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Headphone Magic

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Note: this thread is a split from another thread - the discussion seems to start from nowhere


I can freely admit - I've got a slight problem with headphones lol


It started when the house had me, the misses and 4 kids (baby up to late teen) leaving bugger all space or time for me to kick back and relax with some tunes or play games at a decent level.


I had a very good 5.1 setup for the TV/lounge and a great 5.1 setup for the PC, but it wasn't until the kids had gone to bed that I could finally get a chance to put my feet up and have some "me time"


After much research (and finding this thread in a different forum https://www.head-fi.org/threads/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-10-25-2018-creative-aurvana-trio-added.534479/)


Looking for something that'd be great with both movies, games and music I bit the bullet, spent what I thought at the time to be a stupid amount of cash and got myself a set of Sennheiser HD598 headphones and an Astro Mixamp (makes the 5.1 audio from movies/games into a processed stereo signal that creates virtual surround in the headphones, giving front, left, right and rear cues - makes the sound appear to be coming from all around you, instead of just from the 2 speakers on your ears.)


It was crazy - the way it opened up the audio and the virtual surround it processed was unbelievable. I was hooked. 


Enemy sneaking up on me behind my left shoulder? their footsteps now came from behind my left shoulder.

Explosion happens 100m over to the right? it now sounds like it's happening 100m to the right, not at my ear.

Lord of the Rings DVD - bloody hell, that sounds better than it ever did on my decent (for the time) 5.1 setup in the loungeroom.


With music I wasn't using the Mixamp, just onboard sound, but with a decent pair of headphones, a decent copy or CD of the songs and I was hearing stuff in music that I had no idea was there before.

Backup vocalists I had never heard before in songs that were played everyday, separation of instruments, vocals and performers that blew me away etc


From there I was happy with the HD598's and Mixamp for gaming/movies etc, but just knew I had to get something better for the music listening.


Next stupid amount of money later (how little did I know back then lol) and I had Sennheiser HD650 headphones and a separate Dac/Amp to use them with (the HD650's need more power than onboard or the Mixamp would supply and onboard audio is usually pretty mediocre to begin with)


With that I was well and truly hooked - both on the idea of headphones for music and headphones for gaming.


Since then I've collected probably about 20 sets of headphones (open, closed, wireless, noise cancelling, IEM's, portable etc) and a half dozen or so Amps/Dacs etc


Have even got myself an expensive tube amp that I've still got to put together from it's components - soldering etc (it's on the to-do list)


Last purchase was a STAX L500 with it's energiser (electrostatic headphone - uses a different form of amplification than normal headphones) - I think I'm done for a long time now (other than the Smyth Realiser A16 mentioned below in the thread)


Next step up that I'd want to head would be the higher end STAX - about $6K for the headphones and $10k for the amp/energiser - maybe one day :S


Current main setups are:


Gaming: Creative X7 DAC/Amp for VSS using the HD700 or HD800S headphones

Music: Sennheiser HDVD800 DAC/Amp or Woo Audio WA7 tube DAC/Amp with either the HD800S or Audeze LCD2 headphones or the STAX L500 and the 353X energiser.

Travelling: Audeze iSine 20 IEM's, Sony 1000XM2 (bluetooth noise cancelling headphones) and an XDUOO XD-05 dac/amp

Wandering around home: Sennheiser RS185 wireless

Laptop gaming: Audeze Mobius (new fantastic headphone that has inbuilt VSS and headtracking - the sound continues to come from the screen even when you move your head)


Each (or any) of the above setups and also take the VSS processing from the Creative X7 and feed it into whatever dac or amp I want.


As mentioned later - I'm awaiting the delivery of the Smyth Realiser A16. Once that turns up and I've tried all the headphones with it I'll be free to offload a great percentage of them. The gear I sell off may give me enough cash to look at the $15k STAX setup I lust after ;)


I know I've spent far too much money on headphones and but most were bought either 2nd hand, from overseas or during deep sales/clearances - most of what I paid will be recoverable when I go to sell.


Either way - I'm more than happy - am getting fantastic sounds for a fraction of the price I would have had to spend getting a full room setup to sound nearly as good for me - and don't need the dedicated space or room.


Pfft - go headphones :P

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5 minutes ago, bloodycrashboy said:

You've got headphones emoji1787.png


A set or two


Did a rough calculation the other night - am above $20k on gear for the ear muffs :S

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(was only joking on getting an expensive one - am sorted for what I need)

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They have the A8 - it's legit


The A16 is twice as good - obviously :P


A8 was about $8k


Went kickstarter for the A16 - paid about $AU1,500


Have no qualms about it coming, nor it's abilities - just the date.


Honestly - if you get the time while in Melbourne - drop in for a listen to my headphone setups - they are crap loads better than $xxk speaker setups and work in normal lounge rooms ;)


The A16 will extend that to $xxxk setups and 16 speaker multi channel

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1 hour ago, bloodycrashboy said:

what about The Realiser A16 ???

Put some headphones on and try the vids below (needs headphones)

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Chesky and HD Recordings have stuff in Binaural


Aren't after that. Have done that.


Am after making stereo and 5.1, 7.1,......  9.4.2 (whatever the normal movie/sound stuff is) sound like what binaural does for stereo.


With headphones.


Am up to the stage where I can wear headphones and be able to tell where everything is.


7.1 wearing headphones - sounds are "out of my head", not from the two speakers strapped to my ears.


Have even got head tracked ones (Audeze Mobius) where, if the screen in front of me is playing and I turn my head - the sound still sounds (......) as if it's coming from where the screen is.


Imagine whatever game you're playing - creepy uncle bumblefuck sneaking up on you - you can hear exactly how far away and where he is.

Or in an FPS - footsteps - you can turn and shoot at where you hear the footsteps and you can kill a person.


Movies - you get full on, real cinema sound


Music - you get honest 2 channel separated noise 


Take it to the next level (which they are starting to do with Atmos and Atmos for Headphones) - you can even hear them above you.


All those use "generic" algorithms and "generic" ears to make those sounds.


What the A16 will do (as the A8 does) is put the mic's in my ear (ear buds), record the test sounds from speakers and calculate a very personalised algorithm for me.


The A8 = 7.1 (8 speakers)


The A16 includes height = 9.5.2 (16 speakers) meaning top firing (I think they can actually go up to 32 or higher with the Ambisonics now)


It also will capture the room as well as the speakers etc - meaning you can thrown on the headphones and not be able to tell the difference between a $500k room/speaker setup and your bedroom.


If the front, right $70k speaker is 20m from you in real life in a properly treated room when you calibrated the algorithm - using the unit wearing headphones it'll still sound like a $70k speaker 20m from you to the right in a properly treated room.


Even if you're on the crapper.


Hell - if you can manage to work a way to get your calibrations done at the best sound stages in the world - on the most expensive systems in the world - you'll be able to replicate that at home.


The good thing about this is they have a system where they can mix my personal data with someone else's calibrations to give me 90% of it as if I'd been there to do it personally.


The only thing it misses out on is the chest-thumping bass which you can't get while wearing headphones... the unit has a plug for tactile (have already got Bass-Shakers/Buttkickers at home)

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2 minutes ago, bloodycrashboy said:

it's pretty cool stuff

I honestly play music through headphones that make the hairs on my arms and back of the neck stand up - and/or bring tears to my eyes


I'd need many, many more dollars spent and a dedicated, properly designed and deadened room to get me that far with speakers.


I wasn't joking when I said I'd spent however many dollars on my headphone stuff, but I'll get 90% of that back when I sell off what I don't need.


<$1k would get you 99% of the way there - my issue was working out what I liked (am about the $5k range with headphones/DAC/AMP)


<$300 would get you 98% of the way there


$70 would get you 95% there lol (hairs may not stand up and you may not cry though - that doesn't happen til 96%+)


Remind me next time we catch up to bring a setup for you to take home and play with.

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On 30/01/2019 at 11:35 PM, bloodycrashboy said:

I can now understand a bit better why you have so many headphones


I'm intrigued

This unit is the one I'm waiting on - not offloading any headphones until I get it and filter out the ones I want to keep.


Got in on the Kickstarter for about $1500 - it's launching at $US4k when it gets released


With the unit you put little microphones (like ear buds) in your ears and it does room sweeps (test tones) to let it hear what you hear from all the speakers. The you put the headphones on (with the ear buds still in) and it plays the tones back through the headphones so it can work out the differences.


From that it works out your own personal calculations for the room, your head and also the headphones your using.


Then you put the headphones on and the sound is the same as coming from whatever room/studio/theatre the measurements were taken in.


It does headtracking (sensor you attach to the headphones) so when you move your head the sound stays at a fixed point


I could take the measurements in @.Stripes. living room with his new speakers and it'd sound exactly the same as if I was sitting in his chair - wherever I was. If his window reflects the noise on the left side - it'll sound the same etc.


Could take measurements in the best studio in the world - would sound the same - up to 16 speakers 


Can also use other peoples rooms/measurements and the software will separate the room, headphones and head from those measurements, convert them to mine and I'll be 90%?? able to be in the room they recorded in. (e.g. - I could sit on the crapper and listen to the music/movie as if I was at Festival Hall, Stripes recliner (sorry about the skid marks), Skywalker Ranch Sound Studio (where they do the sound for the Star Wars movies etc) or the hole in the wall pub down the corner - as long as someone got the measurements done in those places)


Before they did the A16 they had the A8 (7.1.2 - 8 horizontal speakers) and it was something I'd lusted after for years. The A16 adds the height (+/-) measurement/tracking and 8+ more speakers.


Video of one of the main headphone "guru's" after trying it:


Music and industry people trying it (apparently you need to be well fed) - they don't believe it's through the headphones, not the speakers playing


Demo for the production guys at the BBC

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I've got a pair of headphones that came with my phone.


Wanna swap? I'll even chuck in some extra rubber ear things.

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Lol. Bark chips are in the mail. 


I watched one of the clips you posted and it seems legit.


There is no way in farken hell I can convince my missus that I should buy this within the next 12 months. 


Looks like I'll be sticking with peasant level 5.1 speakers for now. 


Extra edit: when are you getting it?


Holy sh*t edit: I just realised I need this...

Edited by Puffwagon
I like to sit in the middle

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Just now, Puffwagon said:

I watched one of the clips you posted and it seems legit.

The guys came up with SVS  (probably seen it's logo on hardware), the APT-X codec (used in the A2DP bluetooth audio standard) and were part of DTS (competitor to Dolby surround - was on most DVD's and Bluerays)


They're legit, just hoping they send me my unit before they cark it lol


If you're bored one day and want to have a play with what's possible using headphones, give this a try - emulates most of the options that are out there.



Try this with headphones on to see what the differences are between some of the "solutions"


Windows 10 now does Atmos and Sonic natively (plug the headphones in and choose the "surround" option) and will have DTS-X soon.


The GSX works best for me.

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Cheers. Won't do anything tonight as on mobile and watching netflix etc etc.


Will have a play in the daylight hours.


I have some kind of sound thingo built into the mobo so will look there too. 

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23 minutes ago, Puffwagon said:

I have some kind of sound thingo built into the mobo so will look there too. 

Yep - will probably have a Creative (SBX) or CMSS version on there.


Would recommend not judging the potential of it by turning them on lol - the onboard ones are pretty underwhelming


The reddit link to the HeSuvi stuff above would be worth spending time on instead.


If you can find a pair of on/over ear headphones to play with it'll be far better than earbuds/plugs style things.


edit: I might move this stuff to it's own thread when I wake up tomorrow - not really PC thread stuff, but doesn't really belong here

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