Field Test: IK Multimedia ARC System Plug-In

May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Barry Rudolph

SOFTWARE-BASED ADVANCED ROOM CORRECTION FOR DAW USERS

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Powered by Audyssey's MultEQ, ARC System's corrective plug-in offers four target response curves.

Powered by Audyssey's MultEQ, ARC System's corrective plug-in offers four target response curves.

IK Multimedia, in partnership with Audyssey Laboratories, has released ARC System (Advanced Room Correction), the first plug-in room-correction DAW software. This complete package includes a stand-alone, software-based measuring tool with onscreen step-by-step instructions and an omni condenser measurement mic to be used with your mic preamp. The second half of the ARC is the corrective plug-in. It works in RTAS, VST or Audio Units (Mac or PC host DAW computers), uses 32-bit floating-point arithmetic and supports session sampling rates from 32 to 96 kHz.

SIZING UP YOUR ROOM

The measurement software uses Audyssey's MultEQ® to analyze patterns in the time domain and frequency responses at many locations within the room's listening area, and classifies them into clusters based on their similarities. A representative response is created for each cluster with a final response created by grouping them. This final response is used to create a room EQ filter profile that corrects frequency and phase anomalies within the area defined by the many measurement locations. This data is named and stored for later use in the ARC corrective plug-in.

The measurement software has five steps to guide you through measuring the speakers and room. To run ARC in Pro Tools, first quit the program to allow Digidesign's Core Audio application to launch and run at the required 48kHz sample rate. With the mic plugged into your preamp, you'll immediately see activity on the GUI's peak-reading meter.

I located my chair to the “mixer's sweet spot” — equidistant, four feet from my ADAM S2.5A speakers that are placed left and right in front of my Pro Tools workstation. I put a sticky paper dot directly under the center of the chair on the plastic chair mat on the floor beneath. This became position one for system calibration and starting all measurements.

To make the process repeatable, I created a layout of microphone positions on the mat using numbered dot markers spaced at 6-inch intervals — all within the shape of a large oval — with my sweet spot as the center. You'll need to take a minimum of 12 measurements whose sequential order must alternate or mirror each other from side to side and from front to back. For the highest accuracy, I placed dot markers for the system's maximum of 32 measurements.

To calibrate at position one, a continuous stream of pings from both speakers is emitted in step 3. These pings are short-frequency sweeps from low to high. When the words “Signal level is OK” light up solidly in the GUI, you've got enough signal level to continue with your measurements.

I started my measurements making sure that the microphone was pointed at the ceiling and at the height of my ears while sitting in the chair. Any extraneous noises — such as a loud truck going by or A/C noise during a measurement step — will necessitate repeating that step.

The software accomplishes each measurement by sending 10 pings — first from the left and then from the right speaker. The GUI then prompts you to move the mic to the next position. Then once you click on “Take Measurement,” you have three seconds to get out of the way before the next set of pings starts.

Once all 32 measurements are made, click “Finish” and the software creates a correction profile file. You can rename/delete profile files only by drilling down to the ARC folder in HD/Library/Application Support/IK Multimedia/ARC. The ARC corrective plug-in is the only place you can check and hear the results of your measurements. It would make sense to have the graphical information show up in the measurement tool before you boot up your DAW. Immediate changes in the speakers and/or room could be quickly verified with another set of measurements.






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