Anyone know? There’s lots of different ones out there, are there any that are compatible with realtime mixing in Cubase?
Depends on your budget… I got a Smyth Realiser A8 recently, and it’s absolutely crazy…
However, it’s not the easiest route - it’s an expensive box of tricks, and you need to go and measure your hearing system in a very good 5.1 mix room to get the best results. If you take the trouble though, then it’s incredible technology.
More basic systems use a ‘general’ HRTF profile to simulate your ‘shadow’ - but since it’s not your real profile, your brain instantly works it out, and it’s not a very good illusion. However, this isn’t to say you won’t get some interesting results, but it’s not ok for more critical mix work - only the Realiser offers this at the high end of the market.
In terms of the cheaper offerings, there are standard 5.1 headphones offered by a few companies, but again these all vary massively in terms of a) their input options (some only support HDMI input), and b) the quality of the headphones themselves and c) the quality of the algorithms used to generate the additional channels. It’s worth remembering that these products are largely designed for people who wish to ‘upgrade’ their DVD experience - so aren’t particularly focussed on being very good headphones themselves from a mixing perspective.
Also worth remembering that although complex systems like the Realiser actually offer up to 7.1, the sub channel is poorly represented (not that it’s recommend to stick your music down there anyway!)
Hope that helps a bit - perhaps someone with user-experience of one of the cheaper systems will chime in
Will any of the gaming headphones work? Do they read from DTS or AC-3 (which would mean I can’t monitor in real-time) or can they “play nice” with Cubase? I’m assuming they act as a USB interface of sorts, am I wrong?
I would like to see what consumers are using.
Beyerdynamic’s Headzone. Not cheap, but very good.
Check this out, heard of it a few days ago: http://www.toneboosters.com/tb-isonesurround/
Its interesting you should mention about the 5.1 Gaming headsets available, I use the Astro MixAmp (being an uber xBox fiend) which is the cream of the crop when it comes to gaming headsets (i.e. endorsed by Major League Gaming - MLG etc):
It seems kinda of expensive at £109 (but its a deceiving little box as its pretty sophisticated) and consequently has many uses namely 5.1/7.1 decoder, portable headphone amplifier (rechargeable or USB bus powered) and features Coaxial, TOS link (optical) and analogue inputs (which are stereo only) and 20-20,000 Hz frequency response.
The technology behind it is Dolby Digital Headphone (or dolby pro logic ii when using stereo input if desired) which as a previous poster has mentioned will make use of a generic HRTF profile. I got it as I use xBox a lot but also because with all the inputs I can use it with a variety of music hardware (often with my Boss VF1 for playing electric guitar without hurting others), but the selling point is definitely the ability to use your own monitoring headphones (it just uses a simple mini jack). I use it with some Beyer Dynamic DT250’s (80 Ohms) and it sounds lush!
As for how effective the 5.1/7.1 surround effect is; its down to how close your melon/ears are to the the generic HRTF model - I find it works really well for me (i.e. I can pin point a position in 3d space) but its entirely subjective! Sadly I can’t say that I’ve used it with Cubase in 7.1/5.1 mode (although you have wet my appetite to want to check it out now)! Anyway feel free to quiz me about it if you want to know more and I hope this helps!