Inserting Reference 4 plugin in DAW (advanced)



The Reference 4 plug-in should always come last in the chain. Keep it on the master output after all the analyzers and metering plug-ins. That way you can keep using the analyzer plug-ins for checking how your end mix is going to look like. The Reference 4 plug-in should be inserted after the speaker emulation plug-ins, such as Waves NX and Can Opener.

Remember that the plug-in must be bypassed every time you are exporting audio from your DAW. Otherwise, the correction will be applied to your master bus mixdown. Note that the plug-in is meant to calibrate your speakers and room just like acoustic treatment would. Failing to bypass the effect would mean adding the compensation for the sonic anomalies of your system to the rendered audio.

Make sure you make a full plugin bypass in your DAW, not just the calibration bypass inside your Reference plug-in. Most DAWs will remind you to bypass the plug-in - you can read more about which DAWs have this functionality here: Render bypass notification.


Reference 4 plug-in lowers the master volume, messing with monitoring

What if the Reference 4 Safe Headroom feature lowers your master track output volume and there is a volume burst upon disabling the plug-in?

There is a number of creative ways you can avoid the issue where the master fader VU meter is rendered useless by the plug-in. For example, you could try using an analyzer plug-in right before the Reference 4 plug-in and consult it for all of your final mix information instead of the master VU meter.

You could also use a mix bus (AUX track) as your master track, and place our plug-in on the actual master track, turning it into a dedicated Reference 4 track.

The best possible solution would be using a dedicated monitoring bus track. In case you are using a DAW with a Control Room (Cubase) or a Monitor FX (Reaper) feature, you can simply insert the Reference 4 plug-in into the dedicated monitor/control room track and not worry about disabling it or about the calibrated sound making it into your final mix. You could also create a dedicated monitoring mix bus in other DAWs. For example,


Ableton Live

  1. Create a new audio track - you will be using it as your monitoring track.
  2. Insert the Reference plug-in into the newly created audio track
  3. Make this monitoring track receive audio from the Master track (Post FX)                                                        mceclip0.png
  4. Set the monitor mode to In
  5. Choose Ext. Out as the Audio output
  6. Choose the exact physical output that you wish to monitor on                                                                            mceclip1.png
  7. In case your Master track is already routed to your monitor output, you can route your Master track to a different, unused output, or even turn the master fader down to zero

This setup works really well if you are using several outputs simultaneously - this way, you can insert a Reference 4 plug-in with a unique preset for each unique output device.



Reaper Monitor FX Track


For example, in Cockos Reaper, whatever you put on the Monitoring FX channel will only apply to the monitoring signal flow. When you print or render your master out, the Monitoring FX channel effects will have no effect on the result.

To create a Monitoring FX channel in Cockos Reaper:

1. Click on View and select Monitoring FX;

2. An FX: Monitoring window will appear. Add a Reference 4 plug-in to it;


3. Notice how in the upper-right corner of Reaper, a green Monitor FX button appears. It means that the Monitoring FX channel is active for all open Reaper projects, not just the one that is currently in the foreground. You can easily toggle the Monitor FX channel On and Off with this button.



A similar function called Control Room can be found in Cubase: 



You can read about more clever routing techniques in different DAWs in the following Sonarworks blog post: How To Use Reference 4 In Pro Tools, Logic, and Cubase.


Please don't hesitate to contact our support team by using the link at the bottom of this page if you have any questions regarding the Reference 4 DAW plug-in. 


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I'm trialing the headphone version. But where do i put it? "...the last plugin on your output." It didnt work there, in Studio One, when hardware (DSP) monitoring (blue z), or Native low latency software monitoring (green z) active, because in these cases effects in the Main out cannot be active (if plugin more than 3 ms latency. I did it this way, I made a track just for monitoring and put it in there. See attached. but am I missing something?


Actually, after a restart it did work with the plugin in the output. Dont know why, I'm experimenting with the settings. Maybe somethign to do with Studio One not allowing plug-ins less than 3ms latency in the low-latency software monitoring path.

Maybe in the first instance I had not selected the zero latency option at the bottom of the plugin.

Interesting though, the way I have it in the pic, which works, because I dont need to worry about turnign it off when I savw a mixdown, because I am noit including my monitor track when I do that anyway.





Hi Warwick, 

Not sure what happened there either, but glad to hear it's up and running! 

Please contact us with an individual support ticket if you're experiencing any further problems and we'll look into it in detail. 



When exporting audio stems on Mac, but the plugin is not on the DAW's master, it is being used on the tool bar and not as a plugin within the DAW, should sonarworks be turned off? is the correction being applied still? 


I mix from my DAW into a summing mixer.  I have up to 16 stereo outputs from Logic going into the summing mixer.  I have a few outboard processors patched into the summing mixer (bus compression and eq).  To print the mix, I record the output of my summing mixer back into a new track in Logic.  Whereabouts in this chain should the plug in go? One instance on each of the stereo outputs going into my summing mixer?


For best results, we would recommend inserting the calibration at the end of the signal chain right before monitoring outs so that it would not be affected by equalization or any other signal processing.


Ok so I have been using SWR the full version for a couple of months. I use Reaper as my DAW. I understand that it must be the last plugin on the master channel. But if I also wish to use Youlean Loudness meter 2 (YLM2) to see the level when mixing etc the YLM2 is unable to give accurate loudness so then I have to turn off SWR. What is the point of that. So can someone tell me how this can be resolved?


Hey Nigel, 

That is a good question!
Well, we would recommend puting the Youlean Loudness meter 2 plug-in immediately before the Reference 4 plug-in.

The Monitoring FX feature might also prove useful in this case.

This Reaper tutorial video is very helpful in explaining how to use it -


If I am using a room simulation such as Waves Abbey Road Studios, where in the master chain do I need to set SWR? Before or after?


Hey Marc,

We would recommend putting the Reference 4 plug-in after the Abbey road studios plug-in as well.


I use FL studio and have tried applying this and still the output is changed on the master output of my mixes. With safe headroom enabled its quieter with it turned off and turned up to 0db it becomes louder than the mix. I was trying to gain match it myself but it was almost impossible. I also put an analyzer before the swp and the reading seemed close but still seemed to change a little and I didn't like that. I would imagine I could match input to output easily right?


Hi Brayden, 


It looks like you never managed to apply this solution properly in FL. If the final output is still affected by turning the plugin on/off, this means that the parallel monitoring bus hasn't been routed correctly. 


I would advise seeking help in an FL forum, or FL support - surely there has to be a way to route a separate monitoring bus in FL too, one that is not altering the master mixdown output track. 


Additionally, check out this article on our Blog with more details on the same solution: How To Use SoundID Reference In Pro Tools, Logic, and Cubase

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