There must be some physiological activity going on with the A8 box as I became somewhat accustomed to the effect over time. On first listen, the surround sound movie tracks sounded very similar to those at the movie theaters, embodying virtually every thing that irritates me about movie theatre surround sound. That is an impressive technical feat. But after listening over and over again the effect became less and less offensive. I had a long dream about some battle last night interestingly. Properly calibrated this might be a fun product for action movies.
The music also became less irritating over time. I suspect the "ear calibration" and "headphone calibration" are a lot more important for music. Can't tell because the music is pretty basic. The instruments and voices were placed in a 180 degree bowl in front of me, but most sound was near the ceiling even if I adjusted the position of the headphones. There was some kind of pinpoint placement of some instruments at certain frequencies, somewhat akin to that loudspeaker hologram box by Carver from the 80s. That is a neat trick but I have never heard that tight placement in nature or in a music hall. Real sounds are blended significantly more. Maybe the calibration sorts these issues out. Maybe there is a function to reduce this.
Some type of L-R mixing function is needed but I don't think we are quite there. That Carver box was fun for an hour but fatiguing. Lavry has a "portable" DAC-headphone with some L-R blending function which I prefer in the bypass mode (do not construe that as a criticism of the Lavry DAC-headphone function). The A8 is a different beast. Maybe I'll give it a try at the local dealer this month for fun.
I listened to these files for two (2!) hours last night. Over and over again. Don't ask why. The choice of music is unfortunate but it is what it is.