equaliser

-Let us talk about Equaliser and how to tune your music more to your liking. If you are a huge music lover and wish to enhance your music experience to the next level, then you are at the right place.

The human ear can hear from 20Hz to 20,000Hz range of frequency. Adjusting these frequency ranges and manipulating them in desirable ways is what gives birth to various music that we love.

Generally, there are two types of people involved in the production of modern music.

They are the Sound Composer and the Sound Engineer.

The sound composer plays various instruments that make sense and produces a raw music essence. The sound engineer captures these sounds and tunes it using electronic mediums to combine various instruments playing. These days, a single artist does both the role thanks to advanced applications like Ableton.

Thus, a sound engineer makes harmony between various frequencies to produce that ultimate final piece of music which we get to hear and fall in love with.

The process is quite complicated and that is one of the reasons why music makers and sound engineers are highly appreciated.

Why would you want an Equaliser?

After reading the above paragraphs, you might now have an approximate idea of how music is produced.

After performing all the tedious sound mixing and tuning, the produced music is released on various platforms like Youtube, music CDs, Spotify, etc.

What you must understand at this point is that the music produced is tuned to the optimal means which the artist along with the sound engineer decides.

But, what if I tell you that you can further tune the preset music to your liking, requiring no deep knowledge in Sound engineering.

Yes, this is where a Equaliser comes into play.

What is an Equaliser(EQ)

In the most simple possible term, an Equaliser is a tool that helps you manipulate various frequencies. It allows the user to adjust various elements of sound, thus resulting in an end product that can appeal more to the user.

Equaliser could be a third-party app that you can download on your smartphone. Equaliser could also be preinstalled in your smartphones. The equaliser can also be installed in your laptop/PC.

You might have already seen the Equaliser before as it comes with predefined presets like “Rock”, “Metal”, “Flat”, “Pop”, “Heavy”, etc.

These presets are pre-configured and alters the sound without you doing much work. The problem with the presets is that they are preset.

Yes, you heard me right. Presets comes configured with only a few options like rock, metal, pop, etc which may not be your perfect jam. You might want a different level of tuning that presets don’t allow you to.

Hence, you must learn to manually tune the frequencies which are quite easy. This can be done with a Graphical Equaliser.

What is a Graphical Equaliser?

Graphic equaliser image
Dolby Graphical Equaliser on Windows 10

A Graphical Equaliser is a graphical approach to tuning frequencies. Like the graph that you see above, you’re presented with two axes.

The Horizontal Axis displays the frequency range and the Vertical Axis displays the loudness in decibels(dB).

This gets your job done easily as all you have to do is play with this graph to tune your music.

But, you should also keep note that playing with Graph not knowing of its purpose could make your music horrible and at a rare instance if your luck says yes, you might even end up finding the best music experience. You’d never know.

Understanding the Graphical Equaliser

Horizontal Axis – Frequency (Hz)

In simple terms, every sound that you can hear/cannot hear are vibrations. A vibration can be visualised as a wave-like pattern that moves up and down.

Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event occurs per unit of time.

Therefore, in the sound context, frequency is the number of times a wave(vibration) is generated per second.

Frequency
Frequency

Now, all that you have to understand is that various instruments/sounds that you hear have a single particular frequency.

A combination of all instruments i.e combination of various frequencies forms full-fledged music.

Hertz measures how many times (i.e., the frequency) a wave completes an up-and-down cycle in 1 second. If the wave moves up and down 10 times in a second, that’s expressed as 10 Hz.

  • Examples
  1. The highest note of a piano = 4200 Hz
  2. The thumping bass that you like = 50 Hz to 200 Hz

Vertical Axis – Decibels (dB)

Decibels is the unit of measurement of loudness of a sound.

When you increase or decrease decibels, you are increasing or decreasing the loudness.

Note here that decibels are a logarithmic unit. In other words, increasing decibels from a mere 5 dB to 8 dB increases loudness drastically. Therefore, you must change them slowly in steps as they make a huge difference to the output.

Decibel scale
Decibel scale

On a similar note, if you’re finding your speaker volumes to be down. Then you must check out my master fix list here.

How does the Graphical Equaliser work?

As you have read above, you are presented with the horizontal and the vertical axes. Here, the horizontal axis will be longer as it has to incorporate all the audible frequency range in a single line (20Hz to 20,000Hz).

Concept

Understanding this is pretty easy.

To simply put this,

You now know that different instruments play at a different frequency. Hence, all that you have to do is increase or decrease the decibels of whichever instrument/frequency that you like.

Increase the decibels of those instruments that you think could make the music sound better and lower the decibels of those instruments that you find to be not required.

Simple.

Understanding the Frequency range to tune music to your liking.

Pre-Requirements

Before setting to tune the Equaliser, you must visualise and set your targets clear. You must get a clear understanding of how you like your music.
Now, keep this visual image fixed in your mind.

Start playing the music.

You must get this into your mind that when all the instruments have been collected and configured into single music, the individual frequencies of each of them get mixed with each other and forms a broad spectrum of note range.

Identifying the Frequency Range

TypeFrequency
Male Vocals60 Hz-500 Hz
Female Vocals150 Hz-1.6 kHz
Saxophone100 Hz-700 Hz
Guitar70 Hz-1.1 kHz
Cymbals200 Hz-10 kHz
Kick drum 60 Hz-4 kHz
Piano25 Hz-4.5 kHz
Frequency range of common instruments and vocals

20 Hz to 50 Hz : Sub Bass

Though your ears may not be able to clearly perceive this range, they are very important and makes a huge impact on the audio experience. Within this range rests your sub-woofer which gives a creepy deep space sound effect. This usually adds on with the bass as support.

While some people like having the Sub-bass high, it tends to reduce the vocal clarity of the music. So, fine-tune this to your liking.

50 Hz to 200 Hz : Bass

We all love bass don’t we?

The thumping, big-hitting woof sounds that tests your Sub-woofer to the limits is the bass. In this frequency range rests the heavy punch of the kick drum, and even lower tom drums and bass guitar. Moving up toward the 200Hz line begins to affect the very lowest boom of acoustic guitars, piano, vocals, lower brass, and strings.

Graphical equaliser
Max decibel on sub bass
Min decibel on sub bass

Again, like the sub bass, increasing this can reduce clarity of music, but, unlike the sub bass, fine tuning this can produce some serious audio orgasms.

200 Hz to 500 Hz : Upper bass

This portion is also similar to the bass, but is more audible to the human ear and carries clarity along with it. Because of this, increasing decibels of this range can improve the oomph factor.

Equaliser
Max decibel
Equaliser
Min decibel

Play with this section to find out if it suits you or not.

500 Hz to 800 Hz : Lower mid-range

This is the range where the lower end of vocals, low brass and piano, some of the notes from the bottom of an acoustic guitar and deeper notes from synthesizers can be heard.

Upper base
Upper bass
Upper base
Upper base

In this range, increasing or decreasing the decibels can start affecting the instruments. Increasing decibels would start increasing the clarity of instruments.

800 Hz to 2000 Hz : Mid-range

This is the most important, quality determining zone of the music. Changing the decibels in this range can increase or decrease the sound from dominant instruments and vocals.

This part can get a little tricky as both instruments and vocals are attached here. Increasing decibels can increase the volume of vocals making the music more vocal dominant.

Along with vocals, guitar and some range of piano sounds are also affected.

2000 Hz to 4000 Hz : Upper mid-range

The mid-range and especially the upper midrange falls at the frequency spectrum that is most easily audible to the human ear. Adjusting this zone embarks a major difference to the audio clarity of higher instruments.

Mid-range

Increasing the decibels here further increases the vocal details that are missed in the midrange frequency.

4000 Hz to 7000 Hz : Presence register

 This zone includes the highest range of pitches produced by most natural instruments. This zone increases the presence of the music. In other words, increasing the decibels in this range makes the music as if the instruments and vocals are playing more close to your ears.

This zone is also where sounds like “s” hissing sounds are more pronounced. This is also called a Sibilance zone since the hissing sounds are called as Sibilance.

Generally, increased decibels in this zone tends to hurt your ears. A feeling of uncomfortableness increases and makes the audio rough. The right value can make the music extremely pleasant. But, it can get a little difficult to find that sweet spot.

7000 Hz to 12,000 Hz : Brilliance register

Tuning this side of the zone can increase the brilliance of your music. i.e overall clarity to various other frequencies.

Just like the sibilance zone, increased decibels in this zone can hurt the ear and cause uncomfortableness while listening. But if you manage to find the sweet spot, the music can really be turned to brilliant. Even sound engineers find it difficult in this zone.

12,000 Hz to 16,000 Hz : Open air

This is a zone that increases the clarity of synths that are used in modern-day electronic music. This is the zone that increases the brilliance of electronic music.

Since this zone comes in the higher frequency range, older generation people can’t hear it and this could possibly be the reason why older people call today’s age music as bland and tasteless

Some Quick Tips

  • Trust your ears more than the presets

The preset like Rock, Pop, Metal, etc are far from perfect and you can actually tune the music even better to match your taste.

You might start feeling placebo effects and think that presets sounds better. This is not true and you can tune music better than the preset.

Just close your eyes and forget the preset. Adjust manually.

  • Reduce decibels of what you don’t want rather than increasing decibels of what you like

Just like the saying goes – ” too much of anything is good for nothing”. Similarly, simply increasing frequency zones that you like does not make the music better.

Instead, try reducing the other frequency that you don’t want.

  • Adjust the Q-settings if your equaliser supports it.

Reducing the Q-settings makes the frequency zone narrower. I suggest increasing the Q-settings to make the frequency range wider, thus making you get more precision control over the adjustments.

  • Different music requires different equaliser tuning

Don’t shy away saying a single setting works for all music. If you have a few favourite kinds of music that you listen often, then try saving different personalised settings to match up with the music.

Conclusion

That is it. You are all set to go. With the knowledge learned from above, you can easily tune and enhance your music listening experience.

Cheers!!

By Jayesh

Hi there!! I'm Jayesh, a Super tech enthusiast who spends a lot of his time obsessing over gadgets, watching reviews, and hands-on experience from various people on the internet( Tech YouTubers generally) as I'm not lucky enough (yet) to own it all for myself. I'm sharing my tech knowledge coming from my obsession over youtube tech reviewers to help friends and family decide on a product.

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