IK Multimedia have been around for over 25 years, founded and headquartered in Modena, Italy (the home of Balsamic vinegar!), but there is nothing vinegar about their products. They are smooth, straight forward and work well, more like an Olive oil than a vinegar.
The ARC System 3 comes with e really good MEMS room analysis microphone but you can use an existing measuring mic if you have one and opt for an ARC system without the mic and we think that is a really fair way to do business. However, our recommendation is to use the MEMS mic option as it is so well integrated and doesn't require any calibration in and of itself.
The latest version has a newly designed GUI for the software which makes things a bit simpler and achieving a good set up with this system is pretty quick. You have to go through the (slightly boring) stage of setting up the calibration by holding the mic in various positions in the room and letting the software calculate what's happening with your sound. After that you can dive in to your configuration and get back to music.
A really cool and unique feature of this software which certainly could be good for larger mixing desk set-ups where multiple people are working, or you have your favourite critics sitting on the sofa behind you playing Producer, is the ability to store configurations for using different monitors or different physical listening positions. That's pretty clever and it works.
So how does it adjust your sound once the room is calibrated? It's quite simple. The plugin sits soon your master bus and acts as a filter applying the changes required to match your output to the calibration settings achieved during setup.
Overall, the product is a bit simpler than Sonarworks for example and doesn't have the output testing for different listening devices but, it is cheaper, quick to use and very precise. Although after calibration you have a set of parameters that apply through a filter you can still control the extremes of how those changes are applied, define the limits of correction as you. So it is powerful, simple but you stay in control whereas some systems can over correct and you can battle to try and apply what your ear is telling you.
There is no doubt this is one of the best value products on the market at just under €200 and it gets the job done. Not a lot of bells and whistles but if you just want your room to work, then this is the product for you.