A little while back I wrote an article called How to Mix Better in Headphones. It featured a special piece of tech from Sonarworks, called Reference, that helps to flatten out the frequency response of your headphones. If you missed it, check it out here.
Another version of the plugin allows you to use a room testing kit (available from Sonarworks) to calibrate for your room and monitor speakers, flattening out the frequency response there as well. This is of great use for home-based project studios that suffer from a myriad of pesky acoustic gremlins!
Today, I’m bringing you an update as Sonarworks has recently made a big step forwards. Up until now, their Reference plugin has needed a DAW to host it. You could monitor audio through the DAW when you’re producing or mixing. But what about when you just want to listen to music? Such as with iTunes, Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud etc. This is where the fun starts.
Systemwide is a fresh new release from Sonarworks that solves the “I just wanna stream something on Youtube, but I also want the audio to be calibrated” type situation. It allows you to use the same calibration files for headphones, and load them into a stand-alone version of their Reference software. No DAW required!
How it Works
After installation, all you do is launch Systemwide, and:
- Pick your calibration profile and turn on the calibration.
- Pick your output device (such as your built-in headphone out, or a soundcard)
- Select Sonarworks Systemwide as your computer’s audio output device.
Presto! You’re now listening to calibrated audio from any regular source. Easy peasy.
Having only used Systemwide for a brief time, I can say it’s super simple, straightforward and it does what it does well. It brings the concept of flat reference-grade audio to pretty much any source and media type. It solves the common, real-world problem of having to drag reference tracks into your DAW to compare them with your mix. Boom! They have a free trial, check it out here.
Systemwide is €99 / $99 USD / $150 CDN and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. They also offer educational discounts, check them out here.
Note: Systemwide doesn’t work with Airplay or AVID devices. Make sure you check their list of supported headphones before buying.