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Smyth Realizer 16

Fitzcaraldo215

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I have been using a Smyth Realiser16 for several months with the Sennheiser 800s. God, I really love it. My inclusion of it in General Audio Comments, as opposed to Headphones and Headphone Amplifier Reviews, etc. is deliberate.

I have quite a large collection of SACDs and of 2K BDs, mostly classical, mostly 5.1 multichannel, probably about 70TB on my NAS. My wife and I moved a retirement home a little over a year ago, and it’s got no room to house a Mch speaker system, let alone disturbing the neighbors. So, I, prior to the move, sold the 7.1 Martin Logan electrostat-hybrid speakers, ExaSound 38 DAC, JL f113 subwoofer, amps, etc. That was a truly great system. My recollections an audiophile over many years were that discretely recorded Mch reproduction is the best sound, absolutely the best. It’s not even close. Been doing Mch for about 14 years.

I had been interested in the Smyth for ages based on feature articles in Widescreen Review. So, I bought it and the Smyth-recommended Sennheiser 800s’s, absolutely totally unheard. Gary Reber was absolutely gaga in his reviews in Widescreen Review with regard to the previous Smyth R8. I do not know him, but I trust him, as I think Amir does. But, it was my dear friend, Kal Rubinson, who I had series of discussions with, that sold me. There was no other choice, given the apartment living my new quarters necessitated for Mch sound.

There are quite a few major problems with the current Smyth. It only currently does 5.1, 7.1, everything up to Dolby Atmos, but not DTS:X, not Auro3D, as promised. They hope to do those. The users manual leaves a whole, whole lot to be desired, etc. The AKM plant, a primary source for among their critical components, has burned down. Possibly, there are rumored financial issues affecting Smyth, but they do remain committed. I would too, if I had such a mind-boggily, utterly unbelievable technology to call their own.

But, it does amazingly, oh my gosh, what it says. You are in the room with up to 16 (pro versions have up to 24) Mch speakers, except that they are NOT THERE. Only a player (in my case, JRiver on a PC) and a standard set of stereo headphones, in my case the 800s, are what is required. Instead of “in your head”, they are out of your head in a natural speaker layout with headphone tracking.

Yes, you can do a calibration with speakers in the same room - a PRIR - to compare speaker/headphone. But, I missed my chance when I sold my Mch system prior to my move. It got complicated due to the pandemic. But, maybe I will get the chance in the months ahead on a friend’s Mch system. In the meantime, I am quite happy using the defaults of a 32-speaker BBC room or a 24-speaker (?) room at Surrey University, each a custom, acoustically prepared room, all set up with Genelecs.

Every review I have heard says the same, like a cliche: the reviewer could not tell which was which, and frequently there would be momentary confusion over whether the source was headphones or speaker. My friend Kal says that I have to try it to as a speaker/headphone to believe how close it is. I guess I will just have to try it, given pandemic easing. I have got my two shots. So does my friend with the Mch system.

The sound of what I remember about my old system, good as it was, is that now you can hear the colorations that you once could not hear that were there in the room, and maybe other things. That was in spite of my use of my beloved Dirac Live. My room was rather small, at 18x13 with a rather irregular ceiling 8’ to 20’. The Smyth just opens things up with noticeably more exquisite musical detail, among a vast amount of other things. But, I’m doing this from memory.

I cannot say enough about the Sennheiser 800s. It is used with Smyth HPEQ = simultaneous HTRF with EQ, which is calibrated by tiny, in ear mikes, as is also used for the PRIRs. I have no basis for headphone comparisons, but the 800s really do a superb job. With recordings I am familiar with, there is completely satisfying from the treble, which is remarkable, down to the bass, which is once again remarkable. The instruments in orchestra, chamber music, soloists. vocalists, etc. sound supremely natural to me - spatially, tonally, dynamically, etc. Yes, you can feel slight pressure around the circumference of the ears if you concentrate on it, but I didn’t find long term fatigue.

Try to get one. I wish you luck. There is a backlog. I feel fortunate, and the price may be highish ($4,000 plus your choice of headphones), but they are a mind-blowing technology.

But, I will take it on only 5.1 sound, as I have with SACD and BD. It’s more than fulfilling. Dolby Atmos will have to wait. And, my interest is in music, much less so on videos.

I was Philadelphia Orchestra, Met Opera, etc. subscriber for many years. But, I can’t get there any more, regrettably, and the pandemic has had its impact. With my Smyth, I will be really be able to do a really outstanding job of recreating the concert hall environment, in Mch, of course.
 

phoenixdogfan

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I also have one. I just did a 16 channel PRIR of my own LS 50 + SVS SB 2000 system this Sunday. Still moving everything back into the rack. Ultimately I want to ditch the noisy PC. I am using a NVIDIA shield for movies, and I have misplaced my Google Chromecast Audio, but when I find it, I'll be using it to cast Qobuz from my phone. I also have HD 800d (SDR Modded), and I have a Subpac tactile subwoofer. I'll be using my own electronics and bypassing the headphone amp and dac on the A16, and it will consist of two channels of the Octo 8 Pro and a THX AAA 789. Yeah, just have to get everything hooked up this week.
 

Gutbucket

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Apr 29, 2020
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Unfortunate that you were unable to make PRIR measurements of your previous setup so that you could "virtually take it with you".

I'm patiently awaiting delivery as a A16 Kickstarter campaign supporter. It's been an incredibly long wait, but I hold on to hope for delivery and their overall success. I originally demo'd the A8 model at a headphone convention back in 2008 or so and spoke extensively with Steven Smyth about it and its application for me as a recordist focused on surround capture of live music performances. At this point I do not have my previous physical multichannel surround monitoring and playback system setup (L/C/R B&W 802_M3 + a few different surround channel pairs) and am very much looking forward to delivery as a way of getting back to proper listening, as well as editing of my recordings for release. With that in mind..

I've been thinking about how I will go about making PRIRs of my setup. One obvious answer is to completely reinstall and configure my previous multichannel setup. However, I'm seriously considering doing a virtual 7 or 9 channel horizontal arrangement measurement using a single physical speaker moved to each of the speaker positions in turn. I envision making the measurements outdoors, achieving a semi-anechoic environment that eliminates room issues. I see that as viable given that I'm recording the actual ambience, audience reaction and room sound/reverberation and reproducing it via multiple channels rather than needing some amount of room-derived interaction/envelopment for straight 2-channel stereo. I previously preferred listening from a near-field position which greatly reduced room influence, so I see this as a potential step forward in achieving a more objective listening perspective without having an acoustically properly treated room. Other potential advantages are that I need only worry about getting the direct-sound from a single speaker to measure flat prior to making the outdoor measurements, rendering speaker to speaker variation and off-axis misbehavior of the speaker inconsequential.

I mention that as the measurement method using a single speaker might be applicable for you as well.

If interested, I made a few posts introducing myself and breifly explaining my recording methodology in the HT acoustics and the Benefits of better speakers in stereo and multichannel audio thread about a year ago, here- https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ereo-and-multichannel-audio.12747/post-425659
 

thehun

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Jun 29, 2019
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I have one for sale anyone interested it is a 2U unit, and it's still in the box, only opened it for inspection.
 
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