As someone who is quite an audiophile — who just doesn’t enjoy listening to music, but also plays several instruments — I was surprised when I stumbled upon an article at Max OS X Hints claiming what the “Perfect” EQ settings are.
What the article failed to realize is that such settings won’t provide great sound at all, instead they’ll actually reduce the quality, and cause something known as clipping — thus decreasing your total listening experience.
Quite frankly, the only reason you think you need such settings is you’re either using subpar headphones, don’t have a high-quality speaker setup, or just plain don’t care. But seriously — why would you do that to yourself!!?
This is what Mac OS X Hints shows as the “perfect” setting:
How absurd! They’ve got to be kidding me..
So you ask, “What really is the best EQ setting?”
Well, you have to understand the EQ is a piece of software which increases or decreases a particular frequency — the optimal EQ setting should always be “Flat.” You don’t really want to distort your music, plus you have to remember — when you change the EQ you’re no longer listening to the music as recorded on the master recording.
But — if you want to get a little more out of your sound, let me explain to you what all those numbers and sliders on your EQ really mean, and do..
All those numbers and sliders — they correspond to different audio frequencies and wavelenghts (Duuuh! Soo?!).
Well, this is what they mean:
- 32 Hz: This is the lowest frequency selection on the EQ. This sits in the lowest of low bass frequencies. This is where subwoofer information resides in songs (such as kick drums and bass instruments). A majority of speaker systems on the market can’t even reproduce this frequency — the only way you can hear this frequency is with a good dedicated amplifier with a high-quality subwoofer, or with some premium IEMs.
- 64 Hz: This second bass frequency starts to become audible on decent speakers or subwoofers. Again, mostly bass drums and bass instruments will reside in this region.
- 125 Hz: Many small speakers, such as in your laptop, can just about handle this frequency for bass information. In other words, if you turn it up on most systems, you’ll hear more bottom/bass in your mix.
- 250 Hz: This is still considered low-end, but more of the “woofy” sound of bass and drum sounds. Guitars and pianos will have a large amount of low end in this frequency range.
- 500 Hz: Now were approaching midrange frequencies, but still some of the low end of vocals and the mids of bass instruments sit here in a mix.
- 1K: This is now low midrange of most instruments such as guitars, pianos, snare drums, etc.
- 2K: The 2K frequency can boost or cut the “nasal” sound of your music, in the range your voice makes when you hold your nose and talk.
- 4K: 4K is the upper mid range that many electric guitars sit in, as well as a large portion of many instruments.
- 8K: This is getting into the high end, where the majority of cymbals and hi-hats are, as well as upper range of synths, pianos and guitars. Many vocals have a lot of information in this range.
- 16K: Theoretically, us humans can hear just above 20K, so this is true high end. If you crank this up, your songs will get ‘sizzly’. This is the top of high end on the iTunes equalizer.
By the way, I hope you know — you’ll never get that “perfect” sound you want on a lot of speaker and stereo configurations, on your laptop, or even on your desktop — so just stop trying!
You can only get that “perfect” sound with a high-quality speaker setup (one which has its own dedicated amps for its speakers/tweeters, and the subwoofer), or you can also get that “perfect” sound with a set of premium IEMs.
And with these, if you feel like the sound is empty, and/or you don’t like having your EQ set as “Flat” — you can adjust your settings slightly, to be “engineered."
So, if you want to perfectly engineer your sound to be just right — I have researched, tested, and tried everything on all sorts of equipment, with all varieties of music.
In the end, this turned out to be the true “Perfect” EQ setting:
Yes, even with this setting — you will have PLENTY of bass (on most decent IEMs, and all premium IEMs, as well as all high-quality sound systems).
But if that configuration just isn’t enough for you, you can try an alternate “Boosted" EQ — to boost both the bass and treble while raising the mids slightly, which can be seen below:
NOTE: If you’re a Mac OS X user, you can add/install the above two EQ’s by downloading the file ”EQs-by-iamziyad.dmg.” Also, make sure you have
Sound Enhancerand Sound Checkdisabled in iTunes.
I have found either one of the two above settings to be optimal while using iTunes with premium IEMs, and also with high-quality audio equipment.
However, when it comes to an iPod — I recommend you to keep the EQ on “Flat" or "Off." Also, if you’re not using a high-quality sound system, or if you’re using a laptop, those cheap Apple iPod headphones, etc. — I suggest you do the same. You don’t want to have your music clip while listening to it, or worse — risk blowing out your speakers!
Ultimately, you can only do so much with software — in the end, it’s the hardware which truly makes the difference!
If you really want to hear your music — my kind suggestion to you is to go out and buy yourself a pair of IEMs, if you already don’t own a pair.
But don’t worry — you don’t have a fat wallet to have “phat" sound.
So now you wonder; “What are the best IEMs?” and "How much do an entry-level, and premium pair of IEMs cost?" and, "Which kind is the best for me?”
Well, that’s simple. Depending on the quality you’re after, you can get IEMs that drop into various price, and quality ranges which go from entry-level to medium quality at $20 to $75; premium to professional quality at $75 to $200; and high-performance professional quality that runs upwards of $500 to $1500.
So let me break it down for you..
A decent pair of IEMs,which would be the equivalent of owning a ‘Honda’, a 'Toyota', or a ‘Nissan’ — are available rather affordably, costing anywhere between $20 to $75 (such as the Denon AH-C252K, Klipsch S2, Klipsch S4, Sony MDR-EX 81LP, and the Maximo iMetal iM590). Entry-level to medium IEMs usually deliver audio quality that would be described as “sounding good” to the untrained ear, and are relatively comfortable — but most of them don’t have the same build quality as their more expensive counterparts, thus usually not lasting as long.
To be straight-forward and honest — if you really want the most for your money, and the best out of your music then I recommend going for a pair of premium IEMs which will run you anywhere between $75 and $200.
Such IEMs would be like owning a luxury, and performance model of a 'BMW', ‘Mercedes’, or a 'Bentley' in the world of cars.
One of the best parts about premium IEMs is you get amazing clarity, that perfect bass you’re always after, clear mids, and a tuned treble. Another absolutely wonderful part about them is you can also listen to your music at relatively low volumes and still hear everything — as almost all premium IEMs offer excellent noise isolation technology. Aside from that most companies, usually provide a no-questions-asked extended warranty (as a commitment to stand beside the build quality of their product).
In the $75 to $200 range we have only some of the best. In this class, you can get some amazing quality premium IEMs (such as the V-Moda Remix Remote, Tour Beats by Dre, Denon AH-C700, Atrio M5, Shure E3c, and the Etymotics’ ER-6i). Premium to professional IEMs provide excellent audio quality with full bass and treble coverage, without “muddying” the mids, all while still being the most comfortable.
Although, if you’re feeling really brave and want to go all out and splurge ($500 to $1500) — you can get a pair of what many audiophiles, and music artists would consider to be the ‘Bugatti Veyron’ or the ‘McLaren F1’ of IEMS which can have as many as 6 speakers per ear, and fit your ears precisely — as they’re custom-made and molded from your own ears (available from Ultimate Ears and Livewire).
I bet you’re saying, “Ooh, woooow!" right now — that’s what I said the first time I saw them too!
I know, those custom-made IEMs are just ridiculously expensive! You honestly don’t need anything like that unless you’re going to be standing on stage in front of 250,000 screaming and roaring fans — so just forgetta ‘bout it!
Just trust me, with a properly configured EQ and a good pair of IEMs..
You will rediscover all of your music — you will enjoy it in peace. You will hear things you have never heard or noticed before.
You won’t just enjoy your music more, but you will forget about even using the EQ — you will be shocked by how much you will be able to hear every beat, every frequency, all that bass, and all that treble!
The best part is, you will be able to do this all without even turning up the volume that high, or playing with your EQ — distorting the sound.
Instead you’ll be immersed in a truly beautiful listening experience.
Bottom Line: If want to enjoy your music — do it the right way!blog comments powered by Disqus
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