Sound ID Reference 4 (Quicker Review)
❌ If you don't have a set profile for your speakers, switching between monitors and headphones can be annoying
✅ Speaker and headphone calibration
✅ Over 280 pre-trained headphone models
✅ Clean and Re-sizeable GUI
✅ Custom Target EQ
✅ Referencing Sound Profiles
✅ Zero-Latency, Linear Phase and Mixed modes
✅ Standalone app, as well as plug-in
Sonarworks' SoundID Reference is easily the best playback calibration software available, for both consumers, and music industry professionals.
Offering calibration for both headphones and Speakers, as well as measurement and translation check modes, SoundID Reference uses super cool Technology.
Long story short, we've been using SoundID Reference for a while now, and we want to tell you just how awesome it is!
What is Sonarworks Sound ID Reference?
Sonarworks are probably THE name that comes up, when talking about software audio calibration, and for good reason, they're the best to ever do it.
Sonarworks was founded in 2012 by two Latvian audio engineers and has since grown into a global product, being used in over 70,000 professional recording studios and countless bedroom studios.
Their patented technologies are used by Grammy-Award-winning engineers, for artists like Madonna, Rihanna, Coldplay and Lady Gaga.
The incredible Sound ID Reference 4 software brings the best of studio quality, to lower budget set-ups, also having the capability of improving an already treated audio environments.
SoundID Reference 4 is available in 4 versions:
- A headphone-only version
- A headphone & speaker version
- Headphone & speaker version with room measurement microphone
- Headphone & speaker version with room measurement microphone & Sennheiser HD650
The Reference 4 package consists of three parts, a standalone system-wide processing app, a plug-in host version, to be used in a DAW, as well as SoundID Reference Measure.
The main goal of Reference 4 is flattening the EQ curves of your listening setup, making less accurate headphones (and even really accurate ones like Beyerdynamics), better suited for professional audio work.
Even the best studio headphones out there, struggle to provide a completely flat EQ curve, so headphone calibration is perfect, to iron out all the irregularities and peculiarities of your playback system.
A flatter EQ curve means that your mixes will translate better between different playback systems!
Reference 4 has also recently received a visual and technical overhaul, now featuring way more functionality than ever before, as well as looking extremely clean and appealing.
Sonarworks SoundID reference have a few different variations to choose from, when purchasing SoundID Reference.
In addition to the software packages, you can also get a bundle, with a measurement mic, or, the more expensive Premium Bundle, that comes with a pair of Sennheiser HD650's as well.
Here's the pricing for Sound ID Reference 4:
- SoundID Reference Headphones Only – $99
- SoundID Reference Headphones and Speakers – $249
- SoundID Reference + Measurement Microphone – $299
- SoundID Reference + Measurement Microphone +Sennheiser HD650) – $799
Do you need Sonarworks SoundID Reference?
Sound ID Reference 4 is a necessity if you're doing work in mixing, mastering or even sound design. It flattens your headphones/speakers built-in EQ curves. A flat frequency response is key to making more informed decisions, and this is ultimately what turns an amateur mix to a pro one.
An important question when buying software like this, is whether or not it's snake oil, is it even worth buying into, when you're perfectly satisfied with your playback setup?
As much as we'd like to say you don't really need SoundID Reference, we've been using it, and the difference is quite apparent.
If you mix primarily on headphones, we'd even go as far as to say, SoundID Reference is a necessity. You'll feel such a noticeable difference between having SoundID Reference, and not.
If you don't do much headphone mixing, you don't have as much of a need for Reference.
That being said, if you're using monitors in an untreated room, it's as good as buying better monitors. SoundID Reference is perfect, when you just want to have a more accurate playback characteristic.
This also means, that, no matter what room you are in with your speakers, if you take the 10-15 minutes to recalibrate your playback, you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference.
However, just like multivitamins aren't a replacement for food, SoundID Reference isn't a replacement for proper acoustic treatment and a good room. While it can improve it, nothing beats a great listening room.
As we said before, if you're mixing on headphones, oh boy are you going to be kicking yourself for not picking up SoundID Reference sooner!
SoundID Reference mobile App
While Reference is mostly meant for musicians and engineers, Sonarworks are also invested into providing a better listening experience for the masses.
Their awesome SoundID Reference Mobile App is one of the best ways to get a better sound out of your earbuds. After downloading the app, you'll have to take 5-10 minutes to calibrate the app to your sound preferences, and boom, instantly better audio in no time at all.
Perfect to get more life out of cheap Bluetooth earbuds, or customizing the sound of your already awesome speakers and headphones, the Sound ID Reference mobile app is an awesome download.
Interestingly enough, it's also completely free, so there's literally no reason why you shouldn't download it right now.
The SoundID Mobile App is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Translation Check Mode
One of our favorite features in SoundID Reference is the Translation Check mode, which adds 20 profiles for checking your mix.
What we and a hundred other production blogs keep preaching is, referencing your mix on other playback systems. Listening to your mix on your car stereo, phone and laptop speakers can often bring valuable insight into how well your mix is translating.
A cool way to quickly and easily check your mix, is to use SoundID Reference's built-in Translation Check mode profiles, to see how your mix sounds on different systems.
Profiles such as in-ear and over-ear headphones , as well as Mixcubes, NS-10's, Car stereos, TV's, laptops and more, can be accessed with just one click.
That means you can listen through these profiles to hear what it would sound like in those situations, instead of finding loads of different speakers, and transferring your mix to a playable device to do so with.
While not a substitute to referencing in real life, this is an super streamlined way to quickly and easily check your mix.
How to Set-up Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Headphones
Setting up Reference is extremely easy and painless.
In fact, 99% of the time, you won't even need to do any calibration yourself, since there are almost 300 pre–trained headphone models to choose from.
We even tried all the studio headphones we could, to see if they didn't have a profile for it. After checking Audio Technica M50X's, Beyerdynamics, Focals, as well as some weird older Sony headphones we had laying around, we can safely say we didn't run into any issues.
If you do have headphones that Sonarworks do not have the profile for, the calibration process is easy, if a little time-consuming.
Pressing “Add new headphones” will bring up a search prompt letting you search the built-in profiles.
If your headphones are not available, you'll go into calibration, where you'll have to answer simple questions and A-B between audio clips, to slowly calibrate your playback.
How to Set-up Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Studio Monitors
Setting up Studio Monitors with SoundID Reference is really different to adding a profile for a pair of headphones.
Instead of loading up a pre-set profile, you'll instead need to measure your room first, using SoundID.
Room measurements require a special Measurement Microphone, that's built to primarily measure the room acoustics.
Thankfully, you can buy the SoundID Reference bundled with Sonarworks' own Measurement Microphone, for only $50 extra.
Additionally, you can use Earthworks TC-30 mic's, as well as any other measurement mic, rated for acoustic measurement. If you don't want to purchase a measurement mic, there are always musicians close to you that might already own one, so ask around!
Calibrating your Speakers with SoundID is much easier than with standard Room Acoustics measurement software, such as REW and Fuzzmeasure.
All you really need to do, is place the microphone in the exact spot, that your ears would be, when listening to your speakers.
After this, launch the SoundID Speaker Calibration, which will run through test-tones, measuring the audio response coming back.
At the end of the calibration, you'll be presented with a calibration curve, ready to be used. Additionally, you can also see further details of your measurements, such as RT60, standing waves, as well as node points.
You can use these additional measurements, to acoustically treat your room. If you know what you need to fix, you're already a step closer to fixing it! That being said, if you want super accurate room acoustics measurements, we'd still recommend using Fuzzmeasure or REW instead.
Sound ID Reference 4 (Quicker Review)
Whether you only mix on headphones, or are a studio goblin, perched in front of your monitors for hours, you can benefit from having SoundID Reference.
From perfectly translating mixes, everytime, to just an overall better listening experience, there's many reasons to get SoundID Reference. Sonarworks is a name full of confidence, and SoundID Reference is one of those apps, where we wonder how nobody made this sooner.
So go support Sonarworks, and get yourself a copy of SoundID Reference, we know you won't regret it.
Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he's done a tonne of cool stuff! He's played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry.
Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that's intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.