Make your headphones sound like live music with this one simple tip!

Hi All,
Perhaps many of you will already be aware of these, but I discovered the following programs this morning and they have been an utter revelation, and if you haven’t tried them, would highly recommend, especially if you like the sound of live music and speakers:


These both add crossfeed as well as room simulation. I know crossfeed and dsp (and even equalizers) are controversial in some corners, but the sad fact is that a good many recordings were mastered on near field studio monitors for playback on speakers, so some recordings can sound utterly wrong on headphones - lacking in room reflection, hard panning, the trumpet playing in your teeth… I had been finding headphones particularly jarring, especially with 60s-70s Jazz recordings, and to a lesser degree with Classical music and some rock albums due to this. Some people might enjoy the ‘intimacy’ and ‘analytic’ closeness of headphones for this very reason, but if the ideal is to make it sound like you are at a Jazz club, without this sort of DSP headphones sound utterly artificial on many recordings, such as Mingus, Blues and Roots.

After applying these programs, listening to Brubeck, Mingus, and Coltrane is a joy and feels open, live, and far closer to the experience of listening in a club! I particularly like the Beyerdynamic plugin due to its simplicity (just choose one of four options - there are four buttons for ‘studio stereo,’ ‘studio 5.1,’ ‘car,’ and ‘large venue.’ The ‘stereo studio’ setting works very well for most Jazz, especially smaller bands, while ‘Big Venue’ works well for classical music.

That said, I found that Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus is far too peaky with the Beyerdynamic vst, and am currently using the Sennheiser vst to listen to that recording. The sennheiser vst is far more flexible and allows for not adjustment of your height, size of the venue, different walls, amount of reflection, etc.

NOTE: you will need a ‘host’ program to run the above vst plugins. There are some free options around (see, e.g., Process System Audio with Plugins (for FREE) AKA Systemwide without Sonarworks - YouTube) but I could not get the free Mac option to work for me, while I found that SoundSource was an excellent program which allows for multiple effects such as equalization, indeed includes built in Headphone eq for a whole host of headphones, allows for one to set volume for different apps, etc. in addition to allowing for use of AU and VST plugins.

ALSO NOTE: If the above plugins do not sound right to you —they can, apparently, work or not work depending on your ‘hrtf’ (= head-related transfer function) due to differences in ear shape, etc.— there are a whole slew of purchasable options which may work better. I did not like 'CanOpenener myself, but some find it excellent, and there is a free trial available here:

You could also try the following stand-alone program (does not require a host as it is not a plugin) called ‘out of your head’, which likewise has a free trial, and apparently allows one to model a whole variety of different speaker/equipment configurations, being based on live measurements with real speakers, available here:Out Of Your Head Software

Let me know if anyone has any questions, and I’ll be happy to help if I can!