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Thread: EQs.

  1. #1
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    EQs.

    Hi,

    I'm new to the separate-components game (and this site--Hi all). I've had a Denon all-in-one system (with dual cassette decks/radio/CD drive/5-band graphic EQ) for the past 15 years and it's time to replace it. I use my 5-band EQ all the time when listening at home (and on my mp3 player as well, for that matter) and have noticed for years now that stereos and amps rarely have EQs. Some don't even seem to have bass and treble knobs, which I find insulting.

    I've spoken with people in better audio shops (not chain stores), and everyone's telling me the very same thing: music is produced at such a high quality these days that it's "best" to keep it flat and not add anything extra to it--to listen to it as it's MEANT to be heard.

    I see the logic but don't agree with it. Everyone's ears pick up frequencies differently and everyone likes to hear their music with a touch more low-end bass/midrange/treble, depending on the recording or mood (or even volume). I'm being discouraged to add a simple graphic EQ to a new setup I'm putting together (with Denon components and some great speakers I'm still deciding on).

    I'd love it if anyone can shed some light on this for me so that I can perhaps learn something in the event that I'm not "getting it". I haven't heard a sound reason for not adding EQ other than to listen to things as they're "meant to be heard." I'm just looking for logical/technical reasons, not just agreement or disagreement.

    Thanks a LOT,
    Nige

  2. #2
    Forum Regular aevans's Avatar
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    EQ's are usually junk that add filters and potentiometers all over the spectrum. The idea is great, but the average EQ will not only color the sound in the way that you want it, but also take a poop on it in the process.

    I'm actually going to be adding an eq to my system in the next month, but it's a digital EQ.. digital in/out so there won't be anything nasty put into the signal path.

    This is the one I'm looking at:
    DEQ-2496 - http://www.behringer.com/DEQ2496/index.cfm

    while it is a prosound, it does not have a real competitor in it's price range for home audio.. and I've heard some good stuff about it from other home audio peeps.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Hi, welcome to the forum.
    I'll give you one or two: adding such an EQ 'dirties' the signal path if you like. Other reasons are that EQ adjusting by ear is not necessarily very reliable, even though you may think you prefer the sound you hear. Also room interactions are vast, which means whatever you do, you will have a hard time correcting anything very precisely.But suit yourself if that is what you like, there's nothing wrong with it if you like it. However most 'audiophiles' wouldn't dream of adding a manual EQ to their system. That's my take on it,
    Others will add to this i'm sure

  4. #4
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome to AR.

    There are two schools of thought here.
    1) People do hear things differently and more importantly, no two rooms are the same and therefore have different acoustics etc.
    2) Purists who say, "The artists who made the recordings know more about sound than you do. DON'T ALTER IT!" "If your room isn't up to snuff then treat it with the proper acoustic treatments." "If you are unwilling to do this, then you don't really love music."

    I lean more towards school number one, but can see number two's point.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  5. #5
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantnigel
    Hi,

    I'm new to the separate-components game (and this site--Hi all). I've had a Denon all-in-one system (with dual cassette decks/radio/CD drive/5-band graphic EQ) for the past 15 years and it's time to replace it. I use my 5-band EQ all the time when listening at home (and on my mp3 player as well, for that matter) and have noticed for years now that stereos and amps rarely have EQs. Some don't even seem to have bass and treble knobs, which I find insulting.
    If you knew what that 5 band eq was doing to your audio, you would throw it away immediately. Tone controls are too crude to do any meaningful adjustements. All in one systems usually include speakers that have a very poor frequency response. They need EQ's to make them sound decent. A speaker system with a much flatter in room response does not need as much eq, and the quality of the speaker is such that you need "QUALITY" eq like a 1/3 band at minimum, at 1/6, 1/10, 1/20 in the bass frequencies.

    I've spoken with people in better audio shops (not chain stores), and everyone's telling me the very same thing: music is produced at such a high quality these days that it's "best" to keep it flat and not add anything extra to it--to listen to it as it's MEANT to be heard.
    I agree with this. When you use cheap EQ to correct for a speaker, or a recordings warts, you are adding distortion, and most likely making things worse than they are. EQ is for correcting speaker/room problems, not recordings. This correction should be done at a very high quality level, with restraint, and with some level of accuracy.

    I see the logic but don't agree with it. Everyone's ears pick up frequencies differently and everyone likes to hear their music with a touch more low-end bass/midrange/treble, depending on the recording or mood (or even volume). I'm being discouraged to add a simple graphic EQ to a new setup I'm putting together (with Denon components and some great speakers I'm still deciding on).
    In other words, you would rather take a well recorded piece of music, and turn it into a excersize in boom and sizzle? Well recorded music does not need a sprinkling of cheap salt and pepper. You buy better speakers, amps, deal with your rooms acoustical issues, and you will find that recordings sound so much better than through a cheap all in one, with cheap noisy and crude 5 band EQ.

    I'd love it if anyone can shed some light on this for me so that I can perhaps learn something in the event that I'm not "getting it". I haven't heard a sound reason for not adding EQ other than to listen to things as they're "meant to be heard." I'm just looking for logical/technical reasons, not just agreement or disagreement.

    Thanks a LOT,
    Nige
    5 band EQ's do not have enough accuracy are too crude to handle most acoustical issues. Most 5 band EQ's use cheap parts which are noisy and distortion prone. Often when they are engaged, they add enough audible distortion(which may be pleasing to some folks), and drag non problematic frequencies with when adjusted(adjustment of the 63hz band effecting audio all the way up to 120hz). You would be better off getting better speakers and properly placing them in your room, dealing with your rooms acoustical issues, and kicking the cheap EQ to the curb if you really want good audio.

    Oh, and welcome to the AR barbeque!
    Last edited by Sir Terrence the Terrible; 03-03-2008 at 12:20 PM.
    Sir Terrence

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  6. #6
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    I have a friend who broke me of my EQ dependency about six years ago. How did he do it? He gave me a Rotel 1070 CD player and all new cables as a wedding gift.
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  7. #7
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    Hello and welcome to AR.

    There are two schools of thought here.
    1) People do hear things differently and more importantly, no two rooms are the same and therefore have different acoustics etc.
    2) Purists who say, "The artists who made the recordings know more about sound than you do. DON'T ALTER IT!" "If your room isn't up to snuff then treat it with the proper acoustic treatments." "If you are unwilling to do this, then you don't really love music."

    I lean more towards school number one, but can see number two's point.
    You audio philistine!!
    Sir Terrence

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  8. #8
    Forum Regular aevans's Avatar
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    Also room interactions are vast, which means whatever you do, you will have a hard time correcting anything very precisely.
    The DEQ-2496 I mentioned does room correction via a mic.. so flat is flat and everything is in phase. It ends up being exactly what the sound designers originally intended, of course this may not be the way that you want to hear it, so you can eq it for your ear for sparkly highs or slaming bass how ever you would like. all of this without any negatives to the original signal.

  9. #9
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    You audio philistine!!
    Thank you for noticing. Please have mercy on me.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  10. #10
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    I have an EQ. I use it sometimes, mostly for fun. It too is a Behringer. It is digital, but looks like the old analogues that you would be used to. It is really just a computer chip wrapped in a different shell. http://www.behringer.com/DEQ1024/index.cfm?lang=eng It can be had for $150. The other one linked above goes for about $300.

    Since it is digital, there is no added audible noise because its not just a bunch of cheap parts. Back in the day each slider was like a separate volume control. That is alot of volume controls screwing up your sound. In this EQ each slider is just a manual input to a computer DSP. However, I use mine to flatten sound, not boost the bass and treble.

    But I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "I like it and I want it." They put salt and pepper on the table at even the fanciest restaurant. I think you should have your salt if you want it. If you want an EQ though, you will most likely have to look at professional sound companies.
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  11. #11
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aevans
    The DEQ-2496 I mentioned does room correction via a mic.. so flat is flat and everything is in phase. It ends up being exactly what the sound designers originally intended, of course this may not be the way that you want to hear it, so you can eq it for your ear for sparkly highs or slaming bass how ever you would like. all of this without any negatives to the original signal.
    There are some question on the accuracy of the room correction. Some report never getting the same results twice when doing calibration. None of these auto room correcting eq's take into consideration early wall reflections, or late arrival reflections except the Audyssey system.

    I auto corrected my room with the DEQ, and then went behind that correction with my RTA. I found that this system became increasingly insenstive below 50hz, and in a untreated room was unable to give the same results twice. It never got my speakers flat(close but no cigar), and really was a poor substitute for either my handheld RTA or my PC based RTA in getting accurate measurements in real rooms(this was made for larger rooms, not small ones) and a little less accurate at achieving a flat response. It is only good at taking measurements at one point is space, instead of multiple points which provides a flatter response over a larger area.
    Sir Terrence

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  12. #12
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    I used to use an EQ, but once I bought better equipment, I gave it away. One thing I'll always remember though: whenever I'd EQ a room for a "falt" response, the resultant sound was terrible. I was using a TOTL unit from dbx that didn't have all the nasties other, and cheaper, EQ's did. Still, I found a "flat" response to sound just plain horrible. I remember too, Stereo Review doing a review on an auto-EQ unit from SoundCraftsmen, and stating that, no matter how they did it, the resultant sound after the auto EQ was always worse than before.

    I do believe that an EQ can make up for speaker deficiencies, but if the speakers don't have any, then, why bother?

    Another term for them, suggested by another poster, is a signal "disturber," as opposed to a signal "processor." Still, if you like the sound of using one, then go for it, even if others here (myself included) wouldn't.

  13. #13
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    I have an EQ. I use it sometimes, mostly for fun. It too is a Behringer.
    I have a Behringer unit as well, but use it only to flatten the response of the subs in the HT where its influence has no downside.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    Since it is digital, there is no added audible noise because its not just a bunch of cheap parts.
    I beg to differ. Instead of using premium Burr Brown or Analog Devices op amps, Behringer uses mediocre el cheapo $.26 NJM4580 units in the signal path. I once tried using my EQ full range and found that even with the controls set flat, everything was a bit brighter, harsher, and the sound stage collapsed. Experiment over.

    rw

  14. #14
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    I get the feeling that the OP is not in the market for a $5000 system with another $1000 on room treatments. If he buys any of the current main stream receivers he will get an EQ built in. It's just not a Manuel EQ on the front plate like they were 20 years ago. They are internal.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular aevans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    I found that this system became increasingly insenstive below 50hz, and in a untreated room was unable to give the same results twice. It never got my speakers flat(close but no cigar), and really was a poor substitute for either my handheld RTA or my PC based RTA in getting accurate measurements in real rooms(this was made for larger rooms, not small ones) and a little less accurate at achieving a flat response. It is only good at taking measurements at one point is space, instead of multiple points which provides a flatter response over a larger area.
    You may want to check this thread which offers advice, one of the biggest factors is turning up the volume to ear bleeding levels to get acurate readings
    Thoughts on using the Behringer DEQ2496 for room correction

    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I beg to differ. Instead of using premium Burr Brown or Analog Devices op amps, Behringer uses mediocre el cheapo $.26 NJM4580 units in the signal path. I once tried using my EQ full range and found that even with the controls set flat, everything was a bit brighter, harsher, and the sound stage collapsed.
    you might want to try using the digital out on the eq instead of the analog outs, that way you can run it to your fancy DAC and have your quality analog circuits. as a pro sound product I would not imaging pluging it into my preamp using analog, there are mods that will remove the +24db jump you get from the crap op amps used, and that may work as well... but still not as well as a highend home audio analog output stage.

  16. #16
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aevans
    you might want to try using the digital out on the eq instead of the analog outs, that way you can run it to your fancy DAC and have your quality analog circuits.
    Thanks, but my EQ is analog only. Which is exactly what I needed for the HT system powered subs - as they are sourced from the LFE outputs of a NAD receiver. I really don't need nor want it run full range.

    rw

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I beg to differ. Instead of using premium Burr Brown or Analog Devices op amps, Behringer uses mediocre el cheapo $.26 NJM4580 units in the signal path.
    As I was writing that I thought somebody might point that out. Damn.
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  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    As I was writing that I thought somebody might point that out. Damn.
    Don't get me wrong about Behringer products. They offer great value for the money and I consider my EQ to be a valuable asset in the HT system. They do, however, have their limitations. Don't exceed them!

    rw

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    I get the feeling that the OP is not in the market for a $5000 system with another $1000 on room treatments. If he buys any of the current main stream receivers he will get an EQ built in. It's just not a Manuel EQ on the front plate like they were 20 years ago. They are internal.
    You are indeed correct. I'll be spending between $1,000 and $1,200 on my new gear in total. I'm not in a position to modify rooms for acoustics, so will be focusing on the quality of the stereo components.

    I do understand--and thank you all for replying--the point of letting the speakers do their thing. That said, with the range of music I listen to (as probably do you all), the recordings vary quite a bit and I find myself desiring a bit less treble/harshness here or a touch more low-end bass there, so will either purchase a separate EQ or will rely on bass/treble knobs to touch things up. Since I cannot afford to modify my listening environment to alter the sound/warmth/harshness of recordings, I figure that I can achieve similar effects by tweaking the sound leaving the speakers accordingly. To my mind, it seems to be quite the same thing, being that what my ears actually hear and process is more pleasureable and customized. Much respect, though.

    Thanks again,
    Nige

  20. #20
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantnigel
    You are indeed correct. I'll be spending between $1,000 and $1,200 on my new gear in total. I'm not in a position to modify rooms for acoustics, so will be focusing on the quality of the stereo components.

    I do understand--and thank you all for replying--the point of letting the speakers do their thing. That said, with the range of music I listen to (as probably do you all), the recordings vary quite a bit and I find myself desiring a bit less treble/harshness here or a touch more low-end bass there, so will either purchase a separate EQ or will rely on bass/treble knobs to touch things up. Since I cannot afford to modify my listening environment to alter the sound/warmth/harshness of recordings, I figure that I can achieve similar effects by tweaking the sound leaving the speakers accordingly. To my mind, it seems to be quite the same thing, being that what my ears actually hear and process is more pleasureable and customized. Much respect, though.

    Thanks again,
    Nige
    You should not need to buy an external EQ for what you want. Most of today's receivers (AVR's) will have an EQ built in. They will also have tone adjustments, even though there are no physical knobs to turn. Everything is internal now. You'll have to connect it to a display and then all the tone and EQ settings are accessible with the remote.
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  21. #21
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    Hey Nige, While you may be tempted right now to get a consumer EQ of 5 bands or more with your new system; I would suggest that you don't. With your older system you became accustomed to using the 5 band EQ to compensate for defencies in your older system and to your ears it did the trick.

    For now I would suggest you buy the best new system you can without including an EQ. Throw the EQ $$ at the systems amp, speakers and components. Then live with it awhile and you very well may find that your newer, better and more expensive system does not need an EQ at all. Of course after years of depending on EQ you are psyschologically pre-disposed to tinkering with the EQ so you are going to have to be strong.

    Most of the consumer EQ's are going to introduce noise and unwanted coloration to the music. Good luck,

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantnigel
    Some don't even seem to have bass and treble knobs, which I find insulting.
    The purpose of an equalizer is to adjust your speaker system's frequency output for the room. An EQ (although it is constantly used as such) is not a glorified set of tone controls (bass and treble knobs). Ideally, an EQ is a "fire and forget" audio device. One hooks up a pink noise source, breaks out their RTA and EQs the room (by cutting, not boosting), then puts the analyzer away and nails the EQ settings into place.

    As to the insult of not having bass and treble knobs, check the price tags of what comes with tone controls and what does not. You may discover that the "expensive stuff" eschews tone controls. Why is that?

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  23. #23
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    This is kinda like ordering steak at a restaurant.

    It's my steak and if I want to put salt and pepper on it or even slather it with steak sauce, that's my choice.

    Personally, I rarely even use tone controls anymore unless the source software is so bad that a boost or cut in hte extremes or midrange helpes make it more palatable. It's nice to have those options and not need to use them than to need them and not have them.

    ...and I like my steak medium rare with just a little salt and pepper.
    Last edited by markw; 03-06-2008 at 10:24 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    It's my steak and if I want to put salt and pepper on it or even slather it with steak sauce, that's my choice.
    That is a very good analogy.

  25. #25
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oaqm
    The purpose of an equalizer is to adjust your speaker system's frequency output for the room.
    The other viewpoint, as described in part by Mark, is they can be useful to address limitations for a given recording. There used to be a poster here by the name of "Skeptic" who proudly boasted of using not one, not two, but three EQs in his system. His 70s era Citation 11 preamp has an on board five band unit and he uses two BSR ten band units. He also asserted that it took two years for him to get all of them set properly. Ok.

    When I pointed out the obvious signal degradation of these devices, he retorted that all my recordings have been equalized previously by the recording engineer. Aside from the fact that such a statement is not true, that begs this question: why then do you feel the need to un-equalize or re-equalize that which has already been equalized? Evidently, that short circuited his logic boards and he never did reply.

    At any rate, I like having HF level controls on my speakers to tame overly bright recordings. I also have a lot of old, bass shy recordings but EQ can only increase that which is already there - they are incapable of recreating that which was lost in the recording chain. Oh well.

    rw

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