Graphic Equalizer Tutorial

Written by seamus islwyn
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Graphic Equalizer Tutorial
The more sliders an equaliser has, the more control you have over the audio. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A graphic equaliser sits between the amplifier and the speakers of your home or car stereo system. It allows you to adjust the relative loudness of different frequencies in the music, thereby altering its character to suit your speaker system and listening environment. Software graphic equalisers have the same function, but use onscreen, rather than physical, sliders to adjust the sound. Graphic equalisers can have anywhere from five to more than 30 sliders; each slider controls the volume of a specific "band," or range, of sound frequencies. Most consumer-level graphic equalisers have 10 bands.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Set all of the graphic equaliser's sliders to 0dB. An equaliser measures sound volume in decibels; setting the sliders to 0dB means that the equaliser is neither adding nor removing any frequencies from the music.

  2. 2

    Adjust the low, bass frequencies using the leftmost sliders. Bass frequencies range from below 30Hz (hertz) to around 300Hz. The human ear can't easily perceive frequencies lower than 30Hz, and these frequencies can add "mud" to the audio. Lower the slider for this frequency slightly, or, at most, leave it at 0dB. The "thump" of a kick drum falls around 60Hz; to strengthen the beat, increase this frequency. Other bass instruments fall within the rest of this frequency range; make small adjustments to the bass sliders to increase or decrease their volumes as needed.

  3. 3

    Use the sliders from 300Hz to about 4 kHz to adjust the mid-range frequencies in the music. Many key parts of an audio recording--including the vocals, guitar and snare drum--fall into this part of the frequency spectrum. Increase the presence of these elements by boosting the lower part of the middle range. If the music sounds too "tinny," try making slight reductions in the higher mid-range frequencies.

  4. 4

    Alter the high, treble frequencies using the rightmost sliders on the graphic equaliser. High frequencies range from about 4 kHz to above 16 kHz, and include the cymbals, hi-hats and parts of the vocal and snare. Boost these frequencies to add definition and presence to the music. If the music sounds harsh or grating, reduce the volume in this area. Frequencies above 16 kHz are usually inaudible; lower the slider for these frequencies slightly or leave it at 0dB.

Tips and warnings

  • Make small adjustments to the sliders, and readjust adjacent sliders as needed.

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