The Smyth Realiser A-8 or How I Learned to Love Virtualization; Part One

The Smyth Realiser A-8 or How I Learned to Love Virtualization; Part One

A couple of days ago I drove out to a modest industrial park in Camarillo, California where I was to meet with Lorr Kramer of Smyth Research. The purpose was to receive a full-on, no-holds-barred demonstration of the power of a non-descrpt little black box, the Smyth Realiser A-8. It's the brainchild of Stephen Smyth, who many will recall that with his small team he went on to create apt-X100, which is the DTS cinema audio codec, and Coherent Acoustics¬–the DTS codec used for DVD, Blu-ray, broadcast, and so on.
I know, I know. Realiser A-8, it sounds like some kind of weird, new age, consciousness-raising contraption. And yet in a way, it is. To quote from Smyth Research’s own literature: “The Smyth Realiser is a revolutionary product that emulates, in headphones, the complete experience of ?listening to actual loudspeakers in an actual room, in up to eight-channel surround sound.”? This has to be read carefully to be fully appreciated because it doesn’t seem like such a big deal at first. But when they say “actual speakers in an actual room”, to be perfectly scientific, they ain’t kiddin’. And then I went through the demo, partaking in the three step calibration/personalization process and began listening critically to the end result–comparing the Realiser-fed Stax headphones to the sampled loudspeaker system, ¬in this instance,  a 5.1-channel array of Von Schweikert LCR-15s with its own small subs. The result is a virtualization of an existing listening system complete with room cues and acoustics unlike anything I’ve experienced in audio. How they do it and what the Smyth Research package includes plus much more in Part 2.