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Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound processing in Headphones

Robbo99999

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Hi, I thought I'd start this thread as a gaming virtual 7.1 surround sound enthusiast in headphones. We can let this thread develop into whatever we like on the topic of Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound processing in headphones, and perhaps I'll continue to edit this first post with links to useful resources or information on this topic that myself & others will find in time. We can talk theory & personal experiences and what works best, anything we want on this topic. Today I've not invested much time in fleshing out this first post with useful information, but I think I'll add to it as it develops, to kick us off here's a very good link to testing 7.1 speakers to validate that you've set up your virtual 7.1 surround system correctly (and even to compare success of different virtual surround processing technologies), it's right at the bottom of the linked page:
https://www2.iis.fraunhofer.de/AAC/multichannel.html
and here's the link to the wav file to test your 7.1 virtual system (I've verified that it's actually using 7.1 channels as I used Equaliser APO to knock out a specific channel and it cut the audio for that virtualised speaker, so it's legit so-to-speak):
https://www2.iis.fraunhofer.de/AAC/7.1auditionOutLeader v2.wav
I've used that file to test my own virtual 7.1 surround system which is based on SoundblasterX G6 and K702 & HD560s Harman EQ'd headphones and for me it works wonderfully in terms of noticing the front/side & back locations. If you own a Soundblaster, then you'd probably use the Surround 0-100 variable to tweak to move the positions of those virtual speakers into the right positions which you'd verify with the test I linked. Those are my additions just for today, but let the experiences & conversations develop, and look forward to recounts of your own experiences, ideas & setups.
 
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JJB70

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I have a gaming headset with virtual surround, I actually bought it because I wanted a headset for video calls working from home which would also be good with music between calls and got the Arctis Pro GameDAC. I am not a gamer but sometimes play games (I like World of Tanks), the virtual surround function isn't bad and seems better implemented than some I have tried. It is quite subtle and lacks that impression of being in an empty warehouse with lots of echo that some have. As I say I bought it more for video calls and music and am very happy with it.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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I have a gaming headset with virtual surround, I actually bought it because I wanted a headset for video calls working from home which would also be good with music between calls and got the Arctis Pro GameDAC. I am not a gamer but sometimes play games (I like World of Tanks), the virtual surround function isn't bad and seems better implemented than some I have tried. It is quite subtle and lacks that impression of being in an empty warehouse with lots of echo that some have. As I say I bought it more for video calls and music and am very happy with it.
That's right, you don't want that stupid echo.....to me that's reminiscent of the cheap "Surround Sound" button on ghetto blasters in the early 90's! I find that the Surround function on the Soundblaster range doesn't seem to rely on silly reverb/echo.....I think they're actually using a generic HRTF function to influence the frequency response based on the angle (360 degree arc) of the sound object from the listener. I've also found that the Surround (changeable from 0-100 on the dial) moves the position of the virtual speakers, with the 7.1 speaker test file being a useful resource for setting up that variable.......30 is the best value for Surround for my setup in terms of locating the 7 speakers most realistically. Have you experimented with the 7.1 speaker test file that I linked? How does your Arctis Pro GameDAC implement surround......is it seen as a 7.1 device in Windows and do you have any kind of variables to customise that can change the surround? (I hadn't heard of the Arctis Pro GameDAC)
 

JJB70

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That's right, you don't want that stupid echo.....to me that's reminiscent of the cheap "Surround Sound" button on ghetto blasters in the early 90's! I find that the Surround function on the Soundblaster range doesn't seem to rely on silly reverb/echo.....I think they're actually using a generic HRTF function to influence the frequency response based on the angle (360 degree arc) of the sound object from the listener. I've also found that the Surround (changeable from 0-100 on the dial) moves the position of the virtual speakers, with the 7.1 speaker test file being a useful resource for setting up that variable.......30 is the best value for Surround for my setup in terms of locating the 7 speakers most realistically. Have you experimented with the 7.1 speaker test file that I linked? How does your Arctis Pro GameDAC implement surround......is it seen as a 7.1 device in Windows and do you have any kind of variables to customise that can change the surround? (I hadn't heard of the Arctis Pro GameDAC)

Not yet but I will give it a go. The GameDAC has a very good EQ feature with a number of presets as well as a custom option, but I think the surround sound is on/off. I had honestly always been a bit snooty about gaming headsets but this is a very good multi-purpose headset that is good at everything I have used it for. With an eBay 20% coupon I got them for £90 in a clearance offer, for that price they were crazily good value.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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Smyth Realiser.
Yeah, I've heard & read about that one. Yes, very expensive, but from what I remember it's creating a Target Curve based on your own anatomy based on in-ear measurements (of yourself) of some great speakers in a good listening room, and then that Target is correlated with the "same" measurements with your headphone on your head so that you can achieve that target with the headphones, and I think there's headtracking involved as a bonus, and I think it could emulate many many speakers in a surround setup too. https://smyth-research.com/
Have you tried the Smyth Realiser or other options too @Kal Rubinson , how did you find it?

There's also The Impulcifier Project which aims to do similar but I think minus the headtracking and probably some other limitations, but it's a more DIY approach: https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/Impulcifer

I do find the "generic HRTF" approach of the Soundblaster surround system to work quite well though, as in I can distinguish front & back......well I can identify all the 7 speakers in their correct location according to the 7.1 test I linked in the first post of this thread......so this works really quite well in gaming. It would be interesting to try out the Impulcifier Project sometime, also for normal 2 channel music listening, as well as 7.1 gaming (which I think it can do but I'd have to look into that some more).
Not yet but I will give it a go. The GameDAC has a very good EQ feature with a number of presets as well as a custom option, but I think the surround sound is on/off. I had honestly always been a bit snooty about gaming headsets but this is a very good multi-purpose headset that is good at everything I have used it for. With an eBay 20% coupon I got them for £90 in a clearance offer, for that price they were crazily good value.
£90 was indeed a good deal based on the list price of that item!
 
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zermak

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I have been using virtual surround for movies/shows while watching them on headphones.
Have you ever heard of HeSuVi? It's a great add-on on top of EqualizeAPO with tons of HRIR to play with (you can find a youtube video on the main page to check some of them on a first person game).
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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I have been using virtual surround for movies/shows while watching them on headphones.
Have you ever heard of HeSuVi? It's a great add-on on top of EqualizeAPO with tons of HRIR to play with (you can find a youtube video on the main page to check some of them on a first person game).
I have heard of that, but not looked in depth into it. When you say HRIR to play with, do you mean they're different HRTF's you can try? Because I mean I can see that HeSuVi can emulate all the different gaming companies takes on Surround Sound (eg Soundblaster / Dolby Heaphone / Razer Surround, etc), but is there an element of being able to inject a specific HRTF (anatomy) into the equation? So I can imagine trying a load of different HRTF's to see which one fitted me closest, is that what you're getting at? (I should check out your link in detail and how that all fits together when I'm in a greater information absorption research mindset.)
https://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-45
My interest is in listening to music and not gaming.
Nice!! Have you still got the A8, or have you upgraded to the A16......even if that could be called an upgrade, I'm not aware of the specific differences. Do you still use it? Basically, you gave the A8 a glowing review with the only downside being the lack of tactile bass (perhaps you could have alleviated that by adding a tad more bass via a Low Shelf of a few db at 105Hz analogous to the Harman Headphone Curve?). Have you been keeping up-to-date with Smyth Realiser, have they moved on since 2010 when you wrote the article?
 

zermak

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I have heard of that, but not looked in depth into it. When you say HRIR to play with, do you mean they're different HRTF's you can try? Because I mean I can see that HeSuVi can emulate all the different gaming companies takes on Surround Sound (eg Soundblaster / Dolby Heaphone / Razer Surround, etc), but is there an element of being able to inject a specific HRTF (anatomy) into the equation? So I can imagine trying a load of different HRTF's to see which one fitted me closest, is that what you're getting at? (I should check out your link in detail and how that all fits together when I'm in a greater information absorption research mindset.)
There are different HRTF like mentioned which uses IIR to create the virtual sound (and well emulate the various brands' products/solutions). Of course since it's a add on on top of EqualizerAPO you then can add other things like your equalization for the target curve you like and you can tweak the virtual spearkers' positions and levels too for example (inside the HeSuVi GUI directly).
I even tried the virtual surround IIR for speakers and it is quiet good if you tweak a few paramenters.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Nice!! Have you still got the A8, or have you upgraded to the A16......even if that could be called an upgrade, I'm not aware of the specific differences. Do you still use it?
Their are upgrades in the A16 which include additional (simulated) channels and additional codecs. However, I hate to wear or listen to headphones so there's really no motivation for me to keep the Smyth.
Have you been keeping up-to-date with Smyth Realiser, have they moved on since 2010 when you wrote the article?
Sure. See above and their website and reviews from others.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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Their are upgrades in the A16 which include additional (simulated) channels and additional codecs. However, I hate to wear or listen to headphones so there's really no motivation for me to keep the Smyth.

Sure. See above and their website and reviews from others.
Ha, ok, you're gonna make us do the heavy lifting! :D Did you think about or ever try adding a Harman style bass boost Low Shelf to make up for the loss of tactile bass in the simulation?
 

stubaggs

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Check out 'Spatial Sound Card' from New Audio Technology, available for Windows and MacOS.

The light version at around 10 euros works well for gaming, there is a more advanced version for studio/professional work.

You can configure it for 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 and it just looks like another sound card in your system. Simply processing and passing the virtual surround through to whatever real 2-channel output you have.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Did you think about or ever try adding a Harman style bass boost Low Shelf to make up for the loss of tactile bass in the simulation?
No because it was a long time ago before I knew of such things and also because I really don't give a damn about headphone listening.
 

phoenixdogfan

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Yeah, I've heard & read about that one. Yes, very expensive, but from what I remember it's creating a Target Curve based on your own anatomy based on in-ear measurements (of yourself) of some great speakers in a good listening room, and then that Target is correlated with the "same" measurements with your headphone on your head so that you can achieve that target with the headphones, and I think there's headtracking involved as a bonus, and I think it could emulate many many speakers in a surround setup too. https://smyth-research.com/
Have you tried the Smyth Realiser or other options too @Kal Rubinson , how did you find it?

There's also The Impulcifier Project which aims to do similar but I think minus the headtracking and probably some other limitations, but it's a more DIY approach: https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/Impulcifer

I do find the "generic HRTF" approach of the Soundblaster surround system to work quite well though, as in I can distinguish front & back......well I can identify all the 7 speakers in their correct location according to the 7.1 test I linked in the first post of this thread......so this works really quite well in gaming. It would be interesting to try out the Impulcifier Project sometime, also for normal 2 channel music listening, as well as 7.1 gaming (which I think it can do but I'd have to look into that some more).

£90 was indeed a good deal based on the list price of that item!
I own one and have created a 16 channel prir using my LS 50 speakers and SB2000 sub. And yes, it's very good. I just did a first stab. I now have LS 50 Metas and will be creating a 24 channel PRIR using them and the SB 2000 along with Dirac Live DSP. I anticipate that one will really be good.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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Check out 'Spatial Sound Card' from New Audio Technology, available for Windows and MacOS.

The light version at around 10 euros works well for gaming, there is a more advanced version for studio/professional work.

You can configure it for 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 and it just looks like another sound card in your system. Simply processing and passing the virtual surround through to whatever real 2-channel output you have.
Interesting, I've not heard of them before, are you affiliated with them? It's positive that the software appears as a real 7.1 device, so that means it can have a stab at processing all the channels from a game. I noticed that they have an option to select the model of headphone you're using, and to me that makes sense because they'd want their frequency response modifications that would be involved with HRTF processing to fair well and be noticeable amidst the often "crazy" frequency responses of headphones. Do you know how this software would do when used with a headphone that was Harman EQ'd? Do you know if there is an option to select that your headphone is EQ'd to Harman Curve? Do you know what the software does when you tell it you're using a certain headphone model, does it do a preliminary EQ stage to convert the headphone frequency response to a more preferred curve (which one?) before HRTF processing is applied? These are very detailed questions, and I don't know how much you know about the company and how they implement their system or even if you are affiliated with them? Given your low post count (no problem) I'm thinking you might be affiliated with the company given you're introducing them, a surround solution I've not heard of before. It seems like good value as a piece of software, in terms of price, and seems promising that they're taking headphone model into account....what else can you tell me about them.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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I own one and have created a 16 channel prir using my LS 50 speakers and SB2000 sub. And yes, it's very good. I just did a first stab. I now have LS 50 Metas and will be creating a 24 channel PRIR using them and the SB 2000 along with Dirac Live DSP. I anticipate that one will really be good.
Wow, I'm jelly (jealous in English slang!) ! Awesome! What you gonna use it for mainly? What headphone you chose for it? Have you tried Impulcifier Project as a comparison?
 

phoenixdogfan

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Wow, I'm jelly (jealous in English slang!) ! Awesome! What you gonna use it for mainly? What headphone you chose for it? Have you tried Impulcifier Project as a comparison?
My two phone are LCD X's and HD 800's. Right now I'm mainly using it for movie watching late at night, especially Netflix ATMOS content.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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My two phone are LCD X's and HD 800's. Right now I'm mainly using it for movie watching late at night, especially Netflix ATMOS content.
Nice, HD800s might be the classical choice as a basis. How's it compare to your sound localisation with your real speaker system? Am I right in thinking you're asking the software to create more speakers than you currently own in your real speaker system? If so, then how convincing is that.....how does it go about extrapolating the extra speakers? How many speakers you got in your real system?

EDIT: do you just measure your speaker at different angles (the angle that virtual speaker would actually be at in relation to you) as part of the setup process? So if it was rear right roof you'd just have to make sure your speaker was up there and you were down there when you were doing the setup calibration sweeps? Then the software combines it all?
 
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