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Summer NAMM: SPL Phonitor (video)

Monitoring Headphone Amplifier

SPL have a reputation for producing equipment that pushes the boundaries of technology. Take their Transient Designer, for example, which still remains one of the most innovative and versatile products on the market. Their latest release is the Phonitor, a headphone amplifier that has some unique features.

The company started developing the Phonitor with the aim of creating a product that would let users mix properly on headphones. Currently, with a standard headphone amp, the listener does not hear the same mixture of right and left channels as they do on studio monitors, as the two channels are separated to the extreme right and left. This leads to an inaccurate stereo field and bad mixes.

The Phonitor is different in that it has controls to vary numerous parameters of the sound. Its Crossfeed knob allows the user to alter the amount of left signal in the right monitor, and vice versa. A Speaker Angle control enables the Phonitor to simulate the angle of the speakers, between 15 and 75 degrees, while another knob allows you to change the level of the phantom centre channel, which is attenuated differently depending on the Crossfeed and Speaker Angle controls. A headphone amplifier wouldn't be complete without a main volume knob, and the Phonitor certainly doesn't disappoint, as you can see form the picture.

The device uses 120V circuitry, which SPL say allows it to achieve better dynamic range and distortion levels than products that use conventional, lower-power circuitry. As a result, the Phonitor has a frequency range of below 10Hz to over 200kHz (-3dB), which is impressive. The dynamic range of the system, when connected to a 600Ω load, is 129.5dB.

The manufacturers say that, apart from the benefit of being able to recreate the sound of a conventional monitoring system on headphones so you can mix late at night, for example, you can "set up your own monitor sound and take it everywhere", by mirroring the sound of your control room in the Phonitor and keeping the settings the same while you're on the go.

For further information about the Phonitor, visit SPL's web site and check out the video below.

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