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Measurement and processing of binaural impulse responses for personalized surround virtualization on headphones.
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Impulcifer is a tool for creating head related impulse responses (HRIR) for speaker virtualization on headphones.

Normally headphones sound inside your head which is a clear disadvantage for games and movies but also for music because basically all material has been created for speakers. Virtual surround technologies for headphones have existed for a some time by now but almost all of them fail to fulfill expectations of out of head sound localization and the naturalness of speakers. This is because your brains have learned to localize sounds only with your ears and head and not with anyone else's. Surround sound on headphones can only be convincing when the surround virtualization technology has been tailored for your ears. HRIR is the tailored model for supreme virtual speaker surround on headphones. When done right virtualized speakers can be indistinguishable from real speakers.

Watch these videos to get an idea what good HRIRs can do. The method used by Smyth Realizer and Creative Super X-Fi demos is the same what Impulcifer uses.

These demos are trying to make headphones sound as much as possible like the speakers they have in the demo room for a good wow effect. Impulcifer actually takes this even further because Impulcifer can do measurements with only one speaker so you don't need access to surround speaker setup and can do room acoustic corrections which are normally not possible in real rooms with DSP.


Impulcifer is used from a command line and requires some prerequisites. These installation instructions will guide you through installing everything that is needed to run Impulcifer on you own PC.

  • Download and install Git: When installing Git on Windows, use Windows SSL verification instead of Open SSL or you might run into problems when installing project dependencies.
  • Download and install 64-bit Python3. Make sure to check Add Python 3 to PATH.

Rest will be done in terminal / command prompt. On Windows you'll find it by searching cmd in Start menu. You should be able to simply copy and paste in these commands.

  • Install virtualenv.
pip install virtualenv
  • Git clone Impulcifer. This will create a folder in your home folder called Impulcifer.
git clone
  • Go to Impulcifer folder.
cd Implucifer
  • Create virtual environment for the project.
virtualenv venv
  • Activate virtualenv.
# On Windows
# On Mac and Linux
source venv/bin/activate
  • Install required packages.
pip install -r requirements.txt
  • Verify installation. You should see help printed if everything went well.
python --help

When coming back at a later time you'll only need to activate virtual environment again before using Impulcifer.

cd Implucifer
# On Windows
# On Mac and Linux
source venv/bin/activate

Impulcifer is under active development and updates quite frequently. You can update your own copy by running:

git pull


The actual HRIR measurements require a little investment in measurement gear and the chances are that you're here before you have acquired them. There is a demo available for testing out Impulcifer without having to do the actual measurements. data/demo folder contains five measurement files which are needed for running Impulcifer. headphones.wav has the sine sweep recordings done with headphones and all the rest files are recordings done with stereo speakers in multiple stages.

You can try out what Impulcifer does by running:

python --test_signal=data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl --dir_path=data/demo 

Impulcifer will now process the measurements and produce hrir.wav and hesuvi.wav which can be used with headphone speaker virtualization software such as HeSuVi to make headphones sound like speakers in a room. When testing with HeSuVi copy hesuvi.wav into C:\Program Files\Equalizer APO\config\Hesuvi\hrir, (re)start HeSuVi and select hesuvi.wav from the Common HRIRs list on Virtualization tab.


HRIR measurements are done with binaural microphones which are also called ear canal blocking microphones or in-ear microphones. Exponential sine sweep test signal is played on speakers and the sound is recorded with the microphones at ear canal openings. This setup ensures that the sound measured by the microphones is affected by the room, your body, head and ears just like it is when listening to music playing on speakers. Impulcifer will then transform these recordings into impulse responses, one per each speaker-ear pair.

Guide for doing the measurements yourself and comments about the gear needed to do it can be found in measurements page of Impulcifer wiki. The whole process is really quite simple and doesn't take more than couple of minutes. Reading through the measurement guide is most strongly recommended when doing measurements the first time or using a different speaker configuration the first time.

Following is a quick reference for running the measurements once you're familiar with the process. If you always use my_hrir as the temporary folder and rename it after the processing has been done, you don't have to change the following commands at all and you can simply copy-paste them for super quick process.

7.1 Speaker Setup

Steps and commands for doing measurements with 7.1 surround system:

  • Put microphones in ears, put headphones on and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/headphones.wav"
  • Take heaphones off, look forward and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FC,FR,SR,BR,BL,SL-7.1-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FL,FC,FR,SR,BR,BL,SL.wav"
  • Process recordings
python --test_signal="data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl" --dir_path="data/my_hrir"

Stereo Speaker Setup

Steps and commands for doing measurements with two speakers in four stages:

  • Put microphones in ears, put headphones on and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/headphones.wav"
  • Take heaphones off, look forward and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FL,FR.wav"
  • Look 120 degrees left (left speaker should be on your right) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/SR,BR.wav"
  • Look 120 degrees right (right speaker should be on your left) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/BL,SL.wav"
  • Look directly at the left (or right) speaker and run either one of these commands
# Using left speaker 
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FC.wav"
# Using right speaker 
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FC.wav"
  • Process recordings
python --test_signal="data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl" --dir_path="data/my_hrir" 

Single Speaker

Steps and command for doing measurements with just a single speaker in 7 steps. All speaker measurements use either sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav or sweep-seg-FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav depending if the speaker is connected to left or right cable terminals in the amplifier. This commands assume the speaker is connected to left speaker terminals.

  • Put microphones in ears, put headphones on and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL,FR-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/headphones.wav"
  • Look 30 degrees right of the speaker (speaker on your front left) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FL.wav"
  • Look directly at the speaker and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FC.wav"
  • Look 30 degrees left of the speaker (speaker on you front right) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/FR.wav"
  • Look 90 degrees left of the speaker (speaker on your right) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/SR.wav"
  • Look 150 degrees left of the speaker (speaker on your back right) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/BR.wav"
  • Look 150 degrees right of the speaker (speaker on you back left) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/BL.wav"
  • Look 90 degrees right of the speaker (speaker on your left) and run
python --play="data/sweep-seg-FL-stereo-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.wav" --record="data/my_hrir/SL.wav"
  • Process recordings
python --test_signal="data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl" --dir_path="data/my_hrir"


Once you have obtained the sine sweep recordings, you can turn them into a HRIR file with Impulcifer. All the processing is done by running a single command on command line. The command below assumes you have made a speaker recording and a headphones recording and saved the recording files into data/my_hrir folder. Start command prompt, jump to Impulcifer folder and activate the virtual environment as described in the installation instructions if you don't have command prompt open yet. Sine sweep recordings are processed by running with Python as shown below.

python --test_signal="data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl" --dir_path="data/my_hrir" --plot

You should have several WAV files and graphs in the folder. hesuvi.wav can now be used with HeSuVi to make your headphones sound like speakers. Let's see what these arguments mean.

--dir_path=data/my_hrir tells Impulcifer that the recordings can be found in a folder called my_hrir under data. Impulcifer will also write all the output files into this folder.

--test_signal=data/sweep-6.15s-48000Hz-32bit-2.93Hz-24000Hz.pkl tells Impulcifer that the inverse filter for deconvolution is this Pickle file. Alternative way is to provide a WAV file of the test signal and Impulcifer will load the file and construct inverse filter from the test signal. Inverse filter is used to turn sine sweep recordings into impulse responses. Seconds, bits, and Hertzes in the file name are actually not important and the file name can be anything. --test argument doesn't need to be supplied if the folder contains a file called test.pkl or test.wav.

Various graphs can be produced by providing --plot parameter to Impulcifer. These can be helpful in figuring out what went wrong if the produced HRIR doesn't sound right. Producing the plots will take some time.

Sine sweep recordings are read from WAV files which have channel names separated with commas and .wav extension eg. FL,FR.wav. The individual speakers in the given file must recorded in the order of the speaker names in the file name. There can be multiple files if the recording was done with multiple steps as is the case when recording 7.1 setup with two speakers. In that case there should be FL,FR.wav, SR,BR.wav, BL,SL.wav and FC.wav files in the folder.

Impulcifer will compensate for the headphone frequency response using headphone sine sweep recording if the folder contains file called headphones.wav. If you have the file but would like not to have headphone compensation, you can simply rename the file for example as headphones.wav.bak and run the command again.

Headphone equalization can be baked into the produced HRIR file by having a file called eq.wav in the folder. The eq file must be a WAV file containing one or two FIR filter tracks. When there are two tracks in the file the first track is used for left side of the headphone and the second for the right side of the headphone. With a single track the both sides use the same equalization. Headphone equalization is useful for in-ear monitors because it's not possible to do headphone compensation with IEMs. When using IEMS you still need an around ear headphone for the headphone compensation.

The way to do this is to create an equalization FIR filter which makes the IEM sound like the around ear headphone and saving this FIR filter into the folder as eq.wav. Impulcifer will then bake the frequency response transformation into the HRIR and you can enjoy speaker sound with your IEMs. You can generate this filter with AutoEQ, see usage instructions for using sound signatures to learn how to transfer one headphone into another.


Issues are the way to go if you are experiencing problems, have ideas or if there is something unclear about how things are done or documented.

You can find me in Reddit and Head-fi if you just want to say hello.

There is also a Head-fi thread about Impulcifer.

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