Best Equalizer Settings for Car Audio

Best Equalizer Settings for Car Audio

So you’ve got a good quality aftermarket car stereo, but the sound isn’t quite right. What to do? Getting the best equalizer settings will allow you to perfect your acoustics and make every drive more enjoyable.

Having the wrong EQ settings, and this also means the factory settings, ensures you won’t be getting the very best out your audio equipment, no matter how much money you’ve spent.

Maybe the midrange is overpowering, or the bass is taking over, or even the treble is too bright. What to do? Fear not, it’s all about setting the equalizer correctly and ensuring the frequency bands are set optimally.

There’s no out-and-out best EQ settings, because as with everything in car audio, much of it is down to personal preference.

So, whether it’s for clearer bass, mids, highs, or a good rounded soundstage, setting the equalizer to your liking will ensure you give your stereo’s high fidelity a boost.

And depending on the quality of your car stereo, you may also be able to use the Time Alignment feature. Not all EQs have this feature, but if yours does, it gives you even more options to perfect your acoustics.

So, for guidance on getting the best EQ settings with and without Time Alignment, read on…

What Are Equalizer Settings?

An equalizer, or EQ, allows you to fine-tune the sound being delivered to your speakers by manipulating the output of specific bands of frequencies.

The quality of your EQ will determine how many bands you have, and the more you have the more control you will have over the soundstage. Basic car stereo EQs only have 3 bands to work with, whereas better quality aftermarket stereos boast more complex EQs and usually include 13 or even more bands.

You can also get preamp equalizers if you don’t want to invest in a better car stereo. This is a good option, and some are the standard analog devices with knobs and dials, while some can be controlled from your head unit interface.

Whichever EQ you use, it will give you the ability to adjust the settings and manipulate the output levels of each band to your liking. So, making sure you get it right for the way you like it is essential to enjoying music exactly how you like it.

Getting The Best Equalizer Settings for Your Car

Getting the best equalizer settings is all down to personal preference. Even if two bassheads come together they will probably prefer slight differences in their EQ settings.

If you turn a band up, you are basically increasing the output of that frequency, and if you turn it down, you’re reducing the output. This will make each frequency band louder or quieter depending which way you slide the band.

Because the human ear can mostly pick up mid-range frequencies a common mistake people make when trying to get the best equaliser settings is to concentrate more on these ranges.

It might seem logical as this is what we hear best, but this settings isn’t ideal. Instead, it’s actually better to slightly decrease the output on these bands and concentrate on those at each end of the frequency spectrum.

smiley face eq settings

Many people like the ‘Smiley Face’ EQ settings and this is what you should target and then fine tune each band afterwards. What this setting will do is slightly attenuate the mid-range that your ears pick up more easily, while giving your bass and treble a boost.

Basically, we adjust the equalizer bands so that both the lower and higher ends of the spectrum are raised compared with the midrange frequencies. When fully set, this gives it that smiley face look, which is obviously where the name comes from.

This might look like it could be too high on the bass and treble, but because your ears are more accustomed to the midrange frequencies, it will sound more balanced than you might expect.

As you can imagine, arranging your EQ bands similar to this way will give you the best equalizer settings for bass in a car, but be sure not to go too high on the lower frequencies as you will introduce distortion.

Of course, everyone is different, and you should only use the smiley face face settings, as in the image above, as a platform to get your desired sound. So, maybe want to lower the bass a bit, simply fine tune the lower frequency bands on the left accordingly

Likewise, if your music sounds too bright, simply lower the treble bands so the highs coming out are attenuated to your liking, and do so with each frequency band which will be labelled on each band.

Of course, you want your music to sound good, and maybe you want different settings for different genres. Most EQs come with a few storage presets, so you can save a few different EQ settings for different genres.

How To Best Set an Equalizer with Time Alignment

If your car stereo boasts Time Alignment, or Time Correction, you can manipulate the sound even more and perfect your audio reproduction even further.

Time Alignment allows us to manipulate each speaker channel so that each one will produce the acoustics at slightly different times.

It might sound strange, but as we sit in our car, we are hit with the same note at slightly different times from each speaker.

That’s because each speaker is a different distance from us and so the sound reproduced from each speaker has different distances to travel before hitting us.

With Time Alignment we can set the distance we are from each speaker so that the sounds coming from the speakers closest to you will be very slightly delayed.

Each speaker can be set because they’re all different distances, and once done it will ensure the soundwaves from each speaker hit you at exactly the same time.

time alignment eq settings

To do this, you need to measure the distance from the driver’s seat to each speaker and input this into the Time Alignment interface.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering whether the Time Alignment will make it sound awkward for passengers. Surely, if your passengers are sat further from those speakers closest to you, it won’t sound right.

This is true, so the best thing to do is create a few different presets for different scenarios. For example, you should create a setting for just you, another for you and a passenger, and another one for when you have a full car. This will ensure you can easily move from one preset to another and so everyone.

Setting The Stage For The Perfect High Fidelity

You can buy all the best aftermarket audio equipment for your car, but without a good quality equalizer you won’t perfect that sound you desire. Therefore, investing in a good quality EQ is imperative for any audiophile as it will give you all the control you need.

Whether you want bulkier bass, brighter highs, or to give your midrange a boost, setting the EQ bands to your liking is the surest way of getting the best sound for your car.

The Smiley Face settings is great for those who want a brighter and bassier sounds, so it’s a good place to start. Then you can take it from there and maybe fine tune each band to perfect it even more.

It’s all about personal preference of course, and you will probably need different presets, especially if you have Time Alignment. But you can be sure the difference a good quality EQ will make is as big as any other piece of audio equipment.

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