Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Perfect iTunes EQ Settings! ... ... ... or not ...

I'm rocking the Grey Album right now. It's a fun one to keep coming back to, as it's just really well done, and really raises the bar for mashups. That and being as handi-cappable as I am I never realized track 11 was supposed to be reversed.


Anywho, this story, linked to on 43 folders (where I caught it first), has been floating around about building the perfect EQ setting for listening to music in iTunes.
Open the equalizer, and from the pop-up menu, select “Make Preset.”
Call it “Perfect,” because it is, and set the following levels, from
left to right (skip the Preamp section):
db +3, +6, +9, +7, +6, +5, +7, +9, +11, +8 db

Which looks like this:

Which I get, as supposedly MP3 strips info out of your music, specifically really high, and really low pitched noises. The reason being that we shouldn't be able to hear those noises, but I believe they do affect the sounds we can hear. The smaller the file (or lower the bitrate) the MORE information is cut out.

Well this post over at Idolator has a really well written response to the "smiley face" EQ setting:

"The perfect setting equals no setting, just good quality rips and good speakers. People work HARD to get stuff sounding the way that they want it to--we don't just mix any way we want. I think bass and treble knobs are plenty. Put it this way: If you don't like the colors in a movie, you don't adjust the tint in your TV. You just don't like the color. It's not totally analogous, but it's the choice of the director--or the musical artist--however misguided, to make that sound the way it is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Admittedly not all speakers are made the same, so compensations can be made. But a perfect setting--theoretically--is a flat one."

Which looks like, well, this:

Now this is major! If you dont go slumming with really low quality mp3's (so you can fit more songs on your 80GB ipods), then you shouldn't really need EQ per se, that is if you're interested in the sounds that the musicians intended for you to hear. I tend to rip to 320Kbps, with high quality (read slow) and with a really high thread priority on CDex. I've never had any issues listening on my Senny CX300's, and I do tend to leave the EQ flat...

Here's the 43Folders Story I found.

Here's Idolator's response.

It still really bothers me that people try to measure mp3 players by number of songs. That measurement is usually derived by squashing music to within an inch of its life.
I mean the first ipod had a 5GB hard drive and held "1000 songs". By comparison, today's 4GB Nano holds (wait for it ... wait for it) "1000 songs"!?!?!?
Even though it's 20% smaller??? What happened with that extra gigabyte of space???



  1. Everybody has a different taste in sound, some people like alot of low end frequencies and some like more higher end. To suggest there is a "perfect eq setting" is just rediculous, as everyones opinion of a sound is different. when those "perfect" eq settings are applied, it's going to sound different on each different sound system aswell.

    You could love those settings on your home sound system, and hate them on somebody elses.

    From what i can see, that looks like a terrible Eq setup for my personal taste, and my system.

    Flat isn't a "perfect" setup either. Flat is required when you're actually producing and mixing the music, and this is only so that you can ensure it will sound good on most of the speakers it will be played through.

    On the note of the TV set quote, people when choosing a TV will generally pick a TV that gives them their preffered picture, and the same applies to the production and reproduction of those colours as it does to the production and reproduction of audio.

    It's all opinions, and everyone has different tastes. So play away with the Eq until you find something you like and it suits your speakers, in the same way you'll add a little bit more sauce to bring your meal more to your tastes.

  2. NO I get what you're saying.
    I think I understand the point of a flat EQ. The artists and engineers and mixer/masterer have worked hard on a sound, so ideally to hear what they intended you should overly accent any particular frequency.
    This of course would only hold true if you listened to the mix in the same kind of space with the same kind of equipment they mixed it on, and negates the vast miriad of speaker/headphone combinations we use to listen to music on.

    I tend to keep my EQ flat, but mostly because I'm lazy. Instead I try to get good high quality rips, and have invested in some decent headphones.