An equalizer (or EQ) is a filter that adjusts the loudness of specific audio frequencies when you’re listening to music. Some equalizers will boost bass, while others will reduce bass and boost the high end. Different equalizer settings will work better or worse on different kinds of music.
The music you listen to is normally edited so that it will sound good on a wide variety of different sound systems, regardless of whether it’s played over a low quality radio connection or a lossless CD player. But as the old cliché goes: jack of all trades, master of none.
Some people like to use custom equalizer settings (whether a preset or one you dial in yourself) so that the music you like to listen to sounds how you want on the equipment you’re using. While Spotify doesn’t have the most advanced controls, it is still possible to configure a custom equalizer in the mobile app. Here’s how.
On an iPhone
If you’re on an iPhone, open Spotify and go to the Your Library Tab. Tap the gear icon in the top right corner and then select Playback.
Next, select Equalizer and make sure the toggle is turned on.
The numbers under the graph each correspond to a certain range of audio frequencies. In Spotify’s case, 60Hz to 150Hz corresponds to the bass, 400Hz to 1KHz the midrange, and 2.4KHz to 15kHz to the treble. You can modify how loud each group of frequencies sound relative to the other groups by dragging any of the points on the graph up or down.
The best way to get a feel for it is just put on one of your favorite songs and play around with them. Pretty extreme combinations like the one I have in the right screenshot below will sound pretty weird.
If you don’t want to go to the hassle of dialling in your own equalizer settings, or just want to keep things simple, you can also select one of Spotify’s presets. These are named either after their function (e.g. Bass Booster or Bass Reducer) or the kind of music they work best for (e.g. Rock or Classical). Just tap a preset to apply it.
You can also modify any preset to make it better fit your set up.
On Android, open Spotify and tap the gear icon in the top right corner. Scroll down and then select Equalizer.
It is up to every Android manufacturer to install their own equalizer, which Spotify then uses. Below you can see the equalizers from Motorola and Samsung’s versions of Android.
Each of these equalizers will work slightly differently, but do roughly the same thing. Play around with them until you get the sound you want. If you don’t see the option to use an equalizer, it means your manufacturer hasn’t enabled one.
While you don’t need an equalizer, if you’re serious about getting your music to sound great, they’re worth exploring. I know that the headphones I use (Apple’s Beats X earbuds) have a tendency to overemphasize the bass. By dialing it back a little in Spotify’s equalizer, I get a more natural sound.
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