Do You Equalize?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ron Scubadiver, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Houston TX
    I have a pair of B&W 683 S2 speakers. These have measured dips at around 2k hz, and 6k hz. There is a smaller peak at 3.7k hz and a peak at 10k hz. The review at Stereophile makes note of the dip at 2k hz. I tried to equalize that one out using the 1/3 octave graphic equalizer for Foobar2000, but it made the sound hard.

    Next I decided to try to flatten the frequency response of all 4 divergences. I installed support for VST plugins. After some experimentation, I found ReaEQ, a free parametric equalizer worked the best in that it was easiest to adjust and crashed the least on my Win 10/64 machine. The harshness went away and the sound was very smooth. In all honesty, I have not done enough listening to determine if I am better off not trying to alter the frequency response at all.

    Is anyone else doing something like this? What software are you using? Any other thoughts?
    tmtomh likes this.
  2. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Resident blabbermouth

    Generally not. I used to do so excessively, and it detracted from my enjoyment of the listening experience.

    That being said, when I go from listening to my system through speakers or the HD 600s to listening to my phone on the HD 280s, I will cut a slight notch in the upper midrange sometimes.
  3. P2CH

    P2CH Well-Known Member

    I used to own an SAE parametric EQ that I thought was the only way to listen to audio. Thing is, I never really achieved a sound I liked. I could deepen the low end and taper the mids but still something wasn't right.

    It's been a long time since I used that unit. I had a nice Onkyo graphic too but I learned audio just sounded better without messing with things.

    I'm very happy hearing my systems straight-up. It's amazing how many sounds are in recordings. I think you end up losing something in the mix when you tinker with equalization.
  4. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Houston TX
    Funny, I have a pair of HD 280's. Very comfortable and isolation good enough for aircraft use.
  5. Opeth

    Opeth Forum Resident

    99% of the time it's direct audio never EQ.
    If I do it's in the car.
    George P likes this.
  6. timind

    timind Bushy

    Brownsburg, IN USA
    It's been years since I had a component with tone controls, let alone EQ.
    Rickchick and Dennis0675 like this.
  7. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    South Central PA
    Years ago I tried using an equalizer. I found that the negative aspects outweighed the positive. I felt like I needed to adjust each piece of music. That got tedious. I could also hear noise being injected by the equalizer. I finally gave up on the whole business.
    The FRiNgE, broshfab4 and jupiterboy like this.
  8. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    You should measure your in-room response and start from that. Your room will impose more chaos on the response than small measured variations taken somewhere else.
    tmtomh, RZangpo2, Kyhl and 2 others like this.
  9. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    Not for me. I keep Bass & Treble controls at flat, but sometimes just 1 notch extra on the Treble for older less quality recordings.
  10. Gaslight

    Gaslight Cave dwelller

    Northeast USA
  11. back2vinyl

    back2vinyl Forum Resident

    London, UK
    You ask what software - there's a company called Sonarworks that will sell you an easy-to-use kit (software + calibrated mic) which does two things: first, it measures the EQ of your speakers in your room, and second, it gives you a compensation curve to input as a VST so you get a nice sound in your room, which you can adjust if you wish. I'm thinking of trying it one day. There are YouTube videos that show how it's used.
    Mr Bass, tmtomh and jupiterboy like this.
  12. Matt Richardson

    Matt Richardson Forum Resident

    I no longer have any need to boost the treble and base since I jettisoned my Bose 301s
  13. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    I gave up equalizers and tone controls in favor of getting speaker placements optimized in combinations with strategic placement of sound dampening materials around my listening room almost 30 years ago, and I haven't looked back. In general I find the sound to be more satisfying this way. Although I will admit to still cheating inside of my car, which sounds downright bad without some EQ help.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
    tmtomh and timind like this.
  14. The Pinhead


    Every speaker has its own colorations. By all means listen to them A LOT before jumping into trying to ¨flatten¨their frequency response with an equalizer. Use the equalizer to tame or reinforce those frequencies YOUR EARS, not a magazine, perceive as lacking or being in excess, which you'll find varies a lot from one recording to another. BTW, is your room minimally treated at the very least ? It makes A WORLD of a difference.
  15. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

  16. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Simply compensating, using EQ, for measured dips in a speakers response is unlikely to do anything for your personal listening enjoyment. Measured variations from flat, as recorded under lab or general test conditions using single test tones, is utterly unlike listening to music in your own listening room. Speakers designers - especially the designers and makers of the superb 683 S2 speakers (genuine all around winners) - made conscious decisions about the driver choices and crossover design and cabinet design in order to achieve exactly the frequency response that was measured in the lab. Just because it's not flat doesn't alter the fact that every reviewer worth more than a pinch of salt has repeatedly extolled the virtues of un-EQ'd 683 S2 speaker. So I say, take the hint and ditch the EQ.

    I think the main issue is your comment that "I have not done enough listening to determine if I am better off not trying to alter the frequency response at all..." so I personally think you really need to spend a lot of time listening to and enjoying your excellent speakers. If, after weeks and weeks of regular listening, you find that a certain range of frequencies need a tweak because they're not what they should be in your particular listening room (given its acoustics, the environment, etc., etc.) only then should you reach for the EQ. Otherwise, you're just tweaking something you don't yet know very well, which can be a real rabbit hole.

    I think the B&W 683 S2 speakers are really good - excellent actually, by all acounts. Give them an untweaked chance to impress you.
    tmtomh and Ron Scubadiver like this.
  17. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Yeah but I liked them better with EQ. :shh:
  18. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Good for you! I assume you first gave them a chance, untweaked, in a listening room that you know well and that is reasonably well optimized. A senior Stereophile editor could be expected to support owners of new speakers by advising those owners to give new speakers a chance before applying tweaks b ased on theory. That's especially true for owners of new speakers who are listening to them is rooms that haven't been acoustically sorted out or in rooms in which the best possible speaker placement hasn't yet been achieved.

    If not - if you EQ'd the speakers from the beginning and without first getting used to them in order to understand their designed capbilities - then it's quite possible that you just forced the speakers to conform to some preconceived notion of how you want speakers to sound in your listening room. Plenty of audiophiles do that, and they're happy with the results, but some of their systems are limited as a result by their insistence on that type of tailored conformity.

    Then again, some listening rooms demand EQ tweaks because of known room acoustic problems that affect all speakers placed in a preferred floor or stand location. If that's the case, it's helpful to let readers know that particular detail about your listening room because it rarely applies to all rooms and all listening environments.

    Still other audiophiles have hearing sensitivity issues that are present no matter what speaker is being used. Those individuals have a standard EQ curve that they apply to varying degrees no matter what speaker is being used. The point is to compensate for lack of sensitivity in their hearing to certain frequencies or frequncy ranges.

    Neither you nor the OP mentioned any of the foregoing conditions, although the OP did mention that he hadn't given himself a chance to get used to the speakers as-is - to give his sense of hearing the time needed to adjust to the new speakers in his listening room. If an audiophile doesn't give himself the chance to get used to a new pair of speakers, then he's just forcing conformity and preconceived notions on himself about how any given new pair of speakers should sound. Applying tweaks before doing so most often means he's never going to get the best out of the speakers. They'll sound right to him, but not their best.

    Rarely, especially when the audiophile knows his listening room and its acoustics really well because he's tested the room and optimized it as much as possible, a standard EQ tweak is always at least a slight improvement no matter what speakers are set up. But I think that situation is quite unusual.
    chodad likes this.
  19. broshfab4

    broshfab4 Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY
    If you need to use tone controls, then it's the room that the problem, so just fix the actual problem instead of covering it up.
  20. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Certainly. It would be irresponsible to presume that every reader would agree with me about EQ. I have been quite explicit about this.

    I think most think it unusual but I think it is more common than not.

    Tone controls are inadequate correction for rooms or speakers. Poor recordings, perhaps.
    tmtomh and Doug_B like this.
  21. No Static

    No Static Gain Rider

    My main preamp has no tone controls so no. But sometimes, on my older system at the office that does have bass and treble, well...

    Aren't DACs with filter choices a form of equalization? There are other components, including speakers, with filter settings also. Aren't they just preset sound changers?

    I've often wondered about this. Whether or not your preamp is adjustable, hasn't the sound been adjusted (equalized) anyway?
  22. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Didn't we just do a thread on this?
  23. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Resident blabbermouth

    The isolation is fine, it's just that they're a tiny bit "shrill" compared to the 600s or my speakers. I think I'm gonna pop for a pair of HD 380 for when I need closed-back headphones.
  24. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA Forum Resident

    Central Virginia
    I have EQ or, at a minimum, variable loudness compensation in every system. If the system is set up correctly, you'll still need some control for low-volume Fletcher-Munson compensation. I keep my 1/3 octave EQs with a slight smiley-face and cut their loops in when necessary at very low volume. Once I got the L-pads and electronic crossover set on my JBL 4345 system to where it was relatively flat in the room measured with a frequency generator at a "normal" listening level, I was able to just sit back and enjoy the music in "direct" mode, switching the EQ in rarely for low-volume listening.

    I've had EQ or Soundcrafstmen Pre-EQs for over 40-years and used to tweak the controls for every different LP, artist, label, or producer. That got really old. A better system always sounds better with better recordings and maybe that's made my critical listening experience better by eliminating bad recordings . . . which also negates the need for constant tweaking, as well!
    tmtomh likes this.
  25. MZ_RH1

    MZ_RH1 Active Member

    Angel Valley, CA
    Yes, I equalize. The bass and treble all the way up. If there is bass boost, then I turn it on. The only time you can't equalize is when watching a live performance. Other than that, you should equalize to your taste.
    chodad likes this.

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