I love high-end headphones. The best ones offer a level of detail and clarity that's hard to match with speakers.
Still, lot of folks never listen to headphones at home; for them headphones sound too small, too inside their heads, and they prefer the sound of speakers. Some of the better headphones, like the Sennheiser HD-800 and the Hifiman HE-5's produce sound that is somewhat less stuck inside the head, but even so they always sound like headphones. Now, with the Smyth Research Realiser A8 processor, headphones can sound like speakers. It's amazing!
Never heard of Smyth Research? Stephen Smyth of Smyth Research developed the algorithm that was later selected by Digital Theater Systems (DTS) for its cinema audio playback system that premiered with the Steven Spielberg's film, "Jurassic Park." Mr. Smyth seems to know his way around sound processing algorithms.
After spending some quality time listening through his Smyth Research Realiser A8, I can testify to its effectiveness. With the Realiser A8, room-filling sound was produced by headphones!
When I heard the Realiser A8 do surround for the first time, I whipped the headphones off in disbelief. Wow! The sound wasn't coming out of the surround speakers! The Realiser A8's spatial localization is 100-percent convincing. The system comes with a set of very-high-quality Stax SR-202 electrostatic headphones and a Stax headphone amplifier, but you can use any headphone with the Realiser A8.
I first listened to a demo of the Realiser A8 at a mastering studio and a few days later at home. In both cases the Realiser A8 processor worked very well. It stores data about the actual sound of the speakers in your room--or any room you take the processor to. Better yet, the Realiser A8 isn't limited to stereo reproduction, it can do full-blown five-, six-, or seven-channel surround. The extra cool aspect of that feature is that you can have the sound of your best stereo speakers reproduced in the front, center, and surround channels. The Realiser A8 seems ideal for two-channel audiophiles who previously avoided tackling home theater. With the Realiser A8, audiophiles can keep their two-channel system intact, and still have a satisfying home theater surround experience. It would also work for SACD and DVD-Audio high-resolution surround sound.
So the Realiser A8 produces vastly superior surround than Dolby Headphone, Beyerdynamic's 5.1-channel Headzone, or any prepackaged virtual surround headphone processor I've heard to date. There's a good reason for that: the Realiser A8 comes with a pair of tiny measurement microphones you place in your ears that document the unique characteristics of each listener's ears, head, and torso in a specific sound environment, like your room. Test tones are sequenced through the speakers for a couple of minutes, while the Realiser A8 performs the required calculations to reproduce the sound of the speakers in the room over headphones. … Read more