Smyth Introduces the A16 Real 3D Audio Headphone Processor

Many of you know that I have one of the original Smyth Research Room Realisers (the A8) and I have offered my studio to many of the company’s customers for measurement. The device is able to convincingly recreate or virtualize the “sound” of any listening environment through a standard pair of headphones after you’ve had your ears measured in that space. Really. I’ve written about this amazing processor in the past and highly recommend it to audiophiles that might have a limited budget and live in a place where playing loud sound would be a problem. You can check out a couple of my articles by clicking here or here. There’s also a bunch of files on the FTP site that you can check out if you’re interested in what the Smyth Room Realiser can do.

Customers of the original realiser include audio enthusiasts, audio engineers, and professional post production facilities. Imagine being able to model a specific studio and then experience that fidelity and sound while sitting in a closet — or smaller less expensive space. The Smyth people created a killer product that does its job better than any other similar technology. But there were some shortcomings when it came to extended surround modeling (limited to 8 channels), digital inputs and outputs (it was limited to HDMI), and sample rate (limited to 48 kHz).

So what did the Smyth brothers do? They’ve re-imagined and seriously upgraded the idea of acoustic virtualization with the new A16. And they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the manufacturing of this exciting new edition of box. You can click here to visit the Kickstarter page. It may seem like all I’ve written about is crowd-sourced campaigns lately, but I simply had to let you know about the new Smyth hardware. I’ve been in touch with Mike Smyth over the past couple of months about the A16 and discussed it with Lorr Kramer, the company’s local man in charge of the realiser line. So I was very impressed when I visited their Kickstarter page, viewed their video, and read through the information presented on the page.

And I was very impressed that they’ve already been able to raise over $250,000 from 230 backers with a product that sell for near $1000! However, I’m not really surprised. The company has a dedicated customer base; great support from the headphone community, and demonstrated the new upgraded hardware at the recent Munich Audiofest. And talk about upgrades, there’s almost nothing left out of the new design.

For starters, the A16 supports new enhanced surround audio formats (Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, and Auro 3D), high-res audio specs (192 kHz/24-bits), 16 analog and 8 digital inputs, and extensive backend support for different rooms and alternative measurements through the company’s web portal.

The A16 is a professional product that is suitable for consumers at home and professional AND it costs less than a third the price of the original. If you haven’t heard the incredible realism of the Smyth Research technology, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Their system is miles ahead of anything I’ve heard from anyone else…and I’ve heard most of them.

There are two versions of the new A16 — one that looks like a headphone stand (because it is a headphone stand!) and a rack mounted version. Some may like the look of the headphone stand version but I can’t say I’m one of them. When I get one for the AIX Studio (which is featured in their pitch video as a prime location for personalized measurements), I’ll want the rack-mounted version.

If you want to experience “best-in-class” acoustic space virtualization through headphones, you should consider becoming a backer. If you’re just curious about what state-of-the-art, innovative thinking and design can do for audio, read the information on their page…it’s very informative.


And please don’t forget about the Sonic Blocks campaign that is running on Indiegogo. We’ve tweaked a few of the perks and images in the hopes of getting some more attention.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

2 thoughts on “Smyth Introduces the A16 Real 3D Audio Headphone Processor

  • August 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Hmmm… Interesting…

    But it looks like the 96 and 192kHz modes have potential reverb times of at most 0.75s. Great for studio modeling I’m sure. But this would limit the types of acoustic spaces the system can model in hi-res, right? Places like stadiums and cathedrals with long RT’s…

    • August 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Joe, you’re right. However, as you point out this devices — and its predecessor — are not intended to recreate stadiums or cathedrals. The idea is to simulate studio sized rooms. The Realiser A16 is a tremendous step forward and provides a functionality that I’ve not seen in any other piece of hardware or software.


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