written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 5/15/2011
How audio equalizers work is a matter of changing frequencies of audio signals. It can be as simple as adjusting the treble or the bass, or as advanced as manipulating individual audio frequencies.
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Audio equalizers are used to manipulate the different frequencies of an audio signal. Manipulation simply means reducing or boosting of the levels of these frequencies. It can get quite confusing if you are not familiar with the different elements and frequencies of audio signals. Here are some important information for you to digest in order for you to understand how audio equalization, audio signals and frequencies work.
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Audio signals are composed of frequencies. Each of these frequencies, when reduced or boosted, can affect the overall quality and sound of a piece of audio. Some frequencies can even affect the level of neighboring frequencies when they are adjusted, so some level of expertise is needed if you want to play around with the different frequencies and their levels.
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The most basic type of audio equalization involves bass and treble levels. Bass refer to the lower audio signal frequencies while treble deals with the higher frequencies. These two controls are used to manipulate the entire spectrum of the audio signal, so using them is a very simple form of equalization. If you want to get into the finer details of an audio signal, you have to have a finer control of individual frequencies without causing any effects to their neighboring frequencies.
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Why is it done?
Audio equalization is usually done to make pieces of audio more attractive to the ears of the listener. This usually involves simple controls like bass and treble. However, for music production and correction, finer controls are needed. Noise levels can be reduced by manipulating frequencies while instruments or vocals can be amplified by boosting frequencies. Clarity and the right volume level are some elements of pieces of audio that are achieved by audio equalization.
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Forms of Equalization
Audio equalizers can come in hardware or software form. Hardware audio equalizers are often seen on stereo systems. These are usually located on the front of stereo devices and they are usually accompanied by graphic displays that represent the different frequencies of audio signals and their current levels. Audio equalizers can also be found in software form. These are usually found in media players. Pre-set equalizer settings are often included in these applications, letting users easily apply equalization that represent a certain level of sound for particular situations. These pre-set equalizations often represent certain kinds of sounds like rock music, classical music, speech and more. Software equalizers also let users create and save their own pre-set equalizations so they can apply them easily whenever they want.
Equalizers, whether they are in hardware or software form, can range from fairly simple controls to extremely detailed and advanced sets of equalization controls.
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How audio equalizers work may be a little daunting at first, but once you get familiar with the different frequencies and how their manipulation can effect how a piece of audio would sound, you will be manipulating your audio files and devices to fit your listening needs and taste in no time.