How to make headphones work at 200% capacity

How to make headphones work at 200% capacity

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Every home PC owner knows how important a good sound is. Gamers are purchased exclusively expensive game models. Who is engaged in music, buys studio options with expensive audio cards. And what do simple users who just want to listen to music in good quality?

Of course, there are “near-budget” models on the market, but as practice shows, even here acceptable models start at $ 50-100.

And having bought, dear Senheiser HD 8 ** You can get burned, since the sound on the computer will not meet expectations. Why is all this happening? Everything is very simple. Despite the wide possibilities of each model of headphones, they all play music in accordance with the frequencies received. And without preliminary adjustment, the computer does not differentiate the frequencies, but exposes them simply and unpretentiously – in a continuous stream, like a radio.

From this all suggests a fairly simple conclusion – good headphones are only 35% of good sound. Another 15% is the quality of the recording itself, but what is the remaining 50%? On the equalizer.

Personal Audio Tuning Tools

The equalizer is a mechanical or software tone-block that is responsible for regulating the power supply of sound frequencies depending on the bands. In fact, it is a tool that regulates the balance between medium, high and low frequencies.

By default, the equalizer in the system is set to a uniform supply of all frequencies, which is called “radio transmission”. This is justified, since most system sounds do not require reinforcement of the upper or lower range, in addition, it protects the speaker from embarrassment when amplifying the lower range.

On the other hand, precisely because of this, the output sound is somewhat deaf and monotonous. Therefore, if you want to get a more balanced sound, which was originally conceived by the sound director, then you need one of the following tools:

  • A program for wideband sound control. Located in complexes for sound processing, such as Soundforge. They allow you to quite accurately rebuild the sound, but listening to music through this program is inconvenient for daily use.
  • Mechanical equalizer connected to the sound card via Audio-in. Gives the best opportunity for customization, but requires additional financial costs.
  • Windows Equalizer. The optimal solution for the initial configuration of audio systems. Among the shortcomings, it can be noted only that when working in the video viewing mode, it must be permanently turned off, in order to avoid “Vyryaniy”.
  • Software equalizers. Built-in player are the most convenient, but not always the best solution.
  • Web EQs. Useful if you are listening to music from sites.

Let us consider in more detail the work with each species.

Broadband equalizer is not always good

A wideband equalizer is the best solution … for sound engineers. In practice, without a proper understanding of how to properly “tinker” the sound in the domestic environment, you risk:

  • Hear unplanned noises;
  • Wrongly rebuilding the sound, get the worst version of the track;
  • To spoil your sound equipment, giving an excess of low or high frequencies;
  • Get the “wheezing” sound.

Of the advantages of broadband include:

  • No effect, understate the side frequencies.
  • The ability to accurately rebuild the sound for each track.

On the other hand, except for studio headphones, no equipment can reproduce the amplification of intermediate frequencies without distortion.

Therefore, it is recommended to use software or mechanical broadband equalizers only with expensive headphones and a good sound card.

Windows equalizer – safe headphone trim

Eliminating expensive and complex broadband equalizer – consider the more simple and domestic options. First of all, I would like to consider the Windows EQ, as they most often forget about it.

In order to find it, you need to right-click on the speaker icon and select “Playback devices”

Next, select the sound output device, and press the “properties”

Following in the item “improvements”, turn on “Equalizer”, and “emergency mode”

Then click on “…” to further configure

Here you get to the equalizer adjustment mode, where you can use ready-made presets, or rebuild your own configuration, saving it as your own preset (in the screenshot, the preset is set to listen to Frogleapstudio music).

According to the editors, the Windows EQ is the best option:

  • It does not require any knowledge in the field of sound mastering, the user adjusts with respect to “like / dislike” feelings.
  • It has limitations in the upper range, not allowing excessive amplification of the sound in order to avoid damage to the speakers in the headphones;
  • Does not work with boundary frequencies. This is good, as it allows you to adjust only the working frequency of the sound, and you will not need to reconfigure it to watch videos or talk in Skype.

There is a “Windows” equalizer and its drawbacks.

  1. The effect of muffling frequencies. In the case when a frequency is brought to the boundary level (as shown in the figure with the upper frequencies), the other frequencies are automatically lowered. This is not visible in the figure, but twisting the sliders, you yourself will notice this effect.
  2. Imbalance caused by a sound card. If it is integrated, then it’s not possible to get normal low frequencies.
  3. Low tuning accuracy. Those. for mastering, or listening on serious equipment will not work.

Having counted all the pros and cons, we can say that Windows equalizer is the optimal solution for everyday listening to music, which will help squeeze the sound out of “bad plugs”, but for good hardware it is better to use more serious means.

Important: This instruction is suitable only for users of the Windows 7 system, in case of working with other operating systems, the position of the equalizer may change.

This equalizer is best used if you are listening to music from portals, where it is impossible to adjust the frequencies yourself, for example, when listening to VC music.

H3 Aimp – audio player for basic needs

Next on the list is an equalizer from the company Aimp. This is a program distributed for free on the territory of the Internet, which replaced the untimely deceased Winamp. If we consider its equalizer in comparison with Winamp, it is somewhat inferior, but in comparison with Windows, it gives more extensive control options.

You can download Aimp from the official site .

But let’s get to the point that the developer offers us. For a start, it is worth noting that, unlike the Windows EQ, we are not talking about any ready-made presets; instead, we are presented with the possibility of adjusting the frequencies ourselves.

How is Aimp different from other equalizers distributed on the network?

  • Ability to work with preamp. This is useful when you need to more precisely adjust the equalizer curve, but at the same time creating imbalances in the upper or lower frequencies, bury and wheeze are obtained. By lowering the preamp level, you can get more flexible tuning of the frequency distribution.
  • Curve dependency. If you adjust the high frequencies, the program also tightens the level of the medium, all this is done to avoid imbalance during subsequent playback.
  • Ability to work with a large number of sliders. Of course, it does not reach the capabilities of the broadband equalizer, but for domestic purposes it is quite.
  • The ability to connect DSP libraries that will take into account the frequency distribution in various headphones, which will allow you to more precisely adjust the sound


Naturally, this equalizer is not without flaws:

  • When setting incorrectly, burrs and wheezing are often noticed. To remove this, you can reduce the preamp, but it’s better to simply reduce the prevalence of frequencies.
  • Uneven adjustment of the upper and lower ranges. While only 3 sliders are given to the upper range, as many as 5 sliders are given to the bass.
  • When using volume equalization, the upper and lower frequencies are lowered in proportion to the volume of the sound.
  • It is possible that headphone diffusers may fail if the bass is over-powered.
  • A more precise setting, it requires a finer hearing, so it’s easy to spoil the sound if you adjust the equalizer incorrectly.

In addition, as a bonus, the program offers the functions of working with channels, and when using DSP plug-ins, you can adjust the frequency supply for each ear separately.

In addition, the user always sees the frequency distribution of each individual track in the playback mode, which will allow you to adjust the balance to a specific track on the go.

On the manufacturer’s website, you can download a set of standard presets, which in most cases satisfy the needs of even the most avid music lover.

Important: when using presets, not only the equalizer adjustment changes, but effects such as flanger or Rever may also overlap, so it is recommended to turn off these effects to achieve full and surround sound.

But the most important thing is that the equalizer is built into the player, which means that regardless of the settings you use, you do not have to constantly change to video or speech, since the equalizer does not affect the sound in this case.

Web EQ – simple and safe

The last of the household can be called a web equalizer. This is an equalizer provided by various music providers. For example, Web-equalizer is the worst for music lovers, but at the same time, the safest. So, as the range in which the player allows you to adjust the frequency, rarely exceeds the permissible. And even if you screw all the sliders to the maximum, and turn on the maximum volume, the chance to damage the audio playback equipment is zero.

To connect playback with an equalizer, you need to log in to the system. This can be done through the Yandex system. Passport “, or using any social network.

Without authorization, you can listen to music, but it will be impossible to turn on the equalizer ..

Since the equalizer connection icon will not be available.

With authorization in the system you will be able to adjust the frequencies.

This equalizer is perfect for adjusting the sound when listening online, as it distributes sound resources on the go without affecting the capabilities of the audio card itself. That allows you to achieve an acceptable sound, even if you use $ 2 plugs on a laptop.

The possibilities are practically no different from the previously considered options:

  • Work with preamp;
  • Limited number of sliders;
  • Frequency dependence. When you turn on full high, you pull up and medium and low.
  • Presets;

This is the most neutral and simple option for tuning, as even if you have incorrectly tuned the equalizer, it will still adjust due to the dependence of frequencies.

Note: if you want to achieve the extreme prevalence of one frequency over the other, it is better to use the combination with Windows equalizer.

Since Yandex music does not distribute the music of Frog leap, it was not possible to compare the frequency dependence when playing this artist with the previous frequency tuning options. However, when listening to the Limp bizkit, the group of which sound is maximally dependent on the distribution of frequencies, rather neutral settings from the “dance music” preset were set, since due to the dependence of some frequencies on others, when we high or low, the effect of “barrel sound” with loss of voice volume.

Test Models

In order to be as objective as possible when choosing an equalizer for listening on home appliances, it was decided to conduct a test drive from the devices available. In our case, it turned out to be:

  • Koss porta pro 25 Th anniversary – which position themselves as the best headphones in the middle price segment;
  • Koss Ur10, which were purchased for home listening because of better sound insulation;
  • Unnamed PUMA headphones – purchased at the train station on the road.

Important: sound tuning and testing was done solely to my liking, so it’s not necessary to copy the equalizer settings mentioned below.

For almost every model, settings have been identified that allow for better sound. The K53Z was chosen as the device under test – not intended for listening to music. Those. conditions as close as possible to the field.

Porta pro – leave as is


Koss portapro 25th anniversary headphones, bought at one time for $ 40, were the first to come to hand. Their original sound completely satisfied the needs, and gave a wonderful sound from both a mobile device and a laptop. However, when listening to most of the music, the “wall of sound” effect arose, which was decided to be eliminated.

In the queue was the Windows EQ. For any attempts at tuning through it, the mid frequencies disappeared, and as a result, the voice almost completely fell out of the music. Therefore, it was decided to artificially underestimate all frequencies, without prioritizing the average.

After such a setup, the sound became cleaner, and the distribution on most tracks is better … However, the “31” slider didn’t react to the tuning, the bass was hit by a wall and continued to pierce the ears at high volume.

But when trying to set up headphones via Aimp and Yandex, I ran into a problem from burrowing when I tried to bring out high and low frequencies above zero. Reducing the preamp also caused a loss in sound density. Therefore, when listening to music, it was decided not to use these equalizers, since the sensitivity of the headphones did not allow making any adjustments.

But for the purity of the experiment, a more or less acceptable sound was achieved with this arrangement of sliders

When working with the web player from Yandex, no significant changes occurred, the player automatically corrected the frequencies, which did not allow for any predominance of the middle or high. With any extreme settings, almost always fell high, there was only the bass and middle.

Important: If you are a happy owner of KOSS porta pro, you do not need to adjust the equalizer, usually the headphones are already balanced for feeding a powerful wall of sound, and using an equalizer can only worsen the result.

Cheap plugs, looking for frequencies

Rushing from one extreme to another, the next exhibit is the unnamed PUMA headphones.

Their original sound can be compared to a radio point, or ancient radio devices. So, they are absolutely not intended for serious listening to music, since they do not give any predominance of frequencies at all. The sound was deaf, except that after a couple of minutes of their use, ears begin to ache.

Using Windows EQ has already been able to give good results. Of course, they were still far away from the sound of Koss porta pro, but with the right settings you could already start listening to music without wanting to turn it off. To achieve optimum sound, it was necessary to reduce the bass as much as possible, and increase the high ones. Bass is preferable not to overestimate, because when testing with elevated bass, a diffuser flew out, and the headphones began to wheeze with any serious sound, which is why they were thrown out immediately after the tests.

normal settings for such headphones.

Adjustments after which the headphones went bad
When tuning through Aimp, the opposite picture was observed. In order to achieve optimal sound and a normal response to changes in the sliders, the preamp had to be increased by almost + 2DB.

The averages also had to be lowered to avoid the effect of a “radio point”.

In general, when combining both equalizers, the optimum volume level was reached, however, due to preamplification, the loudness capabilities were extremely limited.

Tests on the web player could not be held due to premature failure of the headphones.

Examples of settings for Koss Ur10

The latest copy is homemade Koss ur10 headphones. Costing 15 dollars. Quite a budget option, which was taken solely for work at home, due to the inability to use Porta pro – due to their poor sound insulation.

Initially, without prior adjustment, they unfortunately sound like a radio receiving station, which is why they are not bought for hiking listening. However, they react quite well to the equalizer, thanks to which they were able to crack them almost to the sound of Porta pro.

With the settings shown below, the optimum sound was achieved:

  • Predominance of high frequencies;
  • Clear bass lines without burring or wheezing;
  • A clear voice, despite the understatement of mid frequencies.

When using the combined equalizer, you have to slightly remove the upper frequencies on the Aimp player, however, the frequency separation in this case becomes even more pronounced, every sound is heard, which could not be achieved in the famous Porta Pro due to their internal frequency control.


Headphones of the middle price category turned out to be the most receptive, thanks to which we managed to get the most pleasant and balanced sound for home listening. As for more expensive equipment, here you need to use either a broadband equalizer for the most accurate settings, or it is better not to touch them at all, since they are usually already balanced on a turnkey basis, turned on and listen.

As for cheap headphones, with careful tuning, we managed to achieve a more or less acceptable sound, but when trying to complete them to a good level, the speakers could not stand it, and began to bury.

What can you say about the equalizer on the results of testing in real conditions? This is really a tool that can bring the sound in the ears (and in the speakers) to a new level, and more often than not competent use of the equalizer allows you to save a hundred different dollars on more expensive headphones.

And for those who listen to music from the player on the phone, then here you can use the web equalizer, or use the built-in. Of course, its capabilities are much less than even a simple Windows equalizer – however, it will get rid of the “radio receiving”.

Even if you have expensive headphones, with proper use and small adjustments, you can achieve not only the best sound, but the sound that you will like!