Sonarworks: Sound Calibration Technology
Introduction to Sonarworks Reference 4 from an Audio Engineer
04.18.19 | Podcasting | By: Pat Kicklighter
I bet you’ve heard someone say, or even said yourself, “…This song or
podcast or movie trailer sounds so good on headphones… You have to listen to this on headphones…”
Have you ever thought about what this really means? Why do we like the way things sound on headphones? There are a handful of reasons but for
now, we’ll focus on one. It’s because they are engineered to have a flattering sound. They are given a specific frequency curve (“sound” or “tone” for the non-audio expert) that “shows off” the content that’s being played through them.
This is an acceptable practice for companies creating consumer grade products that make our media consumption more enjoyable. Or maybe they just want to sound different than their competitors. Whatever their reasons, when we mix and master audio at Resonate Recordings, we don’t want our headphones or speakers to “color” the sound of your podcast recording (even though it’s already been colored by your microphone, we’ll get to that in a minute). We want a blank canvas when we open your project. We want a consistent, unbiased representation of the hard work you’ve already put into your content.
That’s where Sonarworks comes in.
Sonarworks Reference 4 is a headphone and speaker calibration software that gives us the best perspective possible when producing your content. In a few words, Sonarworks provides frequency calibration profiles for thousands of different headphones, giving each engineer at Resonate a profile that matches their specific pair of headphones. So what does that mean… Remember that “engineered frequency curve” we talked about earlier that was supposed to make everything sound better? In mixing and mastering, we don’t want that influencing our creative decisions. Why? Because it isn’t relatable to people who won’t listen on those same headphones.
Think of it this way. If your phone screen was naturally more yellow than everyone else’s, and you were editing a photo on Instagram, you would most likely pick a filter that takes some of that yellow out of the photo. But there wasn’t yellow in the photo, it was just on your screen and no one else’s. So now your photo doesn’t have enough yellow in it and looks weird and you lose all of your followers and friends (just kidding).
Now imagine it’s your camera that doesn’t have enough yellow. Every
picture you take lacks yellow, and you love taking selfies and yellow just happens to be a really flattering hue on you. That’s how it is when you record with a microphone that doesn’t pair well with your voice. Microphones are just like speakers or headphones (almost identical in components actually) and have a specific frequency curve to them.
When you record with a mic that sounds bad with your voice, with headphones that accent unflattering parts of your voice you may feel like you aren’t cut out for podcasting, or you don’t have a voiceover ready for Hollywood. But with the help of Sonarworks Reference 4, we are able to get a clear, unbiased perspective of where your project stands, giving us insight into where we need to take it to succeed and translate across all kinds of audio systems.
Next thing you know, someone will be saying…” Your podcast sounds AMAZING!” on whatever system they listen on.
When working with the Resonate team for post-production on your podcast we can use tools like Sonarworks to help make sure that your audio sounds the best it possibly can, no matter what the listener’s context is.
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By: Pat Kicklighter
As an Audio Engineer at Resonate Recordings, Pat implements Resonate’s unique mixing and mastering services to ensure your podcast audio consistently sounds as polished and professional as possible. Pat lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, 2-year-old daughter & 4-year-old Lab.