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Positive Feedback ISSUE 76
november/december 2014


The Neoteric Listener... Out of Your Head Software and the AnnaLyric DPC-2 Power Cord
by Dean Seislove


Our entire hobby is predicated on the contradiction of music reproduction, and one chord strummed live shatters the illusion of high end. But the joy I get from headphone listening, the main system, my car audio (even my Sports Walkman cassette player!) is very real and, often, equal in intensity. I say, leave the audio trophies aside and just have fun building various systems for different purposes, adding novelty and refinements along the way. To that end, two exciting new audio products have come my way to offer splendid avenues for achieving enhanced audio enjoyment.

Out of Your Head Software

This inspired and ingenious software package strives to be an Aladdin's lamp for making audio treasures appear at the tap of a touchscreen. The concept is simple: accurately record and measure the finest speakers playing in expertly designed rooms; then, write the code that faithfully replicates the experience for the headphone listener. The use of actual recordings, as opposed to synthesized speaker "voicings" used by other DSP software programs, separates Out of Your Head (OOYH) from the pack. You can listen to music or watch a movie in full 7.1 surround, assured that every effort has been taken to provide reference room/speaker combinations of the highest quality.

And what speakers! Acapella, Marten, Focal, Acoustic Zen, and Quad are just a few of the many instantly recognizable names in the software's line up. Prefer your own existing home theater or stereo system? OOYH can measure and replicate that, as well. The user purchases a license for $149, which includes one speaker preset. Additional presets are $25 each. This totals $679, but if you buy all 23 presets, you can have it for $475.30. Here are the current offerings from the website:

1. Acoustic Zen Crescendo Speakers ($16,000/pair MSRP). A 7.1 configuration. Ribbon tweeters and dynamic mids and woofers.

2. Magico Q3 Speakers ($39,000/pair). 7.1 configuration. They are made of aluminum instead of wood. Some think are the best sounding speakers in the world. These speakers are in a dealer's showroom.

3. Genelec Recording Studio - A high end recording studio with Genelec speakers in a 7.1 speaker configuration

4. The Egyptian Theater. This preset reproduces the sound as if you were sitting in the middle of the Egyptian Movie Theater in Los Angeles., California. This is a 5.1 speaker configuration.

5. Home Theater - A high end 7.1 home theater system in a private home.

6. Sonus Faber Elipsa Speakers ($12,000/pair) Elipsa speakers in a dealer's listening room. This is a 7.1 configuration.

7. AIX Recording Studio. This preset was made at the AIX Recording Studio in Los Angeles, California. AIX specializes in audiophile multi-channel recordings.

8. Focal Scala Utopian Speakers ($29,950/pair). They are a flagship, floor standing speaker. This is a 7.1 configuration.

9. Wilson Audio Sasha W/P ($29,000/pair). Amazing floor standing dynamic speakers in a 2.0 channel configuration

10. Prototype Ribbon Speakers. Full range ribbon speakers. These are prototype speakers which are still in the experimental stage. 7.1 configuration

11. Cello Stradivari Premiere Speakers ($18,000/pair). Originally designed and built by Mark Levinson. 7.1 configuration

12. Acapella Spharon ($325,000/pair). They have two huge horns for the tweeter and mid range. The bass has four 15inch woofers per channel. The speakers are 7.5 feet tall and weigh 1,364 pounds each!

13. Mi Casa Recording Studio. This preset was recorded at the Mi Casa Multimedia recording studios in Los Angeles, CA. This studio has Genelec speakers in a 7.1 configuration.

14. Quad ESL Speakers. The legendary Quad ESL electrostatic panel speakers. This preset is 2.0 channels and is great for critical music listening.

15. Magnepan Mini Maggie Speakers. This 2 channel preset has two small desktop electrostatic speakers known as "Mini Maggies" with a subwoofer to handle the low end.

16. Revel Ultima Studio Speakers. a private home with a pair of Revel Ultima Studio speakers. 7.1 speaker configuration.

17. Acoustic Zen: Adagio Speakers Experimental. Prototype speakers based on the Acoustic Zen Adagio Jr. speakers, but they are MUCH better. 7.1 speaker configuration.

18. Marten Coltrane Momento Speakers ($165,000/pair). Dynamic spakers with wood and carbon fiber body. It has four 9-inch ceramic woofers, four 9-inch passive radiators and one 7-inch ceramic midrange driver and a 1-inch diamond tweeter.

19. Acapella Triolon Excalibur MK V Speakers ($175,000/pair). Two subwoofer towers, each with four 10-inch subwoofers, two 31-inch horns, two 19-inch horns, and ion tweeter. The speakers are 7 feet tall and weigh 880 pounds each! 7.1 channel configuration.

20. Acoustic Zen Maestro Speakers ($43,000/pair). a 7.1 configuration. Ribbon tweeters and dynamic mids and woofers. Their top of the line speaker. ($36,000 pr.).

21. Technicolor Studios. This is a mixing room at Technicolor Studios in Hollywood. This is the sound the engineers hear when mixing some of your favorite movies. An incredible sounding room. This is a 5.1 configuration.

22. Volti Audio Vittora Speakers ($25,000/pair). Amazing hi-efficiency horn speakers. Hand crafted wood construction. 7.1 configuration. Go to for more information.

23. PBN Audio Sammy Speakers ($30,000/pair). From their "Innerchoic" line of speakers in a 7.1 configuration. Two 10" woofers; Dual 4" mid-range drivers; 1" ultra-low distortion dome tweeter.

And more speaker presets to come. So, can you really get nearly two hundred grand's worth of speakers in your ears for $149? C'mon, now, this is software––not a lottery win! But what the software will do is provide a really fine impression of these famous speakers within the confines of your headphones. The software is designed for headphone listening. Only. Still...being the imprudently curious type, I ran it out to the DAC in the main system anyway to see what would happen. Nothing exploded, but I was chagrined to discover that my Nola Contender loudspeakers did not suddenly turn into a pair of Magicos. Ok, it's not for the main system, and the laws of physics guarantees that the speaker presets will not sound exactly the same in your headphones as hearing the speakers at an audio show, for example. When using the software as designed, however, I was pleased no end with the sound of the speaker presets. Having got that out of the way, there are many things that make OOYH a sure winner for the right purchaser.

First of all, say goodbye to a flat, linear soundstage. OOYH strives to give you the speakers, the room, and the reverberations of the recording source. Prior to the review, I had my reservations, as I have a strong antipathy for most DSP programs. However, I was quickly seduced by OOYH's ability to breathe dimension and energy into many music favorites. In fact, when the software was turned off, I was surprised to recognize that traditional headphone listening puts the music uncomfortably right behind my eyeballs. Listening to the new high resolution release of John Lennon's Walls and Bridges, the OOYH software heightened the moody atmosphere of "Steel and Glass." The same can be said for Nickel Creek's lovely "Christmas Eve," which sounded superb through the Acapella Speakers preset.

Now, this may not be the same thing as having all that spherical horn tonnage in my shack, but it sounds pretty terrific, all the same. Listening to Jamie Cullum's recording of "These Are the Days" via the Revel Ultima preset was such a thrilling recreation of an already stellar live recording, I started zipping through my favorite live concert tunes. Listening to the Rolling Stones' "If You Can't Rock Me/Get Off My Cloud" from "Love You Live" was so convincing, I nearly pulled down the whole headphone rig, mid-boogie! Naturally, some songs pair better with the OOYH treatment than others, and I definitely prefer some speaker presets to others (the Acoustic Zen, Italian Speakers, and Volti Vittora were among my favorites). I suspect that, like me, you won't always use OOYH, but there will be many moments when you'll be really happy it's there.

Watching movies in full surround with world-class speaker presets, for example, makes doing the laundry or traveling much less onerous. After watching the impeccable Criterion Collection release of Hard Day's Night via the Technicolor Studios preset, I thought of the many 5.1 Blu-rays and SACDs I'd collected for the time when I finally had the grand home theatre room. I realized that I no longer needed to wait. The value of having the opportunity to play 5.1 mixes from Genesis and Ray Charles in a virtual suite of excellent rooms filled with high end speakers cannot be overstated. Making the rounds in tow with the ADL X1 headphone amp/DAC and a pair of MrSpeakers Mad Dog Pro headphones (review forthcoming), you can well appreciate how sweet it was to sashay with some Sashas while the others suffered the Beats Street blues. OOYH is simply fun to use for all kinds of listening situations. Well worth the money!

The huge crowd that surrounds the OOYH table at headphone and audio events demonstrates that the popularity of the variety of sounds and applications on offer. Undoubtedly, some people may not like this software at all, and OOYH wisely recognizes this fact by practically requiring folks to use a free trial to experiment with the software and its various speaker presets. Fortunately, OOYH is compatible with both Windows and Mac. There are no refunds on presets, so listen carefully and buy the ones you'll really use. Unlike some audio purchases that require golden ears (or a leap of faith), there's never a doubt about what you're getting for your money with the Out of Your Head surround sound software program. The software demands your attention like a five hundred pound speaker and is as understated as an eight foot horn. Out of Your Head and into your cans is a great place to be.

The AnnaLyric DPC-2 Digital Power Cord

OOYH expands your audio experience; the AnnaLyric DPC-2 Digital Power Cord makes it better. Most of us are familiar with the benefits that upscale power cords and cables can produce in a main system, but these upgrades can have an even greater impact in a premium headphone system. For a number of reasons, headphone products are a quirky lot, so tweaks and DIY mods often reap huge sonic improvements. AnnaLyric sells direct, and $600 a meter is relatively inexpensive by mainstream audiophile standards. Still, it costs just a little more than my Schiit Bifrost Uber DAC itself, so is the additional expense justified by the results?

This is what I observed: My review system (Covalent-Audio Nucleus and, alternately, Schiit Lyr 2 headphone amp, Schiit Bifrost Uber DAC, MrSpeakers Mad Dog Pros Headphones), became noticeably quieter and clearer when the Bifrost power cord was replaced by the AnnaLyric DPC-2. Clarity increased and extraneous noise diminished, revealing more of the music. In all, the system appeared to work more efficiently and purposefully, as if a "glare" had been removed. Listening to Calexico's "Don Gilberto," the percussion instrument accents gained immediacy and texture. The opening guitar chords on Maxwell's "Possum" filled a quieter space than before, and his wonderful voice gained a touch more warmth and, hence, expressiveness. The nearly inexhaustible plucks, blasts, and groans of the "Polyphonie X for 18 Instruments" emerged from their hiding places. The whimsy and lift in Martin Sexton's voice in "Diggin' Me" was charmingly on view. Now, I'm not sure if the power cord expanded the openness of the sonic presentation, or if it just seemed that way because the music no longer competed with background hiss, but the system as a whole seemed to work more effortlessly.

Similar improvements occurred when using the AnnaLyric cord with other DACs and CD players, which brings me back to the original question: Is it worth it? To answer, let me say that the improvement in sound produced by the DPC-2 digital power cord is immediately discernible. You don't need the golden ears of my editor, Dave Clark (who once walked into a noisy room filled with people and instantly detected that a pair of speakers he had never heard before were out of phase), to appreciate how the AnnaLyric refines the sound. All this sonic excellence does not come cheaply or easily, of course, and AnnaLyric's website is understandably reluctant to divulge specific materials or manufacturing details. Still, even the casual observer can appreciate the workmanship and expensive appearance of the DPC-2. AnnaLyric does reveal that much of the success of this power cord owes to the insulation that is designed to transmit power efficiently while simultaneously reducing smearing that may hamper the system's sound. The conductors for the DPC-2 are stranded, multi-gauged type, and the shielding is said to effectively reject EMI/RFI interference.

The finished product is a solid, attractive product that appears to provide solid value for the money. A power cord of this quality is an investment in increased performance for your current needs and for digital sources still to come. The AnnaLyric DPC-2 is a digital power cord suitable for the main system, and could be a lifetime staple for any high end headphone system. For those who are looking for a sonic boost, this cord delivers, and for those attempting to build a destination system one piece at a time, the DPC-2 is well worth your consideration.

One product treats you to a world-class cabaret show, the other gets the crowd in the jazz club to shut up and listen. Two very different goals, but both resulting in a wonderful treat for the discerning listener.

Out of Your Head Software
Retail: $149 for software license and one speaker preset. $25 for each additional preset.

Annalyric DPC-2 Digital Power Cord
Retail: $600 per 1m