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EQ Amplification, on or off?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hey all. I was just wondering how people listen to their music. happy_face1.gif


I know many EQ their headphones here. I do not, as of yet. What I have done, though, is keep the EQ flat but use the amplifier on Winamp and such to make my music louder. I usually put it on max.


I was testing it out yesterday after my ears started hurting me which had never happened before. I took it off and listened lower, with the EQ off. I found that without it on, I heard more details in my music and it sounded more realistic. Even raising it just a little bit, the Winamp amplifier added a sort of fluffy cloud to everything which can be nice on some songs but does change the sound and I don't think for the better. More so, I found newer music doesn't really need it at all as it's loud enough.


I've been messing around with Isone Pro, which has a volume control as well. That makes the music louder, without the prior effects, but if it's too much, it gets harsh and tends to lose detail. Another problem using it is, while it will be good for older music, newer music will be too loud and, such, I would need to change it's volume with every album because lowering Winamp's volume doesn't fix the harshness.


So, I am wondering, is music supposed to be listened to without any of these volume enhancements? Obviously, we control of the volume of our main desktop amplifier (in my case, the V200), but, beyond that, should we just let it stay at whatever our desktop's let it go? I hear the difference in volume between all sorts of records and of course, different masters of the same album, and am starting to get the feeling that the volume is what the creators felt it should be at. If a remaster is low, then it could not be taken any further than that without hurting the quality.


Do you any of these enhancements for low volume music? Is having them off and at a lower volume the proper way to maintain the highest quality of the master?

Edited by Devarika Woulf - 3/22/12 at 5:08pm
post #2 of 5

Your question isn't really a good one in the form you've asked it: It's certainly possible to mess up the sound of a recording with EQ. And it's possible to design an EQ that messes up anything it touches. (And it wouldn't surprise me if wim amp's was one.) But that's not to say a well-designed EQ is never useful (eg for countering frequency response spikes due to amp or headphone signature or acoustics - which can still be a factor even with IEMs because of the ear cavity itself.) You've confused these three possibilities into being one.

Edited by scuttle - 3/22/12 at 7:50pm
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

I understand you. I'm not asking about the EQ itself, just the amplification which makes it louder. IE Winamp's Preamp (Default +0.0 dB.) I don't use the EQ at all. Mine is flat and I like it like that right now. I just raise the Preamp. It's like no EQ at all but louder.


I am wondering if people use this themselves and if they've noticed anything negative like I have or what their experiences were like. It could be with any media player's Preamp as well.



Winamp, Preamp 12.0 dB, EQ Flat

post #4 of 5

Depending on the implementation, this is going to cause digital clipping or essentially dynamic range compression, right?  You're raising it above 0 dB?

post #5 of 5

You should only use the EQ preamp setting to lower the volume, not to raise it. It's there to let you compensate for EQ curves that raise the max level above 0 dB. Maybe in some cases where you only have built-in laptop speakers, then boosting volume via the EQ preamp can help. But since you have an amp, that's really the best place to do it.


Digital clipping

With CD quality music, you get 16 bits of dynamic range. Or simply put, 16 bits of loudness. The louder parts of a song will already be close to using up all 16 bits. If you digitally raise volume over 0 dB, those parts will not be able to go higher than 16 bits but will be "clipped" instead. 



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