EQ's... why doesnt everybody have one?


Just browsing around the systems on this site, i knoticed that very few have equalizers. I realize some claim they introduce unacceptable noise but i would hardly call my Furman Q-2312, at %>.01 20Hz-40kHz, unacceptable. This $200 piece of equiptment ($100 on sale at musiciansfriend.com) replaces several thousand dollars in assembling a perfectly linear system in perfectly linear room, and in my opinion, accomplishes the task better than any room design could no matter how well engineered. It brought my system (onkyo reciever, NHT SB-3 speakers and Sony CD changer) to a level i could not have dreamed. It extends the SB-3's frequency response by at least 10 Hz to a satisfying 30 Hz without any rolloff or sacrifice in clarity, but the greatest improvement was definately in the Mid-range, around the SB-3s crossover frequency of 2.6kHz. The clarity of vocals, strings, guitars, brass... anything in this range rivals that of uneq'd systems costing well into the thousands of dollars... my total cost; $800. One of the more supprising differences is a marked improvement in immaging, it think this might have to do with eliminating several resonances in the right channel caused by my back wall (the left back wall has a curtain over it). The second my dad heard the difference he got on my computer to buy one for himself, he couldnt even wait to get back to his own, he then kicked me outa the listening chair and wouldnt get up for the better part of an hour.
-Dan-
dk89
"This $200 piece of equiptment ($100 on sale at musiciansfriend.com) replaces several thousand dollars in assembling a perfectly linear system in perfectly linear room, and in my opinion, accomplishes the task better than any room design could no matter how well engineered."

Well, there's the point. It's not possible for an amplitude-domain GEQ to accomplish this.

Kal
Kal...Maybe it ain't perfect, but the $300 Behringer DEQ2496 does a job which needs to be heard to be believed. Really!
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To answer the question of this thread: because many people prefer to spend "several thousand dollars in assembling a perfectly linear system in perfectly linear room". Doing it with a $200 equalizer "at %>.01 20Hz-40kHz" would be too easy.

"....and in my opinion, accomplishes the task better than any room design could no matter how well engineered." Oh well, looks like this EQ will be putting companies like Rives out of business. Sure glad I did not send my check to them this week to get a room analysis done.

So when I decide to go with this EQ, any suggestions on the additional IC I should purchase?
Whose standard are we going to use? To equalize a room properly requires digaital EQ. That means alot of computing horsepower; also fancy software. Which brings up the question: who's going to pay for it.
Jafox...Rives will tell you that LF room resonances cannot be effectively cured by acoustic treatments, and they will sell you their highly regarded equalizer to do the job.
I think there are four reasons that combine. Many people are afraid of them because they could be used to make things worse and they are not confident in their abilities to know when things are better or worse. Many people have not heard a properly equalized system. Many people overestimate the sonic importance of the distortion introduced by good electronics. Many people underestimate the sonic importance of frequency domain distortion added by the room.
Eldartford: Yes I realize that. But such a correction is not going to happen with a $100-200 unit without destroying a whole heck of a lot elsewhere in the chain. And this too is why I would like to try a PARC in my system.
Eldartford wrote: "Kal...Maybe it ain't perfect, but the $300 Behringer DEQ2496 does a job which needs to be heard to be believed. Really!"

I do not doubt it. I have used the Rives PARC and the Audyssey and the Velodyne SMS-1 and all of them were very effective. However, it is not possible for any of them to do what acoustic treatment can. That said, good electronic EQ is an almost necessary adjunct to room treatment since some room problems cannot be solved acoustically without great bulk or expense. Nonetheless, your EQ cannot correct for a real null.

Kal
One use of EQ is room correction. A parametric EQ can do wonders in smoothing out bass response. It's not a panacea, but a useful tool that puts the icing on the cake after you've experimented with speaker/listener placement, room treatments, etc. Not every system and/or room needs this type of equalization. EQ can also be used as tone controls and I honestly don't know why there is such a bias against their use in this regard. Unless you listen to nothing but pristine, audiophile recordings you would benefit from having tone controls.
Hi all, the PARC was the missing link and worked wonders in my room after installing ASC SuperTraps, etc..
DK- I think you will find as you progress to a more revealing system, you will hear a veiling from the Beringer. Your point about the tone controls is well taken though. I can't listen to 70% of my cd's on my new highly "resolving system". I'm actually thinking about going "backwards" to a tone control preamp. A totally transparent EQ/room correction device would be a godsent, but I don't believe that animal exists yet. I'm currently using a PARC that does it's attenuation very transparently and am now setting up a Tact unit just for comparision. So far I lean towards the parc because it doesn't change the overall sound of the other components I've chosen.
Memeboy...I think you are right..."Many people are afraid of them because they could be used to make things worse and they are not confident in their abilities to know when things are better or worse". I have had equalizers before, but they never gave me the satisfaction that the DEQ2496 does.

I think that the reason that the DEQ2496 satisfies is the Real Time Display and the automatic equalization feature. You can turn on the white noise signal, see on the RTA how lumpy the frequency response is. Then, after pushing the EQ button, watch the high bumps slowly move down and the low spots move up, until the response is flat 20-20K (or matches some curve that you have set up). All the while you can listen to the changing signal. Then put on a recording and listen with the EQ in, and EQ out using the BYPASS button. As I said, it "does a job which needs to be heard to be believed".
The degredation in sound of a signal going through a $200 component should cancel any of the benefits of a high end system right?

The Parc is an exception since the electronic signal is going through high end internal components and shouldn't lose much right?

I'm just thinking out loud and searching for reactions to my statements. I haven't tested any of this.
I have to agree about the benefits of using EQ. I also use the Behringer DEQ2494 (kept completely in the digital domain) in a highly resolving system, and I can tell you that it does wonders. I run a Krell transport into the Behringer, then into a Muse 296 processer (I wasn't quite as impressed with the Behringer's on-board DACS), then into a BAT preamp all kept in a balanced configuration. I was using a Z-Systems RDQ-1 before the Behringer, but the Behringer has much more functionality and a much better interface than the Z-Systems, and I could not hear any difference as long as the Behringer is kept completely in the digital domain. I think the Behringer is so inexpensive because they sell so many since their primary market is the pro audio industry. Anyone with doubts (I certainly did) should try one for themselves.
Robm321: I too have not tested any of this but I know the destruction that just a cheapo IC can do when inserted from my line stage (Aesthetix Callisto Sig) to my amps (CAT JL-3 Sig). So I would expect far worse with an electronic instrument with penny-priced integrated circuits, capacitors, resistors, horribly regulated power supply and such.

What we ultimately might gain from a flatter frequency response, and thus perhaps more clarity and less muddiness, could also result in a great loss of many other refinements, e.g., low-level resolution, harmonic textures, etc. For me, these latter sonic attributes get me more attached to the music than having a perfect frequency response.

I have recently added 4 ASC tube trap columns behind my Soundlab speakers. The added degree of clarity in the mids and trebles brought on by this caught me off guard. And I lost none of the magic in my system that I had before. I plan to plot several response curves of my room with varying ASC traps and their locations to reduce the bass peaks as much as I can. Then I can evaluate the possibility of any added benefits from an active device like the PARC. And ultimately if the PARC does bring on even more clarity due to bass peaks reduction, but it interferes with the openness, textures and dimensionality that I had before, I will have to make a judegement call as to which way to go. Perhaps on some music material the benefits of the PARC will be the way to go and other times, not at all. Hearing how it sounds in bypass mode will be important too as there will be another pair of ICs in the loop even during this time.

I think we each need to determine this all for ourself. I just happen to be a decays and ambience fanatic and I do not want to lose what I have worked so hard to attain.

John
Jafox...I am sure you know the saying..."don't judge a book by its cover". You should not make assumptions about the DEQ2496 just because it costs $300. I, and a lot of other people, have been astonished by this device. I bought mine only for the RTA feature, not intending to use the EQ. But once I heard what it can do I was converted.
I have the 2496 in my system. Eldartford, what kind of cables did you use to go from Balanced to Unbalanced? I am using something called a 'Clean Box' from Art Accessories to convert the Balanced inputs/outputs on the 2496 to the Unbalanced In/Out on my preamp. It works ok, but I am thinking about removing the Clean Box and going 'direct' - but don't know how.
Eldartford: Yes, I agree. And I would be willing to give the DEQ a fair shot. But I must admit I would go into this with low expectations.

Like anyone else, I have had several events, a few with local audiophile buddies, where I came out highly impressed from an auditon/test that started with me expecting very little or no positive outcome. And from such times, I am quick to give high praise to such a product. But I have also had enough auditions where the result was terrible, whether I expected it or not and the unit was immediately removed, never to be given a second chance.....it indeed was that terrible.

In the case of the DEQ, I have no doubt the benefits that it would bring. What would concern me here is what harm might it cause in the process. Surely it degrades the sound to some degree. My gut feeling is that the degradations would be in areas where tube-based systems excel.

Interestingly, the line stage and its cable to the amps have proven time and time again to be a VERY critical link in the chain ... and this is exactly where the DEQ or PARC would be placed. Any direct experiences or insights here to this specific concern of sonic degradation?

John
equalization is used in every part of the food chain except the home, where we would rather gut the listening room, buy dozens of cables, and continually swap out components until we here what the engineer heard with an equalizer.
Jafox-"the line stage and its cable to the amps...Any direct experiences or insights here to this specific concern of sonic degradation?"

I'm using the parc with balanced wireworld eclipse 5 inters between a macC200 and classe cam-350's mono's. Speakers paradigm s8's. I am listening closely for negative effects on the ambience or air and aftertones/decay on close miked recordings and conclude so far anyway the same as Kal(if memory serves) did in his review that the parc is transparent in the midrange and treble. It is doing just what I tell it to do(three cuts of 3-8 db)and rta graphs confirm. So far I'm only cutting about 70% of the peaks that would take me flat. I've only been running for a couple of weeks, but so far I'm very happy. I'm hesitant to say "totally transparent" because there should be a degradation I assume, but I'm not hearing it(whew!). FYIW, my takeway so far is if you only have LF modes issues as I did, go the parc. I haven't tried the Beringer in my system, so I may have mis-spoken on it. I'm going to play with the Tact mosly to just use it to refine passive treatments and further my acoustics IQ as many of you have used the Beringer for. I don't think I'm going to want to use the tact as my preamp which is how it's meant to be used. Hope this helps
What accessories do you need to use the DEQ? A microphone, or does one come with it?
Used Tact 2.0s are selling at a little under $1k. Factory refurbs go for $1.5k. They are far superior at room correction and measurement than the Behringer and they include measurement mics and software. In addition to the room correction frequency and delay correction the Tact also includes a 10 band parametric EQ. To put it in readily understood audiophile hyperbole, it's in a whole 'nother league than the Behringer. If you're going to try digital room correction/EQ you're better off spending the incremental dollars for the Tact. The downside to the Tact is that it requires a Windows PC and setup is definitely not intuitive.
One word: DISTORTION
Onhwy61...DEQ2494 also has parametric eq if that turns you on. Perhaps you can tell us exactly what is better about Tact equalization. Both the Tact and the Behringer do their operations in the digital domain, which can accomplish things that are not possible in analog processing. I suppose that the computer interface is a plus for some folks, but not for me. Just to be fair, costs should be compared for both units being new.

Jafox...Low expectations? Mine were zero: I bought it for the RTA. I can hear no sound quality degradation, but perhaps a golden ear might. However, the overall improvement of my system in my room is dramatic. Sometimes we take a little step back to achieve a big leap forward. I carry a small scar where the surgeon removed my appendix, that was about to kill me. Good trade-off!

By the way I have great respect for the PARC, and my research on that product is what led me to the Behringer. But the PARC cost seemed too high, (especially if you have more than 2 channels to worry about) and the Behringer offers very much greater flexibility and features. One point of interest is that the PARC would only attenuate, never boost, and this was cited as a good thing. Now I hear that a revised PARC may boost. Go figure.

I really don't want to tell people whether or not the Behringer has a sonic character, and I don't think others should speculate. You must decide this for yourself after hearing it. I do suggest that people should get it for the RTA, and then let nature take its course.

Drubin...The mic, and its cable, is sold separately. Parts Express has the mic listed at $50.

Joeylawn36111...I make the Unbalanced/Balanced transition coming out of my preamp using cables that I had made up for this purpose. RCA on one end and XLR (into the DEQ2496 on the other end. Of course this means that the DEQ2496 input is unbalanced, but the DEQ2496 detects this and adjusts gain accordingly. (Clever little box!) The DEQ2496 output is balanced into my electronic crossover, and on to the the amps and speakers. I guess you have the DEQ2496 in the Tape loop, so you will be unbalanced in and out. More cables. I get my cables from a2zcables.com, but I am sure that other vendors could accomodate you, or, of course, you could wire the cables up yourself
Stevecham...THD 0.007%. S/N greater than 113 dB.
Sorry about that.
Eldartford - thanks.
The difference with the Parc is the fact that it uses high end components inside that are less likely to degrade the sound. A $200-300 EQ is like running your hifi gear through a clock radio. Your system is only as strong as it's weakest link. It will destroy the suttle sounds. I'm glad you enjoy and were blown away by the low priced EQ, and I realize we shouldn't judge until we try it. But frankly, there are a lot of hyped up ideas here, and I'd be nuts to buy into them all.

For those that enjoy this EQ, good for you, don't stop enjoying on my account, but it just doesn't make any sense that detail, harmonic structure, etc. isn't lost through a cheap power supply, cheap components and cheap connectors. If that was the case all hifi hear would be around $200-300.

What components are you using with this EQ?
Eldartford, if I understand it correctly, the Behringer is a combo graphic/parametric equalizer with a few added features. It is not a room correction device. It cannot adjust for time delay/phase and the EQ controls are too board to address all but the largest room induced resonances. The Tact makes corrections in both the frequency (as small as 2Hz wide) and time domains which is essential for true room tuning. Room problems are not just a frequency related issue. You should read REG's series on room correction in TAS for a more thorough technical explanation. As a practical matter can either device be used for room tuning. Of course both can, but one is a dedicated room correction device and the other is not.
It strikes me that TacT has fallen behind the technology curve. The 2.0S is priced the same as the 2.0 from several years ago but seems to have been improved only a little (perhaps I am mistaken about this). Yet, the kind of processing power that is readily and cheaply available has increased quit dramatically in that timeframe. If you look at what you get for $300 from Slim Devices or Behringer, to name but two, sophisticated digital processing is practically free these days. Granted, TacT has made a huge investment in software, which they can and should charge for, but the box should either be cheaper now or it should be much more robust in terms of capabilities and ease of use.

I owned a TacT for a while and, while I never had great results with it, I continue to believe in the technology and think Peter Lyngdorf is one of the few genuine geniuses in high-end audio. I may try one again in the future, but I just ordered a Behringer. For the RTA alone, it's a steal, assuming I can figure out how to work it.

Dan
Dan wrote: "I owned a TacT for a while and, while I never had great results with it, I continue to believe in the technology and think Peter Lyngdorf is one of the few genuine geniuses in high-end audio."

TacT is now run by the original software developer (see BOZ) and Peter Lyngdorf showed a new device under his own name at CES. It is similar to the TacT but differs a bit in hardware and in its approach to multisite measurements.

Kal
Oh, I did not know that. Will have to check it out.
The new TacT gear promises to adjust room correction relative to volume as suggested by Fletcher-Munson et al. I'm very interested in this type of gear. That the TacT gear can be kept in the digital domain right through cross-overs and amplification is most interesting. Too bad the power options are limited. Some have argued that by adjusting for the room effects one can't help but pervert the initial primary sound. The counter argument is that the majority of sound is effected by the room. Countered by the brain has the ability to seperate the two so long as there is enough time between original and reflected sound. Most seem to agree that below 150 to 200 Hz that this type of correction will be beneficial to most. Does a high quality digital room correction device that only effects sound below this point exist?
Well, just don't do any correction above your preferred frequency.
"The new TacT gear"... Tact, like Meridian is tuning their equipment for digital amplification. While I haven't been able to hear any of these myself, when reviewers say things like " at first it lacked air, but then I started to consider air to be an artifact", thats cause for pause about going all digital. What we need is a device that is designed to do only the correction in between the transport and analog preamp that is made from the highest quality and THEN we could see if digital processing is ready for prime time. The meridian 861 might be there, but the lack of owner devotees is scary for the price. And their source cost is insane.
Unsound asked: "Does a high quality digital room correction device that only effects sound below this point exist?"
There are subwoofer EQs such as the R-DES and the Velodyne SMS-1 and, of course, you can use the Behringer and z-systems units only in this range if you choose.

Autoll said: "The meridian 861 might be there, but the lack of owner devotees is scary for the price. And their source cost is insane. "
The MRC in the latest generation of 861s only works at these lower frequencies. There are many devoted owners of this marvelous device but they don't hang out here. Cost insane? Well, that's subjective as there's nothing really comparable on the market.

Kal
The difference with the Parc is the fact that it uses high end components inside that are less likely to degrade the sound. A $200-300 EQ is like running your hifi gear through a clock radio
Well, the PARC is analog. I agree with your clock radio analogy for a $200-$300 analog EQ. Digital is a different kettle of fish, though that price point may still be too low for gen-u-ine audiophile requirements.
Kal said:"There are many devoted owners of this marvelous device but they don't hang out here. Cost insane?" Please excuse the insane reference, I should have said "out of my range". May I divert this thread a bit toward the M861 since you may have personal listening experience? Assuming their room correction card is excellent as I imagine it is, what about the 2 channel performance? Without writing a review for us, if you had a great sounding analog system with redbook source and say a ML32 as a somewhat well known reference and swapped in the 861, what would we think? I know this is highly subjective, but opinions on Meridian gear solo are hard to come by. I'm sure you know the common rap from store owners/salesman of "it only sounds good with the I-link", and then it's still not better than much cheaper equipment. Since I've not been impressed at shows, I have to assume these very experienced folks(albiet sellers of other products generally)are probably right. Wrong? I/we do appreciate your input. Thanks!
My EQ is clearly the best room treatment I have ever had!
I have reviewed the Meridian 861 twice and I just had mine updated to the latest version. However, I have not yet had the time to install it and take advantage of the EQ.

One reason that you might not have been impressed with show demos is that you always get a full Meridian system and the character of their speakers is probably what you heard.

Kal
I don't have an EQ because I don't need one.

I'm a studio/live sound guy and have come across a number of Behringer products including EQs. Behrigner is the laughing stock of the pro audio world. Deplorable company ethics, crap support, cheap Chinese parts, poor QC, and downright lousy sound in my experience--which is what I have to go with.
Audiophile grade? lets hope not!

Autoll, You don't use 861's in two channel, but Meridian Digital was always better to all my clients ears than the Levinson (same store) infact most clients laughed at the difference, so I'm quite sure the 861 will cruise to a win. If you clip the wings of a perfectly good surround processor and ask it play music crippled? The playing field is a bit more level I would agree.

I just recently DJ'd a group get together in Chicago comparing A TAG AV192 which out distanced the Meitner pre/dac 6 votes to 4 in a two channel head to head battle and then clearly won when TMS was used with room correction 9 to 1. So the 861 is quite capable as are other surround processors at lowly two channel tasks like being a two channel DAC.

I have used EQ's to dramatically improve the sound of a Meitner/Warner/ Kharma midi Exquisite system..... If you buy an EQ that is commiserate with your system performance it will greatly improve the sound of a system especially when the room is not treated well or you have "audiophile grade" speakers that need some help.

So DK89's system should expect a jump up in performance from his eq. His EQ is comisserate with his system, and no one wants to recognize that fine point. He's getting more performance out of his system maximizing his investment which is as "high end" as it gets in my book...but maybe he should have bought a $200 power cord for his Onkyo or $100 speaker cables that would have been more audiophile!

Problems with EQ is it takes discipline, additional tools and real knowledge to understand and implement. It is not as easy as you think (or atleast as I thought when I was trained), If your first instinct is to auto calibrate anything you don't want to go into EQ and Room Correction alone. My experience is that the normal intuition of the amateur/hobbyist end user usually has them doing the opposite adjustment needed to improve the sound. Doesn't mean they don't learn after time but instant success with an EQ should not be expected. Which is why they are panned here.

I think its very telling that the only "EQ" brands that exist in the audiophile consciousness is the ones that are marketed as "audiophile Grade" or are from a discount 5&10 store. There are plenty of EQ's that are "audiophile grade" and many more that would be insulted by the label

Just FYI.
Kal said: "I have reviewed the Meridian 861 twice" I believe I have read every test done on this unit and only recall one inferrence to using it with a non-meridian source and that was not positive. And meridian tests never compare it directly with other 2 channel pre-amps. While i'm sure profesionals such as yourself strive for fair articles, we readers find that as the price and prestige of components rises, negatives seem be overlooked, so thats why we value thoughts in these forums so highly. I do enjoy your articles immensely. The speaker comment is very enlightening, that never occurred to me. Thanks, and will reread those articles.
I own and have owned several Behringer products and have had no problems with them and they don't 'degrade' the sound in my systems.
Cinematic says:
I think its very telling that the only "EQ" brands that exist in the audiophile consciousness is the ones that are marketed as "audiophile Grade" or are from a discount 5&10 store. There are plenty of EQ's that are "audiophile grade" and many more that would be insulted by the label
Care to name a few names?

By the way, the word you want is "commensurate."
GML, Millennia, Manley, Drawmer and Z-Sys are just some of the EQs that would easily qualify as audiophile grade.
I was told by TacT that one couldn't use their room correction software to specificaly target frequencies (such as bass). One would have to allow the entire frequency response to be corrected and then one could over correct back to the original uncorrected response above the desired corrected bass frequencies. Perhaps I'm just being a typical neurotic audiophile but to my way of thinking it would be similar to writting a verse on a clean sheet of paper, writting a new verse over that verse and then erasing it and rewritting the original verse over the erased segement. Of couse while this is going on one would have to be carefull not to effect surrounding verses. The results of which probably wouldn't be as pristine as the original verse written on the origianl clean sheet of paper. BTW, I would love to be wrong about this.
Yes, when I had the TacT, I wished there was a way to "bypass" certain parts of the frequency spectrum and just apply the curve to the areas you choose. Seems like it wouldn't be so hard to do that. However, if the system is making adjustments in the time domain, presumably you would want those to happen from 20-20K, right?
I own both the Z-Systems and the Behringer EQ's, and to my ears (with the Behringer kept in the digital domain) I could not tell the difference (and the interface and flexibility of the Behringer is far superior). Maybe others with more golden ears than mine would be able to tell the difference. Although I do wonder if there is a certain bias by certain 'audiophiles' against this unit since it is so inexpensive. If it cost $3k instead of $300, would you feel any different?
Drubin, that might not be an issue if one's speakers were already time coherent.
The TacT system is as described but it also permits use as a parametric EQ in addition to the autocorrection.

Kal