EP 30 - The USC calibration plugin explained

EP 30 - The USC calibration plugin explained

Today, we’re delving into the fascinating world of sound precision with the USC calibration plugin. But what exactly does USC stand for, and how does it impact your audio experience? Let’s explore!


Imagine every headphone or speaker unit as a unique snowflake—no two are exactly alike. These differences arise from tolerances in materials and manufacturing processes. Enter Unit Specific Calibration (USC). It’s the secret sauce that not only eliminates these variations but also takes your audio quality beyond what acoustics alone can achieve.

Unlike generic calibrations offered by correction software companies, USC tailors the calibration to each individual unit, ensuring that your studio headphones’ frequency response is as flat as technically possible.

USC calibrated version (DSP) improves their flat frequency response down to ~1dB tolerance in contrast to ~2dB achieved with acoustics alone and ~3dB promised by Sonarworks, Waves and others.

USC has two components. One is the USC plugin, small software that runs inside your DAW. Second is the USC data file or calibration file, that carries all the data for your specific units and can be used without the USC plugin with other plugins.

Where to get the USC plugin?

For New Models: If you have the latest models (like the S5X 1.1, S4X 1.3, or S4R 1.3), the USC is already included. Redeem it here.
Upgrading Previous Models: If you own previous versions (e.g., S4X 1.2 or S5X 1.0), select your current model during checkout and get the USC at 49€.

Here’s how:

  1. Visit Our Webpage: Head over to our website and navigate to the Accessories section.
  2. Look for the USC Calibration option. If you’re redeeming your USC that comes included with the calibrated models, proceed to checkout. Use your code in the discount code field to get it for free and follow instructions on the calibration certificate step by step.
  3. Upgrading Previous Models: If you’re upgrading from previous non-calibrated models (like the S4X 1.2 to the S4X 1.3), select the model you currently own and process the checkout. Fun fact: The previous versions are acoustically identical to the latest 1.3 edition (S4X) and 1.1 edition (S5X). Calibration is what separates them.

How to Install USC

Once you’ve completed the checkout, keep an eye on your inbox. You’ll receive two emails:

  1. Plugin Download Link: This email contains the link to download the USC plugin installer for Win and Mac. Formats available are VST, AU and AAX.
  2. USC Calibration File: If you’re redeeming USC for the calibrated version, this file will be included. If you’re upgrading from non-calibrated, our engineers will create a custom calibration based on the serial number you provided in the cart notes field during checkout processing. You might get it with a day or two of delay.

Installation Steps:

  1. Start the Installer: Open the installer and follow the prompts.
  2. Next All the Way Through: You can click “Next” without hesitation, or customize settings according to your preferences.

Integrating USC with Your DAW and Interface

Now that you’re armed with USC Calibration, let’s seamlessly integrate it into your digital audio workstation (DAW) and interface. Follow these steps to elevate your sound precision:

  1. Open Your DAW: Launch your DAW, and it will automatically rescan for new plugins. If not, manually trigger a rescan. In the worst-case scenario, specify the plugin’s location manually.

  2. Placement Matters: Insert USC into either the master channel or a dedicated headphones out (if you’re using both speakers and headphones for monitoring). This setup allows you to switch between them effortlessly. Here’s a pro tip: Having a separate dedicated headphones monitoring channel eliminates the need to bypass the plugin during export. Always configure your outputs with dedicated monitoring channels to maintain calibration accuracy and avoid unintentional calibration artifacts in the final export.

  3. Intuitive Interface: Once USC is open, you’ll encounter an intuitive interface. It features:

    • Signal In and Out Levels
    • Clipping Indicators
    • Gain Knob
    • On/Off Button
    • Interface Resizing Options

  4. Install the USC Calibration File:

    • The calibration file comes in XPS format. Click on the calibration field to prompt a file browser.
    • Locate the calibration file you received and click “Open.”
    • Voilà! You’re now ready to enjoy meticulously calibrated sound.
    • Use the left and right arrows to navigate through multiple calibration files if you have different headphone units or models. This flexibility also allows you to customize your calibration to personal preferences—whether you want more mids, less bass, or any other adjustments. We’ll delve deeper into this in the final chapter.

USC Profiles and Room Emulation Software

As room emulation software gains popularity, USC remains versatile. While we currently integrate with Waves Nx and Realphones, remember that USC isn’t limited to these specific emulators. 

  • Waves nx
  • Realphones
  • Any room emulators if used in a signal chain

Using USC with Your Preferred EQ

If you have a preferred EQ software for calibration, you’re in luck! Here’s how to manually integrate USC with any EQ of your choice:

  1. Locate the USC File:

    • Find the USC calibration file in XPS format.
    • Open it using a notepad or a code editor.

  2. Understand the Calibration Data:

    • Inside the file, you’ll find calibration data that’s easy to read.
    • Key parameters include:
      • Frequency
      • Gain
      • Q Factor

  3. Set Parameters in Your Chosen EQ:

    • Input the calibration data into your preferred EQ.
    • Save it as a preset for future use.
    • This method is especially handy if you’re working with external devices or binaural renderers that process sound outside your DAW.

Personalized Adjustments to the Original Profile

Customize your USC experience by creating your own tuning preferences:

  1. Open the XPS File:

    • Use a notepad or code editor to open the USC calibration file.
    • Adjust the calibration parameters to your liking.

  2. Save with a New Name:

    • After making changes, save the file with a new name.
    • Add more bass, introduce a tilt, adjust warmth—get creative!
    • It’s a simple and flexible process.

Multicalibration Support

Take advantage of USC’s versatility:

  • Original Calibration: Stick with the default USC calibration.
  • Personalized Tuning: Use your customized profile.
  • Speaker Calibration: Switch to speaker-specific settings.
  • Mix Check Setups: Create presets for scenarios like smartphone simulation, cube testing, bass-heavy checks, and more.
  • Easily toggle between these options using the left and right arrows.
  • If you’re using calibration on the master channel for both speakers and headphones (common with small audio interfaces), this approach ensures seamless sound precision.

If you need help with any of this, feel free to use our support channels. We'll do what we can to support perfect mixing results!