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Shoutout for Sonarworks Reference 4.
Old 19th January 2018
  #1
Shoutout for Sonarworks Reference 4.

Just wanted to recommend that literally every engineer / producer / musician look into some sort of room correction software.

I discovered Sonarworks Reference 3 (now I have 4) after experiencing the incredible difference that two friends' Trinnov systems made; however, I didn't want to spend that amount of money.

The Reference 4 mic / plug-in combo is easy to use and the difference immediately noticeable. I even track with it now in its lowest latency mode (adds about 2ms) because I find that everything I dial in while tracking (whether on headphones or my speakers) is closer to the final product right off of the bat. Everything sounds more clear across the entire bandwidth—I can finally tell how much bass, midrange, or treble are too much or not enough.

This technology is literally something I have been wishing for since I was 16 making mixes on various speakers and headphones that never translated once I left those setups.

I just want to encourage everyone to give some sort of room correction software a chance, because even with the best of speakers in the best of rooms, I still find myself amazed at what this sort of technology can do—and how much more clear people are doing actually becomes.

I'm using Sonarworks with Yamaha HS5's right now—I have some nicer Dynaudio's in the shop, and even with the small and relatively low-powered HS5's, it's amazing to hear the difference and be able to make decisions that time and time again translate well.

I don't even consider myself a great mixer yet—I prefer to pass of my music to someone with more experience mixing. But I can tell you that what I hand over to someone now is significantly better than what I've been able to achieve in the past.

Having this actually makes me think I might become a solid mixer someday.

*I have no affiliation with Sonarworks or Trinnov. Just telling you what I used. Definitely some of the most satisfying 300 bucks I've ever spent in my life.
Old 20th January 2018
  #2
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A couple of days ago I download and installed a trial Sonarworks version.

My room is well treated (21x15x8 feet) but I have always had some problems around 100/200 Hz due to resonance modes. I had made some measurements with REW that had confirmed my impressions.

As a first test I calibrated my Genelec 1031A (with a sub). After saving the calibration file - after more than 24 measurements- I inserted the Sonarworks plugin in my DAW main output and well… couldn’t believe it. The sound became much clearer, transparent and deep. Summarizing, much more natural.

I repeated the process with my NS-10M and my main monitors. The result has been as satisfactory as with the Genelecs.

As the icing on the cake I have tried the presets for different headphones (AKH 701, Sennheiser 650, Sonny MDR-7506 and others) The result has been equally satisfactory.

By the way, I have no affiliation with Sonarworks. In fact I didn’t know the company till a couples of days ago.
Old 20th January 2018
  #3
I have Sonarworks 4 too. When I first got it, I was impressed, until all my mixes ended up sounding bad. Did the calibrating couple times with their own microphone that I bought. I never use it now with my monitors, but will use the headphone plugins with a couple of pairs I have. The EQing on the monitors don’t always work well and cause resonances and dip sometimes as much as any untreated rooms, or at least, it did in my room (which is well treated), so beware. Not bashing the product, just advising against the cons of using it. I think in some rooms it can probably work great.

Last edited by CurseesConnect; 20th January 2018 at 08:09 PM.. Reason: Grammar
Old 20th January 2018
  #4
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I’ve been mixing with and without the Sonarworks plugin and the result has been rather similar. I always mix comparing with target track that can be mine or from others (for example Steely Dan ). Is the final listening which real changes becoming much more accurate.

On the other hand, the plugin has a very useful feature that is call Dry/Wet. You can apply a percentage of correction from 0% (no correction at all) till 100% (full correction). So you can adapt the correction to your own taste.

In my case the correction only apply to frequencies between 100/200 Hz as my Genelecs are extremely flat over 300Hz and practically there is not any correction above this frequency.
Old 20th January 2018
  #5
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Is Sonarworks affiliated with Cakewalk's Sonar ? If so- it may no longer be available since the Gibson announcement.
Old 20th January 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBHan View Post
Is Sonarworks affiliated with Cakewalk's Sonar ? If so- it may no longer be available since the Gibson announcement.
I don't believe Latvians sold away that great product. At least i hope not. So much potential to be even better(eg.dry/wet on certain freq. area) and expand their user base.
Old 22nd January 2018
  #7
Fear not, while saddened by the Gibson announcement, we are still here and will be for the foreseeable future!
Old 2nd February 2018
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Hey folks, been using Sonarworks for two days now. I owned the HP Plugin for quite a while now. Love it!
I always had problems with some Freq's in my (treated) room. 130 Hz bump and so on.

After measuring my room and mixing my first song I was bummed. When I switched off the plugin everything sounded quite mushy and muddy.
Not sure if ill have to get used to mixing with it.

Even on bass heavy productions (talking about pro mixes for reference) all the low end is missing. ( I guess thats the reason I mixed to much low stuff into my project)

So I think its not working very good in my room or with my speakers. I checked the bounced file (plugin turned off) on my kitchens stereo (Bad sound) and on my DT 990 PRO's (quite good sounding)
Do you know something about the refund policy? Can I just send it back even after the plugin was registered and installed?
Old 2nd February 2018
  #9
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bandso's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dud3 View Post
Hey folks, been using Sonarworks for two days now. I owned the HP Plugin for quite a while now. Love it!
I always had problems with some Freq's in my (treated) room. 130 Hz bump and so on.

After measuring my room and mixing my first song I was bummed. When I switched off the plugin everything sounded quite mushy and muddy.
Not sure if ill have to get used to mixing with it but... on bass heavy productions (pro mixes for reference) all the low end is missing. (Thats the reason I mixed to much low stuff into my project)

So I guess its not working very good in my room and with my speakers.
Do you know something about the refund policy? Can I just send it back even after the plugin was registered and installed?
I found the same thing has happened to me using IK multimedia's Arc room correction. I was able to make mid/high frequency EQ decisions better as the sound from my monitors seemed to clear up, however I ended up mixing way too much bass/mud into mixdown. I learned that I needed to disable the plugin to set the final kick and bass (low end frequency stuff) and then do a second low end check on ear buds and headphones.
Old 2nd February 2018
  #10
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Sure my room does emphasize low's but here is the thing:
When I use Systemwide to listen to some high end music (or big productions) it feels like all the bass is missing. This def. shouldn't be?!
If what I'm hearing out of my speakers is flat... than I don't know what all the big engineers are doing to their low end. (no low end at all)
Old 9th February 2018
  #11
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I am using the trial of sonar works and it seems to be adding more base to my Hedd 20 and a mid range bump and 400. I am mixing to see how It turns out but seems that without sonar works it's clear with the hedd plugin engaged.
Old 25th February 2018
  #12
jyc
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jyc's Avatar
The plugin changes the sound even without correction. A certain something is missing whenever it's in the chain.

Same goes for Systemwide.
Old 26th February 2018
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jyc View Post
The plugin changes the sound even without correction. A certain something is missing whenever it's in the chain.

Same goes for Systemwide.
Is the effect audible on DAW bypass or built-in plug-in bypass? Built-in bypass will introduce a volume drop for better A/B testing, so only tonal response is affected.
Old 26th February 2018
  #14
jyc
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jyc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrodulf View Post
Is the effect audible on DAW bypass or built-in plug-in bypass? Built-in bypass will introduce a volume drop for better A/B testing, so only tonal response is affected.
DAW Bypass. The built-in bypass is not useful for demonstrating the effect the plugin has on sound.

Disable both correction and volume reduction inside the plugin, compare the sound with and without plugin.

I hear a difference. One that is enough to put me off.
Old 27th February 2018
  #15
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jyc View Post
DAW Bypass. The built-in bypass is not useful for demonstrating the effect the plugin has on sound.

Disable both correction and volume reduction inside the plugin, compare the sound with and without plugin.

I hear a difference. One that is enough to put me off.
I get a perfect null when I turn off correction + limiting/volume reduction inside the plugin.

I don't think there's anything to worry about.
Old 27th February 2018
  #16
Just tried out Reference 4 last night and whoa!!
It works. I'm sold. 20 more days to figure out how to come up with $300.

However, I'm still a little bit hesitant about using the Systemwide option just yet.
Is it REALLY zero latency? How is that even possible?
If not....does it correctly report the delay to Cubase 9/Logic X so it is delay compensated?

In my setup I have 3 UA Apollos clocked to an external clock at 48Khz.
I track alot of stuff and always worried about latency. Wouldn't want to introduce anything (even 1ms) to the input monitoring for my UA Console.

Also I use a bunch of Outboard Analog Processors (compressors, eq, distortion etc) during mixing so my round-trip latency needs to be sample precise.
If I am mixing like a parallel compression of an 1176 back into the original signal, it needs to be accurate down to the sample, to not get phase issues. Currently Cubase and my Universal Audio gear plays nicely together and I don't have to calculate 'pings' everytime, it already knows the round trip most of the time.

I guess it wouldn't matter if systemwide is only applied to my main monitor channel outputs? But is this the case? The hardware outboard processing is going out of other channels on my 3 different interfaces (not the main outputs)


Anyone using it this way?
Old 27th February 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contramark View Post

However, I'm still a little bit hesitant about using the Systemwide option just yet.
Is it REALLY zero latency? How is that even possible?
If not....does it correctly report the delay to Cubase 9/Logic X so it is delay compensated?
Implement the plugin into your daw template, so it's always there. I got mine on cubase control room, so audio exports are without reference 4. Systemwide senses when you got daw open and bypasses the systemwide. All automatically. Easy peasy ie. very comfy.

edit: and with plugin the cubase got all the latency calculations covered.
Old 27th February 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by souljahh View Post
Implement the plugin into your daw template, so it's always there. I got mine on cubase control room, so audio exports are without reference 4. Systemwide senses when you got daw open and bypasses the systemwide. All automatically. Easy peasy ie. very comfy.

edit: and with plugin the cubase got all the latency calculations covered.
Cool. Ok Ill give it a shot.

I haven't really used Cubase control room much (because I have the Apollo monitoring solution), but Ill take a look. Will this work as well in Cubase 9 or are you on 9.5?
Old 27th February 2018
  #19
Also.....I have 3 speakers in my studio. Pretty large old Alesis Monitor 2 Three way speakers, Yamaha HS5 and a Avantone Mixcube.

I understand I should use a different curve on the Alesis from the Yamaha.....but should I even use a curve for the Mixcube? They are very mid-range sound..... or would that throw the software a curveball?
Old 4th March 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contramark View Post
Also.....I have 3 speakers in my studio. Pretty large old Alesis Monitor 2 Three way speakers, Yamaha HS5 and a Avantone Mixcube.

I understand I should use a different curve on the Alesis from the Yamaha.....but should I even use a curve for the Mixcube? They are very mid-range sound..... or would that throw the software a curveball?
I got my mixcube routed through control room without sonarworks, so with a push of a rme control button i can switch between my mains with sonaworks curve and mono mixcube. Mixcube should be without sonarworks anyway and they are the called the "****box" for a reason.

edit: control room is a fairly old feature on cubase. Essential tool, i don't know how i can do without one.

Last edited by souljahh; 4th March 2018 at 11:17 PM.. Reason: typo and extra
Old 16th April 2018
  #21
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I don't buy Sonarworks. On their blog they present some monitors and headphones and their frequency responses - before and after using the calibration. However, the response is always correted flat. That simply doesn't make sense and can't sound good. On many (all at some extent) speakers there some kind of resonances that can be seen as a dip in FR but it's clearer in 3D-waterfall plot. As an example on this page:

The Well-Tempered Computer

Not sure if the links can be used on this forum so here is Phil Ward's explanation:
"The waterfall is a 3D representation of the speakers' response to a wide-bandwidth signal that stops instantaneously. The Y-axis is level in dB, the X-axis is frequency from 200Hz to 20kHz, and time runs from back to front on the Z-axis (measurement constraints limit the length of time window available as frequency falls). The waterfall plots therefore illustrate how good the speakers are at switching off, and the Z-axis plot for a notional 'perfect speaker' would be empty. Any signals within the plot occurring after zero time represent the decay of mechanical or acoustic resonances. This is output that the speaker adds to the intended signal, colouring the sound and effectively degrading the signal-to-noise ratio."

Now, how do you correct that using DSP? Obviously you can use ultra high Q filter and tame the resonance down but it will not do good for your music. If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced. And we are not talking about room correction now, just speaker correction, right? I can't see any possible way using DSP, impulse responses or anything to fix what the resonance has already done to sound (as it's not just a minimum phase effect).
Old 17th April 2018
  #22
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Thank you very much for the technical lesson although some of us have some idea about what the waterfall is.

I don’t understand very well what you mean by: “we are not talking about room correction now, just speaker correction”. In my opinion we are mainly talking about the anomalies originated by a poor (or nor as poor) treated room. In fact, for calibrating the Sonarworks software you must follow a process to measure the room acoustics. Independently of the quality of your speakers the room adds in general unwanted coloration.

You also affirm that: “If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced” Why? Could you provide the technical support? Think on a subtracting EQ.

Have you tested the Sonarworks software for feeling so sure? Which is your opinion about Dirac Live Room Correction Suite or Anthem Room Correction (ARC)? Are all the Digital Room Correction (DRC) process completely useless? What about DSP speakers?

PS A Sonarworks happy user here.
Old 21st April 2018
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelyDani View Post
You also affirm that: “If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced” Why? Could you provide the technical support? Think on a subtracting EQ.
In FR which is a 2D snapshot of a real 3D time dependent response that can be shown only in waterfall type of graph the resonance is a dip in FR. If you cut that you will also reduce all original program material at that frequency.

I think Sonarworks and other software are good to for room correction and for generally improving tonal balance of loudspeakers or headphones, but their marketing shows graphs that are not real or possible to obtain like in case of certain speakers with a bad resonance caused by some driver design flaws (like the suspension in case of some KRK woofers).
Old 2nd May 2018
  #24
Hey guys I tried reference 3 in the past and now reference 4 and I'm probably gonna buy it asap. I just tried it for one mix and multiple listenings

Everything seems to sound clearer, not fatiguing and the mixed translated pretty damn perfectly
The client didn't actually wanted anything changed apart for some higher/lower volume for a vocal

ONE IMPORTANT THING FOR EVERYONE WHO WANNA HAVE A GREAT SOUND WITH REFERENCE 4

Be careful NOT to have the mic close to you. I initially thought "well, if I have to be there when I listen to it, why not lower my chair and keep the microphone still with my hands"
Don't do that
Just…don't lol

And you'll get amazing results
Old 2nd May 2018
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Sonarworks is great and like the OP, I heartily recommend the use of room correction software. The difference in my experience is like night and day.

I’ve recently moved over to Dirac Live, which gives a slightly better result in my room and is also worth demo’ing.
Old 6th January 2019
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Is it good to use Sonarworks for correction sound in different venues (theatres, clubs etc), or it's only for studio?
Old 6th January 2019
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhelin View Post
I don't buy Sonarworks. On their blog they present some monitors and headphones and their frequency responses - before and after using the calibration. However, the response is always correted flat. That simply doesn't make sense and can't sound good. On many (all at some extent) speakers there some kind of resonances that can be seen as a dip in FR but it's clearer in 3D-waterfall plot. As an example on this page:

The Well-Tempered Computer

Not sure if the links can be used on this forum so here is Phil Ward's explanation:
"The waterfall is a 3D representation of the speakers' response to a wide-bandwidth signal that stops instantaneously. The Y-axis is level in dB, the X-axis is frequency from 200Hz to 20kHz, and time runs from back to front on the Z-axis (measurement constraints limit the length of time window available as frequency falls). The waterfall plots therefore illustrate how good the speakers are at switching off, and the Z-axis plot for a notional 'perfect speaker' would be empty. Any signals within the plot occurring after zero time represent the decay of mechanical or acoustic resonances. This is output that the speaker adds to the intended signal, colouring the sound and effectively degrading the signal-to-noise ratio."

Now, how do you correct that using DSP? Obviously you can use ultra high Q filter and tame the resonance down but it will not do good for your music. If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced. And we are not talking about room correction now, just speaker correction, right? I can't see any possible way using DSP, impulse responses or anything to fix what the resonance has already done to sound (as it's not just a minimum phase effect).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelyDani View Post
Thank you very much for the technical lesson although some of us have some idea about what the waterfall is.

I don’t understand very well what you mean by: “we are not talking about room correction now, just speaker correction”. In my opinion we are mainly talking about the anomalies originated by a poor (or nor as poor) treated room. In fact, for calibrating the Sonarworks software you must follow a process to measure the room acoustics. Independently of the quality of your speakers the room adds in general unwanted coloration.

You also affirm that: “If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced” Why? Could you provide the technical support? Think on a subtracting EQ.

Have you tested the Sonarworks software for feeling so sure? Which is your opinion about Dirac Live Room Correction Suite or Anthem Room Correction (ARC)? Are all the Digital Room Correction (DRC) process completely useless? What about DSP speakers?

PS A Sonarworks happy user here.
A lot of folks around here seem to have an oversimplified understanding of speaker performance and combined speaker/room performance. To drill in on a bit from the second quote above:
Quote:
You [mhelin] also affirm that: “If you EQ the response flat the resonance will be more pronounced” Why? Could you provide the technical support? Think on a subtracting EQ.
There is considerably more to accurate speaker performance than flatness of response across the speaker's range -- just as mhelin suggests. Speakers, especially ported (bass reflex) speakers, have internal resonances. Ported speakers should be designed to 'reinforce' bass performance by targeting speaker/enclosure resonance to the range where bass response begins dropping off, milking more bass out and, if done right, somewhat flattening out response curves. But resonance occurs in the time domain -- it is, literally, ringing. It continues after the signal disappears. It is an inaccuracy. With such speakers (as opposed to infinite baffled designs) we trade off that time domain inaccuracy for enhanced bass response. (We're strictly talking speaker, right here; we'll get to room response below.)

When we then use EQ to, for instance, boost bass or other response -- particularly in the important but problematic range in which the driver's performance would otherwise drop rapidly, we are also going to be amplifying the distortion typical of a speaker struggling to reproduce signal at/below its own driver resonance.


It's even WORSE when you start trying to correct a whole room.

Yes, you can -- to some extent -- drill in specific corrections for your designated sweet spot. (With the proviso that you will, again, be trading flatter frequency response at the sweet spot for potentially exaggerated sounding room resonance.)

But if one understands the nature of the standing waves that plague small-medium rooms with any parallel walls and/or parallel floor/ceiling, one should see that using EQ for correcting a room node in one location will simply aggravate the corresponding antinode elsewhere in the room by the same degree. It is a game of Whac-a-Mole. Correcting one spot just makes another spot 'twice' as bad. If one understands the basics of room resonance, this is simple logic.

The only really good way to fix room response is with properly designed and installed physical room treatment that minimizes standing waves and early reflections.


If using Sonarworks or other DSP tools designed to mitigate room response issues at the sweet spot works for someone and his practice, that's great. But hopefully he will be careful about the benefits he claims for the tool, because there are a lot of naive users out there who seem to believe a lot of what they read -- especially glowing promises that sound 'too good to be true.' And this is one topic where those too-good-to-be-true notions get promoted a lot.

Last edited by theblue1; 6th January 2019 at 07:53 PM..
Old 6th January 2019
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
When we then use EQ to, for instance, boost bass or other response -- particularly in the important but problematic range in which the driver's performance would otherwise drop rapidly, we are also going to be amplifying the distortion typical of a speaker struggling to reproduce signal at/below its own driver resonance.
What if a frequency response dip at 100 Hz (well within reproducible range) is corrected with software and the max output is lowered accordingly? Then your argument is not valid, correct?

Quote:
It's even WORSE when you start trying to correct a whole room.
Why not concentrate on just the mix position - for now?

Quote:
Yes, you can -- to some extent -- drill in specific corrections for your designated sweet spot. (With the proviso that you will, again, be trading flatter frequency response at the sweet spot for potentially exaggerated sounding room resonance.)
Mission accomplished (to some extent) for the mix position, right? The mixing engineer is happy in relation to how easily the sound is improved at the mix position.

I am not against room treatment, but not everyone has the money and knowledge to perform efficient room treatment. This software could help to some extent and it could very likely eductate the user about room acoustics and kickstart a journey of improving the room slowly and steadily.
Old 6th January 2019
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henrik Hjortnaes View Post
What if a frequency response dip at 100 Hz (well within reproducible range) is corrected with software and the max output is lowered accordingly? Then your argument is not valid, correct?
EQ does not remove time domain anomalies/distortion, it simply changes their level. The argument, itself, stands.

But that's not to say that a given compromise might not be entirely reasonable in a given case.

Very little in our practice is 'perfect' and there certainly are times when the pursuit of perceived 'perfection' can keep one from achieving much of anything, let alone the perfect.


Quote:
Why not concentrate on just the mix position - for now?



Mission accomplished (to some extent) for the mix position, right? The mixing engineer is happy in relation to how easily the sound is improved at the mix position.

I am not against room treatment, but not everyone has the money and knowledge to perform efficient room treatment. This software could help to some extent and it could very likely eductate the user about room acoustics and kickstart a journey of improving the room slowly and steadily.
One, of course, is free to pursue any course he wants, but it's worth remembering that frequency response in a poorly treated room can vary as much as 20 dB (or more) simply by moving the listening or testing position as little as a half a foot (~150 mm). And it's unavoidable that whatever correction you make in one spot to 'fix' a node or antinode that results from standing waves will just push other listening positions that much farther out of linear room response.

Again, though, one may well accept the tradeoffs and compromises involved.

I'm not saying don't do it -- I'm just saying be aware of the realities involved -- and I would hope that people would do their basic homework to understand the principles involved -- and then maybe we'd hear fewer unrealistic claims.
Old 6th January 2019
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
EQ does not remove time domain anomalies/distortion, it simply changes their level. The argument, itself, stands.
Aren't Sonarworks Reference also using time-domain correction algorithms?

Quote:
And it's unavoidable that whatever correction you make in one spot to 'fix' a node or antinode that results from standing waves will just push other listening positions that much farther out of linear room response.
I agree, but I'm trying to justify the benefit at the mix position only. I'm arguing that at the mix position, the software will most likely improve the balance and actually help you make mix decisions. Not perfect. But better than doing nothing due to not having the knowledge and the money.
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