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Sonarworks Software – How it Works & How to Use It

02/11/2021
If you’re in the market to set up your own home studio and looking for what you need to get up and running, you’ve probably come across Sonarworks – and with good reason. But what is it, and how will it enhance my studio experience?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, then you are in the right place to find out everything you need to know about Sonarworks. Understanding what Sonarworks is and how it works will help you to determine its value to you as a producer, mixing, or mastering engineer and whether you need it for your studio.


What is Sonarworks?

Sonarworks, put simply, is a calibration software for your headphones and studio monitors. Calibration software is a relatively new technology in the realm of music production, but since the introduction of Sonarworks in 2012, it has been widely adopted by over 70,000 professional studios and continues to be a critical part of the professional workflow to this day.

Sonarworks SoundID Reference is available in two options: studio monitor and headphone calibration, and headphone calibration only.

Based on Grammy-nominated patented audio technology, Sonarworks SoundID Reference for headphone measurement technology is powered by PAPFR (Perceived acoustic power frequency response). This is an innovative measurement technology that analyses the response of a headphone (as perceived by the human ear) to create the most accurate and flat response possible.

The SoundID Reference for Speakers requires the use of a reference measurement microphone (this can be purchased with Sonarworks SoundID Reference or you can use your own). This takes you through a comprehensive, 37-step setup that measures the acoustic response of your studio monitors in different positions, and then applies a correction curve to eventually create a flat EQ.


Why do I need calibration software?

Having an accurate monitoring system is essential, regardless of whether you’re using headphones or studio monitors.  Why? You need to ensure the adjustments you make in your productions are a direct result of the sounds of the tracks you are working on, and not a response to the frequency curve of your speakers or headphones in your studio.

This maintains that every technique you use to change the sound of your tracks in your projects reflects what the end-user will hear, rather than combat the inaccuracies of your monitoring equipment.

Sonarworks SoundID Reference eliminates any guesswork you will do in your projects, ensuring that your mix or master will translate onto other playback systems more accurately for a better listening experience.

Of course, buying the best studio monitors and headphones available to you at the time goes a long way in resolving these issues. However, this cannot be seen as the complete solution to achieving a flat monitoring environment as, often, even the best studio monitors and headphones will ‘colour’ your sound – sometimes in quite extreme fashions.

With the surge in home studios, portable mixing setups, and more entry-level music production products available – the need for more accurate monitoring has never been greater. As more equipment becomes widely available at lower price points, more and more people are able to create music from the least expected and unconventional of places.

Whilst this presents more opportunities for people to unleash their creativity and spark their passion, these situations can also entail difficult acoustic challenges.

Inexpensive studio monitors and headphones introduce imperfections to your frequency response and do not present a ‘flat’ listening experience. This, when paired with untreated rooms, is a recipe for an unbalanced mix that will only sound good in your current environment.

The concept is a simple one. But the execution is revolutionary for the modern music-maker who may not have the pleasure of mixing their music with bespoke acoustic treatment and top of the line equipment.

Sonarworks offers a digitally calibrated system to ensure you are giving yourself the opportunity to monitor back to your music in as many listening contexts as possible. This, in turn, helps you make the right adjustments to translate your music onto as many systems as possible.

Sonarworks SoundID boasts an unrivalled level of flexibility through a comprehensive feature set and seamless integration to your workflow, taking your productions to the next level.


What Sonarworks products are available?

Coming in a wide range of options, Sonarworks software caters to any setup. Whether you’re a studio producer with multiple sets of monitors, or a bedroom musician who exclusively uses headphones – there’s a solution for everyone.


The flagship option

The flagship product has everything you need for the full Sonarworks experience. This SoundID Reference allows you to calibrate both your studio monitors and headphones and includes the reference microphone to do so.

Shop now | Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Speakers & Headphones with Mic


Already own a high quality mic?

For engineers and musicians that already own a high-quality reference microphone, this is an ideal option. Allowing you to calibrate both your studio monitors and headphones, you can still enjoy everything that Sonarworks SoundID Reference has to offer.

Shop now | Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Speakers & Headphones


Get started instantly

Environmentally conscious musicians can take advantage of digital delivery, and access all Sonarworks has to offer in an instant digital download.

Here, you will need to have your own high-quality reference microphone, or purchase separately the Sonarworks Measurement Microphone for accurate measurements.

Shop now | Sonarworks SoundID Reference – Speaker & Headphone, Digital Delivery

Shop now | Sonarworks Calibrated Measurement Microphone


Mixing with headphones?

This option contains all 385 (and growing) headphone profiles for on-the-go musicians who mix their music exclusively on headphones, no matter where you are in the world.

Of course, there’s also a digital download counterpart for the environmentally conscious – or for those who just can’t wait to get started!.

Shop now | Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Headphones

Shop now | Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Headphones, Digital Delivery


What do I get when I buy Sonarworks SoundID Reference?

Upon installation of Sonarworks SoundID Reference, you will get three separate parts of the software: a system-wide application that works stand-alone; a plug-in version that can be loaded in your DAW of choice; and the room calibration app SoundID Reference Measure.

The stand-alone application applies calibration across the main outputs of your system. This allows you to enjoy a perfectly calibrated sound through your studio monitors or headphones when using third party applications, such as iTunes or Spotify, as well as through web browsers when using streaming websites such as YouTube or Twitch.

The plugin version of Sonarworks is where you will likely find the most benefit of the calibration. Simply load up the plugin to your DAW and use as an insert on your master bus to calibrate the output of everything within your project to your headphones or studio monitors.

The measurement software, SoundID Reference Measure, takes you through the process step-by-step and gives detailed visuals on how to set up your space, ready for calibration.

To find out more on what SoundID Reference has to offer, or to get your free 21-day trial, follow the links below.

Find out more | Should I upgrade from Sonarworks Reference 4 to SoundID Reference?

Find out more | Try SoundID Reference for Free


How does it work?

Why should I get Sonarworks and how can calibration help me?

With all of this said, you may now be wondering “how can Sonarworks help me achieve better sounding mixes and productions?”. And you would be right to question this, as there are numerous factors that contribute to the final outcome of your product.

Sonarworks SoundID Reference must be thought of as a way to alter how you hear your mix, giving you the keys to identify problems and rectify them – as opposed to a tool that is simply put on your master bus that magically makes everything sound professional.

Often is the case, when you are able to see the big picture, the image becomes clearer and this is exactly what Sonarworks offers to you in abundance. It won’t improve your mixing ability, but it will give you a new way to hear your music, ensuring you make mixing and production decisions based on the needs of the project you are working on.

Spend less time fixing mistakes and finish your productions quicker. No longer will you need to reference your tracks on several different playback systems and then make multiple revisions. Get it right the first time, and get your product out to your clients or audience faster than ever before.

For mixing and mastering engineers that are limited to using headphones, Sonarworks has a library of 313 calibrations (and expanding) of the most popular headphones currently on the market. As simple as selecting your headphone from the available library and tweaking to taste, you can get up and running in no time with unrivalled accuracy.

Easy to set up in under 20 minutes with consistent upgrades and updates to the feature set, headphone calibration selection, and performance – it’s little wonder why Sonarworks SoundID Reference is trusted by some of the biggest names in the industry.


What other features are included with Sonarworks SoundID?

Jam-packed with features, Sonarworks SoundID Reference gives you a comprehensive set of controls that ensure you can create the best listening environment for your studio or headphones.

Create customised target curves and make adjustments in real-time. You have full control over the target frequency curve, including the ability to limit the calibration on a specific frequency range. A parametric EQ is offered in the main window of the interface, which can be used to rectify any deviations in your own personal hearing.

If you know you may have a dip in the upper treble region, simply grab your EQ and implement a small boost by a few dB to compensate. When you have created your customised target curve, save this as a preset for quick recall in future sessions for quick referencing.

A new feature for SoundID, the Translation Check setting lets you hear how your music will sound on a variety of popular playback systems by simulating the characteristics and frequency response of over 20 systems.

Popular in-ear headphones, laptop speakers, smartphones, TV’s, car stereos, and much more are included to ensure your music will translate across a number of different systems better than ever before.

A simplified and streamlined preset management system lets you quickly save and recall different calibration targets and monitor configurations all in the main window of the interface. For studio engineers with multiple monitors and headphones, the redesigned preset manager makes switching between profiles straightforward. Each preset is now MIDI mappable for even more powerful workflow customization.

Highly flexible performance settings ensure that you can optimise Sonarworks SoundID reference for your project, including the ability to change the type of filtering between Linear Phase, Mixed and Zero Latency Each of these introduce a different amount of phase distortion and latency, ideal for customising how Sonarworks operates – dependent on whether you’re live tracking or mixing.

Limit Controls are used to control the amount of boost that the SoundID Reference software will apply when correcting your speakers. Here, you can set a cap (in dB) on the extent that the software will apply corrections, as well as control the Low and High frequency limiting for personalised calibration.

Additional performance features include a mono button for quick mono referencing, L/R speaker swap to check the stereo alignment, and a safe headroom control to ensure that no audible distortion occurs from excessive calibration EQ boosts.


Do I still need acoustic treatment if I have Sonarworks?

Sonarworks works as monitor and headphone calibration software, offering a fantastic solution to correct the frequency response output of your equipment. While Sonarworks SoundID Reference allows you to monitor the response of your studio monitors and headphones with much more accuracy, it’s not a direct replacement for acoustic treatment.

Acoustic treatment serves to change the physical characteristics of your room and eliminate problems such as early reflections and standing waves, allowing you to listen to your mixes more objectively without room interference.

Pairing Sonarworks SoundID Reference with appropriate acoustic treatment will take your studio to the next level, offering the best of both worlds – a flat-response studio monitor in a controlled room to ensure your music can be played back with complete accuracy and transparency.


Find out more

Now that you know how Sonarworks can revolutionise your production workflow, why not explore their current offerings and take the next step in your music production journey?

Shop now | Sonarworks

Find out more | Should I upgrade from Sonarworks Reference 4 to SoundID Reference?

Find out more | Try SoundID Reference for Free

Content Writer - High Tech

Cory has been known to be uncomfortable writing short biographies about himself in the third person.

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