Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3
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Old 15-11-2016, 05:28 PM   #1
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Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Slightly embarrassed to say, I found out about this plugin (Sonarworks) via a facebook ad. Oh well.


I opted in on the demo of this because I live in a historic/protected building w exposed bricks. My mix environment is less than ideal and treating is another issue all together, no adhesive, no good mounting points and well, in a building from 1890, my options are pretty slim.

Ok, back to topic.

There are 2 components to Sonarworks, one is a room calibration app the other is a plugin that you place at the end of your master bus fx (yes, i use master bus fx, purists can suck it). The room calibration app requires one use, ideally a flat RTA mic, but a condenser can be used if one doesn't have an RTA mic. From my years of live sound, I just so happen to have a couple of RTA mic's so I went ahead and went through the process. Sonarworks produces a series of clicks, beeps, frequency sweeps and other sounds that the mic picks up, in several positions in the room to "listen" to your room and then create a profile for what sort of EQ curve is needed to flatten out the spectrum.

I was immediately impressed as the first mic position is where you sit in the room it gives you a measurement for how far your head is from the center of the speaker cone. Me, being a skeptic went into the garage and got my tape measure, I'll be damned if it was correct within a half inch of where the mic was placed.

After compensating for 24 (yes 24) mic positions it gave me a file to load into the plugin. I launched Ableton and the most recent work in progress session I had and slapped the VST on the end of my master, loaded up the room profile. I did quite a bit of listening, the EQ curve it gave me (surprise surprise) was pretty severe so A/B'ing it was really interesting/telling. After listening for a bit, I went in, saved my session as a new file name and re-mixed down the work w the plugin in place.

The trick with this plugin is, you mix through it, and then take it off before you print your mix.

A/B'ing a before and after on different speakers was EXTREMELY eye opening. The mix with the plugin in place had tighter, more focussed low end and over all more detail to the mix over all.

I have 20 more days for this evaluation period, and I've only done one mix (albeit a work in progress mix) so I am definitely in my "honeymoon" phase w this thing but at the moment, I am VERY impressed.

I look forward to their headphone calibration element as well, as my Sony 7506's have been a challenge to get mixes to translate on, I dont think the RTA mic thing is required, you just have to be using one of the sets of cans that they've made a profile for.


The room calibration software and plug arent cheap, just under $300.00, I've got a couple of weeks to use this to see if its something worth investing in.

Anyhow... is anyone else here using this or ARC or any of the other room calibration options out there??? I'd love to hear your feedback.


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Old 16-11-2016, 06:31 PM   #2
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

no one huh?

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Old 17-11-2016, 12:03 AM   #3
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

I think most people who have rooms that are able to be treated as opposed to one like yours where there are major obstacles would probably be better off just spending that 300 bucks on enough treatment to make due. I understand where you're coming from. I've worked in some horrible mixing environments before and having something like this is probably a great tool but I still feel a bit hesitant to pop on that for the price range. For example, if you're truly fed up with that brick wall of yours, and I've seen your pictures of it, there are faux walls you could get for it, like those classroom/office dividers that might work. Or even some really tall DIY frames with rockwool inside. I don't know, it's just hard for me to trust a plugin to read my room better than my ears and also the fact that any room is basically treatable if you really want to go that far.

FWIW I mix in a corner and I hate it. I get more right side reflections than left and I've just managed to mix around that even though it really paints a horrible picture of the stereo field and hinders me quite often. I used to have a dedicated mixing room and i do miss it so.
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Old 17-11-2016, 08:58 PM   #4
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Never heard of this until now, will check it out, thanks Chase.
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Old 17-11-2016, 09:37 PM   #5
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

curious, once it generates an eq curve for you, why can't one simply recreate the same curve in any eq of your choice?

have you looked at free Room Eq Wizard? i'm pretty sure it has similar functionality, though not sure how it stacks up against this or ARC, quality wise. i think i played around with it for shits and giggles once, but didn't really dive too deep. i built bass traps/panels and was mostly the other functions in REW to figure out optimal placements.
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Old 17-11-2016, 09:59 PM   #6
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

I've read some reviews where people have done just that, emulated the eq curve. They've said that it works just about as well.

I'm still demoing, but the results i'm getting (friends have been listening to the mixes) have been very positive.

I'll be doing some testing w other eq's using as close as i can get to the curve the calibration software came up with.... i'll post info when i have it.



IMO this mix has been pretty much upgraded from the one I was listening to before I got this software.

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Old 18-11-2016, 01:31 PM   #7
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

ive wanted to try this (or REW) for a long time now, but being too poor to buy it, or a suitable mic, i havent bothered.

its nice to hear that it works well though. its on my list of things to buy when i win loads of money

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Old 18-11-2016, 01:33 PM   #8
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Numerical View Post
I think most people who have rooms that are able to be treated as opposed to one like yours where there are major obstacles would probably be better off just spending that 300 bucks on enough treatment to make due.
its best used in a treated room (apparently), like the cherry on the cake

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Old 19-11-2016, 09:33 PM   #9
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

I've spent a couple of hours re-creating the EQ curve this thing spit out using Ableton's EQ8 (well, 2 instances) and I've come REALLY close in A/Bing my EQ to the Sonarworks plugin. Basically I'd like to NOT spend $300 if I don't need to.

I guess I'll make some mixes and see what I think... This whole plugin trial and resulting second guessing of my mix translation is driving me mad.

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Old 20-11-2016, 01:25 AM   #10
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

be careful when using any old EQ to re-create the curve. a linear phase EQ would be a good start, but even then you will probably find it difficult to get it just right.
i cant say for sure, but i imagine there are a lot of bands thrown in when creating the curve. its likely that your average EQ will not do the job no matter how close it seems to be.
that said, you can get pretty close, and if getting close means saving $300 then i would be all for it myself.

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Old 20-11-2016, 05:53 AM   #11
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

EDIT: I suggested spectral shaping, but a quick google showed that's the wrong name for what I'm thinking of. I'll look around and find it and post back here.
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I was thinking of using something along the lines of one of the EQs presented here, but I know I found a whole suite of free spectral plugins once and then I deleted them because I was just like "nah", and I know that suite had an EQ in it that could probably do this like nothing. Maybe someone else knows what I'm talking about.

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Old 20-11-2016, 02:03 PM   #12
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by White Noise View Post
EDIT: I suggested spectral shaping, but a quick google showed that's the wrong name for what I'm thinking of. I'll look around and find it and post back here.
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I was thinking of using something along the lines of one of the EQs presented here, but I know I found a whole suite of free spectral plugins once and then I deleted them because I was just like "nah", and I know that suite had an EQ in it that could probably do this like nothing. Maybe someone else knows what I'm talking about.
i think i know what you mean, i assume you mean an FFT EQ? i dont know what the correct name would be either, but spectral seems right to me. if not then i knew what you meant anyway.

i was going to suggest that, but im not sure how it affects phase (although i think the concept gives good control over phase too) and they can sound quite unnatural, but only with extreme settings.
ill bet this is what they use though and would probably be the best choice for this job.

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Old 10-02-2017, 08:53 PM   #13
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Update: Last EP I released was mixed w Sonarworks and, well... it sounds great IMO (if i do say so myself) - a significant upgrade from my prior releases.

listen for yourself if you like.

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In other news, I bought a license for the headphones version of this plugin because i'm about to be touring for le dayjob for the next month or so and will be doing so on and off for the remainder of the year. I'll report back after doing some work w the headphone plugin.

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Old 10-02-2017, 08:57 PM   #14
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Hmmm, so how exactly does that work with headphones? I can understand how it would analyze a particular room, but headphones?

Who are you touring with this time?
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:01 PM   #15
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

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Hmmm, so how exactly does that work with headphones? I can understand how it would analyze a particular room, but headphones?

Who are you touring with this time?
They provide the profiles for headphones. Apparently you can send yours to them and they can create a custom EQ curve, but my preferred cans had a preset. There is more info on their website, it was TL;DR, but they had a profile for mine so I pulled the trigger.

I'll be out with Tycho on and off through out the year. Headed to Franfurt for an EU tour this afternoon.

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Old 11-02-2017, 08:48 AM   #16
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Re: Digital Room Calibration - Sonarworks 3

Could you like, um, get me on that tour? :problemofficer:

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