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A Quick Start Guide to Sonarworks Reference 4

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01 - A Quick Start Guide to Reference 4
01 - A Quick Start Guide to Reference 4 - youtube Video
In this video, I’m going to show you how to setup your Reference 4 VST version, and the SystemWide version using Ableton live.

The VST works just like any other VST, however, it needs to be placed at the very last position in your mastering chain, no matter what you have inside of there. If it’s a mastering effects, metering plugins, what have you, the Reference 4 plugin needs to be at the very last position of the chain.

So inside of Ableton Live, I’m on my mastering chain here, you can see my mastering effects. I’m going to take the Reference 4 plugin, drop it at the very last position, and now if I play my audio and go ahead and activate the plugin…


I’m getting my filter calibration, and it’s sounding fantastic. Now, you want to remember to bypass this whenever you’re bouncing your audio. To bypass it, you can do it a number of different ways. You can do it inside of the VST itself by clicking the power button here, or you could do a hard bypass by clicking the power button on the VST inside of Ableton Live.


Both of these methods will work equally well, however, you don’t need to use the VST. You can actually use the SystemWide app. If I come in here and delete the VST, minimize Ableton Live, here is the SystemWide application. Right now it’s bypassed, and that’s a good thing. You never want to use the SystemWide application in conjunction with the VST.

Now, to turn on the SystemWide app, all we need to do is click that very same power button, and now all of the applications inside of my system will run through SonarWorks. Things like my iTunes, anything I’m listening to inside of my web browser will all be filtered through the SystemWide application. However, Ableton Live will not be.

If I go ahead and play some music inside of Ableton Live…


You can notice that there’s no audio being sent through the SystemWide application, and it’s easy enough to get that routing done, but before we do that, I want to point out one other helpful thing when it comes to the SystemWide application. If you come down here into the dock, you’ll see that right now, we’ve got the SystemWide blue and white icon.

That means the calibration is active. If I click that, I can get a quick control to turn off the calibration. If I turn it off, you can see that’s reflected inside of the application, and also if we come back into the dock, you can see that the icon has changed. So that’s a good visual cue whether or not your calibration is on or off.

So I come back in, I can turn it on here, or I can turn it on inside of the application itself. They work equally well.

So to get the audio from Ableton Live to go through the SystemWide application, we need to come inside of the options inside of Ableton Live, go into Preferences, and from the Audio Output Device section, click the downward arrow, you can see that we’ve got Sonarworks here, and here. You can choose either one of these, whichever one works best for you. I’m going to go ahead and choose this here, and now if I play the audio inside of Ableton Live…


My calibration is working absolutely perfectly. So now I don’t need to worry about Reference 4 when I’m bouncing my track, however, if I’m going to do any recording, I’m going to want to turn off the SystemWide application.

So you should now have better information on how to use and when to use the SystemWide application, or the VST version inside of Ableton Live.



Sonarworks software calibrates sound on your current headphones and speakers. It provides accurate listening experience for music creators and demanding listeners. Learn more: