CES 2014 Show Highlight: BSG Technologies reveel Signal Completion Stage for Headphones

At last year's CES I spent maybe twenty minutes listening to the BSG Technologies q0l (pronounced "coal") Signal Completion Stage and walked away quite confused. Larry Kay's initial presentation on the technology had my skeptomometer pegged...but after listening I felt there was something very pleasing going on, and not in a subtle way. This is a very interesting product. At $2395 however, I was never going to get a chance for an extended audition at home and I promptly put it out of my head. But at this year's CES, BSG Technologies put it right back in my head with their new reveel, a portable headphone amp version of the q0l at only $119.

The company claims the product retrieves some phase information that is inaudible in normal stereo listening that when made audible "completes" the listening experience. From their web site:

bsg technologies has developed a method of retrieving sonic information from audio signals that provides a realistic and complete rendering of the original acoustic event. q0l is NOT a processor; it does not synthesize a signal or alter the natural sensory information in any way. Instead of "adding" a host of processing techniques intended to create "effects," we have simply found a way to extract information already present in recordings, but otherwise hidden in conventional reproduction. Our technology enables COMPLETE capture, transmission, and reproduction of such information, including elements that, until now, have remained hidden and buried in electronics, and unavailable to the listener. The result is an audio experience with fullness and richness beyond comparison and one which carries essentially all the dynamic, tonal, and spatial content of a real sonic event.

Normally I'd blow a big raspberry in its general direction and walk away from statements like that...but in this case I might very well be wrong for so doing. The process is completely analog and basically derives various sum and difference signals, inverts and/or delays them in phase, and then sums all the resultant signals back with the normal audio signal. From their patent US20110158413:

The objectives and advantage of the present invention may also be achieved through an audio signal reproduction method that involves, among other things, selecting a discrete signal source having left and right signal inputs, summing the left input signal and an inverted right input signal to produce a left-right difference signal, summing the right input signal and an inverted left input signal to produce a right-left difference signal, and summing the left and right input signals to produce a left+right summed signal. The method and circuit further involve adjusting the gain of the left+right summed signal, adjusting the gain of the left-right difference signal, and adjusting the gain of the right-left difference signal. Still further, the method and circuit involve summing the gain adjusted left+right summed signal and the gain adjusted left-right difference signal to produce a left audio output signal, where the ratio of the gains associated with the left+right summed signal and the left-right difference signal at least approximates the golden ratio [1 plus the square root of 5 divided by 2, or 1.618, equivalent to 4.18dB]. Similarly, the gain adjusted left+right summed signal and the gain adjusted right-left difference signal are summed to produce a right audio output signal, wherein the ratio of the gains associated with the left+right summed signal and the left-right difference signal at least approximates the golden ratio.

I'd suggest you have a read of the reviews in Stereophile, Absolute Sound, SoundStage, 6Moons, Parttimeaddict, and these two threads at What's Best Forum and DIYAudio for a deeper understanding. This type of thing has been done before, and there are ways of doing something similar for yourself at little or no cost, but with a finished product at $119 I think BSG Technologies is offering a very nice value with the reveel. A cool audio toy, for sure!

BSG Technologies home page and reveel home page.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

At this price I'd very much want to own one but I'm from europe, seems like there's no way to get it outside US atm? Any ideas about rest of the world availability?

mikeaj's picture

"Completion" and "golden ratio" etc. don't really seem rigorous or very convincing at all, but... actually, you may as well grab one of those stereo field processors instead.

ultrabike's picture

Thanks Tyll, the info provided is IMO much better than what I digged before.

That said, I feel the verbiage is sort of confusing. At least for me. For instance, the abstract of the patent describes to me a classic FIR like filter (replicas, additions, subtraction, phase, magnitudes, blah). However, it seems it's more than that. The claims and the blocks seem to describe embodiments of L and R channel analog crossfeeds (with filters here, there, and overthere)... and with a "golden ratio" target .

I honestly don't know how and if this would redeem "otherwise closed and concealed information contained in the audio signals", and much less remaster-matically "correct the recording". If it does, every audio and mastering engineer needs. to get. one.

Whatever it does, I can understand that purposedly, randomly, or golden-ratio-ly crossing channels may affect soundstage, and perhaps bring some pleasant (or unpleasant) coloration.

I suppose one could give it a try.

Willakan's picture

There's a very similar feature to this built into Rockbox: a set of signals (Same/Ldiff/Rdiff) is produced, and you can mix the same/different signals to tweak the soundstage. This seems to be that, but with a (faintly arbitrary) fixed amount of mixing and a healthy volume boost to make that difference clearer :D

Tyll Hertsens's picture

There's some heavy hitters around that think this thing is pretty cool. I've been listening to this one at home now some. Still haven't made my mind up, but for $119 it's an interesting audio experience. 

ultrabike's picture

Well, maybe this is indeed a pretty good gadget to have.

Jlle's picture

I'm using "qøl" in jRiver. Goolge to set up your computer / software player to use VST plugins.

Get the Voxengo MSED (32) VST plugin.

Set Side gain to 1.6 (18... = golden ratio). Leave the rest set to zero.

Set mode to Inline.

Example: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxMWMQcyjj6MNXVMUlZUYlY1Zk0/edit?usp=sharing

Done. Enjoy!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...what do you think?

anetode's picture

I revile their reveal cheeky

Shike's picture

I'm just taking a stab in the dark, but it sounds like the speaker q0l may be similar to Carver's Sonic Holography - possibly slightly more complex.  I'm not sure of the effect the q0l does, but I am familiar with ambiophonics which I quite enjoy.

However, in speakers it would be used to kill stereo speaker combing to increase soundstage.  I'm not sure how the tech would benefit a headphone amp . . .