Equalizers

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DavidAM, Jul 6, 2002.

  1. DavidAM

    DavidAM Second Unit

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    Does anyone use an EQ in their home system? I don't really hear of many people using them but I always liked them to fine tune a system to your liking. Its much easier than a bass and treble knob. I don't currently have an EQ, but was curious what the general consensus is on them. Also, which ones are the favorite around here? Which are the best for the $$$?
     
  2. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    There are a lot of people who EQ their subs to tame the worst of room induced peaks (and valleys) in its response. Art, Symetrix, Behringer, Rane all make good units. Should be a parametric EQ. A few EQ their mains. I have a Symetrix 552E for this, but I still haven't gotten around to hooking it up. Not meant to try to achieve flat freq response, but just deal with room interactions on the low freqs for my mains too.
     
  3. Sankar

    Sankar Second Unit

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    I use the AudioControl Rialto HT equalizer in my system. There is a popular view that the introduction of equalizer will degrade the signal (by definition introducing anything degrades the signal), but it's a personal call whether the improvement overwhelms the degradation or not. IMO it made a huge difference to my soundstage since it allowed me to match the tonal responses of the various speakers (mains vs center and surrounds). I adjusted my mains ever so slightly to get a nice "house curve" using a pink noise signal and the SpectraPlus software and then matched the other speakers to that same curve.
    You do need to be careful in using the equalizer, though. Almost always very slight adjustments will be called for. It is very easy to get carried away and make adjustments that sound terrible!
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Moderator

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    David,

    I get the impression you are talking about the stereo 10-band equalizers that used to be popular in two-channel stereo systems. These equalizers are fine for tweaking two-channel music sources, but they are a mixed bag for modern multi-channel home theater systems, for a number of reasons.

    To begin with, these equalizers are typically connected across a tape monitor loop. The problem is, you can’t engage a tape monitor loop when playing a DVD with Dolby Digital. If you do, the receiver will switch to Dolby Pro-Logic. This is probably the reason why traditional tape monitor loops are becoming increasingly rare in home theater receivers.

    While a stereo equalizer will technically function with Dolby Pro-Logic programming, for the most part it is a bad idea to use one there too, because tape monitor connections place the equalizer in front of the DPL processor. As you may know, proper Dolby Pro-Logic steering is dependent on phase information, especially the (mono) rear channel, which is comprised of signals that are out of phase with the front channels. Since any equalizer introduces a certain amount of phase shift when the filters are boosted or cut, they can do strange things to the surround effects. I’d say if you do use an EQ for two-channel DPL programming, make sure a minimal number of filters are used in the 100H-4kHz range, and any boost or cut amounts are small – only a few dB at most.

    Logically you cannot equalize a discrete five-channel Dolby Digital system with a stereo equalizer. If you want to equalize a multi-channel system, it naturally takes an equalizer for each channel, and another one for the sub, and they need to be connected after all digital processing. This means the equalizers must connect between the pre-amp and amplifier. To accomplish this you need to have pre-out/main-in jacks for all channels. Since very few receivers have all-channel ins and outs, you will have to add outboard amplifiers for any channels with only pre-out that you want to equalize. Needless to say, accomplishing full-range, multi-channel equalization can get pricey.

    Anyway you cut it, stereo 10-band EQs are pretty much a bust for home theater use, both for Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic systems. As mentioned, they are only useful for stereo music sources – radio and CD.

    In my opinion the only consumer equalizer brand suitable for home theater use is AudioControl, and their equalizers are expensive. The Rialto that Sankar mentioned is an excellent, well-designed and efficient multi-channel equalizer that gives a lot of “bang for the buck,” but it still lists at $650 the last time I checked.

    Then there is the issue of actually performing the equalization of five main channels (six counting the sub). This is complex and time consuming, so it defeats the whole concept of “fine-tune to your liking better than with a simple bass and treble control.” Thus it is pretty much a given that multi-channel home theater equalizing is a “set it and leave it alone” proposition.

    However, it you’re willing to invest the time and money, equalizing a home theater system can certainly reap audible benefits. I’m very pleased with the results I got (given the limitations of my mid-fi speakers), and the improvements the equalizers delivered were worth the price of admission. I certainly would have not realized as much improvement if I had spent the same money on say, boutique cables.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    What about the Behringer? Will it overload. Is it noisy? What if I used it in stereo mode, using 3, one for each of the 5 channels and one for sub channel?
     
  6. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Excellent post, Wayne. [​IMG]
    A similar discussion is going on over at the AVSForum.
     
  7. Sankar

    Sankar Second Unit

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    Excellent post Wayne!

    Bill, I've been told that the BFD Parametric Equalizer is OK for equalizing the LFE channel (< 100Hz), but is generally not considered to be of sufficient quality to handle the mids and highs. I do have one for my sub frequencies, but have stayed away from them for the other channels.

    Quick point, David ... I found my Rialto on ebay for $207 + shipping about a year and a half ago. It was being sold by a car audio dealer who had bought out a HT business for a song and was selling odds and ends at very reasonable prices. My unit was unused but without a box or manual. This was a very good (and rare) deal, but I have since seen this unit sell for under $300 a few times, so if this fits in your budget, you could look out for it. However, as Wayne so lucidly pointed out, it would be impossible to use this with a receiver --- it must go between the pre and power amps, so is best suited for a separates system.
     
  8. Stephen Dodds

    Stephen Dodds Second Unit

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    I've used the BFD for bass like many people here. I've also used the Behringer UltraCurve to EQ full range with very good results. One of these can be had for under $500 on eBay.

    The problem, as Wayne described, is that the output from a variable analog out can be lwo and difficult to digitize without quantization noise. You need to keep the volume from your prepro as high as possible for best results. The best way to do this is the have the volume from the EQ set as low as possible.

    The Ultracurve has a digital input option which I haven't tried. The difficulty with this is that most prepros don't offer a digital out. Meridian do for one.

    I've also used the TACT room correction system which is even better, but they go for around $3K.

    However, all of the above sound better than my system does unequalized, and it is a pretty good system to start with (I use Wilson WATT speakers).

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  9. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Good job, Wayne. Thanks for all the info.

    Larry
     
  10. Stephen Dodds

    Stephen Dodds Second Unit

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    For those interested, the Behringer Ultracurve is available for just $199 from www.zzounds.com. With the optional microphone $39, it does automatic room correction using 31 bands of digital EQ and also has a built-in 3 bands of parametric EQ.
    The digital in-out board is available at www.markertek.com for $69.
    There is a review here:
    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...ringer8024.htm
    This is a great price and I'm getting another one for my rear channels.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  11. Laurence_C

    Laurence_C Stunt Coordinator

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    David, I use 2 Audio Control C-101 Series III equalizers. They come with a microphone for room set-up and their owner's manual is very thorough for a proper set-up. I use mine for the front and surround channels in 5 channel stereo or just the fronts in stereo but only for music. I've alway used an equalizer, and whether I use them correctly according the experts in this forum, they make the music sound fuller, richer and just plain better. I'm not a purist so an equalizer isn't my enemy. Remember it's your ear that will determine if an equalizer is worth it to you.
     
  12. DavidAM

    DavidAM Second Unit

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    Wow! Thanks for the replys guys. Everyone made good points. Thanks for the input.
     

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