Virtuoso software for virtual surround / spatial headphone listening


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Mar 26, 2023
Leadville, Colorado, USA
Apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere. I did a quick search and didn’t get any obvious hits.

There is a nice set of software called Virtuoso, both plugins for DAWs and standalone applications, for both Mac OSX and WIndows. See Virtuoso software. Virtuoso renders multichannel audio into binaural form for headphones. It comes with a number of sample “listening rooms” (different dimensions, reverb settings, etc.), it supports HRTFs in .sofa format, and it has built-in equalization curves for a large number of headphones. You can also request equalization curves for headphones that are not currently included.

I stumbled across Virtuoso in some of Michael G. Wagner’s YouTube videos on Atmos. Wagner is a media professor at Drexel who specializes in immersive audio, Atmos production, and gaming. To use on a Mac, you simply use Blackhole (free) or Loopback to route channel data from the built-in Apple sound system to Virtuoso. The Apple MIDI settings app is used to specify the layout (e.g., 5.1., 5.1.2, 7.1, 7.1.4, etc.). You can play Atmos or other multichannel audio from Apple Music or the TV app, route the output through Blackhole/Loopback (I use 16 channels), configure Virtuoso to read from that route and also setup the corresponding room layout and sampling rate, and press “play”. You can verify multichannel data are flowing in the graphs on Loopback (haven’t tried Blackhole yet). You can add a headtracker - several are supported - and Virtuoso will pan as you move your head along the 3 rotational axes. I verified that Netflix (via a browser) can be configured to output multichannel audio through the same setup.

In Windows you basically do the same, using Dante Via or other ASIO routing software, but for Atmos you need to have DRP (or other Dolby software). Ordinary multichannel works fine from FOOBAR2000 (for example). The advantage of the Mac is that OSX has a built-in Atmos renderer (at least for DD+ - not sure about non-streaming Atmos).

This is essentially a poor man’s Realiser A16, but for a tiny fraction of the price. I have an A16 and this comes very close (no Auro3D support, but better head tracking). True multichannel listening on headphones.
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A brief update.

On OSX I have a head tracker (Wave NX) and have good/great verified multichannel and Atmos performance to a pair of HD-800s headphones using Virtuoso fed from Music, TV, browser-based Netflix, and a UHD rip of The Doors (Directors Cut) from VLC. I have a Mac M1 Mini and it has no problems keeping up with any of the processing.

On Windows I have used FOOBAR2000 and DRP, feeding Virtuoso via Dante Via. No head tracking yet (I do have a kludge to use the Wave NX though). Same sound to my ears on WIndows vs Mac (using the same headphones and sources).

Compared to my Realiser A16 using the built-in BBC Room (and the same headphones and media sources), the overall experience is the same. By that I mean equivalent immersion and out-of-head perception with Virtuoso. With a commercial PRIR the A16 is far better.
Hey zdjh22
I'm super interested.
I also found out about Virtuoso from Michael G. Wagner!

I have Virtuoso too and I'm naturally interested in the comparison with the Smyth A16.

Last I enquired, James Smyth wanted $4800 for a A16 Realiser 2U PRO-AES3 including Auro 3D.
Ex. VAT and shipping!!!!

That is just a little over what I'm ready to shell out at this point - so SW to the rescue!
My source are either files I own or Atmos off Apple Music.
News that Apple would stream and supply Atmos if you had enough channels got me going, and it worked like a charm on my 8 channel sound card / Genelec surround.

So I use:
Apple Music
Black hole virtual soundcard
Supperware headtracker
Virtuoso as standalone SW
Hifiman Sundara
I posted on Audiophile Style, but nobody is really interested yet - Strange!
My post on AS.

My real truble are two fold:
Only Apple will stream Atmos without expensive HW with the DOLBY tax
Obtaining a personalised HRTF (or PRIR) despite having a high end 5.1.4 available.

We should talk!
We should talk!
Somebody on Head-Fi in the A16 thread mentioned Out-of-your-Head software as working very well also, but only supported on Macs now.

I recently measured my own PRIRs on my A16 and it really is an astounding piece of electronics. Unlike the PRIRs that ship with it, the sound is totally out of my head (center channel way out in front of me, matching my sound room). Almost identical to listening without headphones. The sides and rears seem to be exactly as positioned in my room too, and with the head tracker turning your head centers the sides/backs exactly like the real thing. Uncanny.

That makes me think that a personalised HRTF would do wonders for Virtuoso. We’re stuck with the speakers / sound rooms that they have measured, unfortunately, but they do have a lot of virtual speakers compared to my physical 7.1.2 (and so also my measured PRIRs). I think playing with mesh2hrtf will probably make it to my agenda eventually.
I have or had Out-of-your-Head , but it kind of broke with the introduction of Apple silicon.
Plus - the illusion is so easily broken without head tracking. It was time to move on.
I think it was always Mac only.
But it was a good attempt for the time (2014).

I looked at mesh2hrtf (scanning your head and calculating) and Earfish (mapping measurements of HRTF from one speaker), and I suppose one or both of those approaches will mature beyond clunky at some point.

HRTF is the way ahead, and it can be done easily, as proven by Apple (scanning) and Smyth (measuring).
I wonder if we can hack the HRTF Sofa file out of the Apple echo system?

- mesh2hrtf
- earfish
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Netflix in browser. .

Have you found a way to get the Atmos stream without having the A16 or AVR attached?
If not, can you catch the audio befor it leaves the computer?
Mac and or PC?
Netflix in browser. .

Have you found a way to get the Atmos stream without having the A16 or AVR attached?
If not, can you catch the audio befor it leaves the computer?
Mac and or PC?
I don’t have the Premium level of Netflix subscription, thus no Atmos. I just don’t watch enough Netflix to justify it. So I don’t know, sorry. Atmos does work well on a Mac from either Apple Music / TV (DD+) or from a BluRay rip (TrueHD), using Loopback (16 channels) feeding Virtuoso.