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Sonarworks True- Fi EQ Program

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by Koukol, Jun 15, 2018.
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  1. Koukol
    Has anyone heard of this headphone correction program?
    Here's a link but as usual the site collects cookies.

    The claim is we're not getting the sound intended from studio producers and technicians with our headphones.
    You just start the program and type in your HP make and model and voila!.. they've been corrected :)

    This leaves me with so many questions like how would they know what was intended by so many producers with so many mixing techniques and equipment.
    And if they DID by some sort of miracle...why not make their own headphone instead of "correcting" everyone else's?

    I tried the free audition for my HD600 and not surprisingly the bass and treble needed boosting.
    I'm pretty sure any HP enthusiast knows both the bass and treble are not heaviest or brightest with the HD600's so sure the app sounded better on some recordings.
    Let me guess...with Grados the high end (sizzle) is reduced while the bass is boosted.

    Unless otherwise explained here I see this essentially as a scam when it comes to the claims.
    This programs isn't cheap especially when you can download free vst's and use a little knowledge of the HP you own.

    However, what does peak my interest are the HP's that are custom made to each and everyone's hearing.
    I think they're from Australia.
    This would be similar to getting prescription eye-wear...no?
    I recently had a hearing test which showed I struggle with hearing around the 6-8khz range typical for someone my age.
    But still, this would only rule out one factor...our ability to receive.
    There's still the question of how well the actual studio technicians/producers could hear.
    There was a famous monitor many producers used for mixing at one point in time.
    It was a Yamaha Y (something)
    The consensus was that if they could make the music sound good on those monitors the music should be fine or better elsewhere :)

    Since some old vinyl is so flat sounding (to my ears) I'm convinced with these recordings they factored in many use their stereos EQ settings or at least the Bass Boost.
    Just a theory.
  2. Bern2
    Not a scam. While I'm not familiar with True-Fi..I have been using Sonarworks reference 3 for the last couple of years to EQ the Sennheiser HD800. It works very well. I had the HD600...but they are much more neutral than the 800 and IMO didn't benefit a whole lot.


  3. castleofargh Contributor
    it's not a scam at all, but yes it's an EQ preset(or one for each headphone model). unless you really feel that you need this topic to be able to criticize the product more freely(with legitimate arguments!), I'd advise to go read and ask questions on the dedicated topics linked by Bern2. several people there have knowledge and experience using those. and sometimes the Sonarworks guy comes to play too.

    of course you can EQ your headphone yourself to what feels neutral or enjoyable. but it so happens that many people don't know how to do it, and instead end up making a mess. Sonarworks sells a default calibration that follows their own rules of what they think is neutral for most people. you will happen to agree, or not, depending on your own HRTF(the shape of your head and ears). there is no magical neutral for everybody in one curve on headphones, that much is a fact. but we're still all pretty similar with a limited amount of triangle heads with 3 ears, so a fine average curve should feel well balanced to most people. that is what they're trying to sell based on the measurements of a bunch of headphones on a dummy head and the correction curves they came up with.
    in any case, if you're used to EQing your gears, maybe you really don't need something like that. I also tried the demo and was surprised/pleased to see that one of my EQ for my hd650 was almost dead on their target(funnily enough it's not the curve I find most neutral but a curve I really set by taste. something I find less tiring than my own idea of neutral). it made me think that they were doing something right, and obviously also made me think I didn't need them. but if they had offered this to me 10years ago, when I was really the worst at using an EQ, I would have bought their solution without a second thought. because as you noticed yourself, they compensate areas where it's fairly obvious that the headphone could use some help. so even if it's not real flat for my very own head, it sure is closer for me than most headphones without any EQ.

    the customization where you send your headphone or buy one directly from them, is simply the same calibration but made based on measuring that specific pair of headphone(it has nothing to do with you or your own head). the advantage beyond them trying to apply their target more accurately on your pair of headphone after they measure it on a dummy head, is that the resulting EQ is per channel. so the result will better match the left and right drivers. some manufacturers already pay extra attention to that and the change might be insignificant. others don't make that much effort, and you might appreciate that extra step toward balanced response. I didn't care much, but only because I have already done that myself with my own measurements. so I'm the guy who doesn't care for those solutions, but only because I did it all myself already.
  4. Koukol
    Thanks for chiming in CF.

    When I said "I see this essentially as a scam when it comes to the claims." I was referring to, (and tried explaining) how I fail to see how Sonarworks could know what the intention of all the recordings were throughout time.
    "As the studios intended" is a mighty big claim.
    A case in point is I've noticed a certain Artist has been putting out a lot of sharp (actually shrill for me) music lately (P Paul Fenech/Meteors) which leaves me wondering if this was intended or is the old codger missing upper frequencies with his hearing like me.
    I no longer have the free trial period but I doubt boosting the treble on my 600's would help these recordings unless the Artists intention was torture.

    I hope I came off more as a skeptic than a unbeliever since I'm far from the brightest here when it comes to the science of sound and wanted to start this conversation to essentially learn what i'm missing.
    At the moment I see True Fi as a glorified EQ setting tailor-made for each headphone from the ears of the Sonarwork people and nothing more.
    I never said it didn't improve the sound because it did with some recordings by typically boosting the two exciting areas.

    For me what's baffling is what does Sonarworks know that Sennheiser and others don't?
    Wouldn't shopping for a HP be similar to going to an Optometrist where we find the lens that works best for each of us individually?
    There's no correct lens/HP for everyone.

    This is essentially a what am I missing here thread.
    I've been accused of over thinking things and therefor confusing myself many times in the past.
    It wouldn't surprise me if this is one more.

    BTW~Unfortunately the search here didn't work for me so I have to look into what I did wrong.
    Bern was kind enough to reply which I thanked him but see that post is now missing.
    I'm fine with you deleting this thread since I'd rather join the discussion already started.
    Of course it's up to you :)
  5. castleofargh Contributor
    obviously anytime you get some version of "like the artist intended" brought up in marketing, you're right to be skeptical. I believe what they mean in this case(and maybe I'm wrong) is that they worked out their target signature by measuring some idea of flat speakers in a nice room/studio with their dummy head. they have a serious background in speaker measurements so I don't doubt that they know what they're doing in that area. then by trying to provide a headphone signature closer to that speaker idea(without reverb, crossfeed etc), they consider that you're getting a little closer to the sound intended to be heard. which isn't false when we consider that most albums were mastered on fairly well calibrated speakers. I wouldn't agree that we're getting anything like the original sound the artist intended, but I agree about a likely incremental move toward it. ^_^
    but you're right that it's a universal target response and ideally we'd all need our own calibration for headphone. and some DSP so that the stereo works better than it does on headphones. but just like you probably don't get your signature when you buy a headphone, it's possible that you also don't get it when you use such a universal EQ. the assumption is that your head is average enough so you'll get close to a perceived neutral with the EQ.

    based on Harman's work on headphones, a super objective approach isn't enough. because we lack the room, because the stereo is messed up, because we don't get tactile bass, or simply because of personal taste. and so many assumptions about why we ultimately prefer a slightly different response. now IDK how Sonarworks exactly comes up with a response, so I don't feel like I have the necessary information to draw conclusion about the objective merits of their apps. I just know that like with most generic solutions, some people never want to listen to a headphone without it ever again, and others just don't like it and don't feel like it's neutral at all. which is to be expected IMO.

    they don't know anything that headphone manufacturers don't know. but headphone manufacturers usually sell headphones, not a full playback chain. so they have to tune things electrically while having to mind that the amp used by the consumer may change significantly in electrical properties. and they may find limitations or have no choice but to make some concessions mechanically and acoustically. so the end result might not always be exactly what they wanted to achieve. even if a little EQ could go a long way to fine tune or solve some of their issues, by default most headphones will be made dismissing that solution. convolution or other effects are so far mostly used to make pretty bad headphones sound better because it's a really good alternative to big money or great engineering. but for example, Audeze has the Reveal plugin for their headphones. and it's not that Audeze headphones are crap without EQ. they simply get an extra tool with DSP and they thought it would be worth it to provide it. but they also don't provide listener customized sound. only something based on a generic target. and it's very possible that their target and Sonarworks' are a little different. ultimately you try and decide what you feel about it. there is no right or wrong, if it doesn't fit your HRTF or taste, who cares that it's more neutral for the plastic model of the most average human being. on the other hand I still believe as I said that their curve is probably taking you closer to flat than most headphones without any EQ. so I'm not surprised that many people like it and find the result more balanced.

    in conclusion, you were just looking too much into it, and yes it's just an EQ to make a headphone sound more like some target they consider more neutral. plus the cool channel matching for custom calibrated pairs which is another thing to pay for.
    Koukol likes this.
  6. bigshot
    When you calibrate your headphones to the same response curve used in professional studios, you’re hearing it as close to the way they heard it as you can. The only way to get closer would be to listen on calibrated full range speakers.
    Koukol likes this.
  7. Koukol
    Isn't this what a reference pair of cans are?
    As a recording Artist I know the importance of a neutral can like the AKG 240's Studio when recording.
    However, it's pretty lifeless for listening enjoyment for many types of music...at least for me.

    ..."because we lack the room, because the stereo is messed up, because we don't get tactile bass..."

    I didn't realize they also worked in cross-fading and bass management into the results.
    Now that I think of it they asked me to also put my age in the equation.
    I assume they know what I just learned, from a hearing test, that I have a slight reduction in the 6-8khz range.
    I was told it was typical for an old codger like me :)
  8. bigshot
    I’ve never seen headphones used in recording for anything other than isolation in the booth or editing. All reference is on speakers. It’s different with amateur recording I imagine.
  9. castleofargh Contributor
    this only does EQ. I mentioned some of the reasons why matching frequency response objectively as an isolated problem, wasn't necessarily enough to feel the same thing as when listening to speakers. simply because it is not the only difference.
    for actual speaker simulation you need more than just an EQ. but even then you can find stuff like OOYH using a universal calibration, or fully customized gears like Smyth Realiser. and many people are very happy with OOYH, other like myself have a messed up head(understand not average enough^_^), and need more customization to feel "real". but even when you have the very best speaker simulation, you still have to settle on what you will decide on as your reference. will one studio sound exactly like another one? probably not.
  10. Koukol
    We're getting off point here.
    Whether or not professionals use a reference HP for mixing it still is meant as a tool that won't color the sound... no?

    BTW~ While not ideal I've read many times that using HPs can be fine for mixing as long as one tests the results on as many systems after.
    And yes, of course this would be for those of us amateurs who don't have the luxury of a Professional Studio.
    So, for me, In the end I make sure my mix works well on my monitors, headphones, home stereo and car stereo.
  11. bigshot
    My point was that the reason to equalize was to calibrate to the same response curve used in the studio. This gets you closer to what the engineers and artists heard when they made the album. If you want to get even closer to what they heard, you need speakers.

    As I said, I've never seen headphones used in a professional studio for anything but editing and isolation. The sorts of headphones you see in a studio are "beaters"... inexpensive cans they buy in bulk and pile up in a cupboard for when they need to isolate a whole band at once. I've never seen anyone use headphones for mixing. That would be a waste of time, because you'd have no idea of how the bass would feel or how the sound blooms.

    The only references I've ever used to mix are the main studio monitors, then when that is perfect, a quick pass through small speakers to see if there's stuff that they can't handle. We never used small speakers for mixing, only for checking a mix.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  12. Koukol


    How did this thread become about studio techniques?

    You're missing my sincere question.
    Forget about whether anyone uses HP's in the studio or not.
    I KNOW the typical techniques Professionals use.
    So I'll ask again...

    Isn't a HP like the AKG 240K Studio Reference already calibrated to have the same studio response curve?
    If not why is this arguably the best open back seller at most musical equipment stores and rarely found in Audio stores if ever?
    The HP is suppose to be a neutral can.
    Does the "Reference" stamp mean something different here?

    To continue the off topic discussion to explain myself further...

    Yes, I know about "beaters" used by everyone one involved for tracking...they must be closed or they defeat the purpose...no?
    With this situation being closed is more important than accuracy.
    Many Producers recommend giving the worst beater to the drummer:)

    And about "wasting time" without hearing and feeling the bass in an open room.
    I told you I'll use BOTH my monitors and a HP's cause' I want to hear the final mix as close as possible as to what others will but more importantly I'm restricted by my environment like many others are.
    I live and therefor record in an apartment.
    Besides, I don't know the statistics but my guess there's just as many people listening to music on their HP's over a room stereo by now if not more.
    I know I do and believe HP's offer a fine tuning not heard by room monitors.
    I could never dissect other peoples music without HP's
    The average HP user won't know about cross-feeding and other "room correcting" programs and probably wouldn't care.

    So, at this point in time I can only get away with checking the mix every once in a while with my room monitors to ensure things like the chosen reverbs don't get muddy once natural room reverb is added.
    I already said this not an ideal way of mixing but I'm only recording for myself.

    Closer to the topic of this thread...
    I now would love to know the correct curve to apply to my HD600's
    Right now I feel they're too muddy around 200-300Hz and lack openness (8-10K)
    I guess I'll have to do some Googling.
  13. bigshot
    The question I was answering was, how does a balanced frequency response guarantee you're hearing what the engineers and artists heard in the studio were hearing and approved. My answer was, the people who made the album were monitoring it on a set of calibrated speakers. If you have a calibrated speaker system, you can get very close to what they heard. If you use headphones, a balanced response will get you as close as you can get, but it won't quite be the same as what the artists and engineers heard in the studio, because they don't use headphones to monitor in the studio.

    Is that clearer?

    If you want to calibrate your particular headphones, grab a set of measurements and compare the curve to the Harman curve and make compensations to correct the imbalances in your particular cans. There is a thread on that in this forum. That will get you as close as you can get with headphones.

    I would strongly recommend against using headphones to mix for commercial release. You need a better reference than that. Even little near field monitors are better than headphones.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  14. Steve999
    I don't know how reliable these measurements are but it least it might be a data point for you:


    For my HD580s, which are similar to your HD600s, on my Behringer DEQ2496 DSP I pretty much just bring up the low bass a little and the upper treble up a little and it helps anyway. It gets you closer. That's good enough for me.

    If anyone has any comment on how reliable the Headroom measurements are I'd be interested. I've never been quite sure.


    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  15. Koukol
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