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Head tracking combined with 16 virtual speakers
Head-tracking refers to the technique of processing spatial audio so that the virtual loudspeaker sources heard over headphones do not move even when the user’s head moves.
Without head-tracking virtual loudspeaker sources will move, causing a perceptual anomaly between the auditory and visual scenes. This frequently leads to either a front-back reversal or collapse of the externalised virtual sound-stage, in which the sound sources appear to be either behind the listener or inside their head.
With head-tracking the external sound sources remain in fixed positions, there is no perceptual anomaly, and the virtual sound-stage extends effortlessly around the listener in every direction.
Personalised sound based on your unique ears
Using just our two ears we are able to easily pinpoint sounds coming from every direction around us. In most cases our two ears pick up these sounds differently and this, combined with the filtering action of each ear on all sounds that enter the ear canal, allows our brain to figure out where a sound emanates from.
However everyone’s ears have a unique shape and position – even between one’s left and right ears – and this means that everyone hears sounds quite differently. Normally this is not even noticed since we ‘learn’ how to hear from an early age, and our ears only change slowly as we grow older.
Nevertheless if we were able to listen to what another person was hearing through their ears we would probably be confused, and in particular we would complain that the spatial positioning of the sounds were often badly distorted. Sounds that would normally be in front of us might appear behind us, frontal sound imaging is often lost, and the overall timbre of every sound would also be wrong. Of course our brain could learn and adapt to these new ears, but this process might take days or weeks of continuous listening.
The best and easiest solution to this problem is to personalise the playback of the sounds through the headphones so that they recreate how our own ears hear each sound. We do this by measuring how sound propagates from an external source to each ear, and use this to create digital filters that mimic the normal analogue filtering action of each ear. During this measurement process we also determine the distance apart of the ears, and measure the acoustic impact (or reverberation) of the environment on what we hear.
The overall result is a personalised room impulse response (PRIR) that contains all the information needed to accurately recreate how an individual hears an external sound through their own ears. In combination with low-latency head-tracking personalisation ensures that the listener cannot tell whether the sounds through the headphones are real or virtual.
16 Virtual speakers
A PRIR filter contains information relating to a single sound source in a particular acoustic environment, and how sound propagates from this source to an individual’s two ears. To recreate a virtual sound source in this location for this individual we simply convolve a mono sound signal with the PRIR filters for each ear, and deliver this over headphones. With head-tracking it is difficult for an individual to determine whether sounds are real or virtual.
This technique can be extended to multiple simultaneous sound sources, each source being convolved and head-tracked independently, the only limitation being the available computational processing speed.
The Realiser A16 is able to virtualise and head-track sixteen virtual sound source positions for two independent listeners. These virtual sources can be located anywhere around the listener, but are normally configured to some standard speaker formats, such as those for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D or even Ambisonics. The A16 stores multiple ‘virtual listening rooms’ that may contain different virtual loudspeaker configurations, allowing users to quickly swap between different loudspeaker setups.
A16 Under the hood
Dramatically expands the capability of the Realiser A16 processor. While the A16 comes pre-installed with virtual movie theatres and studios, new virtual sound rooms can be downloaded and personalised from our Realiser Exchange website.
- On-line storage of your own virtual sound room library
- Purchase virtual sound rooms of commercial studios and mixing rooms
- Exchange (or sell) your own measured sound rooms with other members
- On-line DSP tools to personalise and customise virtual sound rooms
Central to the new Realiser Exchange is the members account with sufficient storage to hold 200 PRIR/BRIR files. Members will be able to upload files from their Realiser for backup, for enhancement processing, or for selling on the store, and also download files from this account whether these files be their own, from the library, or purchased.
Personalisation tools to get the most from your PRIR files.
Online storage of up to 200 PRIR files.
Download PRIRs measured in the best sound rooms. Let other members listen to your room.
Evaluate and rate other PRIRs. Need help or assistance – ask other members.
The Realiser A16 is available in 2 form factors.
*Internally the electronics and firmware are identical for the two designs, all external connectors and ports are identical, and the LCD screens are also identical.
Realiser A16-HS is designed as a desktop unit, with the main body shell acting as a headphone stand
Realiser A16-2U is designed to fit in a 2U space in a 19” rack, using detachable rack-mount ears. Detachable feet also allow it to operate as a stand-alone unit.
Immersive home theater
The Realiser A16 brings immersive movie sound to your home, in spectacular fashion, by recreating the virtual acoustics and loudspeakers of cinemas and studios over your headphones. Experience your movies in the best seat in the movie house, and at the intended sound level, without disturbing your neighbours. With dual listener modes, independent head tracking, and decoding for the latest immersive Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D cinematic formats built in, the Realiser A16 brings watching movies in the home to a new level. Other features of the A16, ideal for avid movie watchers, include the tactile output to drive a shaker for sub-sonic reinforcement, and a Direct Bass function that allows the listener to route the LFE channel direct to their ears for extra impact.
Immersive VR / Gaming experince
Immersive 5.1ch, 7.1ch, 7.1.4ch sound for PS4, XBOX ONE and PC video games,the Realiser A16 is the essential gamer gear. Frighteningly realistic game sound, superb spatialisation, precise head tracking and very low latency all combine to make the A16 an ideal companion in those tricky situations. Supporting both HDMI, USB and optical, the Realiser A16 connects directly to video game consoles and PCs, and has dedicated support for on-line game chat and microphone signal
Immersive audio creation / production
With its precise emulation of studios, auditoriums and dubbing stages, the Realiser A16 is an ideal monitoring tool when creating new immersive audio sound tracks for movies, games or music.
Stereo line in
Ethernet (for web control)
S/PDIF optical /coax in
S/PDIF optical /coax out (Headphone A and B)
9-16v 3A DC
16ch analogue I/O
Headphone A & B Out
All legacy Dolby and DTS formats
Most frequent questions and answers
Yes. In fact, as with the A8, firmware updates for all the A16 signal processing functions will be made available over the course of the products lifetime.
HDMI input 1 is HDMI 2.0 compliant and supports HDCP 2.2 authentication, all mandatory 3D formats, and 4k up to @50/60Hz. Inputs 2,3 and 4 are HDMI 1.4a compliant and support HDCP 1.4 authentication, all mandatory 3D formats, and up to 4k @24/30Hz.
These sound tracks are decoded inside the A16. If the movie is a disc then connect any Blu-ray player, PS4, or Ultra BD player to the A16 using HDMI. If it is being streamed then connect the set-top to the A16 using HDMI. Then connect the A16 HDMI out to your TV. In the A16 menu, load a 7.1.4ch PRIR file, select the HDMI input and decoding will begin automatically. If the movie is 4k then use HDMI input 1 for best refresh rates.
There are a number of routes. 1) Use a factory default shipped with the A16. 2) Download one from the free library in Realiser Exchange. 3) Personalise one in Realiser Exchange and download to your Realiser. 4) Undertake a single (or stereo) speaker measurement in your own home. 5) Undertake a multi-speaker measurement in your own home. 6) Find a local studio in the Realiser Exchange Directory to undertake the measurement. For more details see our “Realiser Exchange – a new Virtual Audio Exchange website” document.
The A16 USB interface natively inputs 16 channels of 24-bit PCM up to 96kHz. Windows sees the A16 as a 2.0ch, 5.1ch or 7.1ch 24-bit 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz sound card with stereo line in. Running in ASIO mode an audio editing application such as Pro Tools or Reaper see the A16 as a discrete 16 channel 24-bit 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz output card. Mac OS sees the same.