Like many facets of the music production process, mixing and mastering are quickly demystified. Now, Sonarworks’s mission is to democratize the mixing process with SoundID Reference.
If you’re playing on the budget of a big label or working with the best sound engineers in the world, finalizing a recording is a snap. For everyone else, the process is fraught with daunting pitfalls, starting with the studio environment itself and ending with unpredictable results at thousands of different listening points.
Fortunately, advances in audio engineering technology make the mixing process less dangerous for everyone. One of the main players in this field is Sonarworks, based in Latvia, whose SoundID Reference software suite simplifies mixing steps such as studio grading, flatbed referencing for easier collaboration or multi-environment working. , and extensive endpoint testing.
The result is a better mix, even for creators who aren’t professional mixing engineers or don’t have the funds to mix their tracks professionally.
At DMN, we were very excited to start working with Sonarworks to make music mixing easy for as many people as possible. But it’s not just for musicians who lack expertise in mixing. Pēteris Asbahs, Digital Marketing Manager at Sonarworks, told us that SoundID Reference is operated by a range of players in the content production chain, including experienced sound engineers, musicians and producers, each using the platform. form for their specific needs.
And one of those needs is the calibration of speakers or headphones, depending on what is used for audio monitoring. For the main studio and its studio speakers, the goal of calibration is to create a precise, flat reference point for a mix that eliminates factors such as speaker-specific “coloration” and room-produced variations. . The result is a “calibration profile” that delivers a neutral sound that will safely result in a solid mix.
The studio calibration process can also be extended to headphones, allowing high-end mixing from a multitude of other environments. This includes locations that are not normally associated with sophisticated audio post-production. As a result, the flat and calibrated studio environment can be duplicated elsewhere for remote fine tuning instead of being exclusively in the studio.
Alternatively, “chamber producers” without a dedicated studio can simply calibrate their headphones for optimized reference and mixing. SoundID Reference offers pre-calibration profiles for almost 400 different studio headphone models. “You’re still working and listening to that flat sound,” Asbahs said. “You can take your laptop or tablet with your project to another environment – country house, park, another country, whatever – and continue with your work. “
Yes, mixing music in the country house with professional studio sound – now is an idyllic scene. But no matter how many different environments and devices are used to create a mix, there will be a lot more environments where people listen to that mix. And the list of endpoints is seemingly endless.
Depending on its popularity, the typical recording is consumed by thousands of compatible headphones, earphones, smart speakers, car stereo systems, laptop speakers, portable speakers Bluetooth and high-end audio systems, with big differences in sound quality and coloring.
Matching a mix with the countless listening points of the world is a daunting task, although one that SoundID Reference tackles.
The test endpoints of this software package are comprehensive, with 22 pre-defined “translation check” simulations that span a variety of listening environments. As a result, a mix can be simulated in environments ranging from low-end car speakers to high-end stereo setups, and everything in between.
This overused 1991 Toyota car system may only deliver such beautiful bass and audio balance – but at least you will know the end result. You can also ignore the proven tradition of testing a mixture in your car – which, of course, only tests one car (yours).
Already, Sonarworks is collecting serious testimonials on this version. “The difference is huge,” Imogen Heap recently said. But we were also surprised to see SoundID Reference being used by renowned mixing engineers. Example: Ariel Borujow, whose mixing credits include Mac Miller, Diddy, and Madonna. “It’s a key part of my setup,” Borujow explained.
Incidentally, SoundID Reference – available as a DAW plug-in or as a standalone software package – is the latest in a series of mixing versions of Sonarworks.
Reference is the successor to Reference 4, which itself replaced Reference 3. Users of earlier iterations will benefit from a straightforward migration experience, with enhancements including the ability to fine-tune and customize different flat target curves. Users can create custom target EQ presets on many devices while manipulating selective frequencies.
This results in greater accessibility to a complex and stressful production step. But Sonarworks could also make the mixing scene a more integrated part of the music production process. Instead of an afterthought, mixing can eventually be akin to laying the tracks themselves.
Helping this cause is affordable: SoundID Reference is $ 99 for a headphone version only, and $ 399 for the speaker and headphone set (which includes a calibration measurement microphone). All of this makes it much harder to deliver a shitty music mix.