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I can speak from personal experience that two of the greatest challenges in building out a home music studio are room treatment and monitoring environment tuning.

Treatment is the sound conditioning of the room itself with acoustic panels and the like — basically reducing or eliminating sound reflections that can affect both recording and monitoring quality. Tuning, on the other hand, is taking whatever treated environment you have, and adjusting the monitoring settings to ensure that what you hear from the monitor speakers is accurate, and reasonably flat, at your usual listening position in front of your mixing desk.

The challenges with tuning can be many. But given that most studio monitors have fairly few and generally coarse-level options for changing the EQ of the speakers for optimal listening, and coupling that with that fact that many (or most) of us — me included — are not trained audio engineers, tuning can quickly turn into a hit-or-miss affair. That, in turn, colors the mixes we put out, skewing frequencies during EQing and mixing that can then result in harshness or dullness in the finished product. If you care about what your mixes sound like, then optimizing the listening environment properly can make a real difference.

Over the years, I’ve tried a couple of hardware-based, studio-monitoring tuning solutions. The concept is quite similar to what you might have experienced with home-theater gear: Essentially, a microphone is placed at the listening location, a series of audio signals are generated, the mic picks it all up, and corrects the EQ based on what it “hears” during the test.

The hardware solutions I tried were great in concept, but not so much in practice. One solution simply never successfully completed a calibration; the other worked initially, but the hardware failed later. So… enter a new solution hailing from the Baltic republic of Latvia: Sonarworks 4 Studio Edition. Aside from a calibration microphone, it’s a software-based solution to the problem.

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