something I learned about graphic equalizers

Laura Knotek

Retired Moderator
Mar 31, 2012
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I had been graphic equalizer preinstalled settings on my PC and on my Lumia. However, I did some research and discovered that graphic equalizers are meant to be used to compensate for speaker placement or deficient speakers/headphones, not for general purposes.

As a result, I listened to music "flat", and guess what? The engineers who recorded/mixed the music did indeed do their jobs.

I have good headphones and speakers (Klipsch Image s4 headphones and Boston Acoustics speakers).

I also learned that if one wishes to use an equalizer, it is best to start flat and decrease unwanted sounds, rather than increase wanted sounds. In other words, if I want more of Geddy's bass in a Rush song, cut the midrange/treble, rather than boost the bass. Boosting a wanted sound, rather than cutting an unwanted sound tends to make it worse, rather than better. Boosting bass tends to create a muddy bass sound. Boosting treble tends to create hissing vocals.

Why didn't I study this sooner? I'm enjoying music much more now.


Apr 16, 2011
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For several years, I ran sound for a band that played in area clubs on the weekends. The PA system has a 31-band graphic equalizer. I would use the EQ to compensate for the vast differences in the rooms we'd play. A "hard" room would require certain frequencies be deemphasized, or the band would suffer terrible feedback.

I would always cringe when watching other bands' sound guys make use their PA with dramatic scoops, pushing some frequencies way above unity, while cutting others out entirely, and what's more, that was often the static EQ setup, and it never varied with the needs of the rooms.


Ambassador Team Leader
Nov 4, 2013
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There's a couple of really good threads going lately and this is one of them.

I'm a large fan of listening to music.
I mean not in the background or what's playing on the car radio.
When I listen to the music to me it's like watching a movie.
I want to hear everything as recorded.

My preference in the past with equalizers has been down tone the mid-ranges and pump the highs a bit.
These days I have learned to leave equalization flat because I listen with high impedance cans.

I listen to a lot of trance\dance or jazz with alternative thrown in.
Music to me is all about how it hits my ears.
I like to listen to anything especially if it has high resolution recording purity.


New member
Apr 20, 2014
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A lot of top amplifiers don't even bother with tone controls, if you are really into hi-fi you make sure your listening room has no deficiencies in the first place :smile:


New member
Jul 14, 2008
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Learned a valuable lesson a few years back regarding how to setup up a home audio system. Most people start by buying a good amp/pre-amp and then the speakers. Old guy in Kingsport, TN told me to buy speakers first. Use the old electronics you have and if the speakers sound good, they will only sound better the better the electronics you add. AND, he said that buy buying speakers and speaker placement trial and error, you will end up with a home system that can be played flat with no equalizer needed.

Did it and it worked. I would think that good speakers and placement no matter where you set up the system will serve you better than trying to make bad speakers sound better using external controls.

By the way, the old guy in Kingsport was Mr. Watson who designed the bass speakers used in JBL speakers in the 70's, 80's for sure and may still be used today in JBL and other speaker makers.

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