I’ve talked about these two pieces of software in an earlier post; the salient aspects of which I’m going to reproduce here - mostly because I want a dedicated thread to cover them and their developments:
The easiest way to understand what Sonarworks “Reference” is, is to think about it as an EQ for your headphones that uses preset EQ curves to correct the response of a headphone to a neutral tuning. The EQ curves used are much more complicated (more points of correction) than those you’ll typically build with a manual parametric EQ tool, since they’re based on normalized measurements of many samples of a given headphone.
It supports over 100 models of headphones right now, with more coming on a regular basis. It’s intended for studio use (mixing), first and foremost, since neutrality is a key to doing that well.
The catch is that if your headphone is not on the supported list, then this software isn’t much use to you as you can’t usefully pick a “model that is close” and get the desired results.
You can also send your own headphones in to be measured and have a custom correction profile built for them. This is good if either your headphones are currently supported with an “averaged” profile, or you want one that’s as accurate as possible for the actual pair of headphones you’re using (since there’s always some unit-to-unit variation).
I use it for mixing/studio work. When “listening for pleasure” it very much depends on what headphone I’m using at the time. It absolutely transforms some headphones from “problematic” to “excellent” (e.g. Sennheiser HD800 I will not listen to without it), and in other cases it’s not such a good thing.
This works as both a plug-in to various music players and DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) and includes the “Systemwide” utility that lets you run ALL system-audio through the Sonarworks processing.
You can tweak the results to a certain extent, but this is not a user-driven EQ tool.
Think of this as the little-brother to “Sonarworks Reference”. It works in essentially the same way and the list of supported headphones is also similar (they’re generally the same, but the update schedules and bias is a bit different between the two products).
Instead of being a plug-in, True-Fi can either capture all system audio and process it, or it can be selected as a virtual sound card in your player application.
True-Fi also offers a couple of other adjustments … one for bass-level and another to compensate for age-related hearing loss.
I use this for listening with some headphones, typically on my laptop, such as the Sony MDR-1000X, among others (that one stands out because it’s an ANC-type headphone that I use in public work spaces from time to time).