Equalise Your Sound Levels Down, Not Up, For Better Quality

We've shown you how to equalise just about any music program out there. Lifehacker reader beepbeeeepbeepbeepbeep gives us another good tip: if you must equalise, you should turn the frequencies you don't like down, rather than turning the good ones up.

A lot of people say you shouldn't equalise at all — an argument we'll let you guys discuss in the comments — but if you do, you should try to avoid raising levels:

stick to removing frequencies. Your computer is better at this than adding stuff. Better option: Get an old Sony amp or whatever, connect your computer, turn up bass. Sounds way better.

If you raise levels with a software equaliser, you're probably going to encounter some distortion, which will make your music sound worse, not better. Instead, find the curve you like, then "shift" everything down so your highest points are at zero. You'll probably have to turn your computer's volume up a bit to make up for it, but your music will sound much better.


    This isn't necessarily true. Both additive and subtractive equalisation colours the sound. Clipping (the distortion) only occurs when the part that is amplifying is pushed past it's maximum (i.e. you're turned up to max volume). The nature of these EQs also means that turning them down won't sound the same as turning one up.

    These EQs are typically band EQs with a low shelf for the lowest frequency and a high shelf for the highest. The way a band EQ works is that it creates a bell curve around the frequency you're adjusting, with everything returning to +0dB (which is actually a relative measurement where 0 is the current volume). What this means is that if I were too grab the EQ you pictured, and leave it flat except for a 2dB boost at 11kHz then the curve would be flat except for the bell curve which peaks at 11kHz. If I were to then shift all those sliders down so 11kHz was at 0dB and the rest were lower (now at -2dB) then look at the curve, I would see all the actual slider frequencies at -2dB, but I would see the frequencies between sliders are higher giving a wavy appearance to the curve overall. so instead of a nice 11kHz boost, you get all sorts of random decreases of all the other frequencies except 11kHz.

    C'mon man, check your facts before publishing that shit. Makes you look like an idiot.

      A "nice" 11k boost? If we're talking about adding 'air', then maybe you have a point.

      Sure, you are correct to point out that sometimes you just want a little boost in a specific area. This, however, is quite dependent on the specific piece of audio.

      As a general rule, it is definitely correct to point out that EQ is for cutting, not boosting.

        The frequency I picked was unimportant. The important part is that if you have any parts of your EQ that are flat, and you turn them down, then it's going to be wavy with different frequencies higher than others.

      It's just a quick tip, because if you increase the levels too high then you get distortion.

      The writer isn't trying to teach everyone the inner workings of an equaliser.

      Sure, you probably shouldn't touch it at all because it alters the real sound that you should hear, but if you are going to, then push it down because you are more likely to encounter distortion by pushing it up.

      It's life hacker, not science class. Let the writer inform people of a quick tip.

        It's logically flawed though. The fact that increasing levels might cause distortion doesn't mean decreasing levels produces better quality sound. Since that's the premise of the article, then the article is flawed and criticism is understandable. If the goal was to teach people to avoid creating distortion when equalising, it would have been better off saying 'equalise up and down but only in small increments, and don't go too high or you'll make the sound quality worse'.

    It's a good tip - When you raise an EQ band, you are adding more of that frequency to the mix. There is only so much space for these frequencys and if you add to much it gets overcrowded and the frequencies start fighting each other. It's a basic sound design prinicple, that i've actualy never thought to apply to an EQ on a stereo.

    However most people just want "moar bass" in which case it's heaps easier to raise one EQ, rather than lower 15..

    But really, unless you're an audiophile, you wont notice the difference, especially if you're playing a low quality mp3.

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