Which graphic equalizer is best?
Graphic equalizers are widely used today in a number of configurations, from something simple offering high and low control to huge, multi-band systems that let users completely customize their audio. Whether you’re looking for an EQ for a car or a pro audio rack, the best graphic equalizers offer the best balance of customizability across a wide range of frequencies and user-friendliness.
The DBX 1231 Dual-Channel 31-Band Graphic Equalizer is an excellent pick for all audio needs, but if you’re looking for a graphic EQ for a car or you require different inputs than External Line Return jacks and one-quarter-inch cables, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
What to know before you buy a graphic equalizer
Graphic equalizer for audio rack vs. cars
While most graphic equalizers can technically be used with any system if you have the right connections, it’s important to figure out if you’re looking for an EQ system for an audio rack, mixer or other audio engineering need, or if you simply want one for an automobile. Graphic equalizers for audio racks usually include the highest level of customizability. On the other hand, the best car audio equalizers are a bit simpler and are designed to be used with an amplifier, interface and overall car audio system.
Amplifier and interface
Some graphic equalizers, especially those that go in cars, often require an audio amplifier and/or user interface to work, so it’s important to consider if you already have these, if you will need them or if your particular EQ application needs don’t require them at all.
Knobs vs. sliders
One preference that should be considered is whether controlling frequencies with a knob or with a slider will work better for you. While most audio rack equalizers include very small sliders, those in cars typically include rotary knobs instead — though both have some outliers if you have a preference between them.
What to look for in a quality graphic equalizer
Preferred number of bands
Ultimately, the most important factor in a graphic equalizer is the number of frequency bands it offers since this will determine the extent to which you can customize the audio you run through it. While some EQs have as many as 31 bands, others can have as few as two or three, with a wide range of options in between.
Inputs and output types
Another important factor to consider is what type of input and output jacks you’ll need. While many audio rack graphic equalizers will sport one-quarter-inch cable inputs and outputs or XLR cable ins and outs, car equalizers will usually just use non-plug speaker cables, just like most car audio systems.
An upgrade feature in many equalizers is having multiple channels since this can let the user switch seamlessly between different EQ mixes. This can be particularly helpful in spaces or settings where the user has two distinct audio profiles going on next to each other.
How much you can expect to spend on a graphic equalizer
Depending on what you’re looking for, graphic equalizers can come in a wide range of prices. While cheap graphic equalizers usually range between $50-$80, higher-quality EQ systems may cost somewhere between $100-$1,000, with some professional-level models costing even more.
Graphic equalizer FAQ
What do the numbers on graphic equalizers mean?
A. The numbers displayed on a graphic equalizer refer to the frequency at which a given slider or knob is adding or subtracting sound. For example, those at low frequencies like 60 hertz will affect the overall bass tone and other lower-pitched elements of the sound. Higher frequencies, like 1,000 hertz and above, will affect higher-pitched sounds like cymbals, a snare sizzle or the clarity of a human voice.
How do graphic equalizers work?
A. Graphic equalizers work by offering gain boost sliders or knobs for specific settings across a range of frequencies. This lets the user add or subtract volume from specific frequencies in the outgoing audio, in order to reduce unwanted noise or increase certain elements of the sound.
What’s the best graphic equalizer to buy?
Top graphic equalizer
What you need to know: This dual-channel 31-band graphic equalizer is designed for an audio rack with XLR and one-quarter-inch inputs and features EQ bypass, range and low cut buttons for each channel, as well as input gain knobs.
What you’ll love: This graphic EQ offers the utmost in tone customizability, featuring 31-band slider equalization from 20 to 20,000 hertz. This model also features regular speaker cable ports as another input/output option.
What you should consider: This model is more expensive than many graphic equalizers and is probably best saved for the true audiophile, engineer or musician. This model is also not designed for use in the car.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top graphic equalizer for the money
What you need to know: This equalizer comes at a super-affordable price point for what it offers and is designed for use with an audio rack or other preamps.
What you’ll love: This model offers a dual-channel 31-band EQ system, along with selectable 6-decibel or 12-decibel cut or boost range buttons, low-, hi- and input-cut knobs for each channel, and simple input/output and mute buttons on each channel. Buyers who don’t need 31 bands can also purchase a more affordable 15-band version.
What you should consider: This model isn’t meant to be used inside automobiles.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This car graphic equalizer works great with any automobile sound system or other speaker set with standard speaker cables.
What you’ll love: This particular auto graphic equalizer offers 8-volt output, with especially powerful high and clear mid-range sound, and EQ knobs ranging from 60 hertz to 16,000 hertz for perfecting audio within any vehicle.
What you should consider: This particular graphic EQ is designed for use in cars and isn’t designed for use by audio engineers or anyone who needs XLR or one-quarter-inch inputs and outputs. Some users complained that the backlit knobs are too bright for their car.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Zachary Visconti writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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