You are here

Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio Edition

Speaker Calibration Software
Published October 2018
By Phil Ward

Screen 1: The first step is to input your room and speaker‑placement dimensions. Asymmetric listening setups can be accommodated.Screen 1: The first step is to input your room and speaker‑placement dimensions. Asymmetric listening setups can be accommodated.

Sonarworks software has been widely lauded for its ability to correct the sound of headphones. Can it do the same for monitors?

My colleague Sam Inglis reviewed the headphone calibration elements of the new Sonarworks 4 package back in the February 2018 issue of the magazine, but it is also designed to analyse and correct the quirks of monitor speakers and room acoustics, and a look at this aspect of its operation has long been on our list of things to do. Sam’s conclusions on Sonarworks’ ability to improve headphone monitoring were entirely positive, but there’s no denying that the technical and psychoacoustic challenges inherent in correcting the response of monitors and listening rooms is a whole order of magnitude or two greater, so it will be fascinating to see how things pan out.

Before I get to describing how Reference 4 performs, however, I think it would perhaps be useful to examine what happens when a monitor plays audio in a room, and why there might be any need for ‘correction’.

Room For Improvement

If we were all lucky enough to work in studio rooms of infinite size, or in rooms with boundaries that offered perfect absorption of acoustic energy, there’d be no need for applications like Sonarworks to compensate for room acoustics because we’d always hear just the flat, direct sound from the monitors. In the real world, however, we hear not just the direct sound energy that leaves the monitors, but also energy reflected from the room boundaries. And that reflected energy will be imprinted with both the off‑axis response of the monitors and the particular absorption characteristics of the room boundaries it has reflected from.

The way our ears and brain deal with these multiple arrivals of sound energy depends firstly on how far apart in time they are, and secondly on their relative levels. Reflected sound that arrives within a few milliseconds of the direct sound, known as early reflections, will be integrated by the brain, and although the direct sound will still dominate, the tonal character perceived for the audio event will be a composite of the direct sound and early reflections. But reflected sound, thanks to the fact that it has travelled...

You are reading one of the locked subscriber-only articles from our latest 5 issues.

You've only read 10% of this article, so to continue reading...

Option 1: Buy and download this single SOS article in Adobe PDF format

  • Buy this article now and immediately download the PDF file to your computer.
  • Single article PDFs look identical to the printed magazine layouts (but exclude advertisements).
  • Note: Some shorter articles don't always have a PDF version.

Option 2: Buy the Full Issue PDF **NEW**

  • From the January 2018 edition onwards, it is possible to buy a Full Issue PDF 'replica magazine' (with adverts) for the price of a handful of single PDF articles, and instantly download it. More info...

Option 3: Buy a Digital subscription from our shopstore

  • A Digital sub can be bought from our online ShopStore and used immediately, or contact our Subs staff to discuss an upgrade price to add Digital access to your existing Print subscription.
Published October 2018