Let’s face it. The best music you are going to enjoy is when you are driving. Whether all alone or with a group of mates, car music is all-important. To truly appreciate it you need the sound quality to be good.
Setting the best EQ for your car is all about balancing the ranges from treble to bass as well as the midrange. The best way to do this is to trust your instincts and your ear. Select a good track and adjust the setting according to your taste.
We answer the question many ask – what is the best EQ setting for a car? We will break it down for you.
Why Worry About EQ Settings?
EQ, the equalizer, makes all the difference to your music enjoyment. The solution is simple, but the theory can be somewhat complex.
Don’t worry, we will give you the details in an easy-to-understand way. What is important is that you enjoy and appreciate the sound.
What is perfect for one person might not be ideal for another. The structure and enclosed environment of a car also pose a challenge.
What works in your living room, for example, will sound very different in a car. Having a good equalizer will allow you to get the perfect sound for you.
Another question many car audio fans ask is answered here: Will 6×9 speakers fit in 6×8?
Why You Need an Equalizer
The average controls on your car audio system are bass, midrange, and treble.
In many environments, this might be enough but to really appreciate sound in your car you need an equalizer.
It will allow you to increase or decrease the various frequencies or bands. This means you can optimize the music or audio according to your preferences as well as the acoustics of your car.
How does EQ Work?
An equalizer, when correctly set, will remove the dramatic highs and lows between different frequencies. They range from basic models that control the main frequencies (that we know as bass, mid-range, and treble) up to sophisticated systems that can control 13 or more frequency ranges (bands)
The average frequency for the three main bands is as follows:
- Bass: 60 to 120 hertz
- Mid-range: 400 to 2,500 hertz
- Treble: 8,000 to 15,000 hertz
Naturally, you will have more precise control with an equalizer that can handle more bands.
How to get the Best EQ Settings
The process takes a bit of time, so you want to do it in a quiet environment when your vehicle and you are safe. Put the car in park and you can get going.
Check your crossovers
For systems with a crossover, check and set these first. If you are not familiar with the concept, take a look at our What is Speaker Crossover article.
A crossover is great, but it is no substitute for an equalizer. The purpose of a crossover is to direct the correct frequency to the appropriate speakers, amongst other things. Your EQ will hill help to balance everything and dial in the perfect frequency response.
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Select a good audio source
We all have different music tastes and preferences. What is most important is what works best for you. After all, it is you that will spend many hours in the car.
Some listen to hard rock, some people prefer contemporary music, while others listen to podcasts or other audio formats. Each one, if you want them to be perfect, needs a bit of tweaking on the EQ.
Play something that you enjoy and would typically listen to in the car. Select a quality recording of a song that you know well.
You do not want to use a streaming service or AM/FM radio. Due to compression and other factors, these are not the ideal source.
The best bet is a quality digital track on a USB or CD. You want to be sure that the source quality is high-quality to get the best settings.
What you want is a track with a range of frequencies and vocals as well as instrumentation. The better you know the song, the easier it will be to dial in the perfect EQ settings.
You also want to ensure the balance is set correctly according to how you normally listen in the car.
It is important that there is no sibilance. If this is a term you are not familiar with, take a look at our What is Sibilance in Audio article.
Now to Finetune the Sound
The first step is to start with the preset settings. While these are helpful, they are rarely perfect. While you might have options for various music, they will only help you on the way but will still need to be tweaked.
The process is really one of trial and error. You should be able to discern when the music and audio sound good and well balanced between the frequencies. Again, this will largely depend on the style of music or audio you listen to.
What if I Have More Than One Equalizer?
You might find that you have more than one option to set the EQ. Complex systems could well include more than one equalizer. In this case, you want to use the one that works best for you. Some might get the sound closer to your desired quality, some might be easier to use. It is up to you which one to use. The point is to get the perfect sound for you.
Some systems might integrate with an App on your smartphone which is handy. This is an added convenience.
How to adjust the EQ
It is all about boosting the levels of the various frequencies. While it might seem tricky at first it is quite simple once you get used to the various options.
You have to move the levels of the various frequencies up or down. You need to listen out to hear the results of each change in order to know if it was the right move.
A basic understanding of bass, mid-range, and treble is helpful. The deep booming low range is bass, and the higher frequencies are treble. As you would imagine, mid-range sits in the middle.
There is no simple solution that works for everyone. Much will depend on the type of audio, your car sound system, and your personal preference. One simply has to experiment to find what works for you.
Take your time and listen carefully to the sound before and after each adjustment. It is part art part science.
Ultimately you want rich deep bass but without the thundering booms, crisp clear high notes, and smooth clear notes in the midrange.
What is a parametric equalizer?
A parametric equalizer is a more advanced option that allows you to dial in a more specific frequency on each band. Apart from the normal up and down adjustments, you can also move it sideways. This allows you to get the perfect pitch for each frequency range.
Getting the best EQ settings for your car is not rocket science. Perfect settings will increase your audio enjoyment, so it is worth the effort. It takes a bit of time and patience, but you will soon get the hang of it. Occasionally, you might want to make adjustments depending on what you are listening to but by then it will be easy.
Now that you know what to do, get to work with the equalizer to dial in the perfect EQ settings for your needs.