IK Multimedia, a world-renowned Italian company which focuses on sound production equipment (as opposed to sound reproduction, which is what we focus on here), has announced the new version of its ARC System. It is a complete system meant to correct the sound of speakers in a room (the so-called “room correction“). The new IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 is primarily targeted towards musicians, mixers and other professionals who need perfectly linear sound, but it can also be used by audiophiles and other audio enthusiasts (and that’s the reason I feature it here!).
Sound coming from speakers is heavily influenced by the room the speakers are put into: the shape of the room, the materials of walls and objects and other factors make the sound change and can completely alter the way it is reproduced. Taking this into account is critical when buying new equipment and in the general setup of an audio system: speakers that sound fantastic in the showroom can sound like garbage when at home and this is due to the ambient.
A room correction system allows one to bring the system back to the way it should sound, so that it actually has linear sound. Many studies have shown that not only are linear-sounding speakers more faithful in music reproduction (which is what we seek as audiophiles), but they also make people perceive things sound better.
IK Multimedia’s ARC System 2.5 includes a microphone and the software needed for room correction. The Italian-made MEMS microphone has a precision of just ±0.5 dB, which the company touts as “a new milestone in accuracy”, and features an omnidirectional capsule. IK Multimedia points out that this microphone should have an edge over traditional condenser measurement microphones because it should be stable over time, while condenser microphones may exhibit frequency response variations due to aging.
The supplied software (which works on Windows and macOS – no support for Linux, alas) also includes a “Virtual Monitoring” feature which allows to simulate the sound as if it came from sources such as LCD TVs, laptops, radios and so on, making it simple for audio professionals to hear how their music would sound when played from different sources.
Aside from the use in recording studios and musicians’ studios, though, the IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 is especially interesting for audiophiles as it is a reasonably-priced way to get room correction done with good accuracy; although it requires a computer, it should be great for all those who use a PC to listen to their music and it may also be useful for the people with proper floor standing speakers and full-fledged systems.
Just as audiophiles’ equipment may be useful to musicians and sound producers, the opposite is also true. As the room is maybe the most important tile in the sound setup mosaic (even in live events), room correction is essential to get proper sound.
The IK Multimedia ARC System 2.5 is already available for $/€199.99 including the microphone on IK’s site; those who already purchased the ARC 2 software can buy the new software version for $/€49.99 and anyone who previously purchased a $/€99.99+ product from IK are entitled to a discount of $/€50, bringing the price down to $/€149.99.