No one has quite figured out how to get Dolby Atmos through a pair of headphones, so when I heard a CanJam vendor rave about the Smyth Realiser A16 system, I just knew I had to try it.
I went into a secluded room on the second floor and got to witness it in action. I saw a guy sitting down surrounded with seven Yamaha bookshelf speakers, with a two more above him – a full Dolby Atmos set up. He was wearing the Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones, jacked into the Smyth Realiser system. In front of him, a Dolby Atmos demo video was playing on a screen but the speakers were totally mute. But as soon as he took them off, they kicked into full swing, and went dead silent again when he put the them back on! By now I was raving inside but had to maintain a facade of serenity. Could it be that this guy couldn’t perceive any audible difference?
Fortunately there wasn’t a queue, so I plomped in that chair as soon as he got up. The Realiser had to be calibrated first to the room and my ears, using the speakers. But once we got that settled, the demo started.
Not only did I get an insane Dolby Atmos experience, it was so realistic that I was convinced there was a malfunction and the speakers were still on! The Realiser took it further by suspending audio in that same 3-dimensional space, so that when I turned my head, the sound seemed to stay in that same relative spot! I took them off and there was barely a difference with the actual speakers, so the Smyth Realiser got the audio’s phasing and distancing spot-on!
I came away deeply impressed. No space for a full Atmos system? With the Smyth Realiser, no problem! This could also have big applications for Virtual Reality, especially for folks who own a VR headset but do not want a full-blown cinema system in their bedroom.
The one I tried was a prototype, but you can actually pre-order the full version on their website at S$2399 (US$1690) excluding the Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones, shipping and tax.
(An earlier version of this article mistakenly indicated the Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones as the ‘Realiser Headphones’, and that the system came with the headphones. I apologise for the mistake, and I thank our readers who pointed out the error.)