ARC of the Covenant

ARC of the Covenant


I sprang for IK Multimedia’s ARC System 2.5 as they had a sale on it recently. I remember it being highly recommended by @Danny_Danzi several times, so it has been on my wish list for awhile. I have an odd shaped room, so while I had considered room treatment a number of times it seemed like hit or miss since there’s little symmetry to the room.

So I got the package with the special mic and installed the software, and took measurements. It was a little involved, but once I figured it out was pretty painless. My one challenge was having to turn the speaker Test volume up really high (to my ears anyway, SPL meter says it was about normal for mixing) with mic pre maxed out. But I got it to work. I had to wear ear protection during testing though, it seemed really loud and I didn’t need to hear the impulses at full volume anyway. The software did the work.

I think I understand what’s happening, but I’m going to play ‘dummy’ and try to learn something new here. So my main question is more around the “process” of using the room correction to improve mixing. When I first heard the corrected monitor output it sounded WAY different than I was used to, but the instructions say that’s not unusual (especially for an untreated room).

It’s kind of messing with my head actually, but doing the logic it’s starting to make sense. Before, the actual sound in the DAW could have been very good, but coming out the monitors into the room altered what I was hearing and emphasized the room anomalies. So I was actually hearing things incorrectly (which I assumed but tried to compensate). What ARC seems to be doing is creating a compensating EQ curve to “fool” my bad sounding room and make it sound “right” in my listening position. So in this case … two wrongs actually do make a right! :grin:

You’re supposed to have the plugin with room correction on all the time recording/mixing/mastering, but Bypass it before rendering the stereo mix. Makes sense I guess, but I’m wondering how all this isn’t going to really impact how I mix in a confusing way, and impact the end result by my “ears” having to adjust to how I used to hear things and how it’s all changed. I may have to do some testing and experiments to see, over time.

One heartening discovery was that what was coming out of my monitors now sounded almost exactly the same as in a pretty good pair of headphones. It was startling, but I guess shouldn’t be that surprising. I would mainly only ‘reference’ with headphones in the past, just as a mix check.

How have any of you that have used ARC found ways to adapt to it and integrate it into your workflow? I’m just thinking it’s going to be really weird for awhile, and be challenging to adapt to. Wouldn’t there be a tendency to try to mix back to my “old sound” that I had got used to? :upside_down_face: You know, old dog, new tricks.


I’m swamped for the night Stan, but I’ll come back and address this for you as well as share some arc techniques you may not have used that you may want to consider if you do a recorrect. The sound shouldn’t be where you have to relearn your room. It should sound flat and shouldn’t be pushing any frequencies to the extreme. That said, it should sound “right”. If you think you might be second guessing with it, you may need to recorrect using my guidelines. I’ll share a PDF with you that may be super useful when I come back here. If I can come back tonight I will. If not, tomorrow.


I’ll be following this thread with interest! I borrowed an omni mic and tried using the EQ Wizard a few months ago and quickly got in over my head. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Thanks Danny! I knew you’d have some great insights on this. :beerbanger:


Yeah, it’s quite a head-shift, not to mention the learning curve (not that bad actually, it’s more the change of habits). What I’m noticing now, or struggling with I guess, is setting the monitoring balance. So one head-shift is to separate what the Master Bus is doing from what the monitors are telling me, in a way. It seems to make you think about it more. The other thing is since it’s the last plugin on the Master chain, the Peak levels that were okay before are now too high, or if I try to compensate … too low. This thing does impact the levels, and there are two controls to help manage that, but I haven’t quite figured out a good approach yet.


Interesting to know.


In the manual it suggests that if your DAW has a monitoring bus, you can put the plugin on that to separate it from the Master, which would probably bypass this issue. I think I can probably create something like that in Reaper, maybe even make a mix template for it, so that’s something to look into.


That’s what I’ve set up in Reaper: a monitoring bus with room correction and another bus for my headphones on which I use the Focusrite VRM virtual monitoring system. I have to reset the room correction curve some time soon because I now use a subwoofer. Haven’t got round to it. Also, I really like my new and improved monitor sound with the subwoofer, and I worry that I wont like it any more once the room correction kicks in…


How did you go about that? I have been looking at track and Master routing trying to figure it out. I think I may be able to use ReaRoute if I can send the Master output through that to a bus and then hardware output the bus.


Ah man, you know I’d never let you down! I found an article that I wrote about it here. It’s pretty in depth but I think you’ll enjoy it:

Also, you can run the ARC in WinAmp but you’ll need a plugin loader which you can find here. This way you don’t have to always monitor through your DAW. I shared a link in my article but it’s no longer valid so I’ve given you the updated one below. Choosing one of those depends on your OS. The later version for the later OS. But they all should give you the same results.

Let me know if you have any problems or questions. Good luck!



Thanks Danny! The part about not switching the ARC plugin on and off really hit me. Of course it’s natural to try that at first, but when I read that sentence I realized I was probably just creating a lot of anxiety for myself in regard to “change”. I get the sense I just need to go with it and not look back once I can tweak it to my liking. At least give it a decent try for a few days.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I’m still struggling with getting the two volume level adjustments to work for me in terms of matching the Master bus level prior to ARC. Since it’s the last plugin on the Master chain, it is impacting the Peak levels - either too much or not enough. I’m speaking of the Trim and Monitor volume knobs on the plugin. What is a good way to get those level-matched to where the Master peak levels are the same when the plugin is disabled for render?


I ran test tones through my master bus and then through ARC while adjusting the level inside ARC. Once you get it right you shouldn’t have any issues. It may be a few increments off but not enough to ruin your mix output. Worst case scenario, run a pass of the mix with ARC off just so you can see where your levels really are. All my mixes come out at -3 to -4 to leave room for mastering. So I’m not close to messing anything up and I have ARC so close level wise, I don’t have to check with ARC off.


Right, ultimately it’s important to just make sure levels are good (with ARC off) before rendering the mix. Since I’m new to ARC, I’m just trying to avoid being fooled during mixing, take ARC off, and things are screwed up. :wink: It’s taking some getting used to.


This is something that’s always tripped me up when thinking about using room correction plugins. Thanks!


I went with an external audio multiprocessor for room correction.
Rand RPM 44

Comes with software and can be programmed via ethernet connection using Windows based software.
I ran Room EQ and got the eq adjustments required and programmed them into the RPM 44.

The RPM 44 is positioned between my audio interface’s main outs and my powered monitors and subwoofer.
No need to bypass when rendering a track and has no impact when listening to headphones.

The software interface is very flexible and powerful and allows the user to create eqs, compressors and much more.


Yeah, the more I think about it there’s the need to listen to any kind of music through the ARC plugin, in whatever way possible, as it’s retraining the ears and helping make crucial sound decisions.

I don’t know if I want to go the Winamp direction that Danny talked about, especially with the plugin wrapper thing, and it looks like you’d also need the ASIO plugin adapter to play through the ASIO interface and monitors. That one is Beta …

But I’m definitely thinking about finding ways to “reference” as much as possible through ARC.


Wow, that looks really complicated but really cool too!


First I routed all my busses to both an extra master bus (not THE Master) and a headphone bus. I keep THE Master routing as well, but mute it. The extra master bus is connected to my monitors with a REW room correction impulse loaded into ReaVerb as the final plugin. In the link below other options are mentioned which I haven’t tried (I don’t really understand why you would want to use a loop back function), but maybe its what you’re looking for.
When I render a mix I just use the Master in the usual way.

The headphone bus is routed to an extra set of outputs so I can easily set up a separate headphone (recording) mix.

I have no experience using Rearoute, I haven’t had a need for it yet.

Hope that makes sense?


I have been looking for ways in Reaper to do something like this with routing on the Master Bus, or a headphone bus. I think I’d like to route the Master to a headphone bus with ARC and link that to the monitors, that way ARC doesn’t have be disabled on render and doesn’t affect Peak levels on the Master. ReaRoute doesn’t seem to work, and I can’t see other ways to do it at the moment. I’ll keep poking around with it though.


I didn’t have to add anything to WinAmp but the wrapper, Stan. ASIO comes up stock for me. Is your interface not ASIO or something? Even if you had to use some sort of ASIO adapter, you’d only be using it for WinAmp so you could monitor through ARC. It shouldn’t mess with anything as it is WinAmp specific.

Don’t worry about the beta stuff. Just try one of those wrappers until you find one that works. I was good with 1.13 on to 1.15. It will either work, or it won’t. I’m using 1.15 for Win 7. Works fantastic and I’d recommend starting there. That’s the only way you can reference without opening an instance of Reaper or some other DAW.

As for your bus issue, there’s two ways I do it.

  1. I used to run two buses that are connected to my master bus. So my master would be sent to one of the ARC buses. I put an instance of ARC in each of the two buses. One for my Adam A 7’s and one for my NS 10’s. I do this so I can just change my master bus out to the ARC bus of my choice without opening the plug to do it each time I want to change monitors. That said…there’s no real good reason for this TODAY.

  2. I just run it on the master bus and toggle whatever monitors I want to hear. It’s almost the same as creating buses for it and you still have to toggle something…and…you still have to either shut ARC down, or reconnect your master bus to your interface out.

It took me about 2 days to remember to shut it off before exporting. You’ll remember after a few times. When something sounds weird, you know you exported with it on. Now that I’ve been using it for so many years, I never forget. It’s just a part of my habit now to make sure the little light on the plug is out before a mix out. It will come second nature to you too.

Another thing to remember. If it is sounding drastically different than your monitors with ARC off, you may want to do another correction using the methods I shared with you. You should notice an improvement for the better instantly. I didn’t have to learn my monitors. ARC took all the bad stuff out and left me with a pallet that was easy to work with. If I need bass, I add it and the mix actually needs it. The hardest thing is the bass thing. Sometime ARC takes a little low end out and it happened to me. I had to raise my sub one increment up and it fixed me. You’ll know when you do a few mixes.

I was a little bass heavy at first because too much of my lows were taken out. When I say a little, it seriously was just a little, not that mud bass. So turning up the sub an increment added more bass to my mixes which in turn forced me to mix a little bass lighter since now I was hearing the low end I needed to hear. I talked to IK Multimedia and they said you may need to do little tweaks here and there.

I’ll tell you this too…huge difference with a sub on most monitors. My Adam’s did so well with no sub, it was scary. My NS 10’s failed so bad, it was pathetic. My KRK’s were good with and without sub, and my Genelec were better with the sub. So it all depends. I even ARC’d a set of Logitech 5.1 surround speakers (I don’t use the rears) with the sub that came with them and they sound so good, I literally reference through them. It’s amazing how good they sound. People listen through them and are amazed. So it’s kinda a catch 22 as to which monitors will sound good without and without a sub once the correction is done. My old NS 10’s are completely useless. Add the sub…totally different animal.