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Studer BRS Processor—Headphone Surround Listening Environment

(July 27, 2001)
The first time high quality surround monitoring over standard headphones becomes possible: The new Studer BRS Processor allows the reproduction of surround (and stereo) audio signals - including the control rooms acoustics - over a pair of headphones.

The introduction of new media and formats for surround sound demands new techniques for headphone reproduction. Mixing surround is a demanding task and becomes a real challenge when the monitoring and acoustics are not at level and not comparable. This is true for headphone as well as for loudspeaker reproduction. The ideal would be a monitoring system with predictable response, a reference monitoring situation an operator can rely on in any studio of the world - known loudspeakers, known loudspeaker position, known acoustics, known sound and for surround and stereo reproduction. Now, all these criteria can be met with the Studer BRS Processor. It is a unique monitoring device which allows the reproduction of surround (and stereo) audio signals including the loudspeakers, their position and the room acoustics of a defined room over a standard headphone set. The headphone monitoring system consists of the Studer BRS Processor with the measured data of the preferred room(s) loaded. The first version is used with a standard headphone (not included, has to meet certain specs). The second version includes a headphone set with headtracker.

The Studer BRS Processor in conjunction with a standard headphone set reproduces precisely speaker/room acoustics, better than standard surround headphones. In conjunction with the headphones and headtracker the measured room is reproduced in every detail. Working with a BRS system is like working with a clone of the measured room with its specific loudspeakers, their placement and the acoustics. But at any desire location desired and regardless if surround or stereo is required.

Known virtual surround headphone systems use model-based algorithms to create the virtual environment. The Studer BRS processor goes much beyond that and uses measured data from existing rooms with their loudspeaker systems, including the direct and early reflections and reverberation. Room scanning measurements are a service Studer representatives provide. They are made using a dummy-head and a special BRS software and measure at various head rotation angles. The dummy-head is placed at the optimum listening position in the chosen environment (a control room, a living room, a car interior etc.). Each binaural room impulse response is measured from each loudspeaker of the control room to each microphone of the dummy-head. The processed room data is then downloaded into the BRS Processor. Now, the operator can comfortably carry the preferred room(s) to any other location being assured the mix still will sound exactly the same like it would have done in the original room.

In use, the listener has to simply plug the headtracking headphones into the processor and to feed the audio signal (e.g. stereo, surround 5.1) into the BRS unit. Then the desired room has to be chosen. The headtracker provides the processor with the information on the rotational head angle of the listener. The BRS Processor uses this data to address the room database and chooses the appropriate set of data to calculate the necessary signals for the ears: the equivalent of up to five loudspeaker signals including the complete room acoustics. The processed signal is fed to the headphones.

Numerous applications can benefit by using the BRS processor:

* Location work, e.g. remote trucks / OB vans - emulating the loudspeakers, the acoustics and the size of the main production studio of a facility inside the remote truck.
* Production, e.g. studio facilities - "cloning" the sound stage or mix theatre for work in edit suites without recourse to re-equalizing and leveling of stems at the final mix
* Post production, e.g. multiple workstation production room - multiple sound engineers working in the same multi media production room in front of their workstations can listen to their individual, big surround control rooms without affecting each other.
* Studio work with producer - by using two BRS systems the producer gets the same acoustic impression the sound engineer has, both can sit in the sweet spot. The producer can also audition work in progress at home with the same acoustic environment.
* Sound comparison - various studios, a theatre, a car, a living room, a movie theatre . . . - any measured environment contained in the database may be used for monitoring comparisons.
* Listening format comparisons - to judge the results in surround as well as in stereo without being limited by space, acoustics and loudspeaker positions.

Numerous successful technology presentations have stirred up discussion about the headphone reproduction of the future. The Studer BRS Processor has been welcomed as an accurate and professionally specified tool offer predictability in surround and stereo monitoring situations. The Studer BRS Processor will become available at the end of year 2001.

Studer is an internationally operating company offering proprietary products and turnkey system solutions. The wide range of proprietary products includes complex digital audio routing systems, digital mixing consoles and digital mixing systems using the very latest in digital technology, analog and digitally-controlled analog mixing consoles, radio automation systems, analog and digital recorders, active studio monitors - analog and digital components for even the most sophisticated system applications. All products and components are developed and manufactured at Studer headquarters in Switzerland.

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Related Keywords:surround monitoring, standard headphones, control rooms acoustics, mixing,

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