Sonarworks 4

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
trmupstage
KVRist
285 posts since 25 Sep, 2002 from Chicago

Post Mon May 06, 2019 7:57 am

I bought this a few days ago to see how well it might correct some issues in my studio. I have to admit that I was NOT a believer in this type of room correction. In the past, I have spent a lot of time and money to treat my room as best I could without changing the actual size and shape. From doing some calculations for room modes, I knew I had some problems. It seems when I send things out to be mastered, I am told I have a bit too much low end. After wrestling my way through another album, I decided to see if Sonarworks could help.
The setup and calibration was waaaay simpler than I figured it would be. I'm pretty surprised by how well the software was implemented. I bought the version that comes with the calibration mic. It took about 30 minutes from opening the box to testing the results. That's pretty quick. Anyway, I do have some nice speakers and the room is well treated. After doing the calibration, I put on a few things I know were mixed great. I toggled between Sonarworks being on and off. I figured the difference would be subtle. It wasn't. The chart showed me exactly what my speakers are delivering in this particular room. -12dB at 80HZ tells me why my mixes often have too much low end.
Image

I have not remixed anything yet but the difference in sound quality is pretty incredible. If you have pretty good speakers but have a hard time getting your mixes to translate to other systems, this might be a good option. Even my Dynaudio LYD48 speakers improved greatly with Sonarworks. it isn't that the speakers have issues or flaws. it's that the room has problems. The most expensive speakers will still have peaks and nulls in a room that is not perfectly designed and treated. This software gets me a very flat response at the mixing position. For the cost, it's a great choice.

Funkybot's Evil Twin
KVRAF
6734 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 8:18 am

I like it too and have had a generally positive experience with it. Like you, I've gone through the route of treating my room (just have the ceiling above the mix position left to do but it's such a low ceiling it's problematic) and Reference works as kind of the last step. I've got some nulls around 60hz and another around 120hz (which I suppose makes some sense) but both are less than 6db. Reference helps clean those up. I'll still turn it on and off just to check things out both ways.

Another thing it's great for is discovering where to put things in your room. Try moving your speakers or listening position and measure again. Look for the sweet spot where it needs to do the least amount of work. You don't need to do it all at once, but I've made some tweaks to locations and done re-measurements in the year or so I've had it. Went from a 7.7db null to a 5.7db one just by moving the desk forward a few inches and moving some treatment around.

trmupstage
KVRist
285 posts since 25 Sep, 2002 from Chicago

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 8:22 am

That's a good point. It may very well help in positioning the monitors and listening position. that -12dB dip right at 80HZ was an eye opener. The other dips and peaks were all under 6dB. I know in my situation it has to do with the room dimensions. Maybe I will just use the calibration mic with some pink noise and SPAN to make a few quick changes to see what can be improved.

Funkybot's Evil Twin
KVRAF
6734 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 8:25 am

trmupstage wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 8:22 am
That's a good point. It may very well help in positioning the monitors and listening position. that -12dB dip right at 80HZ was an eye opener. The other dips and peaks were all under 6dB. I know in my situation it has to do with the room dimensions. Maybe I will just use the calibration mic with some pink noise and SPAN to make a few quick changes to see what can be improved.
Keep us posted! My room is small, has lots of corners, and a low ceiling (6'10"), so I totally sympathize with you.

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plexuss
KVRAF
3438 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 8:48 am

trmupstage wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:57 am
The most expensive speakers will still have peaks and nulls in a room that is not perfectly designed and treated.
There is no such thing as a "perfectly designed and treated" room. And before you go there you have to define what "perfect" mean - what is the goal. Even the best anechoic chamber is not "perfect". All you can do is get closer and closer.

I've been using Sonarworks for a number of years now. It works well. There is no reason why I shouldn't as long as the algorythm is sound. In my wonky room it does help A LOT. There may be some artifacts from the correction but the over-all benefit is worth it. But keep in mind its an automated approach to getting closer to that "perfect" ideal. You'll never get exact perfection so set your expectations accordingly. :phones:

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bmanic
KVRAF
8500 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 12:15 pm

I never liked the quality of Sonarworks filters. I demoed it and got the calibration mic.. I think it was version 3. Something about their weird filters made huge compromises to the sound. Linear phase is just plain stupid and pointless (massive pre-ring problems) and their hybrid filters are wonky too. Didn't get all that good results even with the normal minimum phase filtering.

IMO this works a lot better: https://mathaudio.com/room-eq.htm

It also reads .cal or any .txt calibration file for any microphone you might have that comes with one.

I also got better results with REW and creating my own custom impulses but it's tedious to switch impulses when you switch sample rate.. and I got overall better results with Mathaudio Room EQ so it was win/win for me.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

trmupstage
KVRist
285 posts since 25 Sep, 2002 from Chicago

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 12:23 pm

There may be some compromises to the sound but the difference in my room was more positive than negative by far. Just one real bad dip and a few other smaller issues are fairly well resolved with Sonarworks. I've never been a fan of these EQ fixes for a room problem, but I ran out of ideas and time for making the room closer to flat. So far, I'm pretty satisfied. The real test will be the next mix. I may even remix something just to do an A/B comparison.

Funkybot's Evil Twin
KVRAF
6734 posts since 16 Aug, 2006

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Mon May 06, 2019 12:31 pm

bmanic, I'm not sure if sound quality was the driving factor, and if there was some kind of overhaul to the filters themselves, but they got rid of a lot of the prior filter options with version 4. There's now only a zero latency mode and linear phase. I just keep it set to zero latency and forget about it. Not a fan of linear phase equalizers for most tasks personally.

My room definitely sounds better with it on versus off and I don't hear the filters as being particularly terrible. That said, I tried it with my Sony Noise Cancelling headphones last week and MUCH preferred it off. Whereas my Sennheiseir HD280's and Sennheiser/Massdrop 6XX (great headphones) sound better with it on.

There may be better sounding options, but I find Reference helpful enough to be worth the price of a few panels.

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teilo
KVRist
331 posts since 30 Mar, 2008

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Tue May 07, 2019 7:53 am

My studio is my office, and I don't have the option of treating it much. There are a lot of weird corners and large glass windows, so the sub resonance is awful. Reference 4 has done wonders, for me, as long as I stay in my sweet spot while mixing/mastering. And on the go, I use it with my DT990 Pros, along with Good Hertz Canopener, and it's enough to get me 99% of the way.

My only gripe is that they eliminated all but two speaker simulations in v4. I would really like to be able to test a mix on a broad range of listening conditions, like Apple pods, etc.
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plexuss
KVRAF
3438 posts since 8 Jul, 2009

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Tue May 07, 2019 2:53 pm

I checked out the filters in both Reference 3 and Reference 4 using PluginDoctor. I can confirm they are much better in terms of ringing in 4 than 3. They are most stable and shorter in 4 than in 3. there is still about 6ms of pre/post ringing in either mode. Ref 3 also has some other issues like what looks like DC offset and added latency. :tu:

scherbakov.al
KVRer
8 posts since 14 Feb, 2017

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:39 am

this signal:

ImageImage


after applying the headphone profile for the DT990 pro:

ImageImage


zero latency:

ImageImage

The result of the correction is the addition of ringing, loss of space.

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Burillo
KVRAF
3672 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:13 am

now do the same with any other EQ, and watch the same thing happen. that's kind of how EQ works.
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JCJR
KVRAF
2872 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Sonarworks 4

Post Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Burillo wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:13 am
now do the same with any other EQ, and watch the same thing happen. that's kind of how EQ works.
Yup no free lunch. I wonder if there are any non-trivial (ie useful) EQ tweaks that do not lengthen the impulse response?

Well for example you could lengthen the impulse response with a peaking filter boost and then return to the original starting impulse response with a PRECISELY MATCHED peaking filter cut but I would put that in the trivial do-nothing category.

Maybe a smart enough dsp filter can shorten a room or headphone "full system impulse response" in similar fashion to the nulling of a peaking filter with a precise-enoigh matched inverse filter.

I'm very ignorant but some claim it is somewhat possible for very small listener position sweet spots. Supposedly the bigger the sweet spot you want, the looser the results to reasonably expect. And supposedly only mimimum phase problems are real amenable to such a fix. Some room problems are and some are not.

I never tried room correction software. Just room treatment then REW measurement to help imform manual tweaking of a dbx driverack always connected to the studio monitors.

SW might be lots better. Dunno. For room correction SW I would want a separate little pc at least powerful enough to always run the room correction SW and do nothing else. Just a direct replacement of the driverack in the system.

In which case the software would also need to use a multiport audio interface and run the triamp speaker crossovers. Otherwise something like the driverack would have to stay in there anyway to do the crossover job.

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