How to transfer the sound heard in the studio control room to the headphone listener at home? A question pondered, investigated and answered, just in time for Christmas, by Cambridge’s dCS. Their 21st December 1.1.1 Mosaic update to the Bartók DAC and headphone amplifier adds Expanse, DSP designed to bring the headphone listening experience “closer to the sound artists and engineers hear when listening to a performance mix in the studio”.
Sat in front of a loudspeaker system, each ear hears the sound of both loudspeakers plus a plethora of reflected sound; commonly referred to as reverb. But listen to that same recording behind headphones and the left ear only receives left channel information and the right ear only receives right channel information. And with the room effectively removed by headphones, there is no reverb. For dCS’s engineers, this imbalance between loudspeaker and headphone listening was a problem in need of a solution.
From the dCS website: “Various technologies have been developed to address this imbalance over the past few decades – most of which focus on using crossfeed to move a perceived sound source out of a listener’s head and into the room in front of them, mirroring the effect of listening to music on loudspeakers.”
“Yet after studying existing methods of crossfeed and headphone optimisation, we discovered that none of them was able to optimise sound while also preserving the original reverberation in a recording. Most instead relied on adding artificial reverberation – a technique we didn’t feel was appropriate for dCS products.”
Expanse aims to add crossfeed without any hit to the recording’s reverb. Details of how dCS achieved this are available in the Expanse white paper. But a white paper is no substitute for first-hand experience. Expanse can be engaged from the Bartók’s front panel menu system or within the Mosaic app. A Tidal playlist curated by dCS to showcase Expanse’s audible smarts can be found here.
Further information: dCS