We’ve all seen music producers, engineers, and recording artists huddled around mixing boards, adjusting nobs and sliders to reach the exact sound they’re after — but such fine-tuning isn’t exclusive to the recording studio. In eras past, the equalizer (EQ) was adjusted using component-style graphic EQs, but these days it’s all done digitally.
EQ settings can now be found in everything from phones to wireless speakers, and even streaming services like Spotify. Unfortunately, understanding how an EQ works and using it properly is a much more elusive concept, and digital settings can be just as intimidating or confusing as rows of physical sliders.
Equalizers put the power of sound sculpting at your fingertips, and as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. And while an EQ isn’t a superpower, it can get you closer to the sound you want from your gear … if you know what you’re doing. Here’s our top-to-bottom EQ guide.
Why do I want to use an EQ?
Electronics manufacturers have their own ideas about what a piece of gear should sound like, but EQ lets you have your say. Also, we don’t always get to listen to music in ideal environments. Many of us listen to music while commuting or exercising, where the shape of the room or ambient noise can each have a nasty effect on how our music sounds. An EQ can help.
Maybe you have a bass-heavy pair of headphones that you need to tone down a bit. Or perhaps you listen to a lot of EDM, but the treble is too sharp and needs to be pulled back. Whether you’re looking for more punch, a warmer sound, or bass that will rattle your innards, an EQ can help you dial in the sound that suits you best.