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dSONIQ Realphones 2

Headphone Correction & Virtual Studio Software By Sam Inglis
Published April 2024

dSONIQ Realphones 2

Realphones’ sophisticated headphone tuning is now paired with an ever‑growing array of virtual monitoring environments.

There are two main strands to dSONIQ’s Realphones. It applies measurement‑based frequency correction to headphones, and offers binaural simulation of real‑world listening environments. Since I first covered it back in SOS July 2020, it has continued to evolve. The 1.7 update, reviewed in August 2021, focused on the user experience, introducing an Easy Mode which hid obscure parameters such as headphone Pressure and HRTF Angle. It’s now reached version 2, and the main area of development has been the virtual monitoring side of things.

Realphones is installed on macOS or Windows both in native plug‑in formats and as a ‘systemwide’ application. As before, there are three pricing tiers depending on how many headphone profiles and virtual monitoring environments you want access to. The cheapest Standard edition only supports Easy mode, thus omitting most of the detailed control options.

Version 2 has brought with it a change of colour scheme, but the user interface is otherwise broadly the same. That includes Easy Mode, as well as the slightly confusing dual system of conventional presets and Snapshots within Emulation Sets. This would perhaps benefit from being consolidated into a single framework, but it’s easy enough to work with once you’ve located the Lock Parameters options that prevent headphone type and output volume being reset each time you load a Snapshot.

The library of headphone measurements has grown steadily since v1, and in the Professional and Ultimate editions, it’s now possible to roll your own, or add custom ‘tuning’ comprising up to 14 EQ bands. You can also send your personal headphones in for individual measurement, and if you have Sonarworks Reference or Toneboosters Morphit, you can use a Recalibrate profile to ‘sniff’ headphone profiles from those programs.

In v1, the virtual spaces available were a single control room, a nightclub and a car interior. These have now been joined, depending on the edition, by a whole host of other speakers and rooms, and dSONIQ say they’ve substantially improved the realism of all the virtualisations. Disregarding the older ones, which are still included as legacy options, there are now around 50 speaker‑plus‑room combinations in the full set. That includes four ‘pro’ studios with near, mid and far‑field options and more, plus a home studio, a concert hall, nightclubs and a restaurant, and a large number of domestic playback systems: mobile phones, TVs, laptops, Bluetooth speakers and cars.

I several times had the disconcerting feeling of ‘Oh no, my headphones aren’t plugged in and everyone can hear my laptop speakers!’

Back In The Room

Where it’s possible to switch between legacy and new virtualisations, there’s generally a clear difference, presumably in part because the new measurements were taken at slightly different points within the room or car. I’d be hard put to say which sound ‘better’ in terms of being more pleasurable to listen to, but the new ones definitely give you a more convincing sense of being present in the space. That sensation is particularly vivid with some of the consumer playback systems, and I several times had the disconcerting feeling of “Oh no, my headphones aren’t plugged in and everyone can hear my laptop speakers!”

As with previous versions, I found it well worth experimenting with Advanced Mode parameters such as headphone Presence, room Ambience and HRTF Angle to establish my own preferences. But once you’ve figured out how you like your virtual rooms served, you can pretty much leave these settings alone and get on with the business of mixing or checking translation. And for both purposes, I think Realphones is up there with the best of its kind.

Obvious competitors that offer similar virtual monitoring and mix‑checking features include Sonarworks Reference ID, Embody Immerse Virtual Studio and Slate VSX. VSX is tied to its own headphones, which adds to the cost but allows the software to be optimised for those phones. Of the others, Realphones is the most tweakable, which can be a double‑edged sword, but allows you to dial things in exactly as you like. A software‑only solution makes a lot of sense for those who already own a decent pair of cans, and Realphones 2.0 is as good as I’ve heard.


With highly configurable headphone calibration and a broad range of virtual monitoring and mix‑checking environments, this is a serious tool for headphone mixing.


Standard edition £85; Professional edition £131; Ultimate edition £191.

Standard edition $99; Professional edition $149; Ultimate edition $219.