Car audio equalizers, are electronic devices that have a set of filters, and amplifiers, which adjust the tonal quality of the sound, based on certain frequency ranges. This allows you to enhance the quality of music, by adjusting the bass, mid-range, or treble in certain frequency ranges. And thus gives you precise control over quality of the vocals, and the instruments in the music being listened to.
Auto equalizers are used to fine tune a system. If a large amount of equalization is needed, there may be a problem with the system. The problem may be able to be solved by relocating speakers, changing crossover frequencies, amplifier gains, etc. Equalizers are valuable instruments,and flatten a system's frequency response (making the levels the same at all frequencies). In competition, a measurement is taken on how flat the response of a system is. More points are given to a competitor with a flatter response. In a real system, a flat frequency response is a starting point, but does not ultimately mean perfect sound, since human ears are not sensitive at the same level, to all frequencies.
A high-pass filter is a filter that passes higher frequencies well but attenuates lower frequency components. A low-pass filter passes low-frequency components of signals while attenuating higher frequencies. In audio applications these are frequently termed "low cut" and "high cut" respectively, to emphasize their effect on the original signal. For instance, sometimes audio equipment will include a switch labeled "high cut" or described as a "hiss filter" (hiss being high frequency noise).
Frequency is how many times per second a signal (AC, or alternating current) switches from positive to negative and back, measured in Hertz (Hz). The frequency range in which we are interested for audio is from 20 Hertz to 20,000 (20k) Hz. The lower the frequency, the slower the signal oscillates. The frequency spectrum is read using a logarithmic scale, and is divided in octaves (doubling of the frequency). Octaves are for example, 20, 40, 80, 160, 315, 630 Hz and so on. Equalizers are divided in octaves, 1/2 octaves or 1/3 octaves. A 1 octave equalizer can only control 7-9 bands (frequencies), while a 1/2 octave equalizer can control 15 bands. A 1/3 octave equalizer would give you the most control over the system, by being able to adjust 30 -31 bands.
Q is a measurement of how much the equalizer band affects a range of frequencies. A high Q means that the equalizer can control a lower "envelope" of frequencies, while a low Q is a larger envelope. Q is the thickness of the affected frequencies. A smaller Q means a wider range of frequencies boosted or cut, while a larger Q is a narrower shape. Typical Q values are 1, 2 and 3.
In the graphic equalizer, the input signal is sent to a bank of filters. Each filter passes the portion of the signal present in its own frequency range or band. A graphic equalizer has usually fixed frequency and Q value. The layout of a graphic equalizer is the typical sliding controls arranged by frequency. The advantage of a graphic equalizer is that in the way it is laid out, it is easy to see what frequency is being boosted or cut and any person without much experience can adjust it. Since a graphic equalizer has fixed frequencies and Q, it has limitations on what it can control.
Mono and Stereo Equalizers
The main difference between mono and stereo equalizers is that a mono equalizer has only one input and one output, and a stereo has two inputs and two outputs. They both have their advantages and disadvantages: A stereo equalizer controls your whole system (both left and right channels) and it is easy to adjust: Just turn the knob or slider and both left and right channels are taken care of. You cannot control left and right channels independently on a mono equalizer. Mono equalizers control only one channel, so you need two of them for the whole system. Since you have now two equalizers it takes a lot more time to setup the system. Many people use mono equalizers for the greater control they give over the system. Since left and right speakers are not exactly at the same distance to our ears, two mono equalizers can help compensate for time delays and problems caused by speaker placement.
Low Level and High Level Output Equalizers
A high level output equalizer takes either high level (speaker) or low level (RCA) inputs and has a built in amplifier. The output goes directly to the speakers and cannot be hooked up to another amplifier. A low level input equalizer takes RCA signals from the radio and has RCA outputs that get hooked up to amplifiers. Since these equalizers work at low signal levels, they introduce very little distortion, if any to the system. They do cost more and require more wiring than a high level equalizer. A third kind of equalizer gets hooked up directly to the head unit via a special cable and is controlled by the head unit. These equalizers use low level signals and are usually of good quality. The drawback is that if you want to upgrade the head unit or change brands, the equalizer will not be compatible with other brands or even with different models from the same manufacturer.
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