Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS - Dolby Headphone Processor

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Q8

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A week or two ago I got a Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS Dolby Headphone Processor to try out. For those of you not familiar with Dolby Headphone. It is a type of processing that uses stereo headphones to replicate surround sound. It uses audio cues that trick your brain into hearing directional sound.

Since this is aimed at the gaming market, I figured I would keep it simple and use my PS2 Slim as the disc player. The inputs on the device are USB (which also powers the device), 1/8th stereo line in and toslink. I used the toslink first directly to the PS2. The box also has a headphone port, volume knob, power switch, "subwoofer" volume control and stereo passthrough button.

The device decodes Dolby Surround "7.1" and Dolby PLII. It does not do DTS. It has little lights indicating what mode it is in. It defaults to PLII when no Dolby Digital signal is present. You can also hit the stereo passthrough button to hear it clean. It also comes with a really cheap toslink cable and a USB cord.

As other people have stated, it takes some getting used to and getting oriented with. I tried a variety of headphones, old and new, but settled with my workhorse SkullCandy phones.

The first thing I tried through the device was ZZ Top Live From Texas DVD. I was not too impressed. Firstly, the mix on that disc is not too exciting. Also at first the center seems to dominate the front and almost overpower the mix. Not a very good first test. Then came Saturday Night Fever, another movie with more sparing use of surrounds, but I started to realize what this box had the capability to do. Definitely started to hear a real surround mix with depth at this point, but still, nothing too awe inspiring.

For my next tests I jumped around a little. I played a few SQ records through the analog in, and through the PLII setting. I defiantly see what everyone means when they say the right rear becomes the center. It did separate beautifully, so it does prove that it actually decodes PLII right, and the fake surround through headphones sounded right. Due to the fact that I was playing SQ records, the mix was lopsided. It had a hole in the right rear and made left front sound heavy. Kinda like a triangle of sound. I also tested various stereo material through PLII. Negligible effect. Sometimes something cool happens. Sounds more spacious. Nothing too breathtaking though.

Now back to Dolby Digital sources. I tried the surround speaker test tones on the Tron Special two disc edition DVD. I was blown away. Virtual speaker placement was spot on. I could identify what direction the tones were coming from without cheating. The “subwoofer” effect actually made subsonic vibrations hit my ears (which kinda hurt). But it all sounded like perfect 7.1 speaker placement. At this point I had to watch the whole Tron movie. And wow. What an immersive surround sound experience! It was almost as good as hearing it through a real surround setup. Also I have to note that with the bass sound effects, this thing provides the lowest, most realistic ultra low bass I have ever heard from headphones. I must note again, that sometimes it can be painful if you overdo it. Like putting your ear on a subwoofer sometimes if you aren’t careful with the level and your source material has a powerful sub effect.

So then I finally tried some quad to DD 4.0 material. I started with one of my personal favorites, Black Sabbath Paranoid. Once again, everything was immersive and properly placed. The guitar swirling effects and Ozzy popping around between the speakers is almost as powerful as it is with an actual quad setup. I also listened to some of Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here. That spacious and sometimes mysterious sounding mix also translates well through the DSS.

The great thing is, since the box’s output is a normal 1/8 stereo headphone jack, you can record the output to CD/MP3/Whatever. You probably could even make a cassette/8-Track/Reel if you wanted to. I plan on trying some recording onto CD and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I am not affiliated with this product.

DSS_image_03.jpg
 

rustyandi

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just a note
Dolby brought the headphone idea from a
company in Sydney
another surround idea from
downunder
 

Q8

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just a note
Dolby brought the headphone idea from a
company in Sydney
another surround idea from
downunder
It seems like Quad/Surround has always been pretty big in Australia/NZ. I would have never known that had I never came to QQ. I wish I had a way to better research popularity of quad globally. Like the sales figures of quad from country to country.
 

Q8

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I did my first full recording of Black Sabbath Paranoid onto CD in Dolby Headphone encoding. I did it pretty simply with a CD burner live burning. One big track. May do more with it later, just wanted to make it for now. Sounds pretty good. The only criticism I could give the conversion to CD is that the bass suffers quite a bit with the conversion to CD. Well, the whole dynamic range seems to be decreased some by recording to CD. If anyone wants to hear this, PM me.
 

beerking

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I was rummaging through my stored computer gear from way back when and there staring up at me, was a brand new unopened box with one of these in it.
I have just set it up to run from my laptop. First impressions are very good. Quite immersive with variable output control, to give the impression of surround coming at me head from all angles.
Fancy me forgetting I had this...I wonder what else is in my Aladins Cave?
If you can find one for a reasonable price then it may be worth a little flutter.
This one:
 

beerking

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Just a little update:
I found I could use this little box of tricks from my Marantz receiver. The front panel has a USB port close to the head phone socket. It needs a USB to power it, so the solution was just to use that and bingo I now have transformed headphones.
Be interesting to see if anybody else has a go at this.
Believe me, the surround sound is pretty good for headphones.
Obviously not a patch on your main speaker set up but it beats stereo!!
 

DuncanS

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I was rummaging through my stored computer gear from way back when and there staring up at me, was a brand new unopened box with one of these in it.
I have just set it up to run from my laptop. First impressions are very good. Quite immersive with variable output control, to give the impression of surround coming at me head from all angles.
Fancy me forgetting I had this...I wonder what else is in my Aladins Cave?
If you can find one for a reasonable price then it may be worth a little flutter.
This one:
Just a little update:
I found I could use this little box of tricks from my Marantz receiver. The front panel has a USB port close to the head phone socket. It needs a USB to power it, so the solution was just to use that and bingo I now have transformed headphones.
Be interesting to see if anybody else has a go at this.
Believe me, the surround sound is pretty good for headphones.
Obviously not a patch on your main speaker set up but it beats stereo!!
I must resist the urge to purchase!
 

beerking

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Ok so for $30 on ebay I'm going to have to check this gizmo out, sounds like it might be pretty cool, thanks
The only proviso I would want to make people aware of, is that to get the best sound input it needs to have a Toslink output from the source. I have not tested this, as I do not have this facility on any equipment I use. But I am currently looking to see how I can achieve this. Any Toslink experts out there?
 

beerking

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Todays update with a smile :)

I had a little brain wave!!
I am sitting down as it don't happen that often..

I rechecked the connections at the back of my home built PC....there is the required s/pdif output port I need....aha
Plugged everything in and selected s/pdif as the ouput ..
Whoa
All as described in the initial post by Q8
There you go folks ..a very cheap alternative to anything else on the market.
The sound is fantastic.
And yes its surrounding me lug holes.
Currently listening to Ayreon - Actual Fantasy,revisted....fing brilliant!!

Using me old faithful Grado SR60's.

Via foobar 6ch flac output


:51QQ
 
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