Equalizers and Hi-Fi

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
246
63
370
I don't use an EQ and they almost seem like not available for home audio. Also there is a weird opinion about equalizers among audiophiles. Often I bumped into comments like "when a system needs an equalizer, replace the components".

Before I can make a point I would first need to to go into the 'flat response' wish among audiophiles.

There is a big difference to a flat response in a graph and how our ears 'perceive' a flat response. A flat response on paper might be off to our ears or not exiting enough. Adjustments to the room or our hearing can make it sound more right and signature details within can make it even sound more awesome or premium.

I would somehow compare this human interpretation of illusion to how Greek columns were designed in order to appeal more natural and amazing. Or how Disney uses this illusion for buildings in their parks to have a sense of depth. In audio, creating an illusion is no difference.

Now the thing is, let's say.. I could be searching for a particular way a system sounds tailored around a kind of music in a particular room I am listening and the speakers are near perfect for me but have something that can use a bit of tweaking in a certain range to reach personal perfection.

An audiophile would probably suggest another amp, all kinds of expensive treatment, different stands or even other speakers. But the idea of an equalizer is taboo. Which is odd because equalizers are far from taboo in professional environments.

I am not surprised on why equalizers have a bad reputation in consumer electronics.

1st They were more of a gimmick in the past. Cheap systems often had far from precise equalizers with flashy lights that as a package didn't add any added value other than bells and whistles.

2nd probable reason is that every speaker or amp manufacturer is kind of delivering its own signature and don't like the option for a consumer to tinker around.

3rd reason is that a good equalizer adds another, often ugly module that is mostly not made for home applications, whereas most consumers prefer organized shelves and consistancy in design given their components.

Assuming that most people who post here know how they like their sound and probably have had a moment thinking 'this could use a little spicing in this range or a little downtuning here' to make the vocals for example more present. I wonder if any of you uses one or ever thought about adding one.

Furthermore I wonder if there are any recommendable multiband hardware equalizers for non insane prices that are a little home stereo friendly :)
 

12th Monkey

Moderator
Aug 31, 2015
1,314
923
12,070
More componentry in the signal path is generally not a good idea in terms of fidelity, and they have a bad image because of the sort of stuff they were attached to in the 80s. I'd never dream of having one, but if they appeal to a listener's ears, it's their money being spent.

I suspect that careful matching of speakers to room is the more purist approach, and that an amp with room EQ is a better idea than an equaliser.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981 and Gray

Gray

Well-known member
Back when dinaosours were common (and not just found on hi-fi forums) I owned a Rotel RE700.
I bought it as a toy and it looked quite nice :)
No doubt you could find one (or similar) on e-bay.....but I really wouldn't bother if I were you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
246
63
370
More componentry in the signal path is generally not a good idea in terms of fidelity, and they have a bad image because of the sort of stuff they were attached to in the 80s. I'd never dream of having one, but if they appeal to a listener's ears, it's their money being spent.

I suspect that careful matching of speakers to room is the more purist approach, and that an amp with room EQ is a better idea than an equaliser.
Maybe, but that general advice might also be due to their unavailability for home audio and the application as mentioned for Midi sets and cheap amps in the 80s. Those were usually a few bands that weren't really useful.

When picturing EQ I think about multiband finetunable variations like these.


But with DSP in amps and the connectivity using apps I also don't really get why manufacturers don't expand their "bass - mid - treble" management to the max in the settings of their apps.

Personally I would prefer the latter over a big module, but anyway :)
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
256
153
19,070
Hi,
I would not worry about what others think about equalisation.

People use room correction hardware (DSP) and the software, and extol the results. Whenever a system is placed in the room, it will sound one way, compared to the same system in a different room.

My interpretation is that changing amplifiers, or sources to compensate is a flawed approach when the speakers make the significant difference.

Analogue equalisers will introduce distortion depending on the design/quality of the product, and you may like that. DSP equalisation is the optimal approach.

If you want to equalise the room or add a peak in a specific audio band, then nothing wrong with that, if that is what you prefer.

You could spend a lot of time and significant money box swapping, and achieve a similar result using DSP equalisation with your existing equipment.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

SeattleChris

Active member
Apr 15, 2021
11
5
25
Hi AJM1981 - I really question whether different people's audio perception is similar enough for a rule like "don't use an equalizer". I'm an extreme example: due to childhood ear infections one eardrum is very thin and the other is terribly scarred. As a result I need to subdue midrange a bit in order to make music pleasant for my perception. I stream Amazon HD and use Equalizer APO for that purpose and manage to thoroughly enjoy quality hi-fi. Who knows who is hearing music "right", just find what you enjoy!
 

Gray

Well-known member
Hi AJM1981 - I really question whether different people's audio perception is similar enough for a rule like "don't use an equalizer". I'm an extreme example: due to childhood ear infections one eardrum is very thin and the other is terribly scarred. As a result I need to subdue midrange a bit in order to make music pleasant for my perception. I stream Amazon HD and use Equalizer APO for that purpose and manage to thoroughly enjoy quality hi-fi. Who knows who is hearing music "right", just find what you enjoy!
In such cases as yours Chris, very useful, especially a type such as my old Rotel (where each channel can be individually adjusted).
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
677
372
19,270
First of all a lot of Hi Fi enthusiasts go for something that sounds right for them, rather than something that sounds accurate and real (Which is what professionals go for).

For most Hi Fi enthusiast it is better to go for room correction so as you hear your system at its best, rather than hearing to the room. (NOTE: Room correction is not a silver bullet, so best to treat the room as best you can and use room correction to finish off)

Modern systems used I studios (Which includes EQ) make even hi end Hi Fi sound mundane and coloured if not set up correctly, however most don’t like studio sound as it is too accurate and shows up even the slightest flaw in a recording. (As mentioned above most Hi Fi enthusiast like something that sounds nice rather than real)

The pure sound (No tone controls etc.) in the olden days could give a cleaner performance due to the rubbish add ons that were peddled to the masses, however these days due to most of the add ons being designed for professionals means this is no longer the case, so they can be used without any form of sound degradation. (Used correctly they can make even a mundane system sound great)

In the end it comes down to what you want from a system to what its makeup is.

Bill
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
246
63
370
Hi,
I would not worry about what others think about equalisation.

People use room correction hardware (DSP) and the software, and extol the results. Whenever a system is placed in the room, it will sound one way, compared to the same system in a different room.

My interpretation is that changing amplifiers, or sources to compensate is a flawed approach when the speakers make the significant difference.
In these days the build quality of let's say bookshelf speakers is amazing. Having not really significant differences between them, it should not be a big deal to make a bookshelf speaker of brand 1 sound more like the one of brand 2 by just a minor adjustment. An advice like 'if you prefer sound signature x, then buy the other brand' is odd when both "boxes" are capable of tuning to interchangable signatures.

Analogue equalisers will introduce distortion depending on the design/quality of the product, and you may like that. DSP equalisation is the optimal approach.
That is correct, besides DSP there are EQs with tubes as well, it might be an alternative. Though relatively expensive.

The point with hardware is also that it isn't consumer friendly. The tube EQs mentioned is mostly rack mount equipment for professional musicians and studio's. There seems to be no real serious multiband eq hardware for consumers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: shadders

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
246
63
370
Back when dinaosours were common (and not just found on hi-fi forums) I owned a Rotel RE700.
I bought it as a toy and it looked quite nice :)
No doubt you could find one (or similar) on e-bay.....but I really wouldn't bother if I were you.
Nice one :)

Would have picked one up in days when stacks of gear were a thing. Nowadays I think a compact power friendly version would be possible. And would prefer more bands with a display.. or just as an option in my amp / streamer's app. My Yamaha app has a regular bass, mids and treble control along with one for the sub. It would technically not be a big deal for them to implement a full graphical equalizer like in Pro Tools or Logic.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
256
153
19,070
That is correct, besides DSP there are EQs with tubes as well, it might be an alternative. Though relatively expensive.

The point with hardware is also that it isn't consumer friendly. The tube EQs mentioned is mostly rack mount equipment for professional musicians and studio's. There seems to be no real serious multiband eq hardware for consumers.
Hi,
Here is a UK based vendor who sells graphic equalisers, and they are quite cheap :


I personally would not worry that they are sold from a vendor who primary custom is professional or musician.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
1,215
824
20,070
I’ve never used a modern digital equaliser, save the Sound Optimisation room correction in my Linn streamer.

The old analogue ones added so much fog that it was usually better without. But the biggest reason for not having one at home is that you’ll never be satisfied. You’ll always want to try another tweak, and then the other channel - and so on. The fewer distractions the better in my book.
 
Even bough we sometimes find the most ideal components for our preferences, we do come across situations where we’d like to be able to tweak the tonal balance a little. This can be for any number of reasons - bright or smooth sounding albums, differing listening levels, etc etc. Personally, I say if you want an equaliser, get one. You’re the one paying for your system, and it should sound exactly as you want it to.

Room correction units can offer a tone control of sorts, and if you can get the right one for your purpose, and learn how to use it well, it should offer a less degrading alternative to an old fashioned equaliser.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tinman1952

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
704
383
770
I don't use an EQ and they almost seem like not available for home audio. Also there is a weird opinion about equalizers among audiophiles. Often I bumped into comments like "when a system needs an equalizer, replace the components".

Before I can make a point I would first need to to go into the 'flat response' wish among audiophiles.

There is a big difference to a flat response in a graph and how our ears 'perceive' a flat response. A flat response on paper might be off to our ears or not exiting enough. Adjustments to the room or our hearing can make it sound more right and signature details within can make it even sound more awesome or premium.

I would somehow compare this human interpretation of illusion to how Greek columns were designed in order to appeal more natural and amazing. Or how Disney uses this illusion for buildings in their parks to have a sense of depth. In audio, creating an illusion is no difference.

Now the thing is, let's say.. I could be searching for a particular way a system sounds tailored around a kind of music in a particular room I am listening and the speakers are near perfect for me but have something that can use a bit of tweaking in a certain range to reach personal perfection.

An audiophile would probably suggest another amp, all kinds of expensive treatment, different stands or even other speakers. But the idea of an equalizer is taboo. Which is odd because equalizers are far from taboo in professional environments.

I am not surprised on why equalizers have a bad reputation in consumer electronics.

1st They were more of a gimmick in the past. Cheap systems often had far from precise equalizers with flashy lights that as a package didn't add any added value other than bells and whistles.

2nd probable reason is that every speaker or amp manufacturer is kind of delivering its own signature and don't like the option for a consumer to tinker around.

3rd reason is that a good equalizer adds another, often ugly module that is mostly not made for home applications, whereas most consumers prefer organized shelves and consistancy in design given their components.

Assuming that most people who post here know how they like their sound and probably have had a moment thinking 'this could use a little spicing in this range or a little downtuning here' to make the vocals for example more present. I wonder if any of you uses one or ever thought about adding one.

Furthermore I wonder if there are any recommendable multiband hardware equalizers for non insane prices that are a little home stereo friendly :)
Couldn‘t agree more!
The old ‘chestnut’ that tone controls add distortion and mess up the signal path is in my experience not true in the real world. Even Quad had their famous ‘tilt’ control and Yamaha‘s implementation of tone controls on their amps is excellent.
I have used a Schiit Loki in the past with excellent results and currently use the EQ in my DSpeaker Anti-Mode 2 to tweak with a ‘psycho-acoustic dip’ around 3Khz. Sounds superb!
Much more effective than trying to ‘correct’ a system‘s sound with cables, room furnishings or different equipment.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Bottom line is that analogue EQ is just an enhanced version of the 2 or 3 band tone controls that some amps provide.
If you want / need it, then get it.

However, such EQ (or amp tone control) always has a bypass option. This is usually a physical switch, open (literally) to contamination.
The audio signal necessarily passes through this switch at all times (whether it's set to EQ/ tone or 'direct').
This can (and does) cause crackle / distortion / intermittency.
Easy enough to clean the switch, but no tone control means no switch - that suits me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 12th Monkey

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
246
63
370
Couldn‘t agree more!
The old ‘chestnut’ that tone controls add distortion and mess up the signal path is in my experience not true in the real world. Even Quad had their famous ‘tilt’ control and Yamaha‘s implementation of tone controls on their amps is excellent.
I have used a Schiit Loki in the past with excellent results and currently use the EQ in my DSpeaker Anti-Mode 2 to tweak with a ‘psycho-acoustic dip’ around 3Khz. Sounds superb!
Much more effective than trying to ‘correct’ a system‘s sound with cables, room furnishings or different equipment.
Sounds similar to the "BBC dip" :)

I also think there is a huge difference for audiophiles between a pro multiband equalizer and a so called toy one. A graphical one (software / firmware) that can alter in the margins is better than one that only does the main lines. If I just would like to finetune something in the female vocal range to get the same effect speaker x has, I feel that an EQ that is able to change within the margins is the way to go.

Probably most consumers will not do anything useful with it and only tinker around and blow up their gear, which might be a reason the consumer market has almost no suitable ones in the first place, though it remains a guess.
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts