Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by RichardT »

I don’t have any experience with Sienna, but I’m a long term Sonarworks user.

I’ve found it generally a very good product and very helpful for mixing. I find having a ‘flat’ frequency response very helpful, as I know that when something sounds close to how the live instrument would sound, I’m not fooling myself. For pianos in particular, a few dB here and there of inaccuracy in the midrange and LF makes a big difference and good piano recordings sound much more realistic with Sonarworks engaged.

My experience with correcting monitors is - it doesn’t work well unless your room acoustics are pretty good. Sonarworks will attempt to compensate for peaks and troughs due to room problems of course, but if the room is untreated it will be defeated by the time-domain aspect of the problems (resonances and reflections).

It will take time to get used to a corrected sound. My corrected sound was brighter than my uncorrected sound above 5kHz so I had to get used to cymbals in particular being quite bright. But the bass and midrange immediately seemed better balanced.

On phones, it was a very positive experience which took no time at all to get used to.

How much the Sonarworks processing degrades the sound is very hard to say as there is no easy way to test it. The latest version seems clearer than the previous version when it’s set to linear phase.
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by AlasdairEaston »

I've found this thread and experiment really interesting. Here's a quick update on my experiences.

After losing my way a bit with Sienna I decided to take a breath and go back to absolute basics. There are so many options and so many plug-ins involved (4??!), some oddly named controls and a slightly poor user manual. I'd just plunged in and got a bit lost playing with it all. And I had been thrown a bit by the scale of the difference all that was making in the headphones. I wasn't sure whether to really trust the results.

So, I just went back to the headphone correction part only. No modelled rooms or modelled monitors. No parameter adjustments, just the defaults for my headphones, AKG712.

I trialled that against my own monitors again, this time being careful with volume matching. That involved listening with headphones, then quickly pulling them off at the same time as disabling the correction. A bit awkward but my conclusion is that the sound was definitely close enough for me. I think I'd be happy to use the correction for mixing.

I also A/B'd it with a free trial of Sonarworks on the same material, again volume-matching as closely as possible. The resulting sonics are definitely different but they're both in the same ballpark, and certainly I've no idea which one is more "correct". I know Sonarworks is widely trusted so that gave me some more faith that I wasn't being misled.

So, for the moment I'm going to keep using the Sienna headphone correction. Longer term testing, here we come. Ultimately it's only worth it if it helps get better mix results and that'll take time to decide.

And if I do decide I can trust it then that opens up the next step: the option to (virtually) mix on different monitors, like virtual NS10s. I would like a pair to experiment with but I don't have the space and can't justify the money. I know this wouldn't be the same as actually mixing on them in real life but if it tells me something useful about my mix then I'm all for it.

And it also means I might be able to virtually check my mixes on a number of systems too.

And then there's the whole self/psuedo-mastering thing. One of the benefits of sending things out to a mastering engineer is surely the change of room. I'd like to see how this virtual room thing might help me do my own "mastering". Of course the room change is not the biggest part of getting something mastered but it is something, and perhaps something worth having even if it's virtual.

My initial results for this room/monitor modelling thing in Sienna were off-putting but to be honest, having played a lot more with it now, I can't see how I got such drastic results in those early trials. I wonder now whether I had knocked some of those obscure and strangely named controls out of whack in "Guru" mode. I'm glad I went back to the start and am giving it another shot.

Phew, long update, sorry. Hopefully somebody made it this far!

Cheers,
Alasdair.
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by RichardT »

I’m sceptical that simulating a different room (which the software can only do imperfectly) is going to help significantly with reducing the need for third party mastering.

Mastering engineers generally have very high quality gear in very high quality rooms, and it’s simply not possible to simulate that. Plus the main things they contribute (as I can tell you know already) are a different pair of ears and their expertise.

If you want to master things yourself, the essential thing is to make your real room and monitors as good as possible, and to listen to a lot of good reference material on that setup.
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by beej65 »

This amateur has tended to use headphone correction of some kind while mixing, especially since my room/monitor setup is just OK - or some of you would probably judge, inadequate for professional mixing (eg. iLoud Micros with the smallest sub you can imagine). Mainly I A/B between correction and no correction, and for good measure test my final mixes in the car. I auditioned the free Sienna, but it's been a while - I thought it was OK. More recently I've been using dearVR's MONITOR, and also I just picked up Audeze's Mobius (USB connection) which has DSP/3D etc. built in - if that pair of headphones sticks, I may give up correction, or use reference curves of the LCD-X which is one of the settings on the Mobius.
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by Peevy »

I have Sienna and have dabbled with it. I’m working from memory here however, as it’s been a while. This thread will inspire me to revisit Sienna and give it another go. My main headphones are AKG 712s. If memory serves me right, with headphone correction on, I did find that when I thereafter bypassed Sienna I noticed a lot of headphone ‘honkiness’ appear … and I’d never considered the 712s to be ‘honky’.

I remember also with my AKG 702s a lot of the stridency (which I’ve always found with that model) was smoothed over and made for a more enjoyable listen.

Whether a more ‘enjoyable’ listen (as happened with both sets of headphones) is a good thing, my jury’s still out. I think with perseverance, I would have found it beneficial, even if only to have a different perspective on what I’m listening to.

When it comes to the ‘rooms’ in Sienna, I was basically faffing about. I did not find that I got much of a sense of ‘listening to monitors in a room’ through headphones at all. But again, I didn’t persevere. I think I was in the middle of some mixes at the time and was just going to find it too confusing and distracting when I was trying to get them finished. However, I did find some of the ‘speakers in a room’ choices interesting and engaging especially with the selection of what would be regarded as less than ideal monitoring environments: boomboxes, cars, laptop/phone speakers and the likes and it could be a replacement for checking mixes on these devices for real. The emulation of the Avantone Mixcubes was really quite convincing (I have a pair of those)

I remember reading online someone’s comment about Sienna. If a mix is good, the differences in the room emulations became less. The old story of mix translation. I think I found that to be true and that aspect in itself could be useful.

I’m definitely going to revisit now and see how I get on.
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by Peevy »

Here’s an image of Izotope Match EQ which shows the eq applied to the headphone correction in Sienna for the AKG 712s (just for interest … not scientific!)

Yellow is the Sienna headphone correction, blue is the original and the white line is the correction curve. I set the amount to fifty percent to make it easier to see.

Image
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Re: Acustica Sienna Headphone and Room Compensation experiences

Post by AlasdairEaston »

Thanks for the graph. 👍 That white line (the correction curve that Sienna seems to be applying) does indeed seem broadly the opposite of the AKG712 frequency response curve shown in the link here, so it should bring things closer to flat.

Image

https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com/he ... akg/k712/

Cheers,
Alasdair.
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