SonarWorks Reference 4

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

Mac Big Sur
Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Orbi 5G

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Nucleus, Mac Mini, Sonarworks, Grace m900

Description Of Issue

Hello, does anyone know why Sonarworks Reference 4 does not work in Exclusive Mode? It works fine selected as the Output when not in Exclusive Mode (and feeds my Grace m900), but does not change sample rate based on song input. I’d like to use Exclusive mode so that Sonarworks and the Grace DAC both change sample rate automatically. I’ve tried it with Grace in Exclusive and not in Exclusive and neither work. Sonarworks does not provide any output when it’s in Exclusive mode even though the song plays. Thank you!

Hi Anthony, if you don’t mind my asking, why do you use Sonarworks with Roon? Roon has a whole host of DSP functionality built in and there are easily accessible convolution filters for most headphones. I tinkered around with Sonarworks on a couple of trials - one of the issues I found was that it doesn’t change sample rates automatically based on the input sample rate (I believe a number of users have logged it as a feature request, but Sonarworks hasn’t implemented it). In the end I didn’t want the faff and stuck with Roon’s DSP.

Hi Graeme, I like what Sonarworks does to my speaker calibration in my home studio. They sound better with the calibrations. As you probably know, Sonarworks calculates a calibration for specific speakers based on signals it generates into a mic at various locations in the room. I don’t know how I’d use Roon’s DSP to replicate that specific calibration for my speaker/room response. When I use Exclusive mode in Roon with my DAC’s, they automatically change sample rate. But when I use it with Sonarworks, it too changes the sample rate in Sonarworks, but no sound comes out.

And I’ve tried using the EQ in Roon to manually “match” the EQ curve generated by Sonarworks, but the result is not the same, probably because there’s more going on in Sonarworks than just EQ.

Hello @Anthony_Saracino,

As far as I’m aware, the Sonarworks Reference 4 Systemwide plugin on macOS does not work with exclusive mode with any audio application.


Thanks John. I assume that means there’s no way to get it to automatically change sample rate with Roon?

Hello @Anthony_Saracino,

Not that I’m aware of. There appears to be a feature request thread on their forums here: Automatic sample rate selection – Sonarworks Support Center

If you’re happy with the sound of the Sonarworks Reference DSP I’d consider using Roon’s DSP engine to resample all content to a single rate. Roon uses high quality integer and polyphase algorithms to ensure the highest quality regardless of base rate. You can do this by going to DSP > Sample Rate Conversion > Custom and mapping to your desired sample rate.


Thanks again! We’re now getting beyond my expertise in digital audio (I’m just a humble guitar player…). If I understand correctly, you recommend continuing to use Reference 4, and use the sample rate conversion feature in Roon to pick a sample rate, say 96 kHz, and then up-convert all lower sample rates to 96, and down-convert higher rates to 96 kHz. Sonarworks and my DAC would be set to 96 kHz. Is this correct, and if so, is there much loss of resolution in down-converting and/or issues related to up-converting?

Hello @Anthony_Saracino,

It’s difficult to say what the “subjective” effects of resampling will be on your system. It’s dependent on your gear, the music itself, and your sensitivity to whatever audible effects there may be. It’s possible that you may not even notice any audible differences at all, good or bad.

Objectively, Roon uses high performance synchronous polyphase resampling algorithms in order to ensure that upsampling and downsampling + non-integer cases are handled well. We leverage the power of modern CPUs to perform DSP that would be unfeasible in small passively cooled devices.

My advice is to try it and see if you like it.


Interesting topic as I myself am building my first relatively decent speaker system. I am planning the KEF R7s with SVS SB-3000 subs powered by the NAD C298 amplifier. The challenge for me is Room correction. I have heard that DIRAC is the best when it comes to that but i dont have a DIRAC enabled HW. What I have is, is a lifetime Roon license that I really want to work with.

Is there a way for reliable room correction that adjust frequency as well as time domain corrections and works with Roon (preferably via its convolution options)?



Some options that you can use with Roon’s Convolution engine include:

Room EQ Wizard

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these options are known to work well with Roon.


Thank you for the list. However, two are Windows only, and Room EQ Wizard appears to be fairly complicated (as compared to Sonarworks, for example). Is there a more user-friendly Mac program you’d recommend?

Hello @Anthony_Saracino,

Not that I’m aware of.

We created a guide to using REW a few years ago, you can find it here:


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