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IK Multimedia ARC Studio

Speaker Correction System By Sam Inglis
Published May 2024

IK Multimedia ARC Studio

IK Multimedia’s monitor correction technology is now available in a standalone hardware box.

IK Multimedia’s ARC was one of the first affordable speaker correction products. The principle is simple: sine sweeps are played back through your monitors, and into a measurement mic placed at or near the listening position. An EQ curve can then be calculated to compensate for deficiencies in the response of the loudspeakers and, more importantly, the room.

In the first few iterations of ARC, the corrective EQ curve was applied in a software plug‑in. This approach has many advantages: it’s cheap to implement, easy to change on the fly, and there’s no hard limit on the complexity of the curve that can be applied. It also has some obvious down sides, such as speaker correction being available only in your DAW and not to other programs, and the potential risk for mixes to be bounced through the plug‑in.

But what’s the alternative? Well, the correction could be done in a standalone, systemwide app, as is possible with Sonarworks’ SoundID Reference, for example. Alternatively, it could be implemented in a dedicated piece of hardware that sits between your interface and your speakers; or it could be integrated into the speakers themselves.

IK branched out onto the last of these paths late in 2022 with their iLoud Precision MTM speakers, which have ARC built in. IK’s existing measurement mic and software tools are used to calculate a correction curve, but this can be uploaded into the speakers’ own DSP to fix the sound at source. They’ve now followed this up with a standalone hardware processor called the ARC Studio. Simultaneously, the ARC software itself has been updated to version 4.

ARC Story

Apart from the MTM implementation, ARC is now available in three progressively more costly variants. You can still buy the software alone, for use with a third‑party measurement mic. You can buy the ARC software with IK’s own MEMS measurement mic, as before. Or you can opt for the full package with MEMS mic and ARC Studio hardware, which was supplied for review. The ARC software is compatible with macOS and Windows, and is authorised using a serial number.

The MEMS mic looks much like any other measurement mic, except that it is pointed forwards in use rather than upwards. It has a standard XLR connector and needs to be used with a conventional mic preamp, which is not supplied. The ARC Studio box, meanwhile, has the same rectangular form factor as a typical small desktop USB audio interface; and, indeed, it has a USB Type‑C port on it. I was surprised and a little disappointed to find, however, that it can’t be bus powered: you’ll need to use it with the supplied wall‑wart PSU at all times. The rear panel also sports analogue input and output pairs on XLRs, and although the internal processing is digital, there’s no digital audio I/O. Nor is there any provision for bass management, speaker switching or monitor control. The front panel of the ARC Studio is simplicity itself, with LEDs indicating power and signal present/clipping, and a single button to toggle correction on and off....

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