U N DER T H E HOOD
SONARWORKS REFERENCE 4 AND SONARWORKS SR By Brian Berk
With a goal of establishing a “groundbreaking new digital sound,” Riga, Latvia-based Sonarworks introduced its Reference 4 sound-calibration software. Sonarworks also offers a complete calibration package that unifies both headphones and speaker tonal response under its Studio Reference (Sonarworks SR) standardization technology. “Due to this, Sonarworks Reference 4 seems to be the most popular studio calibration solution on the market,” Martins Popelis, co-founder and vice president of products at Sonarworks, told the Music & Sound Retailer. The main idea for Reference 4 is to make sure that end users on the listener end can enjoy the music to their fullest, Popelis added. “Of course, it’s easier said than done! We’re tackling the problem from the creator and listener side simultaneously. Studio headphone and speaker calibration allows artists and engineers to work more efficiently. Calibration on the listener side of things assures that the hard work done in studio reaches the masses unmolested by tonal coloration.” Perhaps Reference 4’s greatest asset is that it helps greatly with the problem of translation. “When someone attempts to release a piece of music (or sound design), the greatest challenge is making sure that the material has the same aesthetic impact on every playback system out there. If one’s monitoring system is colored, then everything that’s made with it will get colored as well,” said Popelis. One key feature of Reference 4 is zero
latency. What exactly does that mean? “Zero latency is crucial for monitoring recording sessions where any lag between input and monitoring output would be annoying. Same goes for playing all kinds of instruments, like midi keyboards, where you want to have immediate feedback as you interact with them,” explained Popelis. As is always important with software, updates are a crucial component, to ensure consumers use an ever-improving product. Sonarworks has released multiple updates to the product. We asked Popelis to explain the importance of Sonarworks’ latest update. “The latest update solved an issue where people would leave the plugin on while rendering their DAW projects, thus ruining their tracks. It’s not a new feature per se, but our clients have been asking for this forever. As it always is with updates, we did fix a lot of issues with certain exotic device setups.” Reference 4 is the result of tons of love and care exhibited by the people behind the product. “We’re all music lovers here at the office and more than half of us record our own stuff. Hence, Reference 4 is developed partly from team input and, of course, from listening to our users, so we always strive to address what matters. I can’t say for sure how much that dif-
fers from how products are developed elsewhere, but everyone on our team can have their hand in what sees the light of day at the end,” said Popelis. With Reference 4 having been on the market more than a year, Sonarworks has 54
had plenty of time to review feedback, which Popelis stated is “overall positive, but you know how it is. There’s always more to do! Every feature we add, every bug we fix — it’s a journey that never ends.” The MSRP for Sonarworks’ Reference 4 starts at $99 for the Headphone Edition, and goes up to $699 for the Premium Bundle, which calibrates speakers with the included measurement mic and ships with a calibrated pair of Sennheiser HD650 headphones.
Starting with the latest update to Reference 4, Sonarworks SR is now included in all of Sonarworks’ software products, effectively reducing the need for professionals to check their mixes on different listening systems while dramatically improving workflow and production times. Sonarworks SR is patented, research-driven technology that sets the frequency response to be like completely neutral speakers in a treated room. The calibration of headphones is done using a calibration profile pre-measured in Sonarworks’ lab, while the speaker calibration profile is produced by a consumer using Sonarworks measurement software on the spot. Sonarworks SR also employs speaker measurement methodology that captures sound from 37 data-source points, determined by Sonarworks researchers to be the optimal point count, providing superb accuracy and measurement repeatability, the company stated. “By establishing Sonarworks SR, we have an opportunity to align the entire audio industry on a common audio reference that works with unprecedented accuracy across different locations, devices and operators. We want to liberate music creators from monitoring translation issues, so they can focus on musical decisions rather than working around the physical limitations of their room and gear,” said Popelis. Added Grammy-award-winning engineer Smith Carlson (Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato), “Truly accurate monitoring that allows you to be fully confident in your mixes; an absolute must-have for the studio.” To help promote all Sonarworks products, the company is always present at the largest pro audio trade shows, including January’s The NAMM Show, and works closely with educational institutions. APRIL 2019