Before we get into the Pro & Cons of Speaker Calibration software I was to address the elephant in the room. Speaker Calibration is often referred to as Room Calibration, it has been brought to our attention that this is misleading. We have used the term "Room Calibration Software" many times in our articles and for that we apologise. Friend of the blog Andy Munro, who is a leading specialist in acoustics, raised this issue in the comment section of our news coverage of Sonarworks Reference 4.
I do wish people would stop referring to DSP monitor manipulation as 'Room Correction'. A room is a physical entity with very specific characteristics such as reverberation and modal distribution, specular reflections and background noise. All of these things have an effect on what we hear and how we hear it.
Now that we are all on the same page... Let's weigh up three Pros & Cons of Speaker Calibration software. If you are considering introducing Speaker Calibration into your workflow then this article aims to help you make an informed decision.
If you are a Speaker Calibration software user and have some of your own Pros & Cons to share then please add them to the comments section below.
I am myself a Speaker Calibration user, my system of choice is Sonarworks Reference 4. I have used images from Reference 4 to support this article but each point has been written to talk generally about Speaker Calibration.
Speaker Calibration software alters the frequency response of studio monitors providing users with a more neutral listening environment. These solutions work very well. The whole point of Speaker Calibration is to help users produce better mixes that translate better in "real world" playback systems.
Speaker Calibration typically only calibrates the main listening position - the sweet spot between the monitors. Listening to mixes at different positions within a room through Speaker Calibration software can sound horrendous. Different positions can be measured such as a client sofa area and switched to if needed.
When Speaker Calibration measurements have been taken from the monitoring setup the results will show a variety of cuts and boosts throughout the frequency response. Speaker Calibration software will add or subtract to the measurement curve providing a more neutral "flat" listening experience.
If the measurement show a 12dB cut at 80Hz in the monitoring setup the Speaker Calibration software will compensate this cut by adding 12dB of 80Hz back in. The only problem with this is that the software will lower the output level of the Speaker Calibration plug-in to avoid digital clipping... similar to how we use an EQ plug-in in mixing applications. Monitors have less volume.
Software Monitoring Controller Features
Speaker Calibration Software can offer extended monitoring control. Users can monitor in Mono and simulate other playback systems, both very handy mix tools.
With all the processing that goes on under the hood in Speaker Calibration software playback latency can be an issue, especially if you are mixing to picture. Luckily Sonarworks Reference 4 is now zero-latency (63ms at sample rate 44.1Hz)