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Sonarworks Reference 4 for headphones


I'm a casual listener and seem to be always looking for a way to improve my listening experience.  The ability to change tone on the fly is nice, especially when compensating for less than optimal recordings.  In the study, my quiet listening chain is PC with jRiver-DAC-BeePre2-Kaiju-HD800.  The 800's just feel good on my head for long listening periods and I've grown to have a love hate relationship with them.  Often I get fatigued after a while depending on what I'm listening too.  Recently I've been exploring equalization on the digital end and have played with the faders and parametric EQ functions built into jRiver.  After some looking around I stumbled upon Sonarworks Reference 4 for headphones and their free trial and who doesn't like a free trial.

I've got a few hours of listening with it so far and count me impressed.  There is so much you can do on the fly that it's a little overwhelming, especially for an untrained ear. With the built in HD800 curve I've been A/B-ing favorite recordings and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it.  When active and with 100% simulation, it's a little boring. Maybe that's why I was drawn to the 800's in the first place?   What's saved it for me is you can control how much sim is in the signal with a wet/dry fader. With recordings I know well,  40% wet sounds pretty nice.  This has taken the edge off the 800's without decreasing my listening experience.

I'm leaning towards purchasing the program but will use the 21 day trail to the fullest. If you haven't tried this program, it's worth a try and I would like to hear others impressions of it.

I haven't tried Sonarworks and will check it out if it can be made to work with Roon. But I have tried Audeze's "Reveal" DSP plug-in for Roon that is specific to my LCD-4 headphones. Like the the Sonarworks, it can be dialed in from 0% (Dry) to 100% (Wet). And there are two filters to choose from: "low latency" and "linear". I played with it a bunch when it first came out, but haven't used it in about a year b/c I found I lost some detail.

Does anybody here know how these EQ-type thingies work? In the case of Roon, J-River, etc. players, I figure they must be doing their magic before the DAC. If so, do they first convert the digital to analog, then manipulate the analog and convert back to digital (DA->manipulation->AD) before sending the adjusted signal to the DAC? Or do they act directly on the digital signal itself? Or follow some other process?

I am pretty ignorant about the digital to analoq conversion process, but would think that additional DA and AD conversions via your computer's processor might not be a good thing, sound-wise. But I could well be wrong.

cheers, Derek


--- Quote from: Deke609 on February 19, 2021, 06:07:40 AM ---I played with it a bunch when it first came out, but haven't used it in about a year b/c I found I lost some detail.
--- End quote ---

If it's done before the DAC it's all digital.  The concept of loss of detail I chock up to a preference in frequency response.


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