An equalizer (or EQ) allows you to fine-tune the sound of your car’s audio system. Unlike the standard treble, midrange, and bass controls, equalizers are advanced to give a user more control. An equalizer will help you to customize the audio of your car by giving you more control to change specific frequencies or improve and get rid of undesired frequencies.
Is a car equalizer worth it?
Yes, and I’ll tell you why.
- What is a Car Equalizer
- Types of Car Equalizers
- Equalizer vs Crossover
- How an Equalizer Helps Your Car System
What is a Car Equalizer
A car equalizer is a device that lets you adjust your car’s sound for improved performance. Tweaking specific frequencies in a given frequency range improves the tonal quality of instruments, vocals, and overall the audio quality. Unlike home audio, car audio is more complicated. This is due to the irregular shape of the car, materials inside the vehicle, and several other factors that will result in the sound getting muffled or louder than usual.
Car equalizers come in many forms. They include trunk or dash mount units, which can further be divided into graphic, parametric, and digital equalizers. Graphic equalizers with an in-dash variety are the most common in most cars. They are easily adjustable and will most often be misused by users. Truck-mount equalizers offer advanced customizations, and you will likely spot one in-car audio competitions.
An equalizer should be set to overcome the acoustic problems of your car. However, you should also periodically adjust the equalizer to fine-tune your car audio system. Apart from your car’s acoustic problems, the music you are listening to should also influence how you set an equalizer. It will take some time to get the best settings that fit the majority of your music and speakers without significant adjustments.
The sole purpose of an equalizer is to enable personal car audio customization. However, improving the wrong frequencies or adjusting all of them to full gain will distort sound or might even damage your components, especially speakers.
Types of Car Equalizers
As stated above, there are three types of car equalizers available. These are the graphic equalizer, parametric equalizer, and digital equalizer. Before you settle on a kind of equalizer for your car, it is vital to have a better understanding of the model you choose. The best way to find the benefits of an equalizer is to try it on your vehicle. This will give you the experience of some trial and error and, in the end, get you an equalizer that fits your car and your preferences.
However, before getting hands-on experience, let’s see what the graphic, parametric, and digital equalizer entail.
A graphic equalizer gets its name because of the sliders that will form a visual representation of the boost or cut (make louder or softer). Using sliders, graphic equalizers offer a straightforward solution to improve sound quality. The sliders, when adjusted, will boost or cut a section of the audio spectrum at a predetermined frequency. The use of sliders has made graphic equalizers very user-friendly and also very common in home theatres, car audio systems, and recording studios.
The best thing about graphic equalizers is that they are straightforward, simple, and easy to use. You can either push the sliders up or down on fixed frequency points. If you are boosting a frequency and don’t like how it sounds, you can revert or cut it a little bit. If you cut a frequency and all the juice goes away, you can also revert or boost it even more.
Parametric equalizers offer even greater control to adjust frequencies than graphic equalizers. It is also a very complicated equalizer you will run into when searching for one. They will allow you to adjust the width and center point of any frequency band. A parametric equalizer will also allow for Q adjustment (the quality of the curve of the band passed by the filter) of a frequency.
A parametric equalizer will allow you to control the actual parameters of sound – pass filter parts and the interior band. This is the bandwidth or range, the primary frequency, and the level. Because of this, they are handy in fine-tuning a system.
One disadvantage of parametric equalizers is that they usually have fewer bands compared to graphic equalizers. They are also not traditionally used in vehicles, but they are used for live sound copy music and sound recordings.
Digital equalizers offer the best of graphical and parametric equalizers. From the graphical equalizer, it takes the ability of a user to see the adjustments made on the frequency. From parametric equalizers, it takes the ability to control the actual parameters of sound.
Most of the car equalizers are digital equalizers. Adjustments are easy because digital graphic displays are built into a cars’ graphic equalizer. Digital equalizers in vehicles will also incorporate other features like control for crossovers, speaker level output, and master volume control. Some digital equalizers will also allow a user to store EQ curves for repeated use in the future. So, you can create one curve for hip hop, another for jazz, and so forth.
Apart from the three types of equalizers listed above, there are also octave equalizers and DSP based equalizers.
Equalizer vs. Crossover
Equalizers allow you to twerk specific frequencies for improved audio quality. Crossovers, on the other hand, split an audio signal from an amplifier into low, mid and high frequencies and points them to the respective tweeter, woofer or subwoofer. By splitting the audio and sending them to their respective devices for playback, a crossover makes sure that, for example, a tweeter will not reproduce bass or a subwoofer will not reproduce the high frequencies.
Instead of blending all the audio frequencies in a single speaker, splitting the audio to the correct speaker improves the overall sound quality.
Because both an equalizer and crossover address different issues in tuning the audio quality, neither is better than the other, both of these devices are helpful in their ways.
How an Equalizer Helps Your Car System
Equalizers give a user more control over the audio of a car. When properly used, a good EQ will even fine-tune the best car audio system.
Various factors affect a car’s sound system. Road noise, vehicle noise, shape, and size of the vehicle, the absorbent nature of the materials in your car, just to mention a few, all affect the audio reproduction. This is where an equalizer is essential. It will boost the frequencies you are missing, and it can also attenuate frequencies your car exaggerates.
Though an equalizer improves the sound quality, it should be used after you have tried several solutions to fix audio quality issues. An EQ is not a magical device and will not help if the sound quality issue is related to your car’s acoustics. An equalizer is also not designed to make your car louder, and it simply works to smoothen out the frequency of a car’s audio system.
Getting a proper equalizer for your car should immediately make a difference to the audio quality of your vehicle. If you are not sure where to start, seek expert advice on the matter.
Crossovers and equalizers have different functions, and each will affect the audio quality differently. Crossovers split the audio signal from an amp to their respective speakers. An equalizer helps a user adjust the audio frequency for improved audio performance. Like I stated above, both of these devices are helpful in their ways.
Choosing a good equalizer for your car system will depend on several factors. The best way to know an equalizer is right for your car is to test it out. There are currently very good equalizers from companies like Rockwood, clarion, Massive Audio, Sound Storm Laboratories, and more. The Clarion EQS755 7-Band Car Audio Graphic Equalizer is a good pick for anyone getting started.
A passive equalizer can only cut the frequencies, no boosting. Because a passive equalizer only subtracts, the input audio signal has to be strong because when it comes out, it is reduced.
The number on an equalizer panel indicates the frequencies of different sound channels. The frequencies are numbered from the lowest to the highest. The bass or low-end frequencies usually are on the left, the midrange on the middle, and the high-end/treble on the left side.
Bass is a low-end frequency. The bass range in the audio spectrum lies around 20-250 Hz.
Investing in a car equalizer is one of the best ways to get the best out of your car audio system. To get the best performance of an EQ, it should be set up correctly. Before boosting or cutting frequencies, I would suggest you first set the equalizer to neutral. After that, you can adjust the frequencies one at a time to get the best equalizer settings for your car and music preferences.