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,
- Create a new audio track - you will be using it as your monitoring track.
- Insert the Reference plug-in into the newly created audio track
- Make this monitoring track receive audio from the Master track (Post FX)
- Set the monitor mode to In
- Choose Ext. Out as the Audio output
- Choose the exact physical output that you wish to monitor on
- 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.