Realphones by dSONIQ is a new plug-in designed to improve the mixing experience on headphones. Through various profiles, the software simulates the control room environment of a professional studio, including different sets of speakers. This can help to achieve a more balanced mix if you need to mix on headphones. It’s also useful if you’re on the road and don’t have access to your preferred monitors.
dSONIQ Realphones simulates control rooms and monitors
The idea to improve the mixing experience by simulating the acoustic characteristics of a control room isn’t new. We’ve already seen it in Waves Abbey Road Studio 3, for example. Using profiles to solve problems with the acoustics of a room or a set of headphones isn’t a new concept, either, as seen in Sonarworks Reference and similar solutions. What does Realphones have to offer that sets it apart?
The software starts by applying a calibration profile designed to flatten the frequency response of the headphones you’re using. According to the developer, Realphones currently supports over 90 headphone models by AKG, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Shure and many others; the full list is available on the company’s website. In theory, this calibration takes the characteristics of the headphones out of the equation.
Realphones then applies additional profiles to simulate various control rooms and speakers. You can choose from several rooms and switch between different sets of near field, mid field and far field monitors and subwoofers. The distance and speaker response are adjustable, and the plug-in features psychoacoustic binaural speaker placement for a more accurate representation of the mix and better stereo imaging than what you normally get on headphones. While there’s nothing like the real thing, this is an easy way to quickly check your mix on a variety of monitors, from expensive high-end mains to consumer speakers. Realphones also offers buttons for testing mono compatibility, left-right symmetry and other aspects of a mix.
Mixing on headphones can be a frustrating experience. But things have improved in recent years, with solutions like Realphones that try to overcome the limitations of headphones. If you need to use headphones for mixing for whatever reason, this plug-in could be worth a try.
Price and compatibility
Realphones is available in three versions, which differ in the number of included headphone correction profiles. The Lite Pack, which only includes a generic headphone profile, costs USD 65. The Professional Pack for USD 89 adds three headphone calibration profiles, which can be activated individually. USD 165 gets you the Ultimate Pack, which comes with unlimited headphone profiles.
The plug-in is available for Windows and macOS in VST and AU formats. You can download a free trial version from the developer’s website.