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Sonarworks Reference 4

dgburns

splunge
Digital room correction can be a nice improvement under the right circumstances. I tested several options a while ago, and Sonarworks was among the ones I found to be the least effectual. The best were Dirac Live (currently only available with hardware, but should be back as standalone software app), and Python Open Room Correction (PORC).

For my setup, both Dirac's and PORC's correction was vastly superior to Sonarworks. Sonarworks sounded like an eq that linearized the frequency response. Dirac and PORC do that too. But on top of that they also correct phase problems, resulting in a much more defined stereo image.

If you are tech savvy, PORC currently is the best option in my opinion. Together with REW and Equalizer APO it offers systemwide DRC, and it's completely free. Needless to say it's what I have been using for a few years now, and still am using today.
I’d like to ask you to clarify your post a bit. I’m a Sonarworks Reference 4 user, but have not used the other ones you mention. I like what Reference 4 does for me. Still trying to get used to the correction however.

That said, you mention Sonarworks Reference does not correct phase, but this is inaccurate. You have the option to run in latency free mode (no phase correction) or in higher latency mode (phase correction). I can def hear the difference, but it’s not been a deal breaker for me. Reference 4 will show you the phase correction plot if you check the box in the plugin window.

I use the plugin version and monitor through Protools, but work in Logic with two machines slaved. I don’t use the systemwide version. In working with video, so scoring to picture, I’ve not had any issues running the no latency version. But it will spike cpu every once in awhile.

I’ve run the measurement software many times, and with the supplied mic from Sonarworks. It is a must have imho.

Anyway, not trying to spark a debate, but Sonarworks is working for me. Just wish they added 5.1 support.
 

babylonwaves

Senior Member
Anyway, not trying to spark a debate, but Sonarworks is working for me. Just wish they added 5.1 support.
i use dirac live as a software component on my mac. and I prefer it again SW4, i believe it is less intrusive in terms of coloration and adding artefacts to what you hear. there is a surround version available. the system latency introduced by dirac live is also a lot smaller in comparison to what System Wide does. the latency is the range of maybe 15ms from the top of my head. from what i've heart you cannot test or buy dirac live right now but that will change once they've done with the update they're working on.
 

Greg

Senior Member
Wow. So no one else has a problem with the significant loss in audio quality of running your mix through this equalizer?

I just can't get past it.
I tried every setup possible and still hate it too. It really takes the life out of the sound in my setup.
 

dgburns

splunge
i use dirac live as a software component on my mac. and I prefer it again SW4, i believe it is less intrusive in terms of coloration and adding artefacts to what you hear. there is a surround version available. the system latency introduced by dirac live is also a lot smaller in comparison to what System Wide does. the latency is the range of maybe 15ms from the top of my head. from what i've heart you cannot test or buy dirac live right now but that will change once they've done with the update they're working on.
Interesting
 

muk

Senior Member
That said, you mention Sonarworks Reference does not correct phase, but this is inaccurate.
Sorry, incorrect wording on my part. What I meant to say is that on my setup, I could not hear any improvement on that front with Sonarworks. Dirac and PORC both have a clearly audible effect on the stereo image, while Sonarworks 3 (that's the version I tested at the time) did not. With Dirac and PORC the stereo image is more clearly defined. It's particularly audible for the phantom center. Sonarworks had no such effect on my setup.
 

Divico

Senior Member
Sorry, incorrect wording on my part. What I meant to say is that on my setup, I could not hear any improvement on that front with Sonarworks. Dirac and PORC both have a clearly audible effect on the stereo image, while Sonarworks 3 (that's the version I tested at the time) did not. With Dirac and PORC the stereo image is more clearly defined. It's particularly audible for the phantom center. Sonarworks had no such effect on my setup.
Do you use the listening spot correction? Its basically a delay and volume correction for one of the speakers to correct stereo imaging (if it is messed up in your sweet spot).
 

muk

Senior Member
Do you use the listening spot correction?
Yes, I did. I made several measurements as well, all with similar results. It could be specific to my room and speakers, but in my case Sonarworks was clearly not on the same level as the other two programs.
 

dgburns

splunge
Yes, I did. I made several measurements as well, all with similar results. It could be specific to my room and speakers, but in my case Sonarworks was clearly not on the same level as the other two programs.
I’d say try v4.
 

robgb

I was young once
I used the Sonarworks Headphones trial for a couple weeks and matched the EQ they provided for my headphones. Now I use that every time I mix. I also bought Waves NX when it was on sale for $29, and it does a great job at room placement.
 

muk

Senior Member
I’d say try v4.
I'd say try Dirac and PORC. They are simply better than Sonarworks.

I seem to be the only person who has done some research and directly compared various programs, yet people who only tried Sonarworks are convinced that it's the best. Fine by me. But you are certainly not going to convince me that it is better, because I tried so I know. In my case compared to the other two programs Sonarworks (and IK Multimedia Arc too, by the way) was substandard.
 
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dgburns

splunge
I'd say try Dirac and PORC. They are simply better than Sonarworks.

I seem to be the only person who has done some research and directly compared various programs, yet people who only tried Sonarworks are convinced that it's the best. Fine by me. But you are certainly not going to convince me that it is better, because I tried so I know. In my casr comoared to the other two programs Sonarworks (and IK Multimedia Arc too, by the way) was substandard.
Man, I’m confused about Dirac. How in hell do you use it, is it software? Does it do surround. I wish there was a monitoring box with Dirac built-in. To fully appreciate the improvement/ differences, I would need to hear it side by side against Sonarworks. Yet, you’ve got me intrigued to say the least. (others have said the same thing you are saying about Dirac)

Also, not to continue to poo-poo on your anti Reference 4, but in my case, I got the calibration mic, and went about it over time. Using their mic is key to getting a good result, imho. Reference 4 works well, it’s not perfect for sure, but it’s way better then nothing. And it’s better then Arc, which seems to be the consensus with those that have used both. Having the plugin running inside Protools is a better option for me then systemwide, I’d welcome a Dirac Protools plugin.
 

muk

Senior Member
Man, I’m confused about Dirac. How in hell do you use it, is it software? Does it do surround. I wish there was a monitoring box with Dirac built-in.
It's a bit complicated with Dirac Live at the moment. It used to be a software application. Currently it is only available bundled with hardware unfortunately. It is planned to be released as standalone software again in the future. But I have no idea when this will be the case. I think this is one of the cheapest options at the moment:

https://www.minidsp.com/products/dirac-series

And yes, there is a surround unit as well. 4-channel correction is available for 399$ (including a dsp processor, so there is no strain to your cpu), 8 channel surround for 899$.

PORC can be used for surround too. It's free, but fiendishly complicated to set up.
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
I’m with you on the loss of audio quality 1000%. I have it. Use it. Hate it. Quit using it. Decide I need it again because ...in theory... it should work. Use it again. Realize the pre-ringing and phase issues drive me bonkers while mixing. It has been a vicious cycle, but I’ve landed on “better off without it” for my own sanity while mixing rather than due to results.

That said, I (like you), probably fall into a very, very small percentage of users that would actually notice that problem to the point it bothered them in an OCD kind of way. I’d assume for many the software serves as a revelation and helps many people greatly improve mixes.
If it's not too much trouble, would you please be willing to post examples? I'm curious if I can try to train my ears to hear it.

Are you using headphones for sonarworks? Which headphones? Do you hear this issue with other headphones+ sonarworks too? Again just curious, nothing more. I thought it might be interesting to see if different phase response of different EQ curves would make the problem more audible for some headphones and less on others.
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
If it's not too much trouble, would you please be willing to post examples? I'm curious if I can try to train my ears to hear it.

Are you using headphones for sonarworks? Which headphones? Do you hear this issue with other headphones+ sonarworks too? Again just curious, nothing more. I thought it might be interesting to see if different phase response of different EQ curves would make the problem more audible for some headphones and less on others.
He hears it because Sonarworks doesn't tune down to 432hz

Sorry, sorry, I will see myself out... I just can't help kicking down open doors...
 

storyteller

Senior Member
If it's not too much trouble, would you please be willing to post examples? I'm curious if I can try to train my ears to hear it.

Are you using headphones for sonarworks? Which headphones? Do you hear this issue with other headphones+ sonarworks too? Again just curious, nothing more. I thought it might be interesting to see if different phase response of different EQ curves would make the problem more audible for some headphones and less on others.
Examples wouldn't do much good since the plugin affects the source and not the mix... until you try to change your mix based on the artifacting you hear. But even then it wouldn't be something that is demonstrable through an example. It is something you have to learn to hear. I was talking specifically about the headphone plugin when mixing on the go. HD650s are my primary headphones but I've tried it with a variety of headphones and it will still produce the same artifacts (though it will vary in intensity and frequency placement since different headphones have different curves).

Realistically, any eq curve will produce "artifacts" of some sort - so it isn't specific to Sonarworks. These artifacts can be desirable in some EQs when used in a mix, but rarely would artifacting from a linear EQ be desirable. So when the EQ is meant for curve correction on a final output rather than for coloring a source in a mix, the byproduct can be perceived more negatively as artifacting the source and impacting sound quality. Especially in linear phase mode, the algorithm produces audible ringing which is very undesirable to hear when you know what to listen for. Many might not notice it though.

Note: "ringing" is not a clear explanation for what happens with a linear EQ. I'm at a loss to describe the artifact sound in totality though. Perhaps "squishy frequency bands with strange harmonic shifts" is another way to think about it. :thumbsdown:
 

babylonwaves

Senior Member
Man, I’m confused about Dirac. How in hell do you use it, is it software? Does it do surround. I wish there was a monitoring box with Dirac built-in. To fully appreciate the improvement/ differences, I would need to hear it side by side against Sonarworks. Yet, you’ve got me intrigued to say the least. (others have said the same thing you are saying about Dirac)
wait some time and download a demo version. i did the same, stayed with it. and i've also compared dirac with other solutions. it's a meta driver. all you need to do is to select Dirac in your audio output preferences and in Dirac you select the sound card you want to playback your music. it's not difficult at all.
 

jonnybutter

Active Member
yet people who only tried Sonarworks are convinced that it's the best.
Who said that? I'm not convinced Sonarworks 'the best'. The OP asked what people who have used it thought of it. I use it and it has helped me a lot. My mixes translate much better now. I'm open to trying something else, too.
 

erikradbo

Active Member
Ordered it today, after many years of wanting it, tried to get it yesterday but my VAT code didn't work. Thanks Thomann for still giving me more than half f the discount even though ordered one day too late.
 
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