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SPL Phonitor Headphone Monitoring Amplifier

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SPL Phonitor Headphone Monitoring Amplifier

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Quick Overview

The Phonitor is available in two versions: silver front panel with handles (model 2730) black front panel without handles (model 2731)The Phonitor design is our high-end interpretation f...

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The Phonitor is available in two versions:

  • silver front panel with handles (model 2730)
  • black front panel without handles (model 2731)

The Phonitor design is our high-end interpretation for what a complete headphone amplifier should be. A well chosen system of Phonitor and headphones can by and large replace loudspeakers and offers all that is required for a successful session long listening periods without ear fatigue.

We therefore refer to the Phonitor as a headphone monitoring amplifier.

The basis for this high-end development is our proven 120 volts reference technology based on handmade operation amplifiers. 120 volts corresponds to approximately four times the performance of standard analogue audio semiconductor technologies and twice that of the most powerful designs. Through such 120 volts circuitry and processing we reach performance levels far beyond conventional designs in dynamic range and distortion levels, and the main technical specifications in music reproduction exceeds all known analogue or digital standards.

Set up your own monitor sound and take it everywhere.

In addition to its standard monitoring functions the Phonitor offers new controls such as “Crossfeed“, “Speaker Angle“ and “Center Level“. These are the essential parameters that create the width, balance and overall space within a listening field and how we recognize them coming from the loudspeaker. Crossfeed simulates the frequency dependent interaural level differences from both channels. Speaker Angle determines the stereo width caused by frequency dependent interaural time differences. Center Level regulates the balance between phantom centre and L/R stereo signals.

Why Headphones?

There is more than meets the eye in working with headphones. For example the  modern audio production is often a decentralized process, maybe recording and track laying in one studio and mixing in another and as a result a production often take place in acoustically questionable rooms. In such circumstances, a mix might occur in an acoustically deficient ambiance (for example, in an extremely modal room), and employing headphones then begins to make sense when a successful mix would otherwise turn out to be impossible.

But another fact is that many musicians or producers might wish to – or be able to – mix at home (to say nothing of having to). Then the headphone becomes a clear must, enabling an evening or late night session that can only take place thanks to its being unhindered by the local acoustic environment.

All Advantages For Headphones

As many already know, there are clear advantages to monitoring and mixing with headphones, but there are also a couple of disadvantages. The main one being that it is very difficult (if not impossible) to accurately judge room ambience.

Therefore, several years ago SPL began planning the development of a compact, professional headphone amplifier design based on its 120 volt technology. The inspiration came from project manager Hermann Gier‘s desire to eliminate major disadvantages in working with headphones. It therefore meant transferring the essential ambient parameters of loudspeaker monitoring to headphone monitoring.

After several years of development and painstaking optimization, SPL have now introduced the Phonitor, whose name is a derivative of “Headphone“ and “Monitor“.

With and Without Magnifiers

The Phonitor encompasses the advantages of both kinds of monitoring methods: On one hand the analytical headphone monitoring is like working with an acoustic magnifier but without external room influences; on the other hand, as with loudspeaker monitoring, forgoing the microscopic effect, but with room ambiance.

Working with the magnifier effect on headphones has the advantage of safely hearing clicks or similar defects and helps in fine tuning crossfades or to judge tonal problems in individual tracks.

On loudspeakers such analysis is much more difficult, as such problems just are not as apparent as when working without being able to “zoom in” aurally.

Conversely, loudspeakers provide monitoring with the advantage of spatial balance in a (definable through placement) stereo width, which in turn provides the illusion of an acoustic stage.

Traditional headphone reproduction produces 180-degree stereo width in the middle of the head, and it is exactly this which creates the very problematic-to-impossible headphone mixing environment. An essential reason for such unnatural ambiance is the complete separation of the channels, which does not exist either in natural hearing or in stereo loudspeaker reproduction. This makes it nearly impossible to judge tonal balance, a stereo image and the phantom centre level. Panorama adjustments as well as related EQ settings that one attempts with headphones, typically just do not function on loudspeakers.

Moreover, what is often called the “super stereo effect” with headphones usually creates a great deal of ear fatigue in the long run. Over loudspeakers the sound stage is felt in front, while in contrast, when monitoring through headphones, the stage is present on the left and on the right – but frontal and rear information is lost.