How to Tune a Graphic Equalizer

By Matthew Anderson

Graphic equalizers use sliders to tune individual frequency ranges in an audio signal. The sliders can be used either to boost the strength of the signal in a specific frequency range or to cut it. This type of equalizer can be found in home audio systems, DJ equipment, and electric instrument rigs. Graphic equalizers designed for home usage typically have ten sliders whereas professional models for situations requiring a greater amount of control typically have 25 to 31 sliders. Graphic equalizers with more sliders allow a finer level of tuning.

On the graphic equalizer, push all the sliders to the “0” position. Note that this is the exact center of the slider path, not the bottom. This is the point where the audio signal is not being altered by the graphic equalizer.

Adjust the volume slider to a comfortable listening level. It should be loud enough so that you are not straining to hear the speaker output.

Move the lowest frequency slider, normally on the far left side of the graphic equalizer, slowly through its entire range. Listen to how this individual slider alters the audio signal.

Tune the lowest frequency slider to a position you find most appealing. Tuning a graphic equalizer is subjective. There are no right or wrong settings. In addition, settings on one graphic equalizer often will sound different on another equalizer model or for different audio applications.

Repeat Step 3 and Step 4 for each slider. Tune the sliders from left to right.

Tip

Ideally, you should not tune a graphic equalizer while wearing ear protection. Most forms of ear protection do not evenly stop every frequency range, which hampers tuning the equalizer properly. However, wear hearing protection if it is not possible to tune the graphic equalizer at volumes that do not cause hearing damage. It is not required to start at the lowest frequency sliders and work your way up, but it is a good starting point. It is usually easier to tune the higher frequencies after tuning the lower frequencies.

Warning

Almost any audio system is capable of causing permanent ear damage. Wear ear protection if the audio system is causing your ears to ring.

About the Author

Matthew Anderson started as a writer and editor in 2003. He has written content used in a textbook published by Wiley Publishing, among other publications. Anderson majored in chemical engineering and has training in guitar performance, music theory and song composition.