I use the eq for every pair i demo and own too, though i use purely ear and not the frequency graphs. For fair testing however the eq just gives much more room for error.
Also if you have an inbuilt limiter in your eq it won't matter so much to pull the preamp down. Though it seems that most of the time i can get away with a raw boost of ~+4db at 50hz without my clipping warning lights going off
Limiting is not a good solution in that it will negatively impact dynamics by it's very nature. It's more of a failsafe than something that should be relied upon routinely.