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Customer Discussions > Music forum

Equalizer settings


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Showing 1-25 of 77 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 12, 2013 7:01:27 AM PST
I could use a tutorial about equalizer settings.
I listen to rock and pop for the most part. I have most of my music set for 'piano' in the equalizer, Queen is my favorite band and it seems to work well with both their music and the vocals. But I'm sure it's not the best for everything.
I would like to know what you all use and why.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 7:06:41 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 22, 2013 8:44:15 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 7:41:34 AM PST
Thanks, Buck, I will give that a listen.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 8:38:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 8:39:51 AM PST
D. Mok says:
There is no universal optimal EQ setting.

How the music is supposed to be heard is *neutral*. However, no consumer-grade playback device is neutral. Truly neutral monitors cost hundreds of dollars, and they still require that you're playing back the most unaltered version of the music possible -- the original CD master comes close and will have been approved by professionals and/or the artist.

After that, you're at the mercy of your speakers, as well as your listening environment.

Car stereos and headphones overemphasize bass. Most recordings made before 1997 don't have thundering bass, because it muddies the recording. So on a car stereo, I dial the low EQ *way* back, because I hate that artificial stomach rumble, which is not how most knowledgeable producers and mixer would have mixed the original recording.

When listening on headphones, if they aren't noise-cancelling (which can be dangerous in themselves -- you can't hear the environment), you'll get the environment drowning out the low frequencies.

Laptop speakers lack bass and presence, so you may need to dial a bit more back in to approximate what it's supposed to sound like. However, increased bass EQ through bass-deficient speakers is not the same as speakers that can handle the original bass at a good playback volume.

If the room you're listening in has a lot of blank walls, or glass, or wood panels, you'll get exaggerated treble as the highs and high mids bounce back at you. In those cases, you should dial back the highs a bit. Very often, if you want more bass, you don't want to increase the bass -- you want to decrease the highs and mids, then increase the overall volume back up a little.

The smaller the speakers (and headphones), the less bass they can handle.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 8:42:13 AM PST
It generally goes by personal preference, your system and room acoustics. I feel most music is already equalized pretty well so I used to set my equalizer at 1.5 Hz across the spectrum just to give it a boost. Nowadays I don't even use one. On a good system with CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray you don't really need one but I find it can help give things a lift if I play vinyl as they are recorded at a lower volume.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 8:46:14 AM PST
I do have a question about a CD player I own. It's a Yamaha CDC 897 and the remote has buttons for the output level. What is the general, most commonly used setting for this? I find CDs sound too harsh sometimes with the level all the way up so I set it down to about the middle, adjust the volume on my receiver accordingly and it sounds better.

Any opinions?

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 8:51:56 AM PST
Snoo says:
When I used and eq, I used the smiley face method......I like good bass and also lots of highs

Your best bet is trial and error and you will eventually find a happy medium.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 8:59:59 AM PST
K. Carter says:
I agree with Snoo - EQ set high on both ends and low in the middle. I like the cymbals to sound like cymbals.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 9:08:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 9:19:37 AM PST
Most, if not all, that I've read about settings, current info stresses against using the smiley face...but again, it's all personal preference and if it works, it works.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 9:14:39 AM PST
D. Mok says:
> current info stresses against using the smiley face

That kind of EQ setting is just like getting speakers that have super-boosted bass. You're not getting what the record was supposed to sound like. Mids are some of the most important frequencies especially for vocals and the presence of most chordal and melody instruments like guitars and keyboards. Nobody says you can't EQ it to your own preference, but you won't be hearing the music as it's supposed to be heard.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 9:25:12 AM PST
RE: Guitars

I just attempted the smiley face while listening to a Byrds recording and at first it sounded good, but then I realized the thing that made the Byrds so great were the jangly guitars and those were getting suffocated by the lows and highs.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 9:35:12 AM PST
D. Mok says:
> I realized the thing that made the Byrds so great were the jangly guitars and those were getting suffocated by the lows and highs.

The "smiley-face" EQ would also wreak havoc on the vocal harmonies.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 10:11:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 10:15:31 AM PST
Snoo says:
I never had any issues with any instruments or vocals on that particular setting. But....as mentioned before.....personal preference.
A friend of mine has a pretty high end system and his pre-amp doesnt have bass or treble adjustmments !

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 11:09:28 AM PST
alysha25 says:
***D. Mok says: If the room you're listening in has a lot of blank walls, or glass, or wood panels, you'll get exaggerated treble as the highs and high mids bounce back at you. In those cases, you should dial back the highs a bit. Very often, if you want more bass, you don't want to increase the bass -- you want to decrease the highs and mids, then increase the overall volume back up a little.***

I think you may have shed some light on my problem here. I'm listening to music through my computer, media player. The speakers are cheap "Logitech" speakers (better than what I had before though!) . It has a big center "bass" or midrange, or something unit though, and then 2 smaller speakers one on each side. I generally listen to hard rock or heavy metal, but have a whole range of rock, pop, etc.

Anyhow it seems for each different album I feel the need to Wildly adjust the equalizer until I get something that I find to sound acceptable. And it DOES seem to lack bass. I am in a room that's kind-of wide open (kitchen /dining room area) with white walls, a very hard white tile or linoleum floor, and a huge glass patio door, and another window.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 11:15:50 AM PST
You need carpeting. That environment is not very conducive to bass...You need something to cushion the sound.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 11:16:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 11:19:46 AM PST
onsenkuma says:
There are two basic kinds of equalizers: parametric and graphic; you're probably referring to the graphic type, with anything from 5-10 frequency bands per channel. These are usually used to compensate for room acoustic x speaker placement. Technically, the most accurate way to set an equalizer is by using a pink noise generator and spectrum analyzer, and high end models from dbx in the '80s had these built in.

For everyday use there's an easy method to follow in setting tone controls of any kind. You should use a recording you know well. Begin by setting all frequencies flat (This does NOT mean all the way down, but at the mid-point for each band.) Then raise the higher frequencies FIRST, step-by-step equally for the R and L channels, to levels where YOU feel they sound most 'natural' or pleasant for voice, cymbals or other higher frequency sounds. (Acoustic instruments are best for this.) You then gradually bring up the low frequencies the same way, again to levels that feel most natural to you. (Not everyone loves super heavy bass, and if you have a subwoofer in your music system then you may not find the sound of your windows rattling all that pleasant.) The middle frequency bands tend to bring more 'presence' to vocals in particular, so these are usually used a little more sparingly.

The real key is to not overdo it. Well recorded music played on a good system in a good acoustic setting generally needs minimal or no additional equalization. But if you have poor acoustics due to an unusually shaped room, limited options for speaker placement, heavy carpets or too much upholstery, then you can sometimes get very nice results using a graphic equalizer. If this is your purpose, then once you've finished adjusting the frequencies you should pretty much just leave them as you've set them.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 11:46:31 AM PST
alysha25 says:
Yeah , there is a small throw rug under my chair. But other than that, there isn't much I can do. The computer isn't getting moved any time soon. And the speakers directly face the huge glass door.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 12:06:51 PM PST
D. Mok says:
With those tiny Logitech speakers you're not going to get much bass no matter what. You can crank the bass settings, but the speakers will not be able to handle it. You'll get some warped approximation of proper bass. A subwoofer can help.

If you're adjusting EQ on *every* song, however, then you're not really hearing the recordings as they were meant to be heard. Some records (such as Blue Oyster Cult, or The Stooges' Raw Power) were mixed to be trebly and thin, as a creative choice.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 12:10:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 12:13:47 PM PST
alysha25 says:
Not adjusting on every song. Usually I listen to whole albums, and I am adjusting for each album. A "warped approximation" is a good description! Well , maybe Someday I'll splurge on something better!

I think the room I'm in is a huge factor though, which had not even occured to me until I read your post.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 12:13:35 PM PST
@moongirl,
I'm curious as to what type or brand of equalizer you are using. Besides 'piano', what other settings does it have? Regardless, onsenkuma's advice above is right on.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 5:21:35 PM PST
Wow, great input! I'm learning a lot.
At the moment, I'm listening to music on my computer or iPod, but come spring I am going to purchase a system. I need to educate myself first so I can make a good choice. I've not had a good system in 30 years.
So the equalizer settings I am using are 'duh' compared to a system.
Any input on your favorite brands/setups? 30 years has made me a beginner again.
Thanks to everyone.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 7:08:02 PM PST
Dr. Mikey says:
@moongirl. Since you mention a 'piano' setting, it sounds like (ha) your system has presettings like piano, pop, rock, lounge, dance, acoustic, etc. This might mean you must choose a setting and can't set each band yourself unless your system gives you that option. This means you can only try out different settings to suit your ear in accordance with the music you select. The only thing I have learned lately is that as I get older I am experiencing high frequency hearing loss. So especially in order to hear lyrics, I must turn up the higher end, or choose a preset that does so, such as 'pop' rather than 'rock'.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 8:40:46 PM PST
In the old days it was easy. My receiver had three controls for EQ: separate bass and treble tone controls (basically a two band equalizer) and a loudness switch. The loudness switch was based on the Fletcher-Munson equal loudness contour curves (if I recall, their research involved measuring people's hearing at the World Fairs). At low listening levels you would want to engage this switch to give a boost to low frequencies especially and also the highs somewhat (google to see the curves). The bass and treble controls you would adjust to whatever sounded best to you based on the speakers, their placement and environment (changing speaker placement and aspects of the room environment can also make things sound better, but that's a longer discussion), and the music being played.
I later added an outboard 10 band graphic equalizer, but I never had a situation where things sounded so bad that the EQ was necessary.

Nowadays, portable players, car players, and software players include some form of EQ, but these often give a choice of a few fixed EQ curves (so they'll have names such as the example of 'piano' that you gave), although some include more precise options similar to a graphic equalizer. My preference is to just use good earphones and not bother with the EQ settings on my portable player.
If you're dealing with a device that has a selection of fixed EQ curves, just experiment and see what sounds best for different recordings. You might want to play one song as a reference and note what each setting does -- that might help you more quickly decide which setting to try first when you're listening to something else and think it could benefit.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 5:30:16 AM PST
Thank you, Dr, and thank you, Keen.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 7:44:36 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2013 2:49:53 AM PST
Zaplightning says:
@ moongirl

A few years ago this is what I purchased. I went with a Onkyo TX-8255 wide range amplifier receiver, a Sony CDR-CE375 CD exchanger and four Bose 301 direct reflecting speakers. The receiver and CD player give you a few options, one being a turntable hook up. I have nothing but a crisp, clean sound and used the highest grade speaker cable. The best thing is this purchase didn't break the bank. I'm very happy with this sound system and I treat it as Spinal Tap. Why settle for 10 when you can boost it up to 11!
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  24
Total posts:  77
Initial post:  Jan 12, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 31, 2013

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