The human ear can perceive an extensive range of sounds, frequencies, and vibrations, between 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz. The human voice starts generally at 80 Hz. Generally speaking, all the sound sources such as music, audios of movies and video games, human voices on podcasts, etc.,
Are optimized by sound or audio engineers, who are responsible for processing the technical aspects of the recordings, balancing and adjusting the sources using the best equalizer settings so that they sound right in the vast majority of sound systems.
Why Do Equalizers Exist?
Despite the efforts of audio engineers, it is impossible to adjust the sounds and melodies to all tastes, and it is impossible to use a universal equalizer setting that works for all musical genres, movies, human voices, or sound effects video games.
An equalizer allows to adjust selectively the tonal balance of a source, by increasing and decreasing the frequencies, so it is possible to highlight or attenuate those frequencies.
Expert Tip: Depending on your taste and on your audio system, you can tune and adjust the equalizer settings to your liking, so you can reach the quality of the sound that you enjoy.
What Is An Equalizer?
An “EQ” is used to balance, enhance or decrease selected frequencies to adapt, boost or improve the quality of sounds, in a way that some frequencies are accentuated over others.
It is possible to find equalizers on a varied group of electronic devices where it is possible to tune up and down levers to adjust the settings, including physical consoles, for example, studio mixing boards or instrumental amplifiers among others.
Currently, audio is mostly consumed in digital systems, and therefore equalizers have been implemented via digital software in most devices such as home, and car stereo systems, computers, TVs, smartphones tablets, allowing the final consumer to adjust the audio settings and get the most out their speakers and headsets.
There are many different types of equalizers, but all of them perform enhancements and decreases in chosen frequency ranges. All sounds are vibrations, and the speed of this vibration is called frequency. Sounds with slow frequency are lower in pitch, and vice versa, high pitch sound relates to a high frequency.
The frequency range is divided into bands, such as low and high bands, for example. This division allows making selective adjustments in precise areas. Generally, EQs have many bands, and each band corresponds to a filter.
In general terms, there are six main frequency categories:
- Sub-Bass (20Hz to 60Hz)
- Bass (60Hz to 200Hz)
- Low Mids (200Hz to 600Hz). This range plays a substantial role in mixing up music.
- Mids (600Hz to 3KHz). Human hearing mainly focuses on this range.
- Upper Mids (3KHz to 8KHz)
- Highs (all frequencies above 8KHz)
Common Types Of Equalizers
Before going into detail about the most common types of equalizers, it is important to make a brief note about the four basic concepts about EQ which are Frequency Band, Center Frequency, Gain, and Bandwidth.
It is simply a range of frequencies. These bands are often labeled low, mid, and high.
The center frequency is the frequency that falls in the center of the frequency band.
The gain determines the amount of boost or cut that is applied by the equalizer. It is measured in dB. Positive gain values show a boost, while negative gain values show a cut.
Some equalizers allow you to change the width of the gain setting. This setting is called bandwidth or sometimes “Q”. This setting allows for very narrow and wide settings and anything in between.
This equalizer supplies the highest level of control per band, as it allows independent control of all three variables: amplitude, center frequency, and bandwidth.
With this control, you can decide which specific frequencies you want to boost or cut, regulate the sharpness of the bandwidth, and control what you want to boost or cut in a frequency. Parametric equalizers generally exist in the form of digital software.
You can find this type of equalizer in-home sound systems and stereos, amplifiers, pedals, and mixing consoles. In this type of equalizer, the audio spectrum is split, and each band is assigned to a specific fader or knob, allowing you to go through each knob and increase or decrease the frequency or leave it without changing it.
Expert Tip: Some graphic equalizers have three bands, usually identified as “high”, “middle” and “low”. On home stereos typically can be found five bands, and other graphic equalizers have up to 30 frequency bands.
High-pass filters and low-pass filters.
A high-pass filter lets high frequencies pass through freely while blocking low frequencies out. The contrary is done by a low-pass filter: the low frequencies pass while blocking the high frequencies.
The Best Equalizer Settings
Usually, equalizers are set and configured flat, meaning that all dials are set to zero or turned off. In that setting, you can hear the sound source as it was originally mixed and recorded, and generally speaking that setting provides the highest quality sound.
That doesn’t mean that an equalizer is not necessary, small adjustments can help to avoid minor sound problems and enhance your personal experience when listening to music, your favorite podcast, or watching a movie.
There are no universal equalizer settings, as certain settings work better for some people while others don’t, and the experience of music and sounds is personal, and what sounds best for you might not be the best for others.
Digital equalizers come with predefined equalizer presets, for specific music genres like rock, pop, jazz, and different listening settings, as the room size. You can build your equalizer settings with the presets and then adjust the frequencies accordingly to improve your audio experience.
The best way of doing this is by reproducing some music, movie, or video game, adjusting up and down each frequency range, and seeing what sounds better for you. With the best equalizer settings, you’ll notice more sounds that maybe you never heard before on that specific sound source, and you’ll enjoy the experience even better.
Headsets and speakers are a very vital part of the setting process, good quality will contribute to making the most out of an equalizer.
Best Equalizer Settings For Music
Music is composed of many different frequencies combined, mixed. To emphasize the ranges of the music that you are listening to, you can play with the frequency bands just a little bit. The lower frequencies form the basis for the musical harmony, while the higher ones contribute to the treble.
The adjustment of the treble, bass, and volume makes the music sounds even better. Nevertheless, the adjustments differ according to the audience and music gender.
Examples of Best Equalizer settings:
To hear acoustic versions without a lot of digitally modified sounds or bass, a good way to set up your equalizer is to pump a little the bass frequencies, and the mid and higher frequencies, which boost the sound of most acoustic instruments.
Pop music and Rock music
Pop is often about vocals and mid-range sounds. So, to enhance the experience, boosting the mid-range frequencies is key, and boosting the low to mid and mid to high frequencies. Rock focuses on low-frequency and high-frequency sounds made by electric guitars for example. The best EQ settings elevate everything besides the mid frequencies.
Best Equalizer Settings For Bass
Bass is not a genre of music, but many people just want to maximize the sound of the bass in the music they listen to. For that, the setting is to maximize the lower frequencies up to 500 Hz and leave everything else flat.
Best Equalizer Settings For Podcasts And Audiobooks
There isn’t a default EQ setting to reach high-quality speech. This is because the human voice is different in every person, and for that reason, the boost and cut-off frequency range varies accordingly.
The human voice not only varies from person to person, but it is also different between male and female voices, being the frequency range of the males from 85 to 155 Hz, and the female voice frequency on a high pitch, from 165 to 255 Hz.
Applying a single EQ setting to all speech types will be ineffective, but with the best EQ settings, unwanted noises can be removed, the vocals can be enhanced, and the quality of the audio signal improved, with increased clarity.
When applying EQ settings to a podcast, the goal must be to remove the low frequencies, applying a high-pass filter at 80 Hz. This is because a human ear can distinguish those frequencies and vibrations. Reducing the frequencies between 400 Hz to 1 kHz could remove some unnecessary sounds.
Expert Tip: Increasing the gain of frequencies around 130 dB, the frequency in which the human audition is most sensitive (between 500 and 4000 Hz), can add a significant amount of clarity to the human voice.
Best Equalizer Settings For Gaming
Each game is radically different, and also the audio system of every user differs. That’s why there aren’t universal equalizer settings for gaming. Finding the best equalizer settings is not easy, and you probably will have to experiment to find your own settings.
The best way forward is to import the preset settings and from there start to tune until you find the best sound that enhances your gaming experience.
For action games, such as FPS, adjust the frequency between 2000 or 4000 Hz, to set a higher value for high-frequency sounds; footsteps will sound clearer, for example. For playing more atmospheric games, set low frequency sounds to a higher value.
Best Equalizer Settings For Movies
One of the most common problems while watching a movie, is that voices are not clear enough, which can be a disappointing experience. Turning the volume on doesn’t help, as the sound of voices and sound effects are going to be increased equally.
The best settings will adjust the delivery of voice sounds, increasing the clarity, found in the mid-frequencies, while turning off the sound effects. A fundamental part while watching films is played by the bass, so the recommendation is to not turn it fully off, and adjust the EQ to get the bass and a clear sound of the voices, to understand the actors.
Equalizers are audio filter processors used to selectively balance frequencies by increasing or decreasing them. The common equalizers are parametric and graphic equalizers, and high-pass filters and low-pass filters. Each one has different functionalities and gives more or less control over the different bands, allowing different adjustments.
Currently, equalizers are installed via digital software, which gives users the possibility to make their own adjustments and experiment with sounds, creating their own settings, giving the highest level of control per band.
Likewise, there are physical equalizers, they can be found in home sound stereos, and mixing consoles, among others. In those equalizers each band is assigned to a specific fader, allowing to go through each knob to increase or decrease the frequencies.
Different sound sources require different equalizer settings. It is difficult to set up a universal adjustment since these depend on the tastes of each user, their sound system, and their hearing ability.
The sounds, melodies, and voices that reach our ears through the music and podcasts we listen to, the video games we play, or the movies we watch have been mixed and adjusted by sound engineers to be reproduced in the best way in almost all of the sound systems.
However, having general knowledge about the best equalizer settings gives us the possibility to adjust those original settings to our liking, play with the different frequencies and expand our experiences.
Depending on the sound systems we have, speakers or headphones, through custom settings we can enhance the quality of our sound experiences.
Hopefully, this article has introduced you to understand what an equalizer is, and the best settings for music, voices, and sound effects.
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