In this article:
- Before you get started
- Hardware Setup - audio settings and input/output setup
- Room Evaluation - speaker distance and listening spot setup
- Measurements - measuring your room & speaker response
- Results - reviewing and saving the generated calibration profile (.swproj file)
Before you get started
If you have landed on this article, chances are that you're getting stuck at some point during the speaker measurement process. A lot of hardware and software components need to be working in harmony in order for Reference 4 Measure to do its job, so there are some roadblocks possible in the process.
In this article, we will address the most common issues during the speaker measurement process and see what's really going on under the hood. Knowing the inner workings and processes of the Measure app will give you the ability and confidence to resolve issues quickly and effectively, without the need of contacting the support team. Here is a quick guide of what you'll find here:
Reference 4 Measure
Essential tips, before you get started:
- Hover over 'i' and '?' icons in Measure app for more details on different features and processes; some will also lead to helpful articles.
- Pay attention to audio test tones and signal level meters - take advantage of them to help you detect and fix problems early in the process.
- Follow the visual and numerical instructions exactly - don't skip over, they contain essential information on how to get successful and accurate measurements the first time around.
- Don't dismiss error messages as faulty - the software/hardware configuration behind successful measurements can be different from what you're used to in your regular workflow. Seemingly trivial error messages with instructions can save you a lot of time if they are considered serious.
- Don't underestimate your own judgment - in most cases, support inquiries are already resolved by the time the support team gets back to the user. Take advantage of our Knowledge Base.
- Update to the latest software version, download here. A long list of software bugs have been fixed over time - updating might solve a problem instantly.
- Contact the support team here if you're still getting stuck for any reason.
1. Hardware Setup - audio settings and input/output setup
During this stage, you'll have to set up your input/output channels, gain and volume levels and make sure that your speaker stereo field is correct among other settings. Getting your settings right is crucial, otherwise, you might encounter issues during the rest of the process.
The necessary requirements will be displayed in the Measure app clearly, but there are additional things you can check to make sure everything is set up correctly (most of those settings will be available to adjust in your audio interface routing/control software or operating system audio settings; some will have physical switches for them on your hardware).
Essential settings and tips:
- Your audio interface is set to 44.1 kHz sample rate while performing the measurements.
- No direct monitoring is applied to your mic input channel so that the mic signal is NOT directly routed to speakers (you shouldn't hear anything if you tap on the mic).
- A single audio interface is used for input and output.
- +48v Phantom Power is ON to power the microphone.
- There are no EQ/effects plugins loaded on the microphone input channel.
- The microphone input channel is mono.
- There are no other devices in the signal path (analog devices, converters, monitoring controllers, clocking devices, etc.), only your audio interface. You can reconnect your full setup once you've completed the measurement stage - it's not going to affect the results.
- No other music production software is open, that could 'hijack' the channels you're working with or otherwise interfere. Leave them running only if it's absolutely necessary for routing/sample rate/phantom power purposes. Or better still - exit all other apps while doing this.
- The stereo field is correct - when clicking 'Play Test Tone', you can hear the voice saying 'left speaker' coming from the left speaker and 'right speaker' coming from the right speaker.
- Inspect your audio interface for physical switches of possibly disruptive settings.
- Update your interface control software/drivers - in our experience, even industry standard brands and models can have critical flaws in their drivers (these issues might not necessarily manifest themselves outside of Measure app during your routine workflow).
- Electrical noise can be a problem, even in modern buildings. If you suspect an electrical noise by looking at the mic input meter (for example, 50 Hz humming), try flipping the adapters of your gear the other way around in the sockets. Or remove the power supply entirely, if you're using a laptop and a USB powered audio interface.
- [WIN] Launch the Measure app in WASAPI mode, if you are having trouble with the input/output channels - it can do wonders to fix interface driver incompatibility issues. [Type 'wasapi' in Windows search bar to launch Measure in WASAPI mode].
- [Mac] Microphone Access is granted for Measure and Systemwide apps in Mac Preferences > Security & Privacy > Accessibility > Microphone.
- [Mac] 'Play stereo audio as mono' setting is turned OFF in Mac Preferences > Accessibility > Audio.
Sample drift and compromised input signal
Most of the trouble during this stage is caused by having multiple hardware devices in your signal path, especially when it comes to analog consoles, summing boxes, and PCI units with advanced routing and connection solutions, etc. This can easily cause sample drift and panning issues, making it difficult for the software to detect the mic location in the room. So if you get error messages like 'Sample rate is NOT 44.1 kHz', there is clearly a problem there, even if your audio interface settings suggest otherwise.
The faults can be identified and dealt with by getting deeper into each component of your signal chain and any control software that these components are using. However, to avoid a possibly lengthy troubleshooting session, it is always easier to simply remove these components from the chain for the measurement stage. Or even grab a basic desktop audio interface to do the job (if you have one available), instead of trying to make it work with an extremely complicated and advanced system - you can then reconnect your setup once the measurement stage is complete.
This logic also applies to non-audio-related devices - even web cameras can show up as audio devices on an operating system level and somehow mess with input/output signals. So there are literally thousands of possible scenarios here and there is still room for improvement in the Masure app itself.
Again, this can all be investigated and fixed, but you'll save yourself a lot of time simply by removing anything suspicious from the chain while taking the measurements - secondary display monitors, monitoring controllers, unconventional routing software (stuff like Loopback and Soundflower), DAW and audio production software - make sure any unnecessary components (both hardware and software) are shut down and removed for the measurement stage to make it easier for yourself.
Using a measurement microphone and an XLR cable
You will also have to load the XREF 20 microphone correction profile by entering the mic ID, which is printed on each individual mic. All of our mics are calibrated individually for the best possible accuracy. If you don't have a measurement mic yet, get it here or use a third-party omnidirectional measurement mic. Vocal and instrument mics will not work for this purpose, even if they have the omnidirectional capability.
Some non-measurement mics can actually handle going through the process (although they are more likely to fail), but they all have their own individual freq. response curves - this will lead to completely wrong measurement results. For this reason, measurement mics have to be used - they are flat by definition (you can think of them as tape measures). You can, however, use a random mic for a setup test - just to make sure that you are not having any issues accessing the necessary i/o channels or other basic setup requirements.
Another thing that can be overlooked is a proper XLR cable - sometimes users go through as many as three different XLR cables before finding out that the previous two were faulty/didn't transmit phantom power. This logic also applies to custom Jack to XLR cables - they are rarely soldered in a manner that transmits phantom power - most of the time you'll get no signal with those. Use an XLR to XLR cable.
Using analog gear
Hardware devices with a lot of analog circuitry have the potential to alter the microphone frequency response during the measurement stage - it is recommended to remove them and use a basic audio interface instead (if you have one available). Modern preamps don't affect the sound too much, but there is still a chance of having small errors in the readings. Be cautious about using vintage and analog gear in particular. Remember - it is the speaker and room response that is being measured, so reconnecting and using all that gear after taking the measurements is not a problem.
WASAPI Mode & Debug Mode
If you are having trouble with the input/output channels, like the necessary channels not showing up or having suspicious titles/formats to them, it is a sign of interface driver incompatibility. Type 'wasapi' in the Windows search bar to launch Measure in WASAPI mode - it can do wonders to fix these sorts of issues.
Critical issues are few and far between, but if you do get stuck for any reason - don't give up just yet. An advanced Debug Mode is available in the Measure app Settings - this can be taken advantage of when contacting the support team for in-depth troubleshooting.
2. Room Evaluation - speaker distance and listening spot setup
During this stage, you will have to get up-close to each speaker, to measure the distance between them. At this point, the software will proceed with some bass sweeps to take a couple of key frequency response measurements (particularly, the 'noise floor'). Once that is done, you will proceed to your listening sweet spot. Here, you'll get the first taste of our patented microphone locating technology - the software will use locating signals to triangulate the mic position in the room.
Once the mic position is pinned down, you will be presented with the results and allowed to adjust the distances manually - feel free to grab a tape measure and fine-tune by typing in the exact values. These distance values will be further used for locating the microphone with even more precision; the following measurement stage will be based on the listening spot location you've specified.
Use these tips to complete the second stage successfully:
- When getting up-close to each speaker, point the mic as close as you can to the mid-range driver cone of the speaker - about 1-2 cm away. If you're unsure about which are the mid-range drivers in your speaker configuration, see this article.
- Clear up your desk space and remove any obstructions between the two speakers. A display monitor sticking out is usually not a problem, but there can be a particularly problematic spot for it. Objects like desktop lamps obscuring the speaker drivers can cause problems too.
- Follow the visual instructions carefully to avoid any unwanted signal reflections. Your chair can stay in place unless the headrest is sticking out too high up making it difficult to measure the listening spot.
- Go to Measure Settings and try the B and C locating signals if you're confident about your settings being correct and stable, but there is still a problem pinning down the mic position. The room you're working with might have a particular problem with the frequency of the standard locating signal (1 kHz), so the other options can potentially save the day.
- Go back to the first stage and review your settings, if you are unable to complete this stage. The problem is almost definitely in the audio setup - it is likely that you'll find a potential issue that you missed earlier.
Stable 44.1 kHz sample rate
Having a stable 44.1 kHz sample rate is critical - any sample drift can cause problems locating the mic, resulting in a 'jumping mic' on the screen, or incorrect speaker distance measured. A few inches of error margin is fine, but if the measured speaker distance is off by more than 20-30 cm - that's when you know something is fundamentally wrong - going back to the first stage and reviewing your settings is necessary.
Don't try to cheat the software by altering the measured distance by a huge margin, if the measured distances are way off - these measurements are also detecting any issues missed in the previous stage. If you do manage to work around the problem somehow, it will still only escalate during the next stage.
Correct stereo image for speakers
The stereo image is also very important to get right. Error messages like 'MONO signal detected' should not be dismissed as faulty - they are actually reporting what is picked up by the microphone. Stereo image error messages can be present even if the panning is off by a few percents (essentially, one of your speaker channels feeding into the other).
The cause for this can also be found in the advanced properties of your interface control software (like some sort of multi-channel mode, for example) while others can be caused by physical switch adjustments on your interface/other hardware in the chain. The point is - these sorts of adjustments might be buried deeper into your settings, even if the stereo image seems correct audibly.
3. Measurements - measuring your room & speaker response
A series of 37 measurements will now take place to measure the frequency response of your speakers and room. The listening spot location that was established in the previous stage will now be used as the center, followed by more measurements in the listening area. The measurement area will have a maximum radius distance of 45 cm from the sweet spot, so you might want to take that into account.
The process is simple and intuitive - Measure locates the mic position in the room, displays that location on the screen and guides you towards the spot where the following measurement is going to take place. Once the software considers the mic in a good position for a measurement, it will lock that position in and perform a couple of sine sweeps (one from each speaker), then move on to the next measurement point.
Don't worry about using a mic stand at this point - the software is specifically designed to be used with the microphone held in hand.
- Keep following the visual instructions carefully - don't miss important directions on how to hold the microphone and where to aim it.
- Don't move the mic after a measurement position is locked in - the software is working with a high degree of accuracy and will provide the best results, even if the mic wasn't perfectly placed in the target position.
- The measurements will take around 10 min to complete - make sure you don't start lowering the mic towards the end or lose the correct aiming angle.
- If there is a problem fitting into the measurement radius area (for example, hitting a back wall with the mic), go back to the second stage and choose the listening spot location accordingly to give you some more space.
- If you still get a 'jumping mic' problem and it is difficult to get the mic in the measurement spot, go back to first and second setup stages and review your settings; try B and C locating signals in Measure Settings.
Trusting the software for accuracy
It is unlikely to encounter any major issues during this stage if you have already managed to get this far into the process. Accordingly, if there is a major problem here, it is likely something that was missed in one of the previous stages - your best chance of resolving a problem is going back to the first two stages.
Automation and measurement precision
The software has some clever tricks up its sleeve, so don't be surprised if the measurement signals suddenly increase the volume or do other automated adjustments. Again, trust the software and let it do its job - the software will adjust everything it needs automatically with a high degree of accuracy. Don't attempt to adjust any settings at this point - it is essential to understand that the software simply knows better. Don't move the mic after the position has been locked in either - the software is designed to work with these sorts of issues in consideration. You will get better results when following the directions precisely.
4. Results - reviewing and saving the generated calibration profile (.swproj file)
Once the entire measurement process is complete, the results will be displayed. This final step is pretty straight forward, but there are still a couple of things to keep in mind.
Saving the finished .swproj project file (speaker profile) can take a while - don't exit the process, give it a moment. There might also be a problem using uncommon symbols in the name of the file. If you get an error when saving the file, try removing the uncommon symbols from the title.
You will also be presented with the option of launching the Systemwide app to start applying the calibration on your system. There can be some issues with that if you have different module versions installed, resulting in automation failure (for example, when working with the latest Measure app version, and an older Systemwide app version).
* This article will in time evolve into a complete troubleshooting guide for the Measure app. Feel free to comment and point out any missing steps/tips. Keep in mind that there are some edge-case problems that don't exactly fit into this guide, but rather deserve separate troubleshooting articles with separate discussions for them.