Sonarworks Reference 3 is a calibration software solution that corrects frequency response problems in both studio monitors setups and headphones. This article explains the frequency response curves displayed within the Reference 3 software. At first glance, the curves appear to be quite puzzling, and so in this article we aim to help you to understand what each curve represents and how to adjust Sonarworks Reference 3 settings.
Sonarworks Reference 3 For Monitors
Sonarworks Reference 3 For Headphones
Before - Blue
If you are using Sonarworks Reference 3 to correct the frequency response of studio monitors then the Before curve displays the frequency problems for both left and right monitors within the studio. The Before curve is generated after the measurement process using the measurement microphone. In the example above the Before curve displays noticeable differences between my left and right monitors below 200Hz. If you wish to use Reference 3 to correct the frequency response in headphones then a headphone calibration file is required. A large number of headphone calibration files are bundled with Reference 3, these are called average headphone calibrations (please check the Sonarworks website for supported headphones). If your headphones are not on the list Sonarworks have a service that measures your headphones and will provide you with a headphone calibration file unique to your set of headphones, these are called individual headphone calibration files.
Target - Red
The Target curve is the destination and is displayed as a red EQ curve. The Target is what we want Reference 3 to aim the Before frequency response curve to in order to correct the frequency response. In this example, you see that the Target is flat. The Target is set by default to flat as many users require a flat frequency response for monitoring. Target curves can be customised or set to Simulate frequency responses of other monitors - such as Yamaha NS10s.
Correction - Green
The Correct curve displays what Reference 3 is applying in terms of correction to your system based on the Target curve. In this example, the correction all but mirrors the Before curve as the Target curve is set to flat.
After - Purple
The After curve displays the actual correction - the frequency response of either monitors or headphones. You can see in this example that there is a slight 3 dB bump at around 40Hz - 50Hz with the frequency response above 200Hz being as flat as the Target curve. The After curve will change depending on how the Filter Phase is set under Advanced.
Filter Phase - Yellow
The Filter Phase is an important setting that is found under Advanced. It's important to note that this setting can change the amount of plug-in latency in the DAW. To explain this let me keep this simple without going into a physics lesson - The Filter Phase tightens the results displayed in the After curve, as you can see in this examples. Setting the Filter Phase Type to Linear will result in a much tighter stereo image but at the cost of higher plug-in latency and CPU resources. Setting the Filter Phase Type to Minimum results in a good stereo image, however, I prefer the results of the Linear setting.
The Limits curve isn't really a curve, more of a reference to the limits of boost applied to the Correction curve. Limits can be adjusted under setting. Think of Limits as a line of defence for your monitors or headphones. Use the Limits control to limit the amount of boost in the Correction curve. I have strong Active Adams monitors so I set the Limits to Normal 12 dB boost for full correction. If I used smaller passive monitors with a small power amp I would set the limits to Reduced 6 dB.
Try Sonarworks In Your Studio
Download the free demo of Reference 3 from the Sonarworks website - Let us know how you get on.