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EQ = sound quality?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by skamp, Apr 25, 2012.
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  1. skamp
    Every time I buy new source equipment (lately: FiiO E7, iPod Classic), at first I feel that it sounds like utter crap. Like a $5 device. It sounds congested, muddy, imprecise. Then I turn on the equalizer and set it to my liking: the sound is completely transformed. It's open, clean, punchy, precise.

    What surprises me is that I don't get a mere feeling of distaste with the EQ off; my brain interprets it as low quality, like I paid an ungodly amount for utter crap.

    Does anyone else have the same experience? I wonder how many cases of "crap sound quality" could be solved with adequate EQ settings…
  2. LFF
    EQ can fix some bad records but it doesn't always fix it. Sometimes it's just band-aid, sometimes it's like using a piece of gum to fix a leaking dam and other times, it actually solves the entire problem. The real trick is learning to recognize when EQ is actually needed and when it is not. This is strictly in the pro sense.
    However, for casual listening...who cares?! Do whatever makes you happy.
  3. BrownBear
    I agree with LFF.
    Also, I think a lot of it has to do with what you're used to. If I applied EQ, then listened for awhile, then shut it off, I would be very unhappy with the EQless sound. I've done this before. Also, in a similar manner, if I listen to a set of headphones long enough without listening to others, when I finally put that other pair on, I'm usually shocked at the sound. It's like I can 'forget' a sound signature.
    What I mean is, that maybe you're just so accustomed to hearing your tunes a certain way, that when you change that, it's like everything sounds wrong. But like LFF said, enjoy your tunes! Do what sounds good to you.
  4. xnor
    Frequency response is very, very important for perceived sound quality. Therefore, you could say that EQ can influence sound quality to a large extent.[​IMG]
    a) Yes.
    b) Depends how "flawed" the playback chain is, which EQ is used and most importantly how it is configured.
    Vkamicht likes this.
  5. RPGWiZaRD
    I used to EQ every headphone for that in my ears "optimal balance" according to my personal taste but Q40 is so far the only headphone I haven't needed to EQ at all, well if I had a better EQ, say a hardware 31-band EQ I'd for sure EQ it probably a little bit, bring forward the lower midrange (300~1000Hz area) a little bit and around 4kHz etc. I prefer a strong bass response with a forward midrange and "neutral" highs so my optimal FR curve has a bit of a warm tilt to it (slanting slope). 
  6. Lenni
    wut? ...LOL
    yeah, it makes largely worse. I'm sure someone else is gonna post volume control also effect sound quality. aaah gah... sometimes I despair reading comments in this forum.
  7. Mshenay
    I'm new to this side of the Forum [although I'd like to be here more often]
    And I'm not entirely farmillar with effective EQ'lizing... I'm used to preset and when I eq things my self xD it always sounds worse... which is due largey impart to ingnorence
    That said with regards to volume effecting SQ I think I'd agree with you there, I ride a public bus sometimes so I have to get  my music Stupid loud just to hear it some times [old bus noisy engines] and it usually sounds pretty crummy to me tbh, and I've been enjoying quiet'r music lately as well! But I'd like to learn how to EQ personally... presets aren't always that great :/
  8. Lenni
    it seems to me the reason you're turning the volume loud is to drown the bus noise, not because it sounds better.
    if I may say, you're unconsciously doing irreparable damage to your hearing by doing that, and you'll get tinnitus soon or later. it's foolish, please don't do it, not worth it. get better headphones, preferably noise cancelling ones.
  9. xnor
    You don't seem to know what you're talking about. Care to elaborate on the "makes it largely worse" part?
    Also, what volume control are you talking about? Digital?
    Same here.
    Vkamicht likes this.
  10. TMRaven
    EQ'ing has always made my sound slightly soft in lacking in crispness/ strong attack whenever I EQ on iTunes, even if I EQ right and have relatively the same amount of volume between EQ and non EQ.
  11. LFF

    GOLDEN RULE: For every action, there will be an opposite reaction. IE...lower the bass...highs will be more pronounced.
    1) Do not eq unless necessary
    2) It is better to subtract, rather than add.
    3) Do not eq trying to get everything in the mix right. Focus on the spotlight! In other words, do not EQ the drums on an Ella Fitzgerald recording....EQ for Ella's voice! Likewise, don't EQ a guitar on a Monk recording...the piano should be the spotlight.
    4) It's best to EQ in the early morning with relaxed ears. Never EQ at night and save the work permanently...leave it and listen to it with fresh ears in the morning. Do it at a moderate volume...never loud.
    5) If possible, use a parametric equalizer instead of a graphic one.
    6) Check your work with both speakers and headphones.
    7) Use presets as starting point to learn but NEVER USE THEM. They suck. There is no universal EQ that will work with every song. Like people, each song is different and requires something different.
    8) If possible, memorize the Carnegie Chart and base your EQ'ing off what you learn from the chart.
    HAPPY EQ'ing!!!
  12. skamp

    I'm not sure what made you facepalm. I shared my perception of EQing, and I was wondering if it was the same for other people. Clearly it's not yours. What's ridiculous about that? My perception in this case is purely subjective: I don't think for a second that EQing actually (objectively) increases sound quality.
  13. LFF
    It does....you can actually measure it. It's the whole basis for mastering!
  14. Anaxilus
    This was the main reason I stopped years ago.  I found myself chasing phantoms.  Unless you can Eq/remaster your tracks independently, the audio obsessive will never be satisfied.  That's why I focus on hardware and building synergies for that last Nth of tweaking.  Then if necessary one or two bands of minor adjustment as a last resort.  Hopefully I dial in my hardware chain as ideally as possible to minimize the need to touch the source material as much as possible.
    This is why people should look into getting LFF remasters.  Fix your problems where they begin.
    You should link your Eq tips in your sig.
  15. skamp

    I guess the problem is, what objective metric do you use for "sound quality"? OK, my CDs were mastered a certain way, for "optimal sound quality" then. But in my case, I perceive it as bad sound quality, which compells me to use the EQ. Is anyone between me, the artist, the mixing engineer and the mastering engineer actually objective about it?

    I guess they are when they try to make sure it will sound "right" no matter what gear the material is played back on. But my perception of it (and I'm guessing, anyone else's) remains subjective.
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