This IK Multimedia ARC 3 review poses to answer the question is it the best room correction software on the market. Is it something you need to add to your studio setup? Will it make you a better mixing and mastering engineer. Continue on to find out the answers.
For many of us who work in project or home studios we lack the proper environment to create accurate sounding mixes. We have to deal with parallel walls, reflective surfaces, and even the sounds of our cats meowing. Now, there is nothing we can do about our animals, but there is something we can do about the sound imperfections our rooms introduce. These imperfections are what cause inaccuracies from when the sound comes out of our studio monitors to when it hits our ears.
The IK Multimedia ARC 3 room correction plugin and microphone provides a solution to these issues in less than 20 minutes. You are probably asking yourself how can it solve these complex problems, how does it work, and some may be asking what even is the IK Multimedia ARC 3? I will be answering all these questions as we go along, but before we get there, let's first talk about who IK Multimedia is.
IK Multimedia was founded in Modena, Italy in 1996. They are a software engineering company who specializes in music software and hardware. They have a musicians first mentality and create products that put creativity and productivity at the forefront.
They have been known as pioneers and innovators when it comes to guitar amp simulation and analog gear modeling. Their Amplitube guitar plugin is one of the most known in the industry because of it's rich tones and accurate modeling. Their T-Racks mixing and mastering suite of plugins is second to none. IK Multimedia also has products ranging from content creator gear to mobile recording rigs.
Now that you know a little bit about IK Multimedia, let's talk about the new ARC 3 room correction system.
The ARC System 3 is made up of an ultra accurate measurement microphone, room analysis software, and an audio plugin available in all DAW formats. The audio plugin is put on the master fader in a DAW and it corrects the sound before it even gets to the monitoring system. This allows the user to feel confident with how mixes and masters will translate across different playback devices.
The ARC System 3 is meant to allow engineers to work in a less than perfect listening environment and still create amazing mixes and masters ready for retail release. Let's be honest, most of use don't have a million dollars laying around to build a professional studio. We are who the IK Multimedia ARC System 3 was made for.
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Version 3 of the ARC system has a brand new algorithm, a faster and easier calibration process, and a more modern looking GUI. Simply put, the product has received a complete overhaul. From someone who has used version 2 and 2.5 extensively, I can definitely say the improvements are noticeable.
The calibration process has been completely revamped. It takes the user through a simple step by step process with intuitive text and pictures. Anyone with any skill level will be able to follow these instructions with no problems.
The new algorithm features IK Multimedia's award-winning VRM™ (Volumetric Response Modeling) technology. This identifies problematic issues by creating a 3D image of the room. The technology was carefully designed so that it doesn't over-process the sound of the correction. It's very natural and recreates the sound of being in a professionally treated studio.
Lastly, the plugin GUI is so much more attractive than prior versions as you can see in the comparison picture above. The plugin had been known to crash in version 2.5 when switching correction profiles but that has been correct in version 3. The plugin is overall much more stable and works reliable in any daw.
Below is the step by step process on how to use the IK Multimedia ARC System 3. For you visual learners, feel free to check out my YouTube video shown earlier in this post.
STEP 1: Install the IK Multimedia ARC System 3 software
STEP 2: Launch the calibration software to begin the measurement process.
STEP 3: Select your microphone. (Options below)
STEP 4: Select your audio interface and channels.
STEP 5: Select your typical listening position.
NOTE: "Project Studio" is great if you are working at a small desk and "Studio - Monitor Spot" is ideal for all other mixing situations.
STEP 6: Position your microphone. This position will be different depending on which measurement mic you own. Follow the diagram in the software for proper positioning.
STEP 7: Set the microphone preamp level so that it lands in the "correct" range on the software's input meter. IMPORTANT: You want make sure the monitors are set at your normal mixing level when you are playing the test tones from the software.
STEP 8: Following the instructions within the software and take measurements for Layer 1. Layer 1 measurements are 6" below ear level.
STEP 9: Following the instructions within the software and take measurements for Layer 2. Layer 2 measurements are at ear level.
STEP 10: Following the instructions within the software and take measurements for Layer 3. Layer 3 measurements are 6" above ear level.
STEP 11: Give the room profile a name, select a speaker icon, and then press save. Your room corrective EQ curve is created!
STEP 12: Quit the room analysis software and launch your DAW. Add the ARC System 3 plugin to the master bus and then select your room profile.
STEP 13: YOU'RE DONE!!! Now go grab a beer for all your hard work.
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The IK Multimedia ARC System 3 is great for anyone who wants to fix imperfections in their room's acoustics and create better sounding mixes. Many great songs are coming out today that were recorded and mixed in bedrooms. This system helps even out the playing field between those in multi-million dollar studios and us with home studios. Most of us can't afford to build a professional studio from the ground up and this allows us to turn our rooms into the next best thing.
As mentioned earlier, I've used this product since version 2 and it truly works. When I mix in my studio and then reference in headphones or my car stereo, it sounds just as it should. No more saying it sounded good on my studio monitors but sounded like crap in my headphones. No more saying the bass sounded perfect in my studio monitors but sounded too loud in my car. Those days can finally be over if you let the ARC System 3 by IK Multimedia into your life and studio!
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