When do I need to bypass the plugin?

You need to bypass the plugin 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 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 plugin.

We have also introduced a render bypass notification system that currently works on selected DAWs.
You can read more about it here.

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If I bypass the whole plugin and not simply press the bypass button inside the plugin, my mix receives a 6dB boost which was unintended and could even end up clipping, isn't that wrong?

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That's the result of bypassing the "avoid clipping" safeguard. If you disable it in the plugin, max out the volume fader, the volume of plugin being active, with bypassed calibration and bypassing the whole plugin should not change.

The same thing happens with limiters. If it does any peak limiting, bypassing it completely will clip your output.


The probability of occasionally forgetting to bypass is almost 100%.

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Steve - this is also something that we are working on at the moment: auto-bypass function.


Im doing crazy thing.. i love what the plugin does of my mix, but dont like when i bypass the plug before mixdown .. I implemented sonarworks into my master, and i have amazing results .. am i crazy !?


My DAW (Reaper) has a special channel for monitoring plugins. I put R4 in this channel just once and it becomes a global plugin appearing in all my projects and being automatically bypassed when mixing... the plugin is the little green rectangle on the top right corner... pretty cool :)


what is the status on auto-bypass?


Hi Jeff!

We're working on auto -ypass and it will be released with 4.2 update. Not all DAW's though, it's proven to be extremely difficult for certain platforms. At the moment, these are looking pretty good for auto-bypass to be implemented for:

Cubase 8.5, 9.5
FL Studio 12
Ableton Live 10
Logic X Pro
Pro Tools 12 (on Windows)

There will probably be more, but we don't want to make any promises yet.


Hello I've got a similar question to the thread.

How do i compensate the change in sound when bypassing the session for export?

I design sounds based on an active SW plugin with a flat EQ room response which is obvious when using the software, but when i need to export my session I have to bypass the plugin and while that happens the sound will change and be either slightly or completely different from what i worked on.

How do i compensate this?

I am new to the SW plugin and fairly confused on how to properly utilize it.


Hey Claes,

The active SW app is compensating the coloration (modification) that your particular speakers and room create on the sound coming out of the sound card of your computer or your interface.

Think of it as if you did not have SW, but your room was perfectly engineered and built for flat EQ response. This is how the signal flow would look for both cases:


* Signal flow in a sound-engineered room:

(your DAW)-->(your computer sound card/interface)-->(your speakers/headphones) = (flat sound)


* Signal flow in a non sound-engineered room:

(your DAW)-->(your computer sound card/interface)-->(your speakers/headphones) = (not flat sound)

(your DAW-->SW)-->(your computer sound card/interface)-->(your speakers/headphones) = (flat sound)


So, sound-engineered rooms are engineered not to bend sound coming out of your speakers. Your room (such as mine) is not engineered that way so it will bend the sound. SW learns how your room (or headphones) bend the sound so it bends it the other way around first so when your room (or headphones) bend it, it will sound flat.

When you export your mix, you do not want the mix to be bent (EQd) by SW in a way that will only sound flat in your room/headphones. That would sound awkward. When people hear your mix somewhere else, they will hear it with the coloration of their own sound system and environment and it will be different from what you hear with SW in your studio... no way around that. The only way they will hear exactly what you hear is if their room is sound-engineered or if they use SW at their end.

The idea of us using SW is to be able to make good decisions while creating sounds and mixing. So, if you hear that the bass is too low, is because it is really too low and not because the rug in your room is dampening it. This way, the decisions you take while creating your sounds will be based in what is really coming out of your DAW and this is the best chance you have for your work to sound great (though different) in any other environment.


I hope I did not confuse you any further :D









I just received my sonarworks today with my beyerdynamic dt 880 pro headphones calibrated.

I think I am just as confused as Claes.

I found out that I can turn off the safe headroom, and boost the sound a little.

What I don't get is, am I supposed to put sonarworks on the masterbus when I start producing and click the turn on button so it is enabled, and delete sonarworks from the masterbus when I am done with the track?


Do I need to bypass the Plug-in when I'm freezing a track in Ableton?


Hey guys, 

You're exactly correct Per, the Reference plug-in has to be engaged from the very beginning of the project you're working on, then bypassed for exporting the finished mix. It's a little counter intuitive at first and might take a while to get used to, but once you get the gist of it, it will all start making sense, (especially when you play the track back on other playback systems, which is the essence of the entire concept).

You don't need to bypass the plug-in when freezing tracks in Ableton though. Frozen or not, the routing doesn't change and you still want Reference enabled on your master channel to hear the mix correctly. My guess is that you're being confused by a bug that has just been reported by a couple other users too - it looks like the render-bypass notification is falsely recognizing freezing as rendering. 

We have yet to do  proper investigation on that for a fix, but just to be clear - if the render-bypass notification pops up when freezing tracks in Ableton, that is an issue of the software misinterpreting 'freezing' for 'rendering' - the Reference plug-in should stay ON. 


Hey I have a question based on this! In my menu bar on my mac, it shows the systemwide logo at the top notifying me it's plugged into the built in output, which ironically is the same as my output in ableton... However, nothing is affected until I bring the plugin into my master channel or any channel for that matter... Thoughts? 





When you have routed your DAW directly to your interface, Systemwide is bypassed and you would have to use the plug-in instead.

However, if you choose to use Systemwide with a DAW, it has to be selected as the output of the software rather than your Interface.

You can read more about the use of Systemwide with your DAW here!


Hi there @Sonarworks

I have a similar question about freezing but furthermore flattening tracks inside Ableton's Live & other DAWs.

It makes sense that just freezing a track doesn't require to bypass R4 like it was already confirmed in a previous post here, but I assume that if we "Flatten" this frozen track ( it's then a bounce/render to new audio file for me ) we need to bypass R4 then, is that a correct assumption ?

It sounds logical to me but still is a bit confusing because I can't really hear a difference when I omit to bypass R4 when flattening a track inside Live, but the logic behind it should be that when I do that ( not bypassing R4 ) the frozen track gets a 1st correction from R4 and then a 2nd one when listening back to it. But since R4 is only on the Master channel does it really affect the Frozen track that you bounce inside your DAW ?

Hope this is not too much confusing :)


Hey Stephanie, 

It is a very reasonable question!
There is no need to bypass the plug-in while freezing the track because it only affects the master bus if it is placed correctly.

When you freeze the track it only renders with the plug-ins that are inserted on it specifically.

No double correction should happen if you have placed the Reference plug-in at the end of the master bus explicitly.

I hope this clarifies things!


Yes, it makes sense in the end. Thanks for your answer & for clarifying this Chris.

PS: it's Stephane, not Stephanie BTW...LOL : no worries, this happens all the time :-)


I am sorry for that Stephane!

I meant no disrespect!


When I am ready to render my track, Am I supposed to "Disable" / Bypass the plugin on my Master track in Ableton? or leave the plugin enabled on my Master track but Bypass the correction within the plugin itself with the blue button? I ask because if I disable the plugin vst in Ableton on my Master track my song clips like crazy and is super loud.



I have just finished a track and disabled Sonarworks to render for Ozone Mastering.

I am in the learning process as well.

After my mixdown the sound is not the same as when i mixed with Sonarworks.

So I assume when i finally come off Ozone mastering and again mix down the sound will be not the same again.

Am I right to assume that when i come off off my focal alpha monitors and on to a stereo for example all will sound good again.

All the Best



Hey guys,

We recommend having the plug-in enabled throughout the mixing and mastering process!
However, it should be completely quit or removed from the signal chain before rendering or exporting.


Hi Kristiāns,

Sorry, I just a little bit confused: If i'm using SW Systemwide why do i need to turn off the SW Systemwide and add the SW Plugin to my DAW stereo output and to Disable it to render my track? (I'm using Logic Pro X + Apollo X4 interface). Is it possible simply to Turn ON the SW Systemwide one time and forever and forget about everything? :)



Hi Andy, thanks for the comment and apologies for the long waiting time for posting the comment, we missed it :(

I'm assuming you have already figured this out but I'll answer anyway, in case anyone else is wondering:

Indeed, the Systemwide app can be used as your DAW output instead of the Reference plugin. And yes, in this case, the calibration takes place outside of DAW, so there is no need to disable the calibration for rendering your track (in other words, the correction EQ curve will not be imprinted on your track, which we want to avoid when using the plugin)!



In Cubase put Sonarworks in the Control Room monitor list then you do not have to worry about bypassing.


Hi John, 


Definitely, this is the best option for Cubase as the plugins placed in Control Room are on a monitoring path only - they get bypassed for rendering automatically. 


In fact, Control Room equivalent functionality is available in other DAWs too. If not available, you can always set your own separate monitoring bus (one that's not going to the final output for rendering), so you can leave it permanently active and apply your permanent metering solutions too! 

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