Setting up with the DAW plugin 

Set up with the Reference 4 DAW plugin - installation, load your calibration profiles, streamline your DAW workflow.

Installing the Reference 4 plugin

Sonarworks headphone and room calibration can be applied in DAW (e.g. Cubase, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, etc.) using the Reference 4 plugin. The plugin can also be loaded in other apps/platforms that feature plugin hosting capability in one of the formats specified below. For example, some advanced music playback apps, like Audirvana, can host plugins too.

Reference 4 installer (download here) will install the plugins into the common plugin folders on your computer. Here are the Reference 4 supported plugin formats and their respective default install directories:


PC: Windows 7 or higher

  • VST 64-bit: C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins\Sonarworks_Reference4_x64.dll
  • VST 32-bit: C:\Program Files(x86)\VSTPlugins\Sonarworks_Reference4_x64.dll
  • AAX 64-bit: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Avid\Audio\Plug-Ins\Reference4.aaxplugin
  • AAX 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Avid\Audio\Plug-Ins\Reference4.aaxplugin
  • RTAS 32-bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Digidesign\DAE\Plug-Ins\Reference4.dpm


Tip [WIN]: Custom install locations can be assigned on Windows by clicking on Customize during the installation


MAC: macOS 10.12 High Sierra or higher

  • VST: /Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST/Sonarworks Reference 4 plugin.vst
  • AAX: /Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio/Plug-Ins/Sonarworks Reference 4 plugin.aaxplugin
  • AU: /Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/Sonarworks Reference 4 plugin.component


Locating the plugin in DAW

In most cases, your plugin host app (e.g. DAW) will then recognize the plugin automatically on start-up. However, if it doesn't, please make sure that the plugin is located in the correct folder and your host software is scanning the same folder. For more information on troubleshooting plugin issues please refer to this article


Tip [WIN]: If the plugin is missing in DAW, make sure you are not mixing up the default VST directory with the Steinberg VST directory:


  • C:\Program Files\VSTPlugins
  • C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins


Start using the Reference 4 plugin in a DAW

  1. Create a new session or open an existing one in your DAW
  2. Find or open your audio mixer view and locate the stereo master bus. If your new session does not have a master bus (e.g. Pro Tools), please create one
  3. Insert the Reference 4 plugin as the LAST plugin on the master bus.
  4. Load one of the headphone calibration profiles (pre-made headphone profiles are readily available in Reference 4 Headphone Edition; see the full list of supported headphones here) or a speaker calibration profile (Studio Edition) that can be created using Reference 4 Measure software.
  5. Follow the onboarding steps - there are some key aspects for using Reference 4:





We suggest that you keep the Reference 4 plugin inserted on the master bus throughout the entire recording, mixing, and mastering process.

IMPORTANT! Reference 4 plugin functions as a solution for your individual monitoring setup only! For that reason it should be hard-bypassed rendering your project (turned off completely in the channel strip), to avoid imprinting your unique calibration EQ curve on the track:




Streamline your workflow with Reference 4 in DAW

For a more effective solution, a dedicated monitoring bus can be created for Reference 4 (not a part of the master output chain). That way, you can avoid bypassing the plugin for rendering and also avoid the volume drop which is introduced by the Safe Headroom feature. For more information on how to avoid the need to bypass the plugin for mixdown, see this article on our blog: How To Use Reference 4 In Pro Tools, Logic, and Cubase.

Some DAWs feature dedicated monitoring plugin sections (for example, the Control Room section in Cubase) which are bypassed automatically for rendering. If your DAW has such a feature, we recommend taking advantage of it.


For a more detailed feature and settings review on the Reference 4 plugin, take a look at this Sonarworks blog entry: Getting The Most Out Of Sonarworks Reference 4’s Settings


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