dSONIQ Realphones
User's Guide

Product Overview
Realphones is a state-of-the-art software solution that expands the possibilities of using headphones for professional mixing and mastering.

Based on advanced research and development of the psychoacoustic modelling of human hearing, combined with acoustic measurements in numerous studio control rooms, our technology provides fidelity and confidence while estimating the main aspects of sound mix (levels, dynamics, equalisation, panning, stereo image, reverb, depth, etc.) with precise control over the full range of frequencies required for the mixing and mastering process.

The Realphones software solution is available as stand-alone application and VST or AU plug-in, compatible with the most DAWs supporting VST/AU technology.

Realphones provides you with confidence in mix control not only aligning your headphones frequency response to make them sound more linear but turning them into a professional studio control room with advanced psychoacoustic processing.

Although the main target of development was the use of headphones for mixing and mastering purposes, we did not forget about audiophiles, who can enjoy the enhanced fidelity and hear all the details of their favourite recordings using dSONIQ Realphones, as if they heard it on a high-end sound system.

The main features and benefits:

  • Headphones frequency response correction using standard curves or individually measured variables (Realphones uses standard headphone correction profiles based on averaged multiple measurements of the same headphone model or custom calibration service provided by our specialists from the dSONIQ premises in Moscow, Russia)
  • Head-related transfer function (HRTF)-based binaural virtual sound source emulation
  • Emulation of studio control room with far and near fields set-up based on acoustic measurements
  • Increased precision over the full range of frequencies
  • Enhanced control of Low Frequency range
  • Selection of frequency response reproduction of different audio systems
  • Flexibility of controls, giving you the possibility to adapt the sounding to match your perception
  • Confident decisions when mixing in conditions where a professional studio control room is unavailable
Installation
Users are entitled to a 40-day trial period to evaluate the product before purchasing the licence.

To install the Realphones plug-in, please follow the link to the official dSONIQ website — https://dsoniq.com/installation — and download the latest version of the product.


Once you have reached the download page, please follow these steps:

  • Select your OS version and download the installation package suitable for your system.
  • Run the Installer package.
  • Select your preferred language that will guide you through the installation process.
  • Read the License Agreement and confirm that you accept it.
 License Agreement Realphones
Select the required components you would like to install on your system.
You have options to install the full package, plug-ins only or select the required components individually.
Realphones installation
Customise your VST plug-ins folder if required.

The following installation paths are used by default if not customised:

Windows (64 bit):
C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins – for 64 bit version
C:\Program Files (x86)\VSTPlugIns – for 32 bit version

Mac:
/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/Сomponent – for AU plugins
/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST – for VST2 plugins
/Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST3 – for VST3 plugins
Realphones installation
Complete the installation process and proceed to your DAW to scan for newly installed plug-ins. Please refer to your DAW user guide for the plug-in identification procedure.
Activation
Once installation is complete, you will be required to activate your licence to unlock the plug-in features.

Licence Button

When you click the Licence button, a window will appear with information about the licence, software version, and the number of profiles loaded into the plug-in.
Realphones activation
Licence types
Lite – Generic headphones profiles with no available Headphones Credits.
Headphones profiles for specific models can be purchased separately.

Professional – Allows activation of up to three headphones correction profiles using available Headphones Credits.

Ultimate – Allows activation of any of the available headphones correction profiles (the current database contains 90+ correction profiles and is regularly updated with new models).

Demo – A 30-day trial period with the full functionality of a Professional licence. The trial period can be reactivated every 6 months.
Online Activation
Click either the "Activate" or "Activate Online" button that will guide you to the Realphones customer area where you can proceed with your licence activation.

Enter your e-mail address and password and the software will be automatically activated.
Online Activation Realphones
Offline Activation
If your machine does not have internet access, which is required for online activation, an offline activation process can be applied.

Using another device with internet access, visit https://customer.dsoniq.com to access the Realphones customer area and use your credentials to log in to your account.

Copy your Machine ID from the Realphones software Licence tab on the machine where Realphones is installed.
Offline Activation Realphones
Click "Add a Manual Hardware ID" and enter your Machine ID in the pop-up window, then click "OK" to confirm.

Click "Offline Licence" to download your software licence key.

Save the Licence Key file to the portable media (usb key or HDD) and transfer it to the machine where Realphones is installed.

Drag and Drop the software licence key into the Licence tab of running Realphones software instance on target machine (stand-alone or plug-in version).
Online Customer Area
User Information – Provides information about the person or company the licenсe has been registered to. Use it to update your contact details and change your password if required.

Headphones – Displays the headphone profiles currently active in your account and shows any available credits.

To activate the required model, click the "Use a purchased profile" button, and select the required model(s) from the drop-down list. Click "Add Model" to confirm your selection.

You can change the selected model within 30 days of activation if required. After 30 days, it will be permanently linked to your account.

Please note that choosing/adding a model uses up a Headphones Credit and makes your selection permanent after 30 days!

Computers – Provides the list of PCs (Machine IDs) under your license where the Realphones software has been activated and used within the last month.

You can add your Machine ID manually if offline activation is required.

Licence – Provides information about your active licenсe type and gives you the ability to upgrade your licence.

Using the Realphones Plug-In in Your DAW
Insert one instance of the Realphones plug-in on the master or monitoring bus chain, after all other plug-ins and signal analysers.

Realphones is a binaural processing plug-in and should be used for sound monitoring with headphones only. Do not use it with a speaker system, as it will result in inadequate sound perception!

During offline export, the plug-in is automatically disabled; however, some DAWs require manual bypassing.
Make sure to bypass the Realphones plug-in prior to exporting your mix!
Plug-In Controls
The interface of dSONIQ Realphones has been designed to be both user-friendly and effective for your daily work while mixing and mastering, where you can easily switch between required settings for the best control of your sound.
Plug-In Controls Realphones
Headphones Correction
Headphones Correction Realphones
Headphones Selection
Headphones model selection is an essential step that must be done during the first step, prior to using any other settings.

Select your headphones model to apply the dedicated correction profile suited for your model of headphones. The profile will appear in the list once the Headphones Credit has been activated in the Online User Area.
Headphones Selection
If no dedicated headphones profile is activated, you will have two basic options:

Studio Closed – This profile is dedicated for closed full-sized studio headphones.

Studio Open – This profile is dedicated for open full-sized studio headphones.

Both of the options are generic profiles based on an average assessment of numerous models of studio-level headphones with their known common deviations in frequency response.

While these may improve the veracity of sound reproduction to some extent, we do recommend that you use at least the Standard correction profile dedicated to your model of headphones.

Standard Correction Profile – Profile generated by an averaged curve based on multiple measurements of the same headphones model.
Custom Correction Profile – Profile generated for your unique pair of headphones, based on measurements performed by our technical team.

If you want to get maximum fidelity for your sound control, we recommend performing custom calibration of your headphones!

Why does custom calibration give the most benefits?

Although all headphones of the same model are produced with the same technology and quality control, there are always manufacturing tolerances that can affect frequency response, resulting in its deviations from pair to pair.

The following graph represents frequency response curves measured for multiple pairs of the same model of headphones.

You can see that deviations from pair to pair can reach up to +/- 3db and more in certain frequency ranges.
Why does custom calibration Realphones give the most benefits?
Therefore, custom calibration will give you the best veracity for your sound monitoring.
Correction
Correction Realphones
The Correction slider controls the degree of the frequency response correction applied to your headphones.

100% represents full matching to the measured values. However, setting the Correction slider below 100% may give you more detailed control over the mix, and it could minimise aural fatigue. If you hear any unexpected timbral colouring, we recommend reducing the value until you get cleaner sound perception.

We can guarantee precise frequency response correction only with a custom calibration profile, when your unique pair of headphones has been measured by our specialists and the dedicated profile is applied.

75% is the default recommended value that can be adjusted, depending on your personal perception. We do not recommend reducing it below 50% because you may start losing precise control over your mix on some frequencies.

50% is recommended for users who are accustomed to the sound of their headphones and are adapting to correction as a good point to start with.
Presence
Correction Realphones
"Presence" applies diffuse field equalisation to corrected flat headphones frequency response.

The calculation of "Presence" takes into account the acoustic effect of the human body, head and auricles in a diffuse sound field.

Depending on your perception, you can adjust "Presence" from 0% to 100%. Setting it to 0% will lead to corrected headphones sound without the above-mentioned processing.

For most users, 75% is a suitable default setting. However, you can adapt it to your own sound perception if needed.

If you hear any unexpected colouring, we recommend reducing the value until you hear your target sound without colouring.
Pressure
Pressure
This option adjusts the sound deviation caused by a headphones pressure mismatch.

Increase the "Pressure" control if your headphones have deviation towards high frequencies due to inappropriate fit.

Conversely, reduce the "Pressure" if the ear pads are deformed due to normal wear over long periods of operation and sound emitters are too close to the auricles that may cause a loss in the high frequency range.
Binaural Room Simulation
Binaural Room Simulation Realphones
Binaural Room Simulation is a sound processing module that represents the acoustic and spatial features of the selected listening area. It allows you to estimate your mix in the selected sound environment with dedicated speakers setup.
Room Selection
Room Selection Realphones
Room Selection lets you choose your desired listening environment.

The drop-down list will guide you through the available options for sound control in a simulated room.

The availability of far field/near field choice has direct dependency on the selected simulated environment. All represented options are based on acoustic measurements taken in actual studios by dSONIQ specialists.

Note that Room Speakers should be set in the Speaker Selection list to represent the frequency response of the loudspeakers originally installed in the simulated environment.

If any specific custom room measurements and emulation is required (e.g. theatres, concert halls, and so on), please contact your dSONIQ representative for further assistance.
Ambience
Ambience provides control over the amount of sonic reflections typical for the selected studio control room.

Setting Ambience to 0% will lead to an anechoic dry signal, while 100% will represent the measured amounts of acoustic reflections.

It is set to 100% by default; however, you can adjust this setting if you feel it is necessary.

We recommend switching Ambience to a dry value from time to time while working on your sound material in order to check your mix sound without room reflections. Setting this parameter above 100% may occasionally be useful for estimating how your mix would sound in listening environments with higher levels of natural reflections.
Binaural Sound Source Positioning
Binaural Sound Source Positioning Realphones
Binaural Sound Source Positionin is a psychoacoustic processing module that reproduces the spatial arrangement of external loudspeakers relative to the listener.
Speaker Width
Speaker Width represents the angular distance between sound sources in a virtual space and is achieved by binaural positioning.

Based on scientific HRTF measurements, this models virtual studio speakers placement with their soundstage and phantom centre and allows you to estimate not only the width and panning but also the levels, EQ and dynamics of your mix, thus avoiding mistakes that can occur when mixing in headphones without binaural crossfeed processing.

The default setting of 60° corresponds to the internationally acknowledged monitor speakers placement for professional studios. It may look too narrow to users who have extensive experience listening to the sound through their headphones; however, setting it wider may lead to insufficient width of the sound mix, while setting it lower may result in excessive width.

We recommend keeping it at the default. However, it can be adjusted within a range of 60° to 90° to suit individual comfort, with a slight impact on the mix.
HRTF Focus
HRTF Focus is a part of the HRTF function that converts diffuse sound field colouration to free sound field colouration.

The purpose of HRTF Focus is to provide more accurate correspondence to the spatial and timbral perception that occurs when listening to sound sources placed in front of the listener. While diffuse field equalisation of headphones gives a more neutral and relaxed sound, it may provide less accurate localisation and timbral sensation, which are essential for precise mixing and mastering decisions.

You will get diffuse sound field equalisation at 0%, while 100% will transform it to free sound field equalisation.

HRTF focus is set to 75% by default, which is suitable for most users; however, you can adjust it if you feel it is needed.

This function does not affect the Binaural Room Simulation processing, which is applied only to dry signal routing from virtual speakers.

The influence of HRTF focus is more evident when the Ambience is 0% and less noticeable when the Ambience is 100% because more diffuse sound field signal is added by the room simulation.

If you hear any unexpected colouring of the sound, we recommend reducing the value until you hear your target sound without colouring.
Speaker Simulation
Speaker Simulation is a module that represents the on-axis and off-axis frequency response effects of true loudspeaker reproduction.
Speaker Selection
The Speaker Selection parameter allows you to apply the frequency response of the selected speaker set to your monitoring. It helps to estimate how the mix would sound on different systems with their own specific tonal properties.

The drop-down menu contains the currently available options for selection.

Room Speakers – Corresponds to the exact reproduction of frequency responses captured from the speaker systems used in the selected room.

Subwoofer Boost – Low-frequency boost that is typical of systems with powerful subwoofers.

Hi-Fi – Provides more fidelity in low and high frequency ranges along with a relaxing of hearing. It is used to highlight the elements that are inconspicuous with linear frequency response and helps to identify an excess or lack of low and high frequencies in the mix as well as to assess how your mix would sound on hi-fi home appliances.
This is recommended for audiophiles to provide comfortable listening of favourite recordings.

Lo-Fi – Designed to focus attention on unpleasant sounding mid-range elements of the mix. It lowers the fidelity at low and high frequencies and decreases the comfort of hearing.

Japanese 7'' Classic – The frequency response of the legendary Japanese near field monitors with white woofers, which could be found in almost every recording studio in the '80s and '90s. These monitors have been discontinued since 2001 but are still of interest to many sound engineers. They have a rise in the mid frequencies that reveals important details of the mix in this range.

American 4.25'' Cubes – The frequency response of American single-band compact monitors in a closed cubic package. They were very popular in the '70s and '80s. Designed to test how the mix would sound on real equipment, with huge limitations on the frequency response.

Multimedia Modern – The frequency response of typical multimedia speakers. This will help to estimate how your mix would sound on household multimedia equipment with medium resolution.

Japanese 5'' Modern – The frequency response of modern bi-amplified Japanese near field monitors with 5" drivers.

Japanese 7'' Modern – The frequency response of the modern bi-amplified Japanese near field monitors with 7" drivers.

Japanese 8'' Modern – The frequency response of modern bi-amplified Japanese near field monitors with 8" drivers.

British Broadcasting Classic – The frequency response of the legendary small British near field loudspeakers designed in the 1970s by the well-known broadcasting company for use by outside broadcast vans to ensure the quality of their broadcasts. They were widely acknowledged thanks to their transparent and natural sound.

Speaker Response
The Speaker Response parameter allows you to control the degree of processing applied to achieve the frequency response of the selected speakers.

Setting it to 0% will lead to flat on-axis frequency response, without taking into consideration the selected speakers characteristics, while 100% will adapt it to the frequency response of the selected speaker system.
Density
Density is a simulation of low-frequency body vibration, which is missing during headphones reproduction. The psychoacoustic harmonic generator injects bass vibration that helps to re-create some of the genuine feeling. It allows for more accurate perception of the level and dynamics of low-frequency components in the mix.

We recommend using a value of 100%, but you can adjust the value to your own preference of perception.
Warmth
The Warmth parameter controls the tonal variations in speaker sound that occurs due to the impact of room reflections and off-axis frequency response.

In real room conditions, the frequency balance of speaker systems shifts towards the low and medium range and high frequencies decrease. This occurs in all rooms and is perceived by the ear as a natural effect applied on the sound, which subjectively makes it warmer, softer and deeper.

The frequency colouring of Warmth varies depending on the Room Selection. This parameter affects the sound regardless of the setting applied on the Ambience slider. It allows for separate control of the tonal balance variations and the amount of reflections.

Setting Warmth to 100% will correspond to the actual measured impact of room reflections, while 0% will eliminate it, leading to a flat frequency response.

The default value recommended for balanced sound is 50%.

You can adjust this parameter to suit your own perception.
Tone Control
Tone Control is a three-band equaliser that allows for fine-tuning of the tonal balance.

Its algorithm uses the average common frequencies that influence tonal balance in different headphones models, based on numeric measurements. Tone Control implements a normalisation process to match the EQ input and output signal loudness for better EQ control.

Gain sliders are set to 0 dB by default; however, you can adjust them if you feel it is needed.
Monitoring Control
Monitoring Control consists of various options that will help to estimate the sound balance.
– in-phase / mono component of sound (Mid) solo
– anti-phase component of sound (Side) solo
– left channel solo
– right channel solo

– polarity inversion of the right channel
– switch to one virtual loudspeaker located in the centre
– swap right and left channels

– low frequency range selection (below 140 Hz)
– medium frequency range selection (140 to 8000 Hz)
– high frequency range selection(above 8000 Hz)

– allows for either solo or mute frequency range areas
Output Control
ATTENTION! Realphones increases peak signal levels! To avoid distortion, make sure the output level does not reach the red zone and the limiter does not actuate. Use the Output Level control to decrease the signal level if you experience an overload.

Limiter – Enables/disables the output limiter for overload protection. Operation of the Limiter may distort the dynamics of the input audio. We recommend avoiding overload at the output signal for precise control of dynamics!

Red Column – Indicates the relative level of the Limiter's gain reduction.

Peak Level Indicator – Shows the maximum measured peak level of the output signal.

It will indicate the overload regardless of whether the Limiter is on or off. The Peak Level Indicator will display the maximum output level or the maximum gain reduction level of the Limiter since the last indicator reset. Click it to reset.

Overolad Trim

Overload Trim – Allows you to lower the output level and avoid overload if the peak signal exceeds a 0dB value.

Just click the button to lower the Output Level by the current value of the Peak Level Indicator.

Output Level – Regulates the output level of the signal.

Balance – Changes the balance between the left and right channels.
Snapshots
Snapshots – Provides access to five reassignable buttons where you can save up to five of your most frequently used settings for one-click access.

To assign a Snapshot button, right click on the desired snapshot and select the "Take Snapshot" option.

Your current settings will be saved for future quick access.
The same procedure should be used for rewriting an existing Snapshot if you need to modify your frequently used states of control.

To clean up your Snapshot settings, select the "Remove Snapshot" option.

You can assign and recall any of the five available Snapshots.
Snapshots are stored in global settings and do not depend on the current DAW project.
Bypass Processing
The Bypass Processing button is used to bypass the main correction and simulation process; however, it does not bypass monitoring control or the output module.

In order to bypass all Realphones processing, use the dedicated function in your DAW.
Service Area

Zoom* – Allows you to resize the Realphones window for better accessibility. It may be most comfortable to downsize it while mastering, when the plug-in is used in a grid with few other processing plug-ins, and upsize it for screens with high resolutions.

*Currently, this function is not available to Ableton users due to architecture restrictions.

Presets – selection of Factory and User presets that can be applied to load the Realphones settings. Factory presets contain options for different scenarios provided by the Realphones developers. You can modify them and save as custom presets if needed.

The User presets tab is used to save and upload your own Realphones settings.

Warnings – Notification tab that appears in case something requires your attention (e.g. activation is required, trial period expiration).

Licence – displays information about your licence, enabled correction profiles and your hardware identification number (HWID).

Use this tab for the online or offline activation process.

Help – Access to the Realphones User Guide.
Stand-Alone Application Controls
The Realphones stand-alone application has some extra features that are not available in DAW plug-in mode.
Settings – Guides you to the Audio settings, where you can select your input and output devices and adjust buffer length (applicable for the stand-alone application).
Audio Player – allows you to load your soundtrack for playback with Realphones sound processing.

Supported formats: .wav, .mp3, .flac.
The dSONIQ team wishes you success in your creative work!

We will continue to do our best to help you achieve the best control over your sound!