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Listening to MP3s: EQ or No EQ?, Advice on "true" MP3 listening
d2e
post May 10 2003, 17:38
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Forum noob here and a somewhat of a noob to audio and audio analysis.

I'm seeking advice on how to listen to MP3s JUST AS THEY ARE, whether I've created them or have acquired them from other sources. I simply want to have nothing to interfere with the MP3s to get my own "true" ear analysis of their quality.

I will mention that I just read a post earlier that's somewhat related to my question.
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....=ST&f=1&t=8249&

What was interesting was that only one person mentioned that he does NOT use any EQ/Presets when listening to MP3s. Does anyone else not use EQ/Presets with their MP3 player so that what you're hearing is not "clouded" or misleading in any way?

Within the next week, I'll start the conversion of my MP3s to audio CDs for DJing on CD players. This is primarily why I've posed this question because I don't want to alter my MP3s for audio CD creation based on what I'm hearing from using EQ/Presets. I'm thinking that would not be a good thing! laugh.gif

Btw, I use Winamp 2.81 as my MP3 player and have been using the "Rock" EQ Preset. I have a SB Live MP3+ Soundcard and have absolutely NO card presets or effects enabled. I use a pair of inexpensive powered speakers connected to my soundcard.

Thanks in advance everyone...

d2e
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MadiZone
post May 10 2003, 17:47
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I don't use EQ's for playback of my music. I trust my soundcard to reproduce the sound as accurate as possible.
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KikeG
post May 10 2003, 18:15
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I also don't use any eq. when listening to mp3 or any other audio.
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d2e
post May 10 2003, 18:30
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Thanks guys for your quick replies!

So, perhaps more are doing this than I thought?

Having read this feedback, I've just stopped using the EQ in Winamp as well (set all sliders to 0). Like you mentioned MadiZone, I'll allow the audio card to reproduce the sound as accurately as possible.

d2e
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Annuka
post May 10 2003, 18:35
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I do not use any eq for music. I do however add a +9 dB gain to 70 Hz and below for movies to compensate for not having a sub.

I believe that everyone could benefit from using a proper eq setup - one that does not colour the sound, but compensates for speaker and room defiencies - i.e. Room Correction.
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KikeG
post May 10 2003, 19:11
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d2e, better disable totally the equalizer, to set all sliders at zero does not totally disable eq. in case of Winamp equalizer.
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Differenciam
post May 10 2003, 19:26
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I use the EQ when needed. Some of my music badly needs it.

I only listen to my music on my portable Panasonic CD-MP3 player($50, plays all MP3s perfectly, with a remote, never skipped before, what more can I ask for?) and $20 headphones(long story on what happened to the new setup), since it's either that or a 15 year old tape player or laptop sound, so I know I'm not hearing the sound the way it's "meant" to be heard anyway. I don't even care if I am hearing the sound the way it's meant to be heard; even on the best soundcards and speaker systems I've heard, I still like the winamp rock preset so it doesn't sound like muffled underwater crapsound. On some songs it sounds like bad overkill, on winamp AND my portable's bass/live presets.

Change the EQ until the song sounds best for you. If I was DJing someplace, I'd be preset free, but if I'm the only one listening to it, I'd listen to it the way it sounds best for me. wink.gif
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SNYder
post May 10 2003, 19:28
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QUOTE (KikeG @ May 10 2003 - 01:11 PM)
d2e, better disable totally the equalizer, to set all sliders at zero does not totally disable eq. in case of Winamp equalizer.

it didn't from 2.81 and back. But now, 2.9 does disable the eq when all sliders are set to zero.
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grbmusic
post May 10 2003, 19:47
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I don't use any EQ or DSP to listen mp3, mpc or whatever, I only use foobar2000 and replayGain (Radio Gain) for mixed music and Album Gain for albums). I use a Pioneer Receiver with Dolby Digital 5.1 Decoder In and a JBL Home Theather Satellites + Subwoofer (5.1) connected to one of my soundcards (SB Audigy 2), to the other soundcard (MoBO onboard) I have a set of Edifier Speakers (60 Watts RMS).


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MP3: LAME 3.96.1 --preset standard (daily listening/portable)
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layer3maniac
post May 10 2003, 19:59
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I couldn't listen to music without my eq. The eq isn't "coloring the sound", quite the opposite. it's preventing a less than perfect listening environment from "coloring the sound". While I would NEVER use the crappy winamp eq, if I didn't have a hardware eq I certainly WOULD use Naoki's fabulous SuperEQ.
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atici
post May 10 2003, 20:52
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I understand the arguments against "the coloring of sound". I use the QCD but the Musepack plug-in has built-in equalizer which I am using. And my philosophy is music should be enjoyed as you like it. That's why I had a hardware Acoustic Research TDS-202 and OpenSound DSP plug-in. And when I am listening to my music on my home system (StereoLink D/A converter -> TDS-202 Sound Enhancer -> AudioSource Amp Two -> Infinity Alpha 40), I try the different equalizer settings, and some of them (especially the ones with high trebles) sounds much better to me. I believe music is more pleasurable if I leave it like that. Am I just fooling myself ? I know some of you hate the coloring of sound and believe that anything that prevents exact reproduction of sound is crap. But during the mastering process, isn't the engineers playing with the sound to make it sound better ? And do you actually believe any slight coloration of sound would impair the pleasure you would get otherwise get ?

Also about the acoustics of the room and resonance, is there any source that could guide me through what I should do in order to maximize my performance that does not suggest snake oil techniques ?


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[JAZ]
post May 10 2003, 21:17
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d2e : Permit me to say that I find strange that, being you a Dj (that's the part I'm not sure if I have understood correctly), you wonder why you should, or shouldn't use an EQ.
Even if you do it at home, I'm sure you have an equalizer, and sure you use the eq or bass/treble gains of the mixer table, to accomodate the music sound to the room/equipment.

Been said this, the best thing you can do is leave the music as it is, because the equipment would have been (more or less, depending on the place you're playing) been accomodated to reproduce a flat signal, or simply the way the people there wants.

If you pre-equalize the CD's that you want to play, you're changing the rules, and you might find yourself trying to remove or add sounds with the table gains, and you cannot.

But the real problem is being the source MP3's (or in general, lossy codecs). When you equalize, you're changing the gains of the bands, which might make distortions hearable when they weren't.
Doing this at the final stage (hardware eq's) might sound better than doing it in software, although I won't enter in details, because I don't know them.

In the end:
It's generally not desired to pre-EQ the music when it has to be played in a different place. (I did this sometimes to hear the music on my car, but just because the controls of bass and treble weren't that great)
To hear it at home, or in your usual place, the best is to have the harware well equalized. If that can't be done, then software can help. Note that some songs might require special equing, because of bad mastering or just because you like better sounding different. (example, the typical "dance" preset, pumping bass and treble).

Hope this doesn't add more confusion. (It seems I'm not completely awake today tongue.gif)

This post has been edited by [JAZ]: May 10 2003, 21:17
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marteataca
post May 10 2003, 21:30
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QUOTE
But the real problem is being the source MP3's (or in general, lossy codecs). When you equalize, you're changing the gains of the bands, which might make distortions hearable when they weren't.
yep. some artiffacts pop ups easily when using eq


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grbmusic
post May 10 2003, 21:39
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QUOTE ([JAZ)
,May 10 2003 - 05:17 PM] d2e : Permit me to say that I find strange that, being you a Dj (that's the part I'm not sure if I have understood correctly), you wonder why you should, or shouldn't use an EQ.
Even if you do it at home, I'm sure you have an equalizer, and sure you use the eq or bass/treble gains of the mixer table, to accomodate the music sound to the room/equipment.

Been said this, the best thing you can do is leave the music as it is, because the equipment would have been (more or less, depending on the place you're playing) been accomodated to reproduce a flat signal, or simply the way the people there wants.

If you pre-equalize the CD's that you want to play, you're changing the rules, and you might find yourself trying to remove or add sounds with the table gains, and you cannot.

But the real problem is being the source MP3's (or in general, lossy codecs). When you equalize, you're changing the gains of the bands, which might make distortions hearable when they weren't.
Doing this at the final stage (hardware eq's) might sound better than doing it in software, although I won't enter in details, because I don't know them.

In the end:
It's generally not desired to pre-EQ the music when it has to be played in a different place. (I did this sometimes to hear the music on my car, but just because the controls of bass and treble weren't that great)
To hear it at home, or in your usual place, the best is to have the harware well equalized. If that can't be done, then software can help. Note that some songs might require special equing, because of bad mastering or just because you like better sounding different. (example, the typical "dance" preset, pumping bass and treble).

Hope this doesn't add more confusion. (It seems I'm not completely awake today tongue.gif)

You are right. I agree with you


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MP3: LAME 3.96.1 --preset standard (daily listening/portable)
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sony666
post May 10 2003, 22:26
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EQ is a big "no" for me personally.
Well ok, for very few albums I have to reduce the lowest freq. slider a little, or my speakers (Logitech Z series with gargantuan subwoofer) will start humming too bad.
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d2e
post May 10 2003, 22:39
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I appreciate the additional feedback on my question everyone... Btw, I have totally disabled the EQ in Winamp since I'm using 2.81. Thanks for pointing that out!

Jaz, sorry if I've confused you. I never said I was a pro-DJ. I've been doing it a bit at home but now I'm getting serious about it. It's obvious I have much to learn. Wheeeeeee! biggrin.gif

I definitely see the point that the best thing overall is to do hardware EQing. Although, like you've said, there are some MP3s that sound awful and those I have like that might tempt me to pre-EQ them. But, if I'm listening to all of my MP3s "colored" from the start (as I have been), I could go off pre-eqing perhaps for no reason or not pre-eqing some that may really need it.

Therefore, I started thinking today that I should cease listening to my MP3s with EQ presets. I thought this in anticipation of making audio CDs from them and not being fooled by what I hear from "coloring" prior to making the audio CDs. Then came my post on this issue for feedback. Make sense? Hope this didn't confuse ya more!

In planning my MP3 to audio CD conversion for DJing purposes, I was given some advice on how to do this and have my CDs sound really good. The advice follows and if anyone wants to add any feedback on it, great.

-Use MP3Gain to my mp3s if clipping is detected.

-Consider changing all mp3s to the same audible volume, which is a better option than normalizing.

-Decode using Foobar2000's diskwriter with 16-bit Dithered Output to .wav. This I'm told is the best decoding quality I can get.

-Burn my .wavs to good quality audio CD-Rs.

There ya have it...

d2e
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Loke
post May 10 2003, 22:48
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Ha wink.gif
Get one of the earliest versions of winamp, from 1997, and play around with the eq. Mp3's will surly sound terrible.

Hmm... wonder if this method could be used to detect mp3-source when you get a bootlegcd you are not sure originally came from mp3
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d2e
post May 14 2003, 16:00
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As of yesterday, I've started listening to my MP3s with FB2k. This is a nice lil app, didn't know it was a player!

In still wanting to hear my music "unenhanced" and with no effects, am I okay sticking with FB2k to listen?

Or, does FB2k enhance my music files by default and if so, can I disable that to hear them as naturally as possible?

Thanks...
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KikeG
post May 14 2003, 16:21
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Just note one thing, eq can be good when it is used for correcting frequency response deficiencies in your audio chain.

In fact, a good eq can avoid hearing compression artifacts, because those artifacts may be audible due to those defficiencies in your audio chain. If the eq corrects some of those deficiencies, you will be closer to the ideal "flat" frequency response that lossy compressors assume when doing their psychoacoustic calculations.
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de Mon
post May 14 2003, 16:48
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ohmy.gif May be I misunderstood you people, but IMHO the man must use EQ to compensate cutoffs made by reciever, speakers, headphones, soundcard e.t.c. since even Hi-End isn't ideal.


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kennedyb4
post May 14 2003, 17:09
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Eq for room correction and also smoothing the characteristics of your speakers is near mandatory for a good listening experience IMHO. Most high-end speaker manufacturers will provide a frequency response graph for baseline adjustments.

In addition, many recordings leave a lot to be desired in terms of tonal balance. Some would argue that the sound engineer wanted it that way and that it should be left as is. Problem is that the speakers the sound engineer is monitoring on will have some colouration too. There are no perfect speakers. Lots of mixing is still done on old Altecs (OMFG)

But if it sounds thin or bright on your system, tweaking it may add to your listening pleasure.

If you are really quality oriented, try the Waves Linear Phase EQ via the Adapt-X plug-in. It will adjust your bands without disturbing the soundfield.

This post has been edited by kennedyb4: May 14 2003, 17:12
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d2e
post May 14 2003, 21:58
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QUOTE
If you are really quality oriented, try the Waves Linear Phase EQ via the Adapt-X plug-in. It will adjust your bands without disturbing the soundfield.


I installed the Adapt-X 3.5 plug-in for Winamp 2.81 just to give this a try....I don't see any "Waves Linear Phase EQ" effect at all. Only effects I see with any of these words are "WavesReverb" and "ParamEQ." Would it be either of those?

QUOTE
Just note one thing, eq can be good when it is used for correcting frequency response deficiencies in your audio chain.


I never thought about this - makes sense though.

Where can I read more about getting a flat frequency response if that's ultimately the goal in listening to music close to its original recording? Is there a way to test for frequency response?

Or, better yet, where is the Music 101 class being held??? rolleyes.gif
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mrosscook
post May 14 2003, 23:23
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d2e,

If you are really determined to use an equalizer, and you want to set it up for flat response, you might look at Naoki's page on the subject. It's written specifically for his equalizer, but the principle is always the same, I think.
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d2e
post May 15 2003, 02:59
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QUOTE (mrosscook @ May 14 2003 - 02:23 PM)
d2e,

If you are really determined to use an equalizer, and you want to set it up for flat response, you might look at Naoki's page on the subject.  It's written specifically for his equalizer, but the principle is always the same, I think.

Checking it out...Thank you!
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_Shorty
post May 15 2003, 06:56
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QUOTE (KikeG @ May 10 2003 - 10:15 AM)
I also don't use any eq. when listening to mp3 or any other audio.

your equipment's already flat? suuuurre wink.gif
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