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Basics of Equalisation

Basics of Equalisation

Equalisation can be an incredibly useful tool if you know how to make use of it for your frequencies. Indeed, equalisation is the term which is used to describe the boosting or cutting of frequencies; in turn, it can help you to enhance the sound system’s overall tonal quality.

How can equalisation help me?

  • Equalisation can improve your sound noticeably and improve the naturalness or intelligibility of a sound reinforcement system by adjusting the frequency ranges most critical for speech.

  • You can also colour the sound to suit specific styles of music and venues.

  • You can increase the overall output level of a PA system by reducing the output of the frequency bands that cause feedback.

  • These frequency bands will change from system to system based on how the sound source is affected by room acoustics, microphone placement, and loudspeaker location.

What equalisation won’t do for you

  • Equalisation can’t change an inferior-designed PA system and give you the kind of sound you’d expect from premium systems. To quote a common phrase, “we can’t change the laws of physics”.

  • It can’t cure problems caused by reverberation, mechanical vibration, background noise, or problems caused by the physical design of the room. These are natural acoustic problems and cannot be solved electronically. They must be fixed with acoustical solutions, sound absorbent panels, or heavy curtains.

  • is unable to improve the vocal quality of a performer e.g. being too far from the microphone.

  • It won’t cure below-standard audio components in the PA system.

  • Nor can it remove distortion or noise from incompatible components.

How to get started with equalization

Start with your graphic set to its 0 dB level and try to reduce the problem area by cutting problem frequencies. Listen carefully to any changes made; don’t just change things for the sake of it.

The idea is to make the sound natural, especially for vocals. As a general rule of thumb, for vocals, try to cut the lower frequencies leaving the vocal energy intact. Watch out for feedback and cut offending bands; try not to over cut as this reduces the dynamics of the sound.

An example of a good starting point for an equalisation curve:

An example of a starting point for a typical small band’s PA System:

If you have any questions/comments about this post, feel free to leave a comment on the website chat or call a member of our team at Counterpoint on  0333 050 4871. We specialise in all things relating to PA Systems and recording studios and we’re always happy to speak to customers and advise them.

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