Buying an Equalizer
What Does an Equalizer Do?
If you have ever wanted to have more precise control over the sound in your vehicle’s sound system, you might want to think about investing in an equalizer. The basic definition of an equalizer is that is allows you to fine tune the sound in your car to your liking. These adjustments that an equalizer allows you to make are for specific ranges of sound known as ‘frequency bands’. An equalizer will smooth out the frequency response of your system and help you eliminate unwanted distortion.
Why Add an Equalizer?
Clarity and balance are crucial pieces of your vehicle’s sound system, and just buying a set of speakers with a bigger power rating on them won’t necessarily achieve the perfect sound you’re looking for. If you want to have pinpoint control over your sound, you’re going to need to add an equalizer. To put it simply, adding an equalizer to your sound system will allow you tune your sound to match your preferences, as well as to the acoustics of your specific car. Most aftermarket headunits include a built-in equalizer. Higher end aftermarket stereos have customizable EQs, but many have EQ presets that are preprogrammed for specific music types. If you are planning on using an equalizer with your factory sound system, you can even add an auxiliary input.
An important note about adding an equalizer to your system, it is not designed to make your system louder or make your amplifier produce more power.
What Kind of Equalizer?
There are several different types of equalizers available for you to install in your audio system. The two most common EQ types are Parametric Equalizers and Graphic Equalizers.
A graphic equalizer is the simplest (and standard) type of EQ. Graphic EQs are made up of multiple sliders or controls. Each slider or control functions to boost or cut a small section of the audio spectrum at a preset frequency (or band). A typical graphic equalizer will have between 5 and 12 slider controls on its face for you to tweak specific bands of your sound. Your typical 5-band graphic equalizer will have sliders for 5 fixed frequencies: low bass (25-30Hz), mid-bass (80-150Hz), midrange (1kHz), upper midrange (10kHz) and treble or high frequency (20kHz). Unfortunately, the width of each one of these bands is preset and cannot be adjusted.
A Parametric Equalizer allows you to take the functions of a graphic equalizer a step further by allowing you to adjust the width of each frequency band you adjust. A parametric equalizer is capable of controlling 3 aspects of each frequency: the level, the center (primary frequency), and the bandwidth (range of each frequency). This gives you even finer control over the sound adjustments you make to your sound system.
What Else to Look For?
It is important to be aware of just how precise you plan on getting with your sound adjustments. The most common equalizers come with 7 adjustable bands, and while there is theoretically no real limit on how many bands an EQ can have, they typically max out at around 30 bands. The more bands your equalizer has, the more you can tune your sound. The potential downside to equalizers with more bands is that they are more difficult to tune and do not offer much benefit unless you have access to specialized sound testing equipment that can precisely identify any technical issues in your sound settings.
Depending on how serious you plan on getting, you may want to think about purchasing an equalizer with more bands whereas if you just want something basic that will still make your system sound good you are probably safe with sticking with something around the 7 band norm.