Adding an Equalizer

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by MegaGroove, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Hey Everyone,
    I'm new to vinyl and really ignorant as far as audio equipment goes, so I'm looking for a bit of advice. Does anyone know if I can add a small equalizer to my setup? I'm listening to vinyl exclusively through headphones and this is my current setup:

    Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable
    Schiit Mani phone stage
    Micromega MyZic headphone amp (or I can swap this for my Schiit Magni 2 Uber)
    Sennheiser HD 598 headphones

    I'm trying to get more control over bass, mids, and treble, so I'm wondering if I can throw a small (similar in size to my phono stage or amp) equalizer in there somewhere...something in the range of $20-$100. I'm also wondering if this is just a stupid thing to do. Ha ha!
    Heckto35 likes this.
  2. The Pinhead


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  3. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Thanks! I actually saw that on the internet but thought it was only for instruments and live performances. I'm happy to find out it will work with my turntable setup.
  4. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Seriously, dont do it.
    I wouldnt make a tuner pedal made by Behringer, much less an EQ.
  5. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Thanks for the feedback, tim185. Any suggestions on other options instead?
  6. Do you own the Schiit Magni 2 Uber? Which amp do you like better?

    An inexpensive graphic EQ is going to cause more sound quality issues than it solves. Analog EQs worth using are expensive. Very expensive. EQs very often do more harm than good unless you are an expert mastering engineer and know how to use an EQ properly.

    I'd address your problems with different headphones and different amps. Want more bass or more extended bass then buy a headphone that has that sort of bass. Want fuller mids then buy a headphone with fuller mids. Same deal with amps. Want a more controlled bass then buy an amp that has the current and circuit design to deliver a controlled bass. Want a bigger sound or a bigger sense of space in the sound then buy an amp with those sonic properties.

    Headphones are awesome for being able to make sound changes like this. Lots of different headphones with different sound signatures and sonic presentations. It's possible to have 2 or 3 headphones and switch between them depending on the sound signature you're after for the music. The money spent on an EQ is better spent on another headphone.
  7. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    I second avoiding a budget EQ, more sonic issues are to be gained than fixed.

    "I'm trying to get more control over bass, mids, and treble," sounds to me like you have the wrong headphones if that statement holds water.
    head_unit and MegaGroove like this.
  8. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH Forums.

    With good quality equipment you should not need to add eq. Save the money you were going to waste on a graphic, and put it towards upgrading your system. Wait until you can afford to buy some quality components, and that way you will be getting good value for your dollar. There is a lot of good equipment sold second-hand from people who are upgrading, and good value equipment can be found there.
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  9. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I think I'll avoid getting the EQ.

    Yes, I own that too and started with it, but it was really bright with my setup, so I found a great price on a used Micromega MyZic which adds a ton of warmth. I don't think I'd necessarily blame the Magni 2 Uber; I just think my setup with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and maybe the Schiit Mani phono stage was already really bright. I've read that the MyZic is really warm and it sure is...maybe too warm...but it works a lot better with my setup. It adds bass that was almost entirely missing before. It can sound a bit hollow compared to the Magni 2 Uber but the MyZic added a lot of detail, bass, and warmth while losing some of the good bite. I'm guessing the Magni might work well on a system that is a bit warm to begin with or lacks punch. Of course, I'm pretty sure the MyZic is a step above the Magni, judging by price alone when you buy them new, so I was expected it to be an upgrade, which it is for me.

    Now I'm trying to perfect the sound I've got, hoping to get more punch and solid (dense) sounds on guitar solos, etc. I raised the dB level on my phono stage from 42 dB to 48dB and that just about got me there.

    That's what I'm thinking and exactly how I got my MyZic. I'm probably going to keep an eye out for deals on other used headphone amps since the MyZic made such a big improvement.
    qwerty likes this.
  10. Hipper

    Hipper Forum Resident

    Herts., England
    You will always get people saying 'more sonic issues are to be gained than fixed' when using equalisers. I've used a Behringer equaliser (DEQ2496) in an expensive speaker system and have no problems with it.

    I used this Behringer FBQ with a headphone set up and found it worked well. I did not notice any apparent damage to the sound. If there was it would have been overwhelmed by the improvements from EQ. At the price I suggest you try it.

    I would agree though that if you are prepared to try out a range of headphones, amps and DACs to find a combination that matches your taste that would be a better solution.
  11. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Thanks! I've now realized there are two camps when thinking about the EQ approach. You're right about the price. It might be worth a try at least. I'm probably most inclined to look for another good deal on a used headphone amp, especially if it's in a class above the MyZic. Until then, I'm really satisfied with my setup now that I've boosted the gain on my phono stage.
    SteelyNJ and Heckto35 like this.
  12. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    Oh yeah. Heavily armed and completely unwilling to compromise or take prisoners. :)

    As always, only your own ears can determine what's right for you. Unfortunately, it's often difficult or impossible to audition the gear you want to buy.

    Brother_Rael, Heckto35 and MegaGroove like this.
  13. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH Forums.

    I'm not opposed to graphic eq's - I have owned one for years. I have it to compensate for poor acoustics on music recorded live with microphones in less than ideal circumstances - they really need adjustment. Graphic eq's are also very useful for live sound reinforcement, to control for room acoustics and to limit feedback.

    The OP's use is different. I agree that using a graphic eq will make compensations for the limitations of his equipment. And that this may produce an overall more pleasing sound for him compared to what he has been listening to, and the added limitations from the eq device may not be noticeable. The problem with this approach is that it is addressing the symptoms, and correcting a compromised sound will still result in a compromised sound. I proposed that he address the source of the problem (the component in his audio chain which is not producing good sound). This not only fixes the problem, but gives an improved sound quality to enjoy. To me this is a better investment of money.
    MegaGroove likes this.
  14. The Pinhead


    I'm planting my flag mid-ground. I use equalizers but very gently, no V curves; usually at the very ends of the audio range 32 and 16 Khz sliders, usually no more than 2 dbs and rarely to soften harshness in the midrange.
    The FRiNgE and MegaGroove like this.
  15. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Nice setup and great headphones.. EQ is a funny thing. As a respected member "Ham Sandwich" points out, it can do more harm than good. We must be very careful, and a little primer/ learning curve on EQ is helpful. The first is the tendency to "fix" the sound by adding EQ. By doing so, we increase the overall loudness of the music. We hear the louder sound as "better". This has been verified by controlled hearing tests, confirmed repeatedly, recognized by sound engineers and hi fi enthusiasts. So any A-B comparison of the EQ to straight versions must be level matched, the overall loudness perceived as the same.

    Subtraction of EQ is usually preferred. The addition or subtraction of EQ will introduce phase shift, which may not be immediately perceived. Phase shift tends to fatigue the ears, it can color the sound in ways that EQ can not correct, and caused by adding/ subtracting EQ. The more EQ we apply, all the more the phase shift will distort the music.

    The application of EQ also adds harmonic distortion. Sometimes this can be perceived as pleasant, and louder, sometimes mistaken as "air" in a recording. So the addition of 8 kHz and 16 kHz, let's say, can introduce harmonic distortion and then multiply it (octaves multiply even harmonics)

    Cheap equalizers add noise

    The 10 band EQ is the worst "kind". The EQ centers are in octaves, so the harmonic distortion introduced will be multiplied by all of the higher freq octaves.

    Better design graphic EQ should be 7 band, 15 or 17 band or 30 band. The EQ centers are not harmonically related, so harmonic distortion lessened a bit.
    Say "NO" to 10 band EQ units, just inherently the wrong approach.

    Pro models are better, parametric is better, but not practical for home hifi, Rane, Orban, Presonus, but those are XLR balanced and not really compatible for Home hifi.

    I recommend one very good sounding EQ unit. I've refurb'd and tested three of them, the Pioneer SG-90. (17 bands) It is a harder to find model, has many features that I wouldn't need. But it is the cleanest, best sounding graphic EQ unit I have ever heard.

    You may want to purchase an EQ unit anyway, just out of curiosity. I know I would! Just keep in mind the caveats, and listen carefully. Train the ears to listen to the midrange. When not natural sounding, or when your mids sound "honky" or whatever... the tendency is to try to "fix" it by adding EQ on the top and bottom, the typical "scoop" or "V-shape" EQ.

    rock on,
    Steve VK
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016
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  16. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Try a different cartridge or different headphones. Avoid cheap EQs. Avoid graphic EQs. (There are many proponents of graphic EQs on SHF however)

    That said, I never turn off the loudness switch on my receiver. Good luck. :)
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  17. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Paris, France
    Yes, I second upgrading your other components before adding an EQ, and then if you have to, save up for a good one (more than $1k). I've been in pro audio a couple of decades and have never bought a Behringer product and never will. The amount of returns we had when I worked in a studio supply shop was shocking, not to mention the very sketchy "cloning" they do of other companies products which has led to many court cases against them, so I steer clear from a moral standpoint as well.

    Get your chain sounding really, really nice and I don't think you'll want an EQ any more. :)
    MegaGroove likes this.
  18. The Pinhead


    You mean this 1983 monster ?


    Dimensions: 420 x 131 x 351mm

    Weight: 7.2kg

    The guy just wants a little control over tone, not a vintage, huge, complicated unit. His setup is excellent, and prolly the flaws he wants to fix are in some of his recordings rather than on his rig. Are you really gonna play the ¨listen as the engineers intended you to¨card on him ?

    Yes an eq produces phase shifts and whatnot, but also a more pleasant overall sound with flawed recordings no upgrade to his rig will achieve. As long as he limits the correction to just some frquencies in a very moderate, he'll be OK; no need to get all OCD. He wants to spend a hunnert and you tell him to upgrade his more than fine rig:rolleyes:

    Sure, the very basic eq I recommended would not be MY weapon of choice, but it does fit the OP's basic needs and budget.
    tomunbound likes this.
  19. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Yep, a monster indeed, I'd prefer this without all the connection options, fade in/out bells and whistles. Actually most of the switching is via relay, the EQ board itself is discrete transistor, quality metal film capacitors, crazy s/n spec, a very quiet unit. But, the op can read and decide what he would like, and maybe a more informed decision. I am not here to debate so much but rather to advise, and the advice can sometimes differ.

    The EQ is often used to fix to room acoustics, speaker peaks and nulls. The better solution is to fix the real problem, treat the room, maybe upgrade the speakers, upgrade phono cartridge, etc. The EQ can sometimes improve a bad recording, but not always.

    The 10 band problems I cited are for the op to consider and for anyone reading this forum
    A smaller 7 band EQ would be a fine choice IMO (ie: 60/ 160/ 400/ 1k/ 2.5k/ 6k/ 16k)
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  20. MegaGroove

    MegaGroove New Member Thread Starter

    California, USA
    Yes, I think I've just realized this is most likely what I'm trying to do. Before I posted this thread, I had a major problem with a fair number of my albums being too bright and harsh with the Schiit Magni 2 Uber headphone amp. When I switched to the Micromega MyZic, the sound was greatly improved and I was able to comfortably listen to every album I own. With either amp, I've noticed that some albums sound awesome, some are pretty good, and others aren't so good. But the well-engineered albums always sound awesome, so I pretty much just wanted to make some of the poorly engineered albums sound as good, which at this point I think might be asking too much on my budget (or perhaps anyone's budget for that matter). :)

    Yesterday, I stumbled onto some more great original recordings and they sound awesome on my setup, so I think for now I'm just going sit comfortably on the sound I have and understand that not every album is going to sound as awesome as my best recordings. I still love listening to what I would call my worst recordings, which sound worlds better than how I was listening to a lot of stuff lately--on YouTube! :D

    Although I'm still a bit curious about an inexpensive EQ, I've decided to keep an eye out for a better used headphone amp or maybe even pre-amp. The switch to the MyZic sure made a huge difference on my setup. I might upgrade to a new cartridge one day, and I'd consider new headphones, but headphones are really expensive and I don't think I want to get used ones at a lower price.

    I have to say how appreciative I am of all the advice and help you all have given. I can't believe how great the response has been.
    The FRiNgE and The Pinhead like this.
  21. The Pinhead


    Yes, the Pioneer you suggest is a damn fine unit, apparently just not what the OP is looking for. Can you provide an example of a fairly good 7-band eq for less than U$ 100 ? I'm curious.

    The OP has decided against the use of an eq, so everyone can put their guns back in their holsters now:laugh:
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016
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  22. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH Forums.

    I believe that one of the curses of obtaining good quality reproduction equipment is that you can start to hear the limitations of original recordings. And there is nothing that you can do about that, except obtaining the best quality masterings of those releases. Even so, you can't always turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.
  23. BeatleFred

    BeatleFred Well-Known Member

    Queens, New York
    The Sansui SE-9 is an interesting equalizer- its a vintage unit from the early 80's. I have a review of it from back then in an issue of 'Modern Recording' magazine (great mag, by the way!). It came with a small microphone that could supposedly analyze the acoustics of a room via pink noise generation between each speaker, and then its motorized faders would move accordingly to produce what it considers to be a flat response. A few of them can be found on Ebay.

    sansui se-9 - YouTube »
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  24. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Lots of 7 bands out there, Technics offered several models, one of them with a 7 band spectrum analyzer. The analyzer should be considered just a novelty, really not a useful feature. (not to confuse this with a professional analyzer which is a valuable tool) The Pioneer units appear to be better quality, the SG-550 and other similar models, although I have not refurb'd nor tested nor listened to them. I assume they're at least ok sounding, but good that the ISO centers are not harmonically related. My recommendation for the Pioneer SG-90 is based upon personal experience, superb sound, quality internal components, and outstanding published specs.
  25. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Here's an informative article on graphic EQ in a professional stage setting, how to use, and potential abuses:
    Graphic EQ »

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