Tips for using Sonarworks Sound ID
Anyone who’s talked with me about music production for any length of time knows that I preach the gospel of Sonarworks Sound ID. For people working at home, it’s literally the difference between dead accurate monitoring and having no idea what you’re doing — good decisions based on hearing things inaccurately are bad decisions. In other words, Sound ID is a huge, game-changing difference!
Here’s what I’ve learned from years of working with Sound ID; hopefully some of these ideas will be help to any of you who might be interested in doing room correction in your room.
Spend the extra $50 to get the version that comes with the measurement microphone. Sonarworks measure the frequency response at the factory and stamp a serial number on the side of the mic; you can input the serial number during the measurement process and it will take that specific mic’s frequency response into account. https://storeus.sonarworks.com/products/soundid-reference-for-speakers-headphones-with-measurement-microphone
Figure out exactly where your head is positioned when you’re working on music — I mean EXACTLY — and put a straight mic stand there, the top of which is extended to precisely the midpoint of where the mass of your head would be, directly between your ears. That will be the central reference point for taking your measurements. I literally had Shannon stand behind me and put a hand over each of my ears, and then I ducked out and moved my chair and put the stand in place while she was holding that position.
When you hold the reference mic to take the room measurements that the application walks you through, have it on a much longer XLR than you think you would need. Stand back and put your body perpendicular and hold the mic out at the end of your extended arm, like you are fencing. My experience was that the more I removed the mass of my body from the equation, the more accurate the resulting measurement and corrective EQ seemed to be.
Most importantly, once you’ve gotten your measurement and corrective EQ curve, test it with music you know intimately. Stuff you’ve been listening to since you were a kid and know in your bones. You’ll know intuitively whether the low end feels right, which is a lot of what separates a helpful room correction from a slightly but fatally inaccurate room correction.
Do the measurement process a number of different times, and keep the one you like the sound of the best. They will all be a bit different.
If you’re working with a subwoofer, you may want to do a little manual adjustment of the subwoofer volume after the fact, balancing this against Sound ID’s low shelving corrective EQ. Use your ears and adjust until the low end feels like it’s hitting in a balanced way that makes intuitive sense to you.
Don't use the Sound ID plugin in your DAW, instead, use the Systemwide system extension, which loads as a system-level audio driver; that way everything on your computer goes through the corrective EQ. Bandcamp, YouTube, media players, websites, etc.
Don’t put off doing Sound ID because you’re waiting to treat your room more; the software is so good that it may obviate any theoretical need to do more treatment. And if you do decide to do more treatment in the future, you can always create a new correction profile to go with it. Don’t wait — you can have accurate sound in your room right now.
Making key decisions based on accurate input — jamie