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Thread: Equalizers : Yay or Nay?

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    Default Equalizers : Yay or Nay?

    I often find myself reaching tweaking the EQ when I listen to recordings. "Too much mids on the Stravinsky CD"..."Need more highs on the Mozart". I come to my fellow lovers of sound and ask, do you mess with the EQ, or do you leave everything flat and let the engineers decide how it should sound?

    I don't think this is so much a platform for debate, just a minor curiosity. I can't help myself, it's almost like my hands reach for EQ while blasting my favorite recordings.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    It's possible to get headphones that don't require EQ, but not speakers. No speaker is perfectly flat, and when you put them in a room, it all goes even further away from a balanced response. The biggest failing in most home stereo systems is frequency response. Without EQ, you're just rolling a dice and getting what you get. With EQ, you can achieve a calibration that makes most recordings sound perfect. For the oddballs, a simple tone control tweak should pull them into line.
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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    It's true, I find myself more often with my headphones, keeping things perfectly flat. I run them through my main system, and have the option to EQ, but most of the time I don't. Honestly, I don't have the ideal space for my system at the moment. I'd love to give it a nice room to breathe in. It really shined in the basement den I had years ago.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    I guess you misread what I meant by flat. Flat response is a perfect balance of frequencies from low to high. Headphones and especially speakers aren't flat out of the box. All transducers have imbalances. You correct those using an equalizer. In theory, you should only have to do this once, then just leave the settings calibrated.

    But if you don't know what you're doing and try to follow the "more is better" philosophy, you can royally mess up your frequency response with an equalizer. If you aren't interested in learning how to use the tool, it's best to leave it to others. You can be pretty sure that if you're always reaching for the EQ to adjust things, you're probably using it wrong. The whole idea of EQ is to calibrate your system so all recordings sound right without adjusting.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-12-2018 at 16:52.
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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    I would expect that the proper setting will vary person to person because of differences in their hearing, and personal preference.
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Jun-12-2018 at 17:21.
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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    My mate used to say "I've used this EQ once. I'll never use it again. You don't need to once its set up for your room.". Is this a fair comment, Bigshot, or a huge generalisation? I can't comment on this as I don't have an Equaliser.
    Last edited by Merl; Jun-12-2018 at 18:32.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I would expect that the proper setting will vary person to person because of differences in their hearing, and personal preference.
    It will also vary depending on the taste and competence of the recording engineers.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    My mate used to say "I've used this EQ once. I'll never use it again. You don't need to once its set up for your room.". Is this a fair comment, Bigshot, or a huge generalisation? I can't comment on this as I don't have an Equaliser.
    That's true. It took me a few weeks to arrive at a proper EQ setting, but I haven't needed to change it since. I rarely need the tone controls either. Balanced is balanced.

    Fritz, personal preference enters into it a little, but the real reason to EQ is to make up for imbalances caused by the acoustics of your particular room.

    Without question, the best thing you can do for a sound quality of your system is to equalize the response. It can make an average set of headphones sound above average, and every speaker setup shows massive improvement when it is EQed.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-12-2018 at 22:09.
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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Fritz, personal preference enters into it a little, but the real reason to EQ is to make up for imbalances caused by the acoustics of your particular room.
    95% of my listening is on a single mono earbud with electronics that combine the channels. My MP3 has equalizer settings and I use the one that has max bass because earbuds are notorious for not having real good bass, partly due to the size of the speaker and partly due to the inability to wedge it deeply our tightly enough into the ear canal.

    Hey, how about a speaker implant?
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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    Senior Member Simon Moon's Avatar
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    EQ should be used for room correction, not as a complex set of tone controls, IMHO.

    Better than EQ is digital room correction.
    And if there were a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence - Russell

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Moon View Post
    EQ should be used for room correction, not as a complex set of tone controls, IMHO.

    Better than EQ is digital room correction.
    In my old pickup I actually used the fade control to adjust between front and rear speakers as a tone control because it was easier than the actual tone control adjustment, which was separate bass and treble (as sort of very basic equalizer perhaps as opposed to as simple single control ranging from bass to treble). The rear speakers were much bassier and the fronts more tweetier.
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Jun-13-2018 at 17:41.
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    Senior Member JohnD's Avatar
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    Individual albums are mixed and mastered differently, in different rooms and on different speakers, so I make EQ changes accordingly.

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    Senior Member EddieRUKiddingVarese's Avatar
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    Nay .
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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    EQ is a tool for calibrating a response curve. It isn't intended to be used like tone controls. Bass and treble controls are fine for that. Not everyone understands how to use EQ properly. And some of those people use it anyway and end up making things worse rather than better.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-19-2018 at 18:24.
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    No room or speakers will ever be perfect. So a bit of EQ can help. There is no shame in using one IMO. A fixed parametric eq can certainly compensate for problems with the room and speakers, but like it was mentioned, what you hear is also determined by the whims of the recording engineers and producers. Trying to fiddle with a complicated EQ to fix every recording is counter productive. I personally just don't buy recordings I don't enjoy listening to. On occasion, I will reach for that simple treble control on annoyingly bright recordings.

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