Virtual Headhpone Studio Solutions

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
KVRer
21 posts since 15 Mar, 2021

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:48 am

I use Sonarworks Reference along with my Beyerdynamic DT880 and really loving it. I struggle with my room alot, since Im moving pretty often, so I needed to learn my headphones. Along with Metric A/B its really powerful. I'd never put out a song just after headphones check though - monitors are more reliable.

It all comes down to your skill of listening and experience. (nothing new)

But that's true that companies jumped on that train lately - not surprised, there are lots of homegrown mixing engineers that struggle with room acoustics and money - great solution I'd say.

KVRAF

Topic Starter

2853 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 2:56 pm

kPere wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:48 am
It all comes down to your skill of listening and experience. (nothing new)
Exactly!

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KVRAF
9148 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:50 pm

.jon wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 9:12 pm
Imagining that a glorified eq preset applied on your output listened thru headphones can represent a club PA sound is just crazy. Not only you can't hear the frequencies, you neither can feel them.

It's cool if these kinds of tools help people to mix, but VST plugins can't turn elephants into trains, or clouds to mountains.
Well.. you sound about as skeptic as I was when I got to test VSX for the first time. Having now actually been able to reference mixes on both the VSX "club" versus a few real empty clubs (before any customers have been there) I can confidently say that it is eerily close and VSX does indeed very well show you when something is a bit off with the subs, lows and low-mids of a mix in a typical medium/large sized club with high-end speaker systems (both of these had those high end Nexo stacks in various corners with the matching subs). I even did purposefully bad EQ settings on various versions of the mixes just to check translation and if the same problems I heard in VSX would translate as identifiable problems in the two different real clubs.. and guess what? The problems were pretty much identical and immediately easily identified just like on the headphones.

Skepticism is very healthy but sometimes the damn product just works exactly like advertised and this has been my experience so far with VSX.

Having said that, the "mastering room" definitely still sounds strange to my ears.. but it IS uncannily analytical. It's really easy to hear phase problems and mix balance issues in it. It's quite bizarre how it all actually works out so well.

To be frank, I don't even really care any more how or why it works. I just does. My last bits of skepticism were killed about 10 months ago when I had stuff translating constantly, without any issues or guesses. Perhaps I just happen to have the perfect ear shape for those headphones and that system as the room illusion is pretty damn effective for me (which it never was with any other solutions like TB Isone or Waves NX nor the latest Acustica Audio Sienna).
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

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KVRAF
9148 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:59 pm

kPere wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:48 am
It all comes down to your skill of listening and experience. (nothing new)
This is true for any given situation. The more experience you have in different and varied situations, the more flexible you learn to be.. meaning your brain becomes better at adapting to references. I've met a few people who are able to get decent mixes on pretty much any horrible setup simply by listening to a few references for a few seconds. It is mind boggling how adaptive some people can be.

For us mere mortals new technologies do make things easier. For me, in terms of headphone mixing, it was the discovery of crossfeed a few decades ago that was the biggest game changer. It's really strange how proper crossfeed helps you hear dynamics much better on headphones. Where I was struggling to hear a few dB of compression I could suddenly hear even the slightest changes in dynamics. This also seems to affect how easily I can detect wanted and unwanted distortion. With crossfeed I can usually dial in soft clipping or hard clipping pretty much exactly at the levels I want/need for whatever mix element I'm working on. Without it, I'm basically flying blind and usually completely over process or under process a given source.

.. and as mentioned above, Slate VSX took this to yet one more level up where I now feel like I'm not really missing anything in terms of dynamics, frequency response and spatial positioning when it comes to mixing and getting it to translate reliably to the real world.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

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KVRAF
9148 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Mon Aug 02, 2021 5:03 pm

trmupstage wrote:
Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:05 am
I'm keeping an eye on this thread. I do a lot of mixing in my home studio (converted two car garage). I have a lot of treatment but still struggled until I got Sonarworks a few years back. Suddenly, my mixes began to translate and I didn't need to double check in the car. I'm using LYD48 speakers and also check mixes on ATH50X headphones with Sonarworks. Headphones don't give me an accurate idea about the stereo field. Maybe some of these new tools can improve that. I know Andrew Scheps mixes on headphones often and gets great results, so it is possible.
The stereo field issue can be fixed with proper crossfeed (and it also solves a lot more issues like hearing small changes in dynamics and transient response.. at least it did for me).

Either duplicate this (with whatever tools you have available): http://www.meier-audio.homepage.t-onlin ... sfeed.html

.. or go get yourself the absolutely awesome plugin from Goodhertz called CanOpener.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

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KVRist
474 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Tue Aug 03, 2021 4:57 am

Another very happy Slate VSX user here. As I'm forced to work with small monitors in a small, less than ideal room I've relied on headphones to monitor the low end since forever. The VSX plugin and proprietary headphones genuinely give a convincing sense of punch and low end weight and with a little back and forth between a few of the virtual rooms, I can get decent results far more quickly than I ever could with other headphone and monitor combos.

And it's not just the lows - there's a genuine sense of "unveiling" that I get from some of the rooms - where I can more easily dial in stuff like master bus compression, panning, stereo width, general broad stroke mix balancing etc. that I just can't achieve as easily with my monitors - which seem a bit like trying to paint a room through a letter box in comparison. The psychoacoustic effect of the modelled rooms is also very good to my ears - and I sometimes forget that I'm wearing the headphones during a longer session.

One thing I'm still preferring my traditional monitoring for is notch EQing, de-essing, general "repair" work etc. VSX seems to almost gloss over these kinds of problems when compared to my forward sounding Eve Audio monitors and Avantone Mixcube. But horses for courses :)

Echoing what bmanic said - I can understand a level of scepticism about products like these, especially with Steven Slate's infamous marketing hyperbole... but I think he's onto something here. Even my friend who is a pro mixing and mastering engineer (and Slate beta tester) is using the VSX on most sessions - despite having higher end monitors and a well tuned room.

KVRian
1138 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Wed Aug 04, 2021 6:55 am

Another very happy Slate VSX user here, too :)
I've been forced to use headphones since 2012 when I moved and the apartment, the same still, is horrible when I use loudspeakers. I lose bass 2 meters behind and snappy transients make whole room sizzle. No I'm not gonna put shit to walls etc. I also tested Sonarworks etc. but they all sounded way too phasey to my ears.
I used AKG headphones so long I could translate mixes with 4 to 5 revisions.

With VSX its first or second. With VSX I can have the subs, can hear 0,5dB moves in bass area, can hear compression easily.

"The VSX plugin and proprietary headphones genuinely give a convincing sense of punch and low end weight and with a little back and forth between a few of the virtual rooms, I can get decent results far more quickly than I ever could with other headphone and monitor combos" - Yep :)

"Having now actually been able to reference mixes on both the VSX "club" versus a few real empty clubs (before any customers have been there) I can confidently say that it is eerily close" - Yep, this was the sound of our soundcheck. We had just put up PA to the club and played some tunes (and our own) through them. Thats how it sounds but man if it isnt a good place to check if your basses are way overdone in some areas.

VSX is a "godsent" for me, and I would be so lost again without them hahah.
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

KVRist
281 posts since 28 Jul, 2016

Post Fri Aug 06, 2021 10:29 am

I use Waves Abbey Road 3, and it has helped my mixes come together more quickly. It's also nice that it's mobile if you're using a laptop. I haven't really tried any of the other competitors though.

KVRian
1280 posts since 28 Dec, 2007

Post Fri Aug 06, 2021 12:00 pm

I currently use David Griesinger's DGSonicFocus.

I should check out one of these "next-gen" solutions someday.

KVRAF
4542 posts since 21 Sep, 2005

Post Sat Aug 07, 2021 2:18 pm

kljo#
Last edited by codec_spurt on Mon Oct 11, 2021 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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KVRAF
9148 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Post Sat Aug 07, 2021 11:35 pm

Cheers for the praise mate!

However, it is once more worth noting that the VSX headphones/system is not an universal constant. Meaning, it doesn't work for everybody. Good news is that if they don't work for you after a few weeks of trying, you can pretty much sell them for the original asking price! They seem to go like hotcakes on the used market!

VSX does seem to be quite well targeted for the majority of users (Slate has been quoted saying something like 85% of people should fall within the specs) but some people really do fall squarely outside of the headphones psychoacustic "magic" or whatever technology they use to convey the illusion. This is why some people, quite rightfully, write that it didn't work for them.

For me it took a few weeks of getting used to the system and arriving at a few EQ compromises (using the built in VSX EQ) to get the illusion to fall into place. I suspect part of the illusion is also tricking the brain to getting used to it.

Also worth noting is that absolutely everybody can already drastically improve their headphone mixing environment with a EQ + Crossfeed combination. Personally I suggest Toneboosters Morphit + Goodhertz CanOpener combination. That worked quite well for me over the years. Before that I used custom tweaked EQ curves using FabFilter Pro-Q (from that famous Reddit thread) + custom crossfeed based on the Meier-audio crossfeed paper.

Here are some of the headphones I've worked with over the years:

AKG K240 original 600 ohm version
AKG K271 (both original and mk2 versions.. hated both! Used mainly for tracking)
AKG K701 originals (worked these to death.. were my favorites for a long time when EQd+Crossfeed)
AKG K712 pro
Audeze LCD-X (had to sell them as my neck started hurting.. lovely sound tho!)
Beyerdynamic 990 pro (my current 2nd pair at home)
Beyerdynamic 770 pro (250 ohm version)
Bose QC 15 (current leisure listening headphones and live sound mixing headphones.. got 3 pairs of these still and always keep on buying more when I find them online for cheap)
Grado SR60 (never understood how people could like these.. horrible headphones!)
Sennheiser HD595 original (for years my home leisure listening headphones)
Sennheiser HD600 original (my favorites for a very long time up until AKG K701)
Sennheiser HD650 (liked these less than the HD600)

.. and at the moment Slate VSX as my main studio headphones.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

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KVRian
1285 posts since 26 Jun, 2005

Post Sat Aug 07, 2021 11:51 pm

Happy VSX user here too. If it sounds good there in those different environments it translates very well for me on every other real world speaker.
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KVRist
72 posts since 4 Dec, 2003 from Oregon, USA

Post Sun Aug 08, 2021 12:11 am

I was very skeptical as well of the idea of getting headphone mixes that were truly good without back and forth with my real monitors. I used to mix on my (less than ideal) monitors and then check out the mix on my headphones. Now it's literally 180 degrees the other way around and my mixes are much better, much more quickly.

VSX changed that. I can second or third or fourth what others on this thread have said - and it was actually Dom and Roland's endorsement that made me decide to try them in the first place. Been listening to his mixes since the nineties.

Personally, I ended up landing more happily on Sienna than VSX (my VSX are on sale in the forum here on KVR - shameless plug [well, vaguely feeling shame about the plug]), but I never would have even tried the field of headphone binaural software if not for the community's very vocal adoption of VSX.

My mixes with Sienna are not any better or worse (to my ear) than mixes with VSX, I just work better with the Sienna sound. Don't know why.

But for those who still haven't tried one of these systems, I say, honestly give it a try. For me there was a pretty short adaptation time, and now I'm pretty much dependent on Sienna.

KVRian
1138 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Sun Aug 08, 2021 1:15 am

For me the VSX headphones are the main thing, nothing and I mean NOTHING I've heard gives those precise deep sub-a-like basses on Headphones than VSX's.

I've had almost as much headphones as bManic and VSX's are easily the best ones I've used even without the binaural rooms - or even without HD LInear 2. The bass is just there, solid, precise.
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

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KVRian
918 posts since 20 Apr, 2005

Post Mon Aug 09, 2021 1:15 am

idoru97214 wrote:
Sun Aug 08, 2021 12:11 am
Personally, I ended up landing more happily on Sienna than VSX (my VSX are on sale in the forum here on KVR - shameless plug [well, vaguely feeling shame about the plug]), but I never would have even tried the field of headphone binaural software if not for the community's very vocal adoption of VSX.

My mixes with Sienna are not any better or worse (to my ear) than mixes with VSX, I just work better with the Sienna sound. Don't know why.

But for those who still haven't tried one of these systems, I say, honestly give it a try. For me there was a pretty short adaptation time, and now I'm pretty much dependent on Sienna.
Which part of Sienna are you using? Where does a person start?

The website for it is a mess. €150 for the main product €70 for 'expansions' of a few more rooms. And seems like they are just rushing to throw more and more rooms on there. Even the main product seems to have too many options.

I think room models really can help with headphones, but all rooms are different and all have quirks. How many room emulations is it helpful to have, which are the good ones in Sienna, how much does it cost to get a few useable ones? This product puts me off even before I've started... Not sure I even want to demo it....

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