Darin Fong Audio Out of Your Head Software

Virtual Speaker Software for Headphone Listening

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Categories:
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio,
Headphones,
Rock,
Jazz,
Classical
Darin Fong Audio Out of Your Head Software

Setup and Ergonomics
To use OOYH you must download the “Trial” version first. This version allows you to sample all OOYH’s speaker presets. The only limitation in the Trial version is that the presets will play for two minutes and then stop. To remove the two-minute time limit, you must purchase a license for that preset. There are a bunch of demonstration tracks and videos that I recommend trying out first at https://fongaudio.com/demo/ that will give you a good idea of how effective the OOYH software can be with your system. Once you’ve downloaded the Trial version you can choose to purchase and designate which speaker setting you wish to include with your license.

The OOYH app has a control panel that allows you to change output devices and select speaker settings. For those who like to compare sonic viewpoints, there’s a box you can check and uncheck to toggle between a selected speaker preset and bypass mode, which eliminates all of OOYH’s processing. The control app also has a master volume-control slider as well as separate sliders for each channel, which allow for fine-tuning those balances.

If you have an MQA-compatible DAC, such as the Mytek Brooklyn, you will need to change the settings on Tidal, Roon, and other playback apps to reflect the fact that OOYH does not support MQA. Unfolding will have to be done by the Tidal, Roon, Audirvana+, or other MQA-aware desktop applications (as they become available), not by your MQA DAC.

Sound
How well does OOYH succeed in dragging your headphone’s sound from between your ears to “out there?” That depends on several factors, the most important one being which speaker preset you choose; some image with more precision than others. To my ears the “AIX Studio” had the most precise imaging characteristics. It was also one of the presets that had the least amount of room ambience. If you are a horn loudspeaker devotee I encourage you to try “Technicolor Studios” and “Volti Audio Vittora Speakers” settings, both of which do an admirable job of duplicating a horn loudspeaker’s dynamic verve. Although I could walk you through general sonic descriptions of all 29 settings, since you can easily try them out yourself via the OOYH in Trial mode, I encourage you to do just that, since your tastes are bound to be different from mine.

I did develop preferences for particular loudspeaker presets. After my initial listening tests I found myself gravitating to the “Genelec Recording Studio,” the “AIX Studio,” and the “Technicolor Studios” presets. These were the speaker presets that imaged the best for me and had the least amount of room ambience in their setups. For maximum “room” give the “Egyptian Theater” a listen. Too much for me, but if you fancy that “Voice of the Theater” wall of sound, you may like it quite a bit. Some presets, including the “Quad ESL” and “Magico Q7” were so sonically intriguing that I continue to use them with some regularity. I suspect that with a large enough sampling of users we would see that all the speaker presets have garnered their share of adherents. While a few are similar to each other, such as the “Magical speaker” and the “Magico Q7,” most are different enough to be called singular, if not unique.

How close does OOYH come to the imaging that comes from a reference monitor? While OOYH’s virtual soundstage does image, it does not do so with nearly the precision or specificity of my Audience 1+1 nearfield monitors. I would put OOYH more on par with my old Mirage OMD-5 loudspeakers, which are an upward-firing, semi-omnidirectional dispersion pattern design.

Because the OOYH control panel has a toggle so you can quickly switch its processing on and off, it’s easy to compare OOYH effects with a native, unprocessed signal. One of the universal characteristics of the OOYH settings is that they all sound more distant than the unprocessed signal. For many listeners this change will seem at first to be primarily harmonic rather than spatial. But if you give your ear/brain a chance to adapt—especially at first you will need to put in some listening time to get used to the transformation—you will notice the spatial shift and imaging changes.

The primary sonic issue I found with OOYH was that with some presets and a video source I noticed a delay in the sound compared with what was happening in the picture. As Darin Fong indicated, the presets done in larger rooms, like the “Egyptian Theater,” had noticeable latency issues for me. The “Gamer License” preset had the least amount of delay and was my go-to preset for watching Star Trek via Hulu.

The OOYH’s principal limitation is that it can’t handle higher-resolution PCM, DSD, or MQA files natively. With these file types you will need to either downsample or transcode to make them usable by OOYH. Occasionally, I had issues with OOYH sound becoming distorted or dropping out. This occurred only after the app had been running for at least an hour. In every case, closing and reopening the app cleared the problem.