Basics of Equalisation

Equalisation is the name given to the process of boosting or cutting frequencies to improve the tonal quality of your sound system.  In this short article I’ll give you my views on equalisation, how it can help and where to get started.

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 effected 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 a world beating sound.  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, 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.
  • Equalisation 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, try to reduce the problem area by cutting problem frequencies . listen to any changes made don’t just change for the sake of it. The idea is to make the sound natural, especially for vocals. As a general rule 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 directly on the blog or call myself or one of my colleagues at Pro Audio Centre on 0113 8800138.  We specialise in all things relating to PA Systems and we’re always happy to speak to customers and advise them.


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One Response to “Basics of Equalisation”

  1. Smart AVL December 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    Awesome instructions on eq, always start with 0 db solution is what i keep telling people who we train, love your blog and keep more information about sound coming 🙂

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