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EQ = sound quality? - Page 3

post #31 of 101


Xnor:

You know far more than me, but Ill reply anyway. First quote is mine and second yours.
 


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Id say EQ can not change sound quality. An EQ only affects frequency response -- it can not affect anything else in the signal.

 

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But it does. Also, it not only affects frequency response but also phase response. Most headphones are single driver, minimum phase systems and therefore you can correct (aka equalize) both frequency and phase response with a min. phase EQ.




A little of this boils down to how one defines sound quality, which (at least) in this thread has no objective definition.

I have nothing to say about phase correction. Ive never managed to hear any in random music and in the tests Ive done I never manged to spot it. Ill assume youre correct though.
 


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You can make a track sound better with EQ though, which is done in mixing, mastering and many times the end consumer does it as well.


 

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Frequency response is the most important part of sound quality. Think about it this way: you have a headphone that has very low distortion but a 10 dB bass peak. Perceived sound quality will be ruined by the peak. EQ the peak away and you'll get a much more higher quality sounding headphone.



I think its important to differ between subjective and "actual" sound quality, mostly because we havent defined actual sound quality. To me, sound quality is about accurate signal reproduction; its obvious that were not discussion that however.

Actually, I think it looks like we agree, apart from that I say "sound better" and you say "sound quality".

 


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You can use EQ to make the bass seem different, but its only a mind trick (youre not doing anything but increasing or decreasing amplitude).

 

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That's not a mind trick. Same as headphone with boosted or rolled-off bass are not mind tricks either. And you're not only changing amplitude, but also phase and therefore group delay just like the headphone driver does itself.



Here I disagree. Many people think cans with very boosted or very rolled-off bass are bad. Now you EQ to get a more neutral sound and all of a sudden they are good. Have we made the headphones better now? No, we just changed FQ. A mind trick. My point is that the actual quality of the sound hasnt changed, only your enjoyment of it.

I dont want to argue, but you mention phase alot. Could you show some examples of common music that has phase issues? Or cans that have phase issues. Im just a sucky noob with tin ears so I cant find any myself.
 


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Adjusting the 180hz band will affect all sounds within its frequency range.

 

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I've seen many graphic EQs with filters that not only work withing a single band but leak into the adjacent bands as well. Not what you'd expect by looking at the EQs user interface, but some EQs just work this way (without telling the user).

 



Hm, yes this is true and I should have included that in my post. I havent tried every software EQ on the planet but I think this is fairly common. You can check this with a spectrum and min/max a band to see how high/low its band goes. You might have a better idea?

 



 

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Aggressive EQing can introduce clipping in your music. You can avoid this by , as LFF said, "It is better to subtract, rather than add". Play with your EQ to learn what settings that introduce distortion, clipping and other artifacts.

 

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I prefer to boost and cut where necessary and use a preamp* to avoid clipping. This way you can EQ with less filters, and higher sound quality. wink.gif
*) kinda the wrong term since you can apply the gain after processing the signal with the EQ, provided you're using floating point (like foobar2000 does internally for example).

 

 

I dont really have anything to add to that, apart from that some software EQs (usually in media players) have a built in limiter to prevent clipping.
 


 

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The day you find your EQ lacking, get a compressor.

I definitely wouldn't recommend a compressor in a playback chain unless you know exactly what you're doing, and also not as a "better EQ".

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I definitely wouldn't recommend a compressor in a playback chain unless you know exactly what you're doing, and also not as a "better EQ".


Why not? With enough bands you can more or less use it as a flashy EQ. Its another tool to shape the sound to your liking. Its not like you can break something, only make it sound bad, and only temporary. You sure can make it sound really bad though (but you can do that with an EQ as well).
 



I think you should write an EQ tutorial because the most important aspect are the technical one/s. Shaping the sound is trial and error and learning what you like.


 




 

post #32 of 101

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by acef2 View Post


 

I think its important to differ between subjective and "actual" sound quality, mostly because we havent defined actual sound quality. To me, sound quality is about accurate signal reproduction; its obvious that were not discussion that however.

Actually, I think it looks like we agree, apart from that I say "sound better" and you say "sound quality".

 


 

 

is possible I've misunderstood the difference between what xnor and LFF refer to SQ as in "sound better" to what SQ I refer to (my bad).

 

I'd agree you can improve/adjust the sound of a bad particular set of headphones to your liking with the help of an EQ set so that it "sounds better" [to you]. I wouldn't quite call it SQ though - more like repairing a dam with a piece of gum (as was mentioned by LFF earlier). 

 

however, if you spend thousands on headphones/speakers and other related components I think you should not have to use EQ to improve SQ. it just doesn't seem/sound right to me, imo.

post #33 of 101

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

 

however, if you spend thousands on headphones/speakers and other related components I think you should not have to use EQ to improve SQ. it just doesn't seem/sound right to me, imo.

Only if you do have thousands of dollars to spend on headphones, what if you don't? That's when eqing comes handy, but of course you will want to start with a decent pair of headphones to make the process simpler.

 

 

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Originally Posted by acef2 View Post

I think you should write an EQ tutorial because the most important aspect are the technical one/s. Shaping the sound is trial and error and learning what you like.

 

Is this what you are looking for?

http://www.head-fi.org/a/tutorial-on-how-to-equalize-headphones

post #34 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

however, if you spend thousands on headphones/speakers and other related components I think you should not have to use EQ to improve SQ. it just doesn't seem/sound right to me, imo.

It's my only choice when it comes to how the music I buy is mixed.
post #35 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by acef2 View Post

A little of this boils down to how one defines sound quality, which (at least) in this thread has no objective definition.
[...]
I think its important to differ between subjective and "actual" sound quality, mostly because we havent defined actual sound quality. To me, sound quality is about accurate signal reproduction; its obvious that were not discussion that however.
The more accurate the signal reproduction, the higher the quality, right? So a headphone that has a peak at x Hz is less accurate than the same headphone with the peak EQ'd away since it is closer to what's coming out of the DAC/amp.
Quote:
Here I disagree. Many people think cans with very boosted or very rolled-off bass are bad. Now you EQ to get a more neutral sound and all of a sudden they are good. Have we made the headphones better now? No, we just changed FQ. A mind trick. My point is that the actual quality of the sound hasnt changed, only your enjoyment of it.
They are not good all of a sudden, the headphones didn't change at all. It's the end result that counts and if you can counteract headphone frequency response problems with an EQ, why not? That's no mind trick. It's what equalization is about.
Imho, the sound quality clearly has changed. If you, however, only look at the signal coming out of the DAC/amp then any adjustment with an EQ could be judged as lower quality.
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I dont want to argue, but you mention phase alot. Could you show some examples of common music that has phase issues? Or cans that have phase issues. Im just a sucky noob with tin ears so I cant find any myself.
I mentioned it because it's not only the magnitude that changes. In a minimum phase system, magnitude and phase response are related to each other. A non-flat phase response corresponds to a non-flat frequency response and using a min. phase EQ you can correct one by flattening the other and vice-versa.
Also, I'm not talking about EQing music, but EQing headphones.
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Hm, yes this is true and I should have included that in my post. I havent tried every software EQ on the planet but I think this is fairly common. You can check this with a spectrum and min/max a band to see how high/low its band goes. You might have a better idea?
Yup, run a test file through the graphic EQ with only one band adjusted (boost or cut, doesn't matter). Then run the resulting file through a spectrum analyzer.

I've done a similar test with some built-in audio player EQs a while back: 261
As you can see, built-in audio player EQs usually suck.
Quote:
Why not? With enough bands you can more or less use it as a flashy EQ. Its another tool to shape the sound to your liking. Its not like you can break something, only make it sound bad, and only temporary. You sure can make it sound really bad though (but you can do that with an EQ as well).
Because a (multi-band) compressor causes nonlinear distortion. Also, it's much much harder to undo than some EQ filters.

 
Edited by xnor - 4/29/12 at 5:22am
post #36 of 101

Just wanna step in and say this is such a common misinformed conclusion by many that assumes all EQs are the same and just because he/she have tried the built-in music player EQ, assumes all EQs are equally bad.... fail.

 

One day I hope I'll at least buy a hardware EQ of the caliber Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496, I know there's a lot more serious stuff out there that may cost many thousands but yea that should give you pretty serious EQing capabilities right there already. :)


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 4/29/12 at 11:15am
post #37 of 101

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

Just wanna step in and say this is such a common misinformed conclusion by many that assumes all EQs are the same and just because he/she have tried the built-in music player EQ, assumes all EQs are equally bad.... fail.

 

One day I hope I'll at least buy a hardware EQ of the caliber Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496, I know there's a lot more serious stuff out there that may cost many thousands but yea that should give you pretty serious EQing capabilities right there already. :)

 

Here is what you want:

 

247002d1311918411-do-many-you-have-custom-built-gear-sontec_432.jpg

post #38 of 101

Yea... I'm an EQ newb I'll state that now and I will NEVER attempt to defend my self against you guys as you dudes are insane... try to talk to me about food and I'll slaughter you :D [know they self}

 

*cough* *cough* that being said I've played with my eq a little and... OMG WOW [I'm listening to Under the Bridge .Flac and there are parts of the bass line I've NEVER so wonderfully! I'm a bass player so I've played LOTS of Chilli Peppers and I can pick out Flea's handy work pretty easily... but with .Flac and some EQ it's just there wonderfully without me having to work for it!]

 

But here's what I ended up on

EQ Setting 1 Full.bmp

 

On a side note, it's nice to see the forum supports .bmp as for what ever reason I do not have paint or PhotoShop seven on my pc... only PhotoShop elements which is just assine... as it lacks .jpg exporting :/

 

So I'm happy!

post #39 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

say, for example, I was to try a “better” pair of speaker cables; what I might get is not necessarily more bass, but better bass tone; better definition; better extension; etc…(in subtle ways) that’s something you cannot get by EQing. it's just different.
 

 

Rather than facepalming you, as someone else did....

 

I'm going to tell you how you are technically correct, but only in rather obscure and specific circumstances.

 

If you are using grossly inefficient speakers (think electrostatic), and a really powerful amp, then using higher quality speaker wire (better quality wire, greater number of finer strands of wire, etc), then you can get an improvement in efficiency and an improved signal (which won't come into play unless you have a really killer amp(s) that's pushing so much power that it has its (their) own dedicated circuit)... In fact, if you are going this route, you better go monoblock with your amps and either bi or tri wire your speakers... Realistically, when "high end" speaker wire becomes useful, is when you have spent so damned much on your system, that most relatively sane people would crap their pants at the prospect of spending that much for anything short of a large down payment on a house.

 

The only reason you are technically correct is that to make a nice clean sine wave in lower frequencies requires tremendously greater power from an amp than mids or particularly highs.  For your average person that has a receiver (and even some entry level separates systems)... Unless they are using the crap wire that came with the speakers, buying uber expensive esoteric speaker wire won't do jack for their speakers, and it is most likely placebo effect for any perceived difference in SQ.

post #40 of 101

I'm glad that there are more and more people getting into EQing their music. To me the EQ is probably the most important part of the system, since it is responsible for balancing out the sound spectrum to match what your ears think is a good volume to be at, relative to all the other frequencies. This is what makes the music enjoyable, well one of the things anyway. The quality of the EQ will also have a huge impact on the overall sound. I have used probably about a hundred different EQ plugins on my audio software over the years, and they all treat the sound differently, and can be like night and day from each other. Hardware EQs the same.

 

Get a typical sound test result on the internet and look how much of a difference we all can hear different frequencies from each other. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in listening to different frequencies. The EQ is supposed to make your weak sounding frequencies sound a bit louder and then it will sound ballanced. 

 

I always start with a flat EQ and adjust the high freqs first, and then work my way to the lower freqs. Some people say to always ONLY turn the EQ knobs down, not up, to adjust the sound, but I strongly dissagree with this method, because it usually doesn't sound as good, and the EQ was designed to be turned up! Besides if you start to clip the sound, just turn the master volume down a bit, it is as simple as that. Usually you sould not have to go past 6dB in either direction for the frequency volume knobs on the EQ. The mids I usually turn down since my ears hear mid range much better than lows and high freqs.

post #41 of 101

Typically I see most of us use software EQ.

Do you think hardware EQs are better/worse?

post #42 of 101
I know the question was directed at Megaohmz, but my opinion on this question is that even expensive pure hardware (non-DSP) EQs are definitely worse than what you can get even for free (as in freeware or open source) in the software world.
Edited by xnor - 5/10/12 at 2:03am
post #43 of 101
Aside from EasyQ and Electri-Q, any other good software parametric EQ?
post #44 of 101

I don't believe anyone has mentioned a good hardware equalizer yet.

 

Are there any recommendations for ones under or around $50 (preferably parametric)?

 

Where would an equalizer component be placed: in front of an amp, just before the headphones? Or in front of the DAC?

 

Is a preamp necessary for an equalizer to perform optimally?

 

LFF mentioned the useful rule of thumb of "less is more"; but what if it's just a small part of the frequency I'd like to change? For example, the mids and bass are fine, but the treble is rolled off. Would I lower the volume of everything besides the highs, or increase the highs in this case?

post #45 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Indread View Post

I don't believe anyone has mentioned a good hardware equalizer yet.

 

Are there any recommendations for ones under or around $50 (preferably parametric)?

 

Where would an equalizer component be placed: in front of an amp, just before the headphones? Or in front of the DAC?

 

Is a preamp necessary for an equalizer to perform optimally?

 

LFF mentioned the useful rule of thumb of "less is more"; but what if it's just a small part of the frequency I'd like to change? For example, the mids and bass are fine, but the treble is rolled off. Would I lower the volume of everything besides the highs, or increase the highs in this case?


I did.

 

Look up Sontec equalizers. They sound great.

 

For under $50.....none that I know off...at least in the hardware area.

 

Placement depends on what you want and what you are trying to achieve. Personally, I would place right out of my source.

 

A preamp usually only manages the volume/source. I would use one BUT if I can avoid it, I do. The less gear in my chain, the better.

 

As with all things, it depends. Sometimes I only need to bump up the bass. I'll leave everything alone and just bump the bass 2 or 3db. Sometimes, this will produce distortion so a workaround might be to lower everything past 120Hz by 2 or 3db. Use your ears. Train them to listen for clipping, distortion and comb filtering.

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