Suitable measuring microphone
The software is available as a package with a suitable measuring microphone or individually, if you already have a measuring microphone. In general, any measurement microphone can be used if you have an associated calibration file. Suitable profiles for the microphones are already integrated in the software. After installing the software, select the input to which you have connected the microphone (XLR, 48V phantom power is required) and the output to which your speakers are connected.
Improved measuring process
After adjusting the volume, the microphone has to be placed at different locations in the room and the software plays back corresponding signals for measurement via the speakers. This shows a first improvement compared to the previous version. The measuring points are now displayed directly in the software and can be passed through one after another. Back then with ARC 2.5, this problem was solved in an uncomfortable way: the calibration software only contained a link to a PDF file describing the calibration points.
However, even in version 3 you do not receive direct feedback as to whether the microphone position was correct or not and you have to manually proceed to the next measurement. The big competitor Reference 4 is much more comfortable; everything is done automatically: The program shows exactly where to place the microphone and as soon as you have aligned the microphone at the correct angle at the given position, the Reference software recognizes this and continues to the next measurement.
To ensure that the improved algorithm for room correction obtains sufficient material, the measurement in ARC3 was extended to seven points in the room at three different heights, each 15 cm apart. For the pure measuring process you have to plan in approximately 15 minutes. After the measurement is complete, you can name the result and save it as a profile.
Plug-in for your DAW
Since your DAW cannot directly handle the generated calibration file, the ARC3 system also includes an effect plug-in in all common formats. You place this plugin at the last point of the signal path in your DAW. Once you have loaded the file created with the measurement software into the plug-in, it works like an equalizer and bends the frequency response of the input signal (= your master mix) so that it sounds as neutral as possible without being Influenced by the room, out of your speakers. The plug-in also allows you to customize the frequency curve, and there are even virtual models available to simulate the sound of smartphones or hi-fi speakers.
Also new is the option to limit the correction to the bass or treble range. This brings ARC3 closer to Reference in this area as well. However, ARC3 is still ahead of Reference in terms of system-wide software that allows frequency correction when listening to music outside the DAW.
We tested the system with two pairs of loudspeakers of the entry level and the upper middle class in a room that was only slightly optimized acoustically. The monitors sounded more balanced and spatial when the correction was applied, the bass range was clearer and the separation between bass and sub-bass was more defined.
In the high frequencies and upper midrange the plug-in provided a more transparent sound. In a direct comparison with Reference 4, the measured frequency curves of both systems were very similar, the sonic impact was almost identical. Also in this regard, ARC3 has clearly improved compared to the previous version.