How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

eq explainer how to master your equalizer for the perfect sound

Most folks are at least vaguely familiar with what an equalizer (EQ) looks like. For some of us, those rows of sliders arranged into a kind of smiley face are an icon of the ’80s – remember the one Tom Cruise was forbidden to touch by his stoic dad in Risky Business? Or how about that ridiculous system Ferris Bueller had in his bedroom? But movie references aside, do you really know what to do when it comes to fiddling with equalizer settings?

Those old-school component-style graphic EQs have pretty much gone the way of the cassette deck (hipsters notwithstanding). But the EQ lives on in digital form, found in everything from smartphones and hi-res portable players 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. You don’t want to pull a Tom Cruise and just shove every slider to the max – that’s going to sound terrible.

Equalizers put the power of sound sculpting at your fingertips. And you know what they say: With great power comes great responsibility. OK, so an EQ isn’t an actual superpower, but it can get you closer to the sound you’re looking to get out of your gear … if you know what you’re doing. With that in mind, 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 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 pretty 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.

Home Theater

Audio-Technica ATH-Sport7KW and ATH-CKR7TW Impressions

Audio-Technica knows one-size doesn’t always fit everyone, announcing two pairs of true wireless headphones in its first foray into the space. One pair is designed for active use, with a super secure fit, and the other for a more relaxed…
Product Review

These triple-driver headphones sound gimmicky -- until you listen

1More has taken its penchant for multiple drivers into the big leagues with the Triple Driver Over-ear, which offer stylish design and an equally stylized sound signature for another great entry from the Chinese brand.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Bojack Horseman,’ ‘The Dragon Prince’

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Bojack Horseman, the Dragon Prince, and more.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation. Updated meta…
Home Theater

In surprise announcement, OnePlus says it’s going to make a smart TV

Smartphone manufacturer OnePlus says it will release a smart TV. CEO Pete Lau will head up a new division of the company, and has hinted the TV will be simple to use, and will feature artificial intelligence.
Home Theater

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider. Check out our quick rundown of what both Dish Network and DirecTV offer in terms of content, hardware, and pricing, and why you might choose them over streaming services.
Home Theater

Pandora takes aim at Spotify’s Release Radar with smart playlist The Drop

Pandora is debuting its own answer to Spotify’s Release Radar in the form of The Drop, a weekly personalized playlist for Premium subscribers full of new music based on what they already love.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (October 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in September and October 2018, from new comedies to terrifying horror…
Home Theater

Vizio is bringing Dolby Atmos to your living room without any setup headaches

Vizio’s new home theater sound systems offer all of the good parts of Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound to your living room without the troublesome setup chores of some other systems.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Home Theater

Sol Republic delivers a long-awaited true wireless sequel with its Amps Air 2.0

Sol Republic is delivering a long-awaited sequel in its Amps Air true wireless earbuds in the Amps Air 2.0, which feature Bluetooth 5.0 and an IPX4 rating alongside the awesome charging case that fans of the original model loved.
1 of 4