, but the equalization job performed by the process that made the sound played through the headphones EQUAL IN LOUDNESS to the loudspeakers themselves was so perfect that I absolutely could not tell I had been listening to my headphones!!!

Now I don't recall having that same sensation of a "perfect match" a few months back when I first had a demonstration, but using the 202 headphones and matching entry-level amp. Perhaps I'm so familiar with the sound of my Omega-1 and SRM-T1S amp that something came out different during today's episode. I really can't explain it, but the results were seemingly absolute perfection.

Essentially I had the 5.1 physical loudspeakers of the room conveyed perfectly to me through the headphones... as an exact duplicate. It's really unbelievable, and can only be truly appreciated by firsthand experience.


Now if you've been following this product for years as I have you know all about its essential functional design:

(a) 8 analog inputs (expected to be fed from the preamp output of an external receiver/decoder, as the box does not have any Dolby/DTS decoder software internal to it), which can support from 1 to 8 speakers. So it can support simple 2-speaker stereo, or 5.1/6.1/7.1 arrangements.

(b) 8 analog outputs, for pass-through to an amplifier (for listening to the loudspeakers attached to the amplifier if you want to bypass the headphones)

(c) head tracker, mounted to the top of your headphone band and which has an IR emitter picked up by a receptor that sits on top of your TV/PC screen; this combination allows the processor to sense when your head has turned left or right, as it then influences the sound presented to the left and right headphones so as to convince your brain that your head has rotated in the loudspeaker field.

Incidentally, the head tracker mechanism can be disabled so that when you rotate your head the speakers essentially rotate with you... as if they were mounted on poles emanating horizontally from your head (as is the case with normal Dolby Headphone). This is actually not what happens in the real world of external loudspeakers when you turn your head and your brain hears things differently and accepts this as the result of the head rotation, but it can be done if you want.

(d) appropriate cables, cords, extension cords, calibration microphones, ear pads (to wrap around the microphones), etc., to accomplish "personalization"

(e) SD flash card (and reader on the unit) for storing backup of all files, including unlimited personalizations which can be selected by the unit's menu and written into any of the four selectable presets

(f) full-function remote to control all setup and normal operation functions, including digital amplifier (e.g. typical setting at -20db) for "preamp" volume control out to the headphone amp (which has its own separate volume control).

(g) firmware updates enabled through SD flash card reader

(h) built-in charger on the unit for the head-tracker emitter gizmo that sits on top of your headphone band


I could go on and on, providing detail specs, pictures, etc., but if you're reading this thread you probably have a pretty good previous acquaintance with the concept here. And I'm sure that the Smyth web site (when finally finished) will provide much more in the way of useful information and photos than I could or need to.

If you'd like to buy one of these for yourself, or get more information, please contact Lorr Kramer (VP of North American Operations) via email at this address. He requested email contact instead of phone because they're a small operation and frequently away from the office.

But the bottom line is that THIS EQUIPMENT IS NOW READY FOR RETAIL PURCHASE!!! They have an actual supply in their office (at least 20 units I believe) and can ship immediately.

All you need to own one is $3K.

Again... you will need a real loudspeaker system room environment in which to do your own calibration/personalization (which does not work with anybody else... since it reflects YOUR OWN EARS). If you don't own one, go to a friend (or stereo store) and borrow theirs. You won't let them hear the results for themselves using your personal calibration, but you can certainly let them do their own calibration and then listen for themselves. They'll likely be stunned. But agian, you will need real loudspeakers to do this.

And if you're a headphone listener, I am telling you this is the holy grail. And for someone like me, who has no 5.1 high-end loudspeaker system (and can't, because of my apartment building), it's really what I've always wanted.


NOTE 1: I confirmed with Steve that there IS a way to do the calibration using just one single speaker, moving it around the room to the appropriate locations, pausing and resuming the calibration process as you proceed. It's actually anticipated (but not really encouraged) that this might be the calibration method.

NOTE 2: I inserted my DBX 14/10 EQ between the SVS unit and the Stax headphone amp, to apply tone control to the 2-channel L/R processed output that was being provided to my headphones. I was relieved to observe that the neutrality of my EQ resulted in zero effect on the spatial nature of what I heard. Pushing EQ on/flat repeatedly I could clearly hear the difference in tonal quality of the music I was listening to (an Eagles concert DVD), but no difference at all in where the sound was coming from. I mention this because I still wanted to use my EQ for tone control, and was concerned it would interfere in some way with the SVS output. Turns out my fears were unwarranted.

NOTE 3: Not having a real loudspeaker system of my own, I've now purchased a modestly priced Onkyo TX-SR706B receiver. This unit supports all the latest HD codecs, HDMI 1.3, etc. and I'm really going to be using it simply as an external DD/DTS decoder with 7.1 analog preamp output to feed the SVS unit as expected. The 706 thread has lots of commentary, but it all relates to loudspeaker operation, etc. and I'm only going to be using it as my decoder/preamp. Thus I don't expect to have any of the problems noted by all of those 706 owners.

NOTE 4: I'm going to look into finding a high-end audio store that will let me "borrow/rent" their high-end listening room with zillion dollar equipment, to bring my little SVS box along and do another personalization in that high-end listening environment. I'll also let them do one for themselves, so they can appreciate the device and what it can provide, namely "teleportation of any listening environment to anywhere else, via headphones". That way I would be able to "bring back" the sound of that zillion dollar equipment to my own home.
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post #2 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 12:42 AM
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Wow, just wow. I've been following the Smyth's SVS system for about 2 yrs, and would love to try it out so that i could convince myself to drop 3K on it. I've been using somewhat of the same previous setup as what you were using - Pioneer 1000C unit paired with Byerdynamic DT880's and a VHP-2 headphone amp. I'm very pleased with the results i get, but i'm sure it is noting compared to the SVS system. How would you compare the two?

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post #3 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 01:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Foe-hammer View Post

I've been using somewhat of the same previous setup as what you were using - Pioneer 1000C unit paired with Byerdynamic DT880's and a VHP-2 headphone amp. I'm very pleased with the results i get, but i'm sure it is noting compared to the SVS system. How would you compare the two?

Well, to be honest there's really no comparison.

The Dolby Headphone effect (which is pretty much the same no matter what processor you've got and what amp/headphones you listen through... e.g. I've owned DIR-SE800C, DIR-SE1000C, DIR-SE2000C, and Phillips 1500U, and they're all essentially the same) is quite "compressed" and "artificial". Yes, there is some sensation of 3D sound sourcing, and on occasion there's the really terrific and startling "phone ringing from rear-left", or "door closing rear-right" that truly sounds like it's not right in front of your head but well behind it). Let's put it this way: it's usually better and more enjoyable than ordinary 2-channel stereo.

But the goal of Dolby Headphone is to try and simulate what an external loudspeaker-based surround sound system would sound like, with three selectable degrees of "surround simulation".

In contrast, the goal of SVS is to DUPLICATE A LISTENING ENVIRONMENT characterized by whatever speakers, electronics, and room characteristics you happen to calibrate and personalize it with. Literally it is just that... to exactly duplicate that room's audio persona as measured by how your ears, brain and skull hear the sound, be they good audio characteristics or bad audio characteristics.

So, if you happen to have a terrific home theater room with great tone and clarity, your SVS system will exactly duplicate that via headphones... and you could be sitting in the bathroom or working on editing the audio for a movie on your bedroom computer with headphones on instead of working "live" at your office reference lab with studio monitors.

And as a result of what SVS does, you really completely out-perform what Dolby Headphone is truly a piker at. If your room provides fantastic DD 5.1/6.1/7/1 sound, then SVS will duplicate that fantastic sound. And I mean duplicate it. No simulation (well, let's be honest... the DSP chip is doing quite a bit of math and simulation, but the effect as your brain perceives it is to duplicate loudspeakers as you actually heard them).

So... if you only have a very mediocre sound system to personalize on, that will be what you get out of SVS... an exact duplicate of a very mediocre loudspeaker system. On the other hand if you're lucky enough to have (or have access to) a terrific loudspeaker system, then you're very lucky indeed because SVS will let you experience that exact same wonderful listening environment in your pajamas wearing headphones in your bed while watching something on HDTV at the other end of your bedroom.

Honestly... it's magic.
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post #4 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 02:08 AM
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But the goal of Dolby Headphone is to try and simulate what an external loudspeaker-based surround sound system would sound like, with three selectable degrees of "surround simulation".

In contrast, the goal of SVS is to DUPLICATE A LISTENING ENVIRONMENT characterized by whatever speakers, electronics, and room characteristics you happen to calibrate and personalize it with. Literally it is just that... to exactly duplicate that room's audio persona as measured by how your ears, brain and skull hear the sound, be they good audio characteristics or bad audio characteristics.

Both DH and SVS are simulations. There are two differences: the less interesting one is that with SVS you can tune it to simulate a specific audio environment of your choice, rather than being limited to a choice of presets; the much more useful difference is that the SVS simulation takes into account the combination of the listening room and your ears while DH is based on a notional "average" ear/room combination which may not bear all that much resemblance to the way that your own ears work. That's what makes the difference in quality: customising the simulation for a particular set of ears.
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post #5 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
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the much more useful difference is that the SVS simulation takes into account the combination of the listening room and your ears while DH is based on a notional "average" ear/room combination which may not bear all that much resemblance to the way that your own ears work. That's what makes the difference in quality: customising the simulation for a particular set of ears.

And that's also why Smyth can't provide a "default" starter customization with SVS, say for people (such as myself) who don't actually own a loudspeaker system for use is customizing and/or who would like to get the sound of that "zillion dollar system" right out of the SVS box.

That cannot be done, because the personalization is to YOUR EARS as to how they react to a particular listening area environment... not someone else's, nor to any generic norm or average set of ears or room acoustics. There's no such thing. It's the "fingerprint" of your own ears in a particular listening environment which is reflected in the profile, and it doesn't match anybody else's ears nor would anybody else's ears (or a generic average sound from lots of different samples of ears) sound good to you.

I know, I tested that out just as an experiment, listening through Steve's profile. And it was awful, I mean spatially crazy! While my own profile was "normal" (kind of like looking through your own eyeglasses with your own prescription), with everything at the right L/R and up/down and front/rear location, Steven's profile was all mixed up! It was remarkable, how different he hears sound than I do. But then I wouldn't think to wear his eyeglasses and be able to see as I do through my own.
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post #6 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 02:31 AM
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And that's also why Smyth can't provide a "default" starter customization with SVS, say for people (such as myself) who don't actually own a loudspeaker system for use is customizing and/or who would like to get the sound of that "zillion dollar system" right out of the SVS box.

That cannot be done, because the personalization is to YOUR EARS... not someone else's, nor to any generic norm or average. There's no such thing. It's the "fingerprint" of your own ears which is reflected in the profile, and it doesn't match anybody else's ears nor would anybody else's ears (or a generic average sound from lots of different samples of ears) sound good to you.

I know, I tested that out just as an experiment, listening through Steve's profile. And it was awful, I mean spatially crazy! While my own profile was "normal" (kind of like looking through your own eyeglasses with your own prescription), with everything at the right L/R and up/down and front/rear location, Steven's profile was all mixed up! It was remarkable, how different he hears sound than I do. But then I wouldn't think to wear his eyeglasses and be able to see as I do through my own.

And that is precisely what wraps my head in a knot - how the SVS is able to personalize exactly how your ear mechanic variables (canal shape length, cochlear hairs, etc.) and brain perceives the audio. How is that even possible? I don't doubt, i'm just perplexed - this is technology i'd imagine 50-100yrs from now.

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post #7 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
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And that is precisely what wraps my head in a knot - how the SVS is able to personalize exactly how your ear mechanic variables (canal shape length, cochlear hairs, etc.) and brain perceives the audio. How is that even possible? I don't doubt, i'm just perplexed - this is technology i'd imagine 50-100yrs from now.

Two very sensitive "calibration microphones" are inserted into your ears, to pick up sound under the influence of whatever physical factors are involved when the sound waves first enter your outer ear canal.

Those recorded pickup of those microphones (and associated conversion to digital by the processor calibration software) sort of simulates all of the analog influences in effect at least at that point (physical shape of your ears, skull, room ambience and acoustic characteristics, speaker quality and placement and sound source location, such as whether the center speaker is placed in the middle of the TV screen in front of you or above it or below it, etc.).

In other words everything "analog input" around you can be effectively combined and analog-summarized into that one single analog measurement by the microphones sitting right inside your ears. It's not necessary to know that your ear canal is curved a certain way... it's only necessary to record the sound picked up by the microphones and map it digitally so that it can be compared to the known reference shape of the sound which was sent to the speakers and which was then picked up by the microphones.

From there, it's just a matter of "mapping" that recording which is compared against the known mathematical construction of the sweep frequency sounds that were emitted by the processor to the individual speakers. The system knows exactly what those sounds looked like, and where they went. The two microphones pick up the how they actually sound (to each of your two ears) and compare the result to the original.

The difference between what is sent out and what is received back is: YOUR HEARING SYSTEM, WORKING N THE SPECIFIC RECORDED SOUND ENVIRONMENT BEING CALIBRATED.

The result of this calibration is some kind of "curve" that needs to be applied to any audio signal when feeding it to your headphones so that the result, if measured again by the calibration microphones, would produce the identical "difference" between what was sent out and what was received by the microphones sitting in your ears as was determined as the "reference model" during that initial calibration/personalization process which produced the profile for you and your loudspeaker system in the first place.

Yes, it's clever and sophisticated... in all ways.
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post #8 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I misstated the details on the entry-level headphone/amp included with SVS.

It's not the 404 headphone system (priced at around $1800 retail).

It's the 202 headphone system (priced at around $750 retail).

Sorry for the confusion.
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post #9 of 280 Old 04-06-2009, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Should have included a photo on my original post.

Here's the front:
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post #10 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 06:53 AM
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I am ordering as well. I do have a question. I got invoiced from is it England?? Weird. I have been dealing with Steve Chueng-Dsperber-, how did you pay?
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post #11 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

Should have included a photo on my original post.

Here's the front:

Thanks for the update. I had bookmarked your old thread after the demo last year and was checking up on that on a regular basis. I right clicked on your profile today and saw the new thread. Very exciting news. Time to start saving.
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post #12 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
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I am ordering as well. I do have a question. I got invoiced from is it England?? Weird. I have been dealing with Steve Chueng-Dsperber-, how did you pay?

Yes, this is all correct. Steve Cheung, invoiced showing my home address from their England office... it all sounds right.

I actually went to their office on Sunday to pick up my SVS unit, so I gave them a check (made out to Smyth Research) per my invoice at that time.
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post #13 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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By this time something should be understood without further clarification, but I'll say it again anyway... just to clarify.

This processor does not "create a listening environment equivalent to top-of-the-line loudspeakers and electronic equipment".

Instead, it duplicates whatever loudspeaker-based listening environment you calibrate it in so that when you listen instead through headphones it will sound identical to how it sounded through the loudspeakers.

So, if you absolutely love your home sound system and wish you could enjoy it the exact same way but through headphones, this is now possible. You'll be able to with SVS, calibrating a profile on your own home sound system.

On the other hand, if your home sound system is so-so and you've never really loved it and have always wanted to get better sound but couldn't afford it or didn't want to spend a fortune upgrading, SVS will not do it for you either. A calibration profile produced on your mediocre sound system will simply duplicate your mediocre sound system.. perfectly, but with no magical improvement. It will sound no better than it does through loudspeakers. But then that's not its purpose.

So again, it's purpose is to duplicate a listening environment, to your own personal hearing system and nobody else's. True 5.1 sound heard through a great home sound system will sound just as great through your headphones. Not so great sound will sound not so great (but it certainly will sound just like the loudspeakers). It is light years ahead of Dolby Headphone in terms of "simulating" a 3D sound field produced by multi-channel sound sources, through 2-channel headphones.

And that also means you cannot "exchange" personalization files with others who also own SVS, since those personalizations are THEIR's (i.e. derived from how their ears hear sound) and your personalizations are YOURS. Using their profiles will not sound right to you.

But you can certainly go to their location and calibrate your own personalization file on their SVS equipment, listening to their loudspeakers in their environment, and then write the profile to your SD flash card and bring it home to your house and use it... and then you definitely will be listening through your headphones as if you were truly at their house listening through their sound sound system. That's the only real way to "exchange".
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post #14 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

Yes, this is all correct. Steve Cheung, invoiced showing my home address from their England office... it all sounds right.

I actually went to their office on Sunday to pick up my SVS unit, so I gave them a check (made out to Smyth Research) per my invoice at that time.

well you have me very excited. My check goes out today!

I am interested in how much better it would be with the standard Stax Headphones, and more expensive ones.
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post #15 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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well you have me very excited. My check goes out today!

One interesting thing that happened during my Sunday calibration process...

They placed their center speaker right in front of the middle of the TV panel, rather than above it or below it as most home sound systems have that speaker positioned (purely for physical reasons). They simply placed the speaker on a cardboard box standing up on the table on which the TV was sitting, right in front of the screen.

The explanation, which made perfect sense, is that ideally when watching visual cues (like a TV show or a movie) your brain wants to hear sound coming from where your eyes see the source. So ideally, speakers would be right behind a screen that allows sound to pass through (as they are in some installations). Since this is not possible with a TV set everybody puts the center speaker above or below the TV.

But in this above/below situation the sound comes from above/below, which is unnatural since the picture and people talking is on the screen directly in front of us. Our brains obviously compensate and get used to it but ideally the sound would come from people's mouths, which is on the screen directly ahead of us.

So by relocating the center speaker to be directly in the center of the TV screen for the calibration process, the SVS result (as defined in the customization profile) will be to duplicate that precise and ideal straight ahead speaker location when listening through your headphones... which has none of the physical issues which required that real center loudspeaker to be placed above or below the TV screen.

Consequently, if you do this yourself during calibration, when listening through your headphones and SVS the center channel sound will appear to be exactly where it was during the calibration. Hence center channel sound will be in the much more expected and natural location... right in the middle of the TV screen.

Tip for the day.
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post #16 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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I am interested in how much better it would be with the standard Stax Headphones, and more expensive ones.

I would think it probably goes without saying that EVERYTHING sounds better (quality-wise) through better headphones and amp.

Now as to whether or not the directionality and spatiality is affected by the quality of the headphones, I can't really say. I suppose I could have done a second calibration while I was there on Sunday, using the provided 202 system as well as my Omega-1 system. Then I would have been able to do an A/B test and answer your question with some authority.

But what I did prove absolutely is that injecting "analog 2-channel tone control" between the SVS box and my headphone amp (via my DBX 14/10 EQ) only affected tonal quality. As was confirmed by an A/B test (using an EQ curve or running flat) it absolutely did NOT change the directionality or spatiality of what I heard through the phones. It only changed the quality of that sound.

So chances are it would probably be the same story when contrasting lesser quality or better quality headphone listening systems... assuming a "minimally acceptable and neutral" headphone system that does not interfere "structurally" with the sound waves coming from the SVS processor and being fed to your ears, which I guess is why they make a point of providing the Stax 202 system.
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post #17 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

One interesting thing that happened during my Sunday calibration process...

They placed their center speaker right in front of the middle of the TV panel, rather than above it or below it as most home sound systems have that speaker positioned (purely for physical reasons). They simply placed the speaker on a cardboard box standing up on the table on which the TV was sitting, right in front of the screen.

The explanation, which made perfect sense, is that ideally when watching visual cues (like a TV show or a movie) your brain wants to hear sound coming from where your eyes see the source. So ideally, speakers would be right behind a screen that allows sound to pass through (as they are in some installations). Since this is not possible with a TV set everybody puts the center speaker above or below the TV.

But in this above/below situation the sound comes from above/below, which is unnatural since the picture and people talking is on the screen directly in front of us. Our brains obviously compensate and get used to it but ideally the sound would come from people's mouths, which is on the screen directly ahead of us.

So by relocating the center speaker to be directly in the center of the TV screen for the calibration process, the SVS result (as defined in the customization profile) will be to duplicate that precise and ideal straight ahead speaker location when listening through your headphones... which has none of the physical issues which required that real center loudspeaker to be placed above or below the TV screen.

Consequently, if you do this yourself during calibration, when listening through your headphones and SVS the center channel sound will appear to be exactly where it was during the calibration. Hence center channel sound will be in the much more expected and natural location... right in the middle of the TV screen.

Tip for the day.

Interesting. That helps alot as I have a projector but not able to put speaker behind an acoustically transparent screen.
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post #18 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 08:26 AM
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Was a subwoofer used in the calibration process? How does deep bass sound? Thanks.
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Originally Posted by kiliancollins View Post

Was a subwoofer used in the calibration process? How does deep bass sound? Thanks.

They actually had six identical satellite speakers (sorry, I don't know what brand but they were pretty good sounding and contained two drivers inside each one) around the room. Each satellite was mounted on a post/base so that the drivers were head level when you sat in the listening chair in the center of the room.

Each satellite also had a subwoofer connected to it and sitting on the carpeted floor, with a crossover (or low-pass filter?) built in. Don't know for sure the arrangement. This was simply to make each satellite location more of a full-range speaker system, to "flesh out" the mid-range and high-frequency drivers in the cabinet sitting on the post.

They used the sixth such satellite arrangement in the back of the room, behind the listening chair, as the sub-woofer channel. And the center speaker in the front was the only speaker node that did NOT have subwoofer attached.

The calibration process itself is a series of "whoop, whoop, etc.," sweep frequency signals that comprise an "average" sound, not attempting to be only low-frequency or only high-frequency but running up the scale from low-frequency to high-frequency. Nothing like actual music or movie sound... just test signals emitted by the SVS unit (of precisely known characteristics to the processor) to each speaker individually. This is all done with the listener NOT wearing the headphones, but only having the two calibration microphones (wrapped in a yellow foam protector) pressed deeply into the ears.

You're asked first to look center, and the "whoop, whoop" proceeds. Then you're asked to look at the left speaker and again "whoop, whoop". Then right speaker, and "whoop, whoop". Then look center and the processor fires the rear surrounds individually with the same test signals.

When this process completes, the headphones are then put on (keeping the microphones in the ears) and an "equalization" set of sounds is emitted to the headphones by the SVS processor, in order to determine how loud the volume must be when feeding the headphones in order to sound exactly as loud [to the calibration microphones in your ears] as the true loudspeakers sounded [to those same calibration microphones in your ears].

And that's it. Maybe 5 minutes total.

After that, playing some demonstration material (e.g. a DVD with sound effects or music, etc.) is the pudding. Personally, I think the sound in "House Of Flying Daggers" is a superb audio reference (especially the drum scene, when the stones are thrown and magically strike every drum all around the room). That would be a fabulous test of SVS.

As to whether bass comes through firmly, well that would depend on both the source material and your headphones. I can tell you that my Omega-1 sound is superb down there, but no less or more because of SVS... which, after all, is duplicating the sound of the loudspeakers. Assuming the headphones can match the loudspeakers tonally, it'll sound just as good through the phones as it does through your speakers.

And, if not... well that's why I have my DBX 14/10 EQ in the path between SVS and headphone amp, to adjust the tonal quality to my liking (throughout the sound spectrum). Personally, I can't live without an EQ.

Incidentally, when looking at the left speaker and the right speaker, Steve instructed me to look slightly beyond the speakers (i.e. a bit more left and a bit more right).

This is for two reasons. First, apparently we have dominant eyes and because of that we never tend to truly look in a straight direction but rather slightly off-center. So in order to satisfy the request it is best to try and focus your straight-ahead gaze to just outside that speaker.

Second, you're [normally] going to be wearing the IR-emitting head-tracker on top of your headphones when actually listening. And if you turn left or right (as picked up by the IR receptor placed on top of your TV screen) the SVS processor will adjust the sound sent to your ears to seemingly reflect the rotation of your head via your headphones... exactly as would occur if you were listening to real loudspeakers and turned your head. If you turn too far left or right, the SVS processor will mute the sound. To prevent that from occurring prematurely (i.e. with too little head rotation) it's best to create a calibration profile that "thinks" the left and right speakers are a bit further apart, so that you won't accidentally mute the sound when listening by a casual head rotation.

One more note: if you take the headphones off your head and rotate them down (i.e. so that the headband is horizontal), the SVS processor mutes the headphones and brings up the loudspeakers... assuming you have loudspeakers attached through the outputs of the SVS box (going to your amplifier and speakers, which you MUST have connected for calibration purposes but don't need to thereafter). That way, by going back and forth between headphones on and headphones off/horizontal, you can actually A/B test (and confirm) that listening through the headphones is a duplicate of listening to the loudspeakers.
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Would I be right in saying one could use a DVD or Blu Ray player with analogue outs and onboard decoding instead of getting a receiver? Obviously this would limit you to one source. Thanks again
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Dsperber, What is the address of Symth in CA? As in where do send the money:-)
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Does the SVS have a 2-channel SPDIF output of the processed signal (which could be fed to an external DAC)?

Does it have an RS232 port or Ethernet port that would allow it to be controlled by another device such as a PC?

Can the head-tracking receptor be used wirelessly? Or does it need to be wired to the main unit?

Does the SVS allow you to switch quickly from one stored preset to another, so you can do A/B comparisons?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiliancollins View Post

Would I be right in saying one could use a DVD or Blu Ray player with analogue outs and onboard decoding instead of getting a receiver? Obviously this would limit you to one source. Thanks again

Yes, this would be acceptable.

Any preamp-type analog output reflecting external decoding is what is expected as the analog input of the SVS box. From 1-8 analog input channels are accepted and then "duplicated" through the headphone out.
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Quote:
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Does the SVS have a 2-channel SPDIF output of the processed signal (which could be fed to an external DAC)?

No. The only outputs are analog and are (1) headphones, and (2) 8-channels to the external amplifier/speakers.

In other words, the SVS box is simply a processor in between the preamp/receiver/decoder and the amplifier/speakers, with 8 input/output pass-through signals plus its own processed headphone output.

Currently (and maybe never) there is no HDMI digital multi-channel decoded PCM input, only the 8-channel analog inputs.

Also there is no digital output of the digital result of the processor (can't imagine why that would be needed, since you're expected to feed headphones). Deja vu on this discussion.


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Does it have an RS232 port or Ethernet port that would allow it to be controlled by another device such as a PC?

No. It does have a currently unused (at least for user purposes) mini-USB port on the back, which is apparently utilized for factory work.


Quote:


Can the head-tracking receptor be used wirelessly? Or does it need to be wired to the main unit?

Currently it is a wired connection. There's a 5-meter primary cord and a second 5-meter extension cord provided. Small cord, mini-jack type connector.

But it's wired, not wireless.


Quote:


Does the SVS allow you to switch quickly from one stored preset to another, so you can do A/B comparisons?

Yes. There are four highly visible preset buttons on the remote. You simply point the remote at the SVS unit and push them, to change presets.
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post #25 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Just a word about "availability"...

Apparently the first manufacturing run produced a relatively small number of boxes, maybe 20?

And these few first boxes have been "spoken for" by studios and professionals, here in the US and in Europe. I was quite lucky to get mine, as #0001.

But as has already been stated, it seems there's now already a "waiting list" as all of the existing first-run has been allocated! Very unfortunate, but apparently true.

No firm ETA from them on the next batch. Best bet is to contact Smyth via email for updated information and status on availability.
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post #26 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

The only outputs are analog and are (1) headphones, and (2) 8-channels to the external amplifier/speakers.

Lorr Kramer told me that it also has two analog outputs for shakers.
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Also there is no digital output of the digital result of the processor (can't imagine why that would be needed, since you're expected to feed headphones). Deja vu on this discussion.

OK. Thanks. I thought the retail version would have digital output since Edwood at Head-Fi wrote: "There are no Digital Inputs, only PCM digital output (stereo stream with the surround processing embedded)."
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post

Lorr Kramer told me that it also has two analog outputs for shakers.

what is a "shaker"?

There is a rear headphone output (RCA connectors) and a front headphone output (stereo mini-jack-like; sorry, don't know for sure if it's amplified or requires a headphone amp as well, but I'm sure there's no volume control for the front output) for convenience.


Quote:


OK. Thanks. I thought the retail version would have digital output since Edwood at Head-Fi wrote: "There are no Digital Inputs, only PCM digital output (stereo stream with the surround processing embedded)."

I don't know what he was thinking about or referring to. There's no digital output, only analog output.

I will take a picture of the front and rear of my actual SVS unit and post it a bit later tonight. Hopefully that should resolve all ambiguity.
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post #28 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

what is a "shaker"?

There is a rear headphone output (RCA connectors) and a front headphone output (stereo mini-jack-like; sorry, don't know for sure if it's amplified or requires a headphone amp as well, but I'm sure there's no volume control for the front output) for convenience.


I don't know what he was thinking about or referring to. There's no digital output, only analog output.

I will take a picture of the front and rear of my actual SVS unit and post it a bit later tonight. Hopefully that should resolve all ambiguity.

Unless you got an earlier version, or they removed it, there was a TOSLINK optical output for a PCM signal last time I saw their latest SVS box.

I talked to Mike Smyth himself about the addition.

-Ed

The SHT - Stealth Home Theater
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post #29 of 280 Old 04-07-2009, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

what is a "shaker"?

A tactile transducer. It shakes your seat. The ButtKicker is an example.
Quote:
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There is a rear headphone output (RCA connectors)

Maybe the rear RCA connectors can be connected to the amp for the shaker.
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and a front headphone output (stereo mini-jack-like; sorry, don't know for sure if it's amplified or requires a headphone amp as well, but I'm sure there's no volume control for the front output) for convenience.

Are you sure that the remote control does not have volume buttons?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post

Unless you got an earlier version, or they removed it, there was a TOSLINK optical output for a PCM signal last time I saw their latest SVS box.

I talked to Mike Smyth himself about the addition.

-Ed

I spoke with the rep yesterday and I am pretty sure he mentioned some sort of digital output.
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