How to Adjust Frequencies on a Stereo Audio Equalizer (EQ)

Commonly referred to as ‘EQ controls’, stereo audio equalizers provide for the adjustment of various frequency bands. EQ controls are used to improve audio in specific sound situations. Normally these controls come with a collection of presets such as rock, folk, vocals, and pop, among others, that are used to enhance the quality of the sound and, consequently, the quality of the music. But to maximize the value of your equalizer, you have to know how to adjust frequencies. That’s where we come in!

Setting equalizers will largely differ from one individual to another, as it tends to be a subjective experience. Let’s get into it.

What Are The Major Goals of Equalizing?

There are three key goals of setting equalizers. These are:

  • To define an instrument and make it sound clearer.
  • To make the instrument or mix bigger.
  • To make each instrument sit on its predominant frequency range.

adjust frequencies when listening to vinyl

The Different Frequencies on the Equalizer

Before we evaluate how you can adjust frequencies on a stereo audio equalizer, it is important we examine the areas of the audio band and how each area affects the sound outcome.

The numbers on the equalizer panel are the frequencies (measured in Hertz, abbreviated as Hz).  Each sound channel has a different frequency range.

Most audio bands have six distinct ranges, and each part plays an important role in the total sound quality.

  • Sub-Bass (16 -60 Hz) –This band is the lowest bass, and it emphasizes the frequencies that occur infrequently, for example, background sounds. Be careful, too much emphasis on this range makes the sound blurred.
  • Bass (60-250 Hz) –This band contains the fundamental notes of the rhythm section. Musical balance, which could either be fat or thin, is easily achieved by adjusting frequencies in this range. It is, however, important to maintain a balance as over-emphasis on this range tends to make the music sound excessively deep.
  • Low Mids (250 -2000Hz) – The low midrange band accommodates the low-order harmonics of most musical instruments. Too much emphasis on this range can lead to listening fatigue and telephone-like sounds. Nobody wants that, right?
  • Alternate Long Arrow Right High Mids (2 – 4kHz) – Best described as upper midrange, this frequency, if boosted, helps to make various sounds formed with the lips indistinguishable by introducing a lisping quality into a voice through its ability to hide important speech recognition sounds. Just like low mids, too much boost in this range can cause listening fatigue.
  • Alternate Long Arrow Right Presence (4 – 6kHz) – The presence band focuses on the clarity and definition of voices and instruments. Increasing this range brings the music closer to your ears. Decreasing it, however, makes the sound feel far away.
  • Alternate Long Arrow Right Brilliance (6 – 16kHz) –This is the highest frequency which affects sound coherence. Overemphasis on this range can produce a hissing effect on vocals.

Keep in mind that not every equalizer will have each of these frequency ranges. 

How to Adjust Frequencies on Your Equalizer

The best guide to setting the EQ controls is using your own listening preferences.  Everyone has his or her own opinions when it comes to the best sound. No matter how you like your sound,  the following steps will help you to adjust an equalizer to your liking.

Step 1: Ensure Proper Speaker Installment

Properly installed speakers will ensure that you will be starting with the best sound possible. It is, therefore, important to make sure that even before touching your equalizers, the speakers are in the right place.

Any attempts to try and adjust the EQ controls when the speakers aren’t positioned to sound their best will not allow you the full benefit of the equalizer’s effects.

Step 2: Adjust Equalizer Controls to Zero or Neutral

Always start with the equalizer controls set at neutral or zero. 

Step 3: Adjust Equalizer Controls

Adjusting the controls is solely based on your listening preferences. Tackle one frequency at a time, making small adjustments until you get the desired sound effect. Take your time with this, there is no rush. Going slowly to ensure you get the sound you want will pay off dividends long-term.

Step 4: Make Any Further Adjustments

Listen to your new setup for a while and take note of any sounds you aren’t satisfied with. Once identified, make adjustments as needed. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with all the equalizer settings!

Conclusion

The EQ controls are set to improve the sound quality, i.e., the highs and lows of frequencies, in any music genre. The settings are purely subjective, and you can always play around and adjust them to suit your musical taste. Have fun!