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What is Equalizer (EQ)? How can I EQ?

What is Equalizer (EQ)? How can I EQ?

EQ or Equalizer is a massive part of audio projects. Before any track hits the shelf it gets the treatment. An engineer mixes and masters it to sound it good on any platform. Listeners may use headphones or speakers. However, engineers mix their projects regardless of the medium. So, they compensate for every possible scenario.  EQ is a fundamental process for music production. Engineers know these things. Thus, tracks sound great in most cases. By knowing a few basic tips for eq, you can enjoy your music more. Devices like ibasso dx160 will offer you great flexible PEQ to tweak your preferences with mango os.

ibasso dx160 2020 edition

What is Equalizer?

Firstly we need to cut to the fact first. EQ refers to equalization. Mighty wiki says, “the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electric signal.” It's a bold statement. Secondly, let's emphasize the word “balance”. A proper “EQ” is mostly finding the perfect harmony between the frequencies of music. Moreover, you need to know the manipulation process of your desired balance.

We hear a huge range of frequencies. To be exact 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Each instrument impacts with energy in a specific frequency. EQ sets the contents coherently in a mix. So, everything feels balanced and clean.

We can break down the frequency based on bass, mids, and treble. 

ibasso dx160 2020 edition

Timbres and frequencies

Timbre is what makes sound different. However, if two instruments are playing the same notes, both will throw their own unique timbres.

Timber is the real-life result of different sounds. Our brain gets information out of it. 

Sounds are simply sine wave components. They can be harmonic or inharmonic.

EQ tinkers with sound. It's the change of volume of different notes and instruments. 

However, we all know what EQ looks like. We saw bass and treble knobs on a lot of audio devices. Hi-end devices have more dials. These dials will allow you to control the gain of a particular frequency range. Thus you can tweak the output of your equipment.

However, we mainly want EQ to match the following.

  1. Our Preferences. We all have different preferences. Besides, we hear differently. You may like bass, where I may like treble. So, it's what changes from person to person. 
  2. Equipment shortcomings: Our audio gears might have an issue with tuning. Thus, It may sound a bit annoying. so,  You can compensate for that by using EQ. 

The basics

After knowing what EQ is, let's dive into How to. Firstly, there are two parts of EQ. 

  1. Center frequency 
  2. Bandwidth. 

Center frequency may ring no bell. It's a specific frequency that we want to adjust. 

Bandwidth, can be referred to as Q. It expresses the narrowness of the adjustment selection. Let's compare 5 bands and 10 band EQ knobs.  5 band’s Q is broader than 10 band’s Q. Thus 10 bands will give you finer tuning capability. So, narrower Q, offer finer the tuning. Sometimes the Q may look like a needle.

How to EQ

Mainly we can tweak our sound by two ways of EQing. 

  1. Boosting
  2. Cutting

Boosting is making a particular frequency louder. We can raise the volume  (amplitude) of a specific range. So, by boosting, we are increasing the output of our desired frequency. 

Let's flip the coin. Therefore, you should get the vibe that Cutting is decreasing. We can lower the gain of a specific frequency range that we don't want to hear. So, this is called cutting.

Nonetheless, “Cutting is better than boosting”

Now you can ask why boosting is bad. Why is cutting better than boosting?
Too much boost can introduce distortion. But distortion is not welcomed here. So we are doing the opposite. However, Boosting can decrease clarity, add wired phasing, and whatnot.

Do you know about the camera ISO? ISO makes the image brighter. But if you dial it overboard, you will get grain. Boosting is like that.

To be on the safer side, we need to practice by doing two steps.

  1. Boosting the master output (increasing the main volume)
  2. Cutting the adjustable frequencies. 

The proper implementation will result in great tuning yet keeping everything under the distortion threshold. When EQ-ing comes, there’s a saying in audio engineering. “Cut narrow, boost wide”.

Hiby R3 pro

Hiby R3 pro with hiby os for a lot of EQ flexibility 

Every ear is different

First of all sound is highly a subjective thing. It will always depend on your personal experience. Both mental and physical state have an impact on that. Tracks can sound different from person to person. So, EQ is a reflection of personal taste. We will learn how to EQ. Therefore, you need to find what works best for you. So, be open and dive deep.

We have to know the range

We may want more bass or less cymbal. So we need to know where they stay. Generally, instruments have different frequencies. Frequency chart obviously helps but it doesn't include all. 

Usually all instruments stay below 10khz range. Cymbals and hi-hats are a bit higher. Sub-bass refers to 20 Hz – 60 Hz sound. It creates an ambient presence. However,  it’s hard to hear. The kick drum and bass guitar take the stage between 60 Hz – 250 Hz.

Generally electric guitars and vocals stay roughly between 80 Hz and 1 kHz. However, 250 Hz and 1 kHz range is the most important part. Most of the instruments stay here. If we over boost this area, a track may sound muddy. On the other hand, cutting too much can sound hollow. 

Boosting around 2 kHz emphasis on picking guitar strings. However, boosting in the 6 kHz – 16 kHz range can present a bit treble heavy airiness. If you want thumping bass, you need to boost the 20 Hz- 250 Hz range. 

Shanling Q1 Portable Hi-Fi MP3 Music Player

Shangling q1 is a small powerhouse of portable audio.

Finding exact frequencies

We will always discourage you from boosting frequency. Rather find out the annoying range and track them down. Usually, you can achieve this with a narrow Q. Fiddle around with it, until you find a noise that’s seemingly harsh. Then, just push the Q down. It will drive that part out.

Doing this will offer you the desired aspects of music. Moreover, you won't have to face distortion or noise. Then, raise up your master volume to get the desired listening level.

fiio m11 pro

Fiio m11 pro is a perfect powerhouse. 

The function of a Low-Pass Filter

We don’t need sound over 20 kHz. Because we don't hear them. If you have any doubt just check yourself with any frequency sound above the pay grade. Nonetheless, if you have a well-trained ear and have a life of early 20s (talking about age), you may feel it. But it's safe to say you won't hear anything. Therefore, cut the frequencies above 20khz. This is known as "adding a low pass filter". 

Then, tune the points where you will like the cymbals and other instruments most.  To learn EQing, you must need to trust your hearing.

XDUOO XD-05 Plus is a great DAC amp with low and high pass filter built in. 

All about a High-Pass Filter

A high pass filter will cut off your bass. If your headphone or woofer isn’t good enough to produce quality sub-bass, you might want to get rid of those frequencies. So, having an EQ curve at around 50 Hz won't hurt you. This process is adding a high-pass filter. A little dac amp E1DA 9038S Gen 2 also offers the flexibility of EQing. 

Let's talk about presets

We use many apps that come with presets. These will offer you the base of learning how to EQ. Using the resources will make you wiser. The presets are usually made by professionals who know the stuff well. Besides, Starting from scratch is a bit hard and time-consuming. Nonetheless, pick a preset, tweak minor adjustments to, and make it your own. Moreover, EQ is available for various platforms. You can use hardware EQ too. For android users "Neutralizer for Android" will help. For desktop users, you can use Voicemeeter by VB-Audio and True-Fi by Sonarworks. however, there are two popular software-based EQ. Graphical and parametric EQ. We will discuss this later.

So, try presets. get your own one by tweaking. If you need quality audio gears you can visit HiFigo. Most importantly keep listening.

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