AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - July 25, 2022

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The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences AES Chapter was pleased to host a Zoom event with Sonarworks Head of Distribution, Ugis Kampars.
Based in Riga Latvia, Sonarworks started as a small startup in 2012. Since then, the company has continued to grow currently to a team of 75.
SonarWorks is solving an underlying issue that we face in the audio industry, achieving a flat frequency response within less than desirable rooms or headphones.
On average, approximately 20 percent of the time in the creation of music is wasted on dealing with mix translation.
An artist's vision is affected by sound coloration. The speakers are not the problem, the room and headphones are. One analogy that Mr. Kampars used was that it is much like wearing colored glasses while painting a masterpiece.
SonarWorks aims to remove all of the colorations of the room and the inaccurate frequency response of headphones with their SoundID Reference software. There are two ways that this is achieved: Firstly, using a measurement microphone to "paint a picture of the room" by means of their patented Automatic Microphone Positioning System. This is the only measurement tool in the world that has this capability. According to Mr. Kampars, "The way it works is almost like a video game... You point the microphone towards the speakers and the software is able to understand where you are located in your room." It guides you from point to point as you take 37 measurements around the room. It takes about 15-20 minutes, and then the software has a very good understanding of what your room's acoustics look like. The algorithms then create a frequency response of your room accounting for the characteristics of your speakers, the room distortion, psychoacoustic effects, etc.
SoundID Reference is the industry's most widely used calibration software, with more than 100,000 studios worldwide relying on it. All of the major studios use SoundID Reference, even though they have room treatment, to even out the final peaks and dips within the room.
Software can't solve everything, noted Mr. Kampars. "In order to obtain the best results, you should have a combination of room treatment and digital calibration." In other words, you need both. You can get good results with one or the other, but both working together will give you the most accurate results.
In regards to headphones, SonarWorks measures the frequency response of different models in their lab with their patented technology and create a profile for them in the SoundID Reference database. Right now there are more than 480 headphone models supported, and the list keeps growing.
The flattest frequency response out of the box that they have encountered is the Sennheiser HD650's. As Mr. Kampars puts it, "If you get yourself a pair of 650s and headphone calibration software, I think you're set for the rest of your life. There's not much that you can upgrade to."
Another useful feature of their software is the Translation Check. This lets you switch to a target curve of approximately 20 different presets such as cars, earbuds, and laptops so you don't have to switch between different sources to hear how they will sound in those environments.
A question was raised in regards to what multichannel room configurations that SonarWorks is compatible with. Up until May of this year, it was only limited to 2.0 stereo. They have been working hard to release a reliable way to calibrate multichannel rooms, and now they can calibrate up to 16 channels, including most of the popular Dolby Atmos configurations.
At the end of the event, those in attendance were graciously given a free 90-day trial of SoundID Reference.

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