Equalizers - Graphiic, Parametric & Channel Balance


I know this topic has a history on these forums but my question has more to do with channel balance than to their theory of operation. Primaily due to personal hearing deficiencies but also to deal with unfortunate room acoustics, I will be installing/keeping an EQ in my system, so the question of whether or not to do so has already been settled.

I began experimenting with a graphic EQ simply because it's operation seemed at least visibility like it would be more direct and simple to use. I was wrong in at least one respect; to get good results, it's not all that simple. Anyway, the overall results have been good. Based on recommendations found here on Audiogon as well as other sources, though, I decided to experiment with a borrowed parametric EQ which I found to have better control and, in some ways, at least as easy to use.

Anyway, I like the PEQ better except for one important issue; with it I have no channel balance control. This is important because of the room layout and because my hearing loss is not bilaterally equal. For reasons discussed in other forums I can't / won't use hearing aids and, for the present at least, I'm sticking with my Peactree Audio pre and power amps. So the question is whether there exists such a thing as a parametric equalizer that has this control? I suppose that one alternative might be to use one parametric EQ for each channel, and if that's what it takes, so be it. Any suggestions?

My sources are Shanling CD S-100 or Apple TV using lossless files and the speakers are Martin Logan Ethos.
broadstone
I suggest that you look at the relatively inexpensive miniDSP devices.
Go to Behringer's web site and look at the Ultracurve PRO DEQ2496. It has every feature imaginable. If you think an EQ may be the solution to your problem, this one will give you the best chance for success. I have one myself, and its not too difficult to use. You can download the manual at Behringer's web site.

If you want to explore more options, download Ubuntu Studio and run it live. Its full of all kinds of signal processors. There may be some apps that can be of use to you. Its a free distro, so there's no risk in trying it.
Pro gear like Behringer...definitely the place to look.
Broadstone, I agree that the DEQ would be an excellent solution for you. I have a Ric-Schultz(EVS)-modified version I've used, until very recently, since 2007 that I'm getting ready to sell. I can let you have it for $250 + shipping, if you're interested. I think the mods cost me about $300 over the cost of the unit. The most relevant here might be the power supply mod that quiets some noise in the SMPS. Also a Canare RCA dig. out jack has been installed in place of the original AES/EBU and has been converted to 75ohm. I used it as a DAC and enjoyed it very well. Has been very reliable and has operated without fault. I intended to list it here anyway, but I can give you the heads up on when exactly it's going to be listed, if you like.
Coincidentally, ZD, I have a like new DEQ2496 that I bought used (eBay) that was DOA and is being returned today. I also have two dbx1531's that I've been trying and one of these had a problem also. I agree with you, Mapman, from my research I've concluded that Behringer is, indeed, where my best choices are. The most recent experiment is with an old SAE parametric that I was messing with in my little garage system which does things that the DEQ's don't and I like it very much but, of course, the balance issue remains. There is a behringer DSP 8024 Ultra-Curve Pro for sale on eBay that I'm studying if anyone knows anything about that model.

Anyway, it looks like a graphic EQ will probably end up being the solution so, Ivan, I would appreciate a heads up when you're preparing to let yours go in case I haven't gone in another direction by that time.
Take it from someone with a LOT of experience with this: Buy a new Ultracurve DEQ2496Â…problem solved.
"The most recent experiment is with an old SAE parametric that I was messing with in my little garage system which does things that the DEQ's don't and I like it very much but, of course, the balance issue remains."

What features are you talking about? It has both graphic and parametric EQ's, with a bunch of memory and setup options form both. It's also digital, so you can run it through a standalone DAC. You can get the owners manual off the Behringer web site. I wouldn't buy a used one, though. Pro gear isn't like high end gear. If you buy something used, you never know how many people had the item before you, and what they did to it. Guitar Center sells them and they have a very good return policy if you don't like it.
ZD, I submitted my last post before reading it and absentmindedly said I was looking at a Behringer when I meant to ask about the Aphex 8024. Anyway, when you referred to "it has both graphic and parametric...", which one were you referring to? You're advice BTW about buying these things used is so true; I've bought 4 used in the last month and 2 were no good. When I make my choice, then, I will buy from a reputable dealer.
Broadstone, I went through the reliability issue too when researching before buying. From what I read, most of the failures were on firmware revisions 1.1 through 1.4, thereafter they began to show at least some indication of being improved enough to not fail at such a high rate...mostly of either microprocessor faults or power supply problems. The ps problems I don't know that they ever effectively solved. As near as I can tell, the Behringer is designed so cheaply as to be less expensive to replace than repair (for the Pro users) and to take the burden off Behringer's customer service (which is generally regarded as terrible). They are essentially considered to be disposable. I certainly understand where notion of only buying new comes from, but a majority of the posts said that most of the units that failed did so within the first year or less. Mine, I can say at least, has had a perfect track record for 7 years. The Jantzen 4-pole cap and other substitutions in the ps may help it run cooler, which I believe, is one of the main problems with the ps...just ends up being too hot. The Behringer has rack ears which I've always left uninstalled to allow at least a little ventilation. My version is a 2.1 and you can confirm the version of any you have by powering up and going to the "main" screen and it will tell you there. Good luck, however you decide to go.
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/DEQ2496.aspx

That's a direct link to the EQ we're talking about. I think you can get one for around $300.
When several of you whose advice I've successfully taken in the past agree on a best solution, I'd be remiss not to listen. In reading some of the descriptions of its operation I realize that there'll be a bit of acclimation involved but I'll get DEQ2496 and let you know how it works out.
"In reading some of the descriptions of its operation I realize that there'll be a bit of acclimation involved but I'll get DEQ2496 and let you know how it works out."

It looks hard to use at first, but once you get used to the menus, it all makes sense.
Ok, I got the 2496 and when you said, ZD, that it has every imaginable feature, that's almost an understatement. In reading the manual I agree with all of you who say that this unit should be what I need to resolve the issues that I named, and then some. I put it in the system but haven't fiddled much with it yet because I'm still trying to digest the information, especially some of the new terminology. I realize, of course, that much of the control capability and related language is related to recording processes.

Anyway, I'm dedicating much of tomorrow to learning its use which I'm sure will inspire more requests for help.
I've been using the 2496 now for 2 days now and am amazed at its control capabilities. However, as a new EQ user I found the owner's manual nearly worthless and was only able to get a good start after reading an article by Mike Anderson (Audio Review). He agrees that the supplied manual is pretty much inadequate and its use became more clear to me after I switched to dual mono mode as he suggested.

Anyway, earlier in this thread I stated that I preferred the parametric EQ for control but liked the simplicity of the graphic units. How could it be any better, then, to have the capabilities of both; this thing is almost magical. I especially like the fact that along with the graph display there is also a numerical display presented in 0.5 dB increments.

I don't mean this as a critical review of the DEQ 2496; I'm not qualified. I just wanted to express my appreciation for its performance and the advice that got me here. I don't see any downside to its addition and except for those who are fortunate enough to have no hearing issues and a ground up designed dedicated listening room, and maybe even for them, I'm convinced that a good quality equalizer is an important addition to consider.

I'm very happy with the adjustments made so far but I will continue to experiment. Do you who are familiar with its operation suggest that I by the setup microphone?
"I'm very happy with the adjustments made so far but I will continue to experiment. Do you who are familiar with its operation suggest that I by the setup microphone?"

I never used the microphone, but given your issue, you're probably going to have to do everything by ear. As far as ease of use goes, the main thing is to focus on the menus. If you think about what's going on, everything seems to flow in an orderly direction. I'm somewhat of a minimalist, myself, so when I first started using my EQ, I thought it was going to be a nightmare. I hate having to figure out how to use complicated devices like that, but its really not too bad if you give it some time.

"Anyway, earlier in this thread I stated that I preferred the parametric EQ for control but liked the simplicity of the graphic units. How could it be any better, then, to have the capabilities of both; this thing is almost magical. I especially like the fact that along with the graph display there is also a numerical display presented in 0.5 dB increments."

I suspected as much. I started with the graphic myself, but experimented with the parametric and quickly found that I preferred it. Its a very powerful tool. You'll definitely want to learn how to save presets. They save so much time, and allow for such easy comparisons, that its probably the most useful feature the EQ has.

I may be getting ahead, but with this EQ being digital, it allows you to keep a high end sound without spending a lot of money. You don't have to use the built in dac. You can keep the signal digital and send it to a re-clocker or standalone dac. You shouldn't have to take much of a performance hit, if any, with options like this available.
The plot thickens. Even though I expressed my positive impression of its extensive number of features, I'm now having some problems. I may have "lucked" into the first adjustments that gave me the impression that at least the GEQ feature was fairly easy to use. Now, even though displays are clearly showing my input, I cannot hear any changes in the output using either the graphic or parametric settings; its like its in by-pass mode.

I'm using RCA out from the preamp to XLR connections in on the 2496 and XLR out to RCA in to the amp using purchased RCA to XLR adapters. The whole issue of balanced to unbalanced is something I don't have a good grasp of but does this setup violate any connection rules? BTW, this is the same setup I used with the DBX1531 which worked but had other issues.

I've read the manual and other discussions that I've found online and hope I'm missing something simple and am wondering whether it might be a good idea to try using the optical connection. Although probably not an issue, I bought this from a reputable dealer as a new "open box" component.
CORRECTION! It's working fine connected the way I described. I simply hadn't made adjustments significant enough to be able to tell the difference between by-pass and new settings.
Good to see that you're hanging in there and that it's beginning to work out for you.
Pardon my preoccupation with this subject but my current level of involvement with it has been eye opener regarding the importance of how sound interacts with the surrounding physical environment as well as its interaction with accompanying sounds. Of the things that we all know, one could spend substantial time and effort getting one track of an album, or maybe all tracks on the same album, to sound wonderful (and only to you, btw) and have those settings give the same level of satisfaction for other selections. As in all audio applications, then, everything that one does involves some level of compromise. Obviuously, creating memory settings for every genre is not practical so one needs to determine how to establish a starting point. This is what I'm trying to do.

This is where the use of and understanding of a good EQ, IMO, shines; it is
more direct, practical, easier, quicker, and infinitely less expensive than shuffling costly components to acheive the same results. This all started, BTW, with my desire to resolve personal hearing issues but has now expanded to a more general awareness and appreciation of a much wider range of sound management issues.

Now that I got that out of my system, I have a question. I asked earlier if it would be advisable to use the automatic room equalization capability of the DEQ2496. ZD, you responded that because my stated goal had more to do with correction to satisfy personal hearing issues, that manual adjustment may be my best approach. I appreciate your having paid attention to my posts and totally agree with your suggestion but decided that I'm going to use it to establish a room corrected baseline and make the manual adjustments afterwards to accommodate my ears.

In regard to this I've read several articles that recommend limiting this auto EQ adjustment to lower frequencies because adjustment for full range leads to "confusing" results. I find this confusing also because, at least for me, most of the frequencies where I have left/right directional problems are for those frequencies well above the range of above the human voice.

Anyway, I'll purchase the recommended mic and cord and find this out for myself, I suppose, and I'll report back when I have something conclusive to relate.
For anyone still following this thread I finally received and put into service the ECM8000 RTA setup mic for the Behringer DEQ2496. My plan was to use the auto setup for base room correction first and adjust for my hearing, which seemed right-weighted, afterwards. As suggested in several articles, I decided to do this only for lower frequencies and limited auto EQ to those frequencies below 500hz in the dual mono mode. As I've stated more than several times, I'm not good at discerning subtle changes and, possibly, even more limited in my ability to describe them. The difference, however, that this simple adjustment alone made was obvious even to me. I almost started a new thread titled "it's the room, stupid" the improvement was such a surprise to me.

The apparent and most appreciated improvement is a more centered stage; I no longer have the sensation that what I thought was my stronger right side hearing moving the stage to the right side. The auto EQ reduced frequencies mostly in the approximate 30 to 100 Hz range but resulted in improved clarity in the lower midrange as well. Until I heard it myself I never would have believed that room conditions could have such a significant effect on sound quality.

I'm not saying that a good EQ is the answer to all woes but in my experimentation over the last several months, IMO, it is a good starting point and I highly recommend trying one if for no other purpose, as an evaluative tool. To go a step further, although I found learning to use it was quite a challenge, with the capabilities of the DEQ2496 it should be all one needs to address a wide variety of needs.
That's some good info. I never really thought to use the mic. But I need to ask the important question. Are you to the point where you can enjoy listening to music? I emphasize the word enjoy, because that seems to be the goal in all this.
Yes. Although I never really stopped enjoying listening, I had become distracted by the too wide and seemingly right weighted sound stage which I initially tried correcting using two channel GEQs simply adjusting individual channel gain. Maybe I should have become aware of room correction issues when it became apparent to me that the balance problem became more pronounced as volume levels increased.

When I decided that this might be at least a small contributing factor I tried using a pink noise generator and an RTA app on my iPad to make adjustments. I got some results but because it was hard to see the graphic display located at my listening position from the EQ where I could make adjustments, this was difficult to do. I'm sure that a more experienced and well equipped person could make this approach work as well as the auto corrector of the equalizer but, for my purpose, the 2496 did the job well.

I'm aware that many believe that any additional added artifacts are unnecessary and degrade sound quality. This argument seems based on the premise that if one were to put together a properly thought out system in the first place, adjustments to it would be unnecessary. I doubt that, except for a few, regardless of how well reviewed and ultimately expensive their systems are, that approach is consistently satisfying.

IMO, the relationship that a listener has with their system is intimate and so individually subjective that the ability to fine tune is necessary. For those who are completely satisfied with their sound, I'm glad for you. For those not so fortunate, dismissing out of hand at least trying the EQ approach, are missing an easy and inexpensive tool for improving their listening enjoyment.
Broadstone said:

"I'm aware that many believe that any additional added artifacts are unnecessary and degrade sound quality. This argument seems based on the premise that if one were to put together a properly thought out system in the first place, adjustments to it would be unnecessary. I doubt that, except for a few, regardless of how well reviewed and ultimately expensive their systems are, that approach is consistently satisfying".

Amen, my brother.

"IMO, the relationship that a listener has with their system is intimate and so individually subjective that the ability to fine tune is necessary".

Never truer words were spoken.