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Focusrite VRM Box Headphone Monitoring System

Make mixing on headphones like mixing at Abbey Road!

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Description

Reviews

Focusrite have introduced a revolutionary new product which allows you to mix in a virtual studio environment when wearing headphones. The Focusrite VRM Box is an audio interface complete with software that creates the impulses which simulate a professional studio. You can choose between 10 sets of well-known, trusted studio monitors. The sound is emulated in an acoustically treated studio, or if you wish, an untreated room. The VRM has a selection of nearfield monitors as well as mains.

You can use any pair of headphones with the VRM box system. Thanks to Focusrite's painstaking research and digital modelling of the loudspeakers in the VRM box - the software will create accurate impulse responses which simulate the effect of the speakers, and the room, on your mix.

We think the VRM will revolutionise mixing on headphones. Many feel that the lack of room characteristics when wearing headphones, and the accentuated stereo field, make it difficult or impossible to create a great mix on headphones. The VRM has the potential to change that, and will mean that engineers will be able to mix anywhere, at any time of day with the full feeling of mixing in a room with a pair of speakers.

Here's what Focusrite say About the VRM Box Virtual Reference Monitoring

With VRM Box, you can mix in your studio, wherever you are. Pocket sized and built to last, VRM Box places Focusrite's proven and patent-pending VRM - Virtual Reference Monitoring - technology in a robust, palm-sized audio interface.

VRM overcomes the major obstacle for mixing with headphones by giving you multiple perspectives on your mix, as if you were listening through speakers. Indeed, noise levels from mixing through speakers can make it impossible for most to mix at home, especially late at night; with VRM, you can mix any time, anywhere. Using any pair of monitoring headphones, VRM lets you choose your mixing environment from a living room, a bedroom studio, or a professional studio. You then simply choose from a list of industry-standard studio monitors and speakers

VRM Box delivers audio quality worthy of your headphones. Boasting a dynamic range of 108dB, it provides a sound that's more precise, with lower distortion, than other low-cost audio interfaces, and far superior to built-in laptop headphone outputs.

VRM Box functions as a high-quality 24- bit/48kHz USB audio playback interface. So, whether you're mixing, creating music or simply listening to tracks, VRM Box is perfect. What's more, there's no need for a power supply or batteries, because it gets all the power it needs, with full audio quality, from your computer's USB port. VRM Box also features a digital (S/PDIF) input, which supports sample rates up to 192kHz. This allows you to run it in conjunction with your Pro Tools HD system, or any other interface with an S/PDIF output.

Virtual Reference Monitoring: The Problem

VRM (Virtual Reference Monitoring) is Focusrite's own loudspeaker & room simulator designed for headphone listening. Accurate mixing has until now, required expensive monitors and a carefully designed and treated control room. Currently, both professional music producers facing budgetary limitations and project music makers without access to such, frequently encounter mixing and "auditioning" difficulties.

The Solution

VRM allows you to choose from 10 pairs of industry standard nearfield and main monitors in an acoustically treated control room.

Engineers routinely A/B their mixes by burning CDs and taking them into untreated rooms to reference on consumer stereos. VRM eliminates this process by simulating two extra rooms; a large living room and a smaller bedroom. You can choose between a range of speakers including quality hi-fi, computer, cheap stereo and television speakers. As with the control room simulation, you can select between a number of listening positions to check stereo imaging and observe the effects of typical room modes on your mixes.

The Method

VRM Box uses standard headphones to reproduce the direct sound, together with a "Direct FX" DSP system that is used to simulate specific monitoring scenarios. VRM's room models are mathematical models which provide greater flexibility in the possible combinations of loudspeakers and listening positions. The loudspeaker simulations are created using convolutions of impulse responses measured using the original loudspeakers. The accuracy of these simulations in different environments is taken care of by the impulse responses themselves and the way they are calculated and manipulated.

Key Features

Mix in your studio, wherever you are. Focusrite's patent-pending and proven VRM - Virtual Reference Monitoring - technology, lets hear your mix in different environments, through different speakers and from different positions, just using headphones. Enhanced mathematical room models combine with speaker emulations, sampled using a unique dynamic convolution 'sampling' process.

Make the most of your headphones

With a dynamic range of 108dB (A-weighted), VRM Box provides a significant audio upgrade from low-grade laptop headphone outputs (which commonly only provide around 92 or 93dB), with an audio quality the equal of interfaces ten times its price.

Pocket sized and built to last

The compact size and robust build quality of VRM Box means it's ready to go anywhere, any time.
 
Pro Tools Native and HD friendly

VRM Box features a digital input, allowing you to run it alongside your Pro Tools HD interface, or any interface

Specifications

  • Headphone Outputs (Outputs 1-2)
  • Output impedance: < 10 
  • Power output into 150: 15mW
  • Power output into 50: 30mW
  • THD+N: -100dB (0.001%) (-1dBFS input, 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter, 150 load)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: > 105dB

S/PDIF Digital Input

  • Automatic Sample Rate conversion
  • Supported sample rates: continuous from 32kHz to 192kHz
  • THD+N: < -110dB any sample rate
     
    Crosstalk (Channel Isolation)
  • Any output to output: > 100dB
     
    DIGITAL PERFORMANCE
  • D/A Dynamic Range: 120dB (A-weighted)
  • Measured D/A Dynamic Range: 108dB (A-weighted)
  • Clock Source: Internal Clock only Clock jitter < 250 picoseconds
  • Supported Sample Rates: 44.1kHz & 48kHz
  • 2 input channels to computer: S/PDIF (2)
  • 2 output channels from computer: Headphones (2)
     
    Connectors and Controls
  • Stereo S/PDIF input on RCA
  • Stereo Headphone Output on 14" TRS
  • Headphone Output Level control (analogue)
  • 4-pin USB2.0 compatible socket
     
    Indicators
    1 Green LED Indicator:
    -   Flashing: Unit not installed correctly on host
    -   Off: VRM effects turned off
    -   On: VRM effects turned on
     
    Power
  • Bus power from USB bus
     
    Operating System Requirements Windows
  • XP (service pack 3), Vista, 7

Mac

  • OS X 10.5 Leopard (Intel only), OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
     
    Weight and Dimensions
  • Unboxed: 68mm x 25mm x 68mm (W x H x D)
  • Boxed: 155mm x 210mm x 75mm (W x H x D)
  • NetWeight: 123g
  • Gross Weight: 380g

    Anonymous review via Feefo | Purchase date: 09 August 2013
    Rating

    It takes a lot of setting up, though if you use the spdif socket it works straight off, however, I can't get it to work without a slight buzz.

    Alex | Purchase date: 17 April 2012
    Rating

    A really handy tool for checking your mixes on a variety of systems. The sounds seem remarkably authentic - when using the 'professional studio' monitors I often find myself taking my headphones off thinking I've left my real speakers on!

    Of course they are just simulations but they do reveal things in the mix which may not have been apparent on other systems, and it makes it easy to hear your mix in a variety of settings.

    It may not allow you to do away with monitors or checking it on stereos etc but it compliments these other referencing systems well.

    Mr Tom Gasgoigne | Purchase date: 10 June 2011
    Rating

    Does what it says it does. However, the range of monitors is limited. No 'high end' monitors, just what I would call project studio gear. However, for the price, it is worth having a look and comparing your mixes and ultimately the master. Not quite a five star piece of kit.

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