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Headphone equalization settings: preamp gain

buscon

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hi,

In most of headphone equalization adjustments (Oratory, Amir, etc.), the preamp gain settings are mostly set to minus something. I can well understand why, some frequencies are going to but raised in the EQ and we do not want them to distort the signal.
but when I do an A/B comparison (no EQ vs EQ with minus preamp), the equalized signal always sounds quieter, so it is difficult to compare the two options.

My solution is to raise the output gain of the EQ, so that the two signals have the same loudness. Is that a good idea?
How do you deal with this issue?

thanks.
 

charleski

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You need to keep the preamp gain reduction to prevent clipping the signal.
You don't say how you're applying EQ. If using a player that allows a DSP stack (like JRiver or Audirvana) the simple solution would be to add a plugin before the EQ that simply reduces the gain by the required amount (and then turn off preamp gain in the EQ plugin). That way you can enable or disable the EQ without getting large gain shifts. There will still probably be a small difference in actual loudness though, as the EQ will obviously be boosting or cutting the signal itself. The best way to do a comparison would be to process a few tracks by applying your EQ in an audio editor like Audacity then measure the loudness using a plugin. Load the original tracks back in and then reduce the gain on them so their loudness matches that of the EQ'd tracks (loudness is measured in LUFS, but a simple gain change of the same number of decibels usually works). Then compare those two tracks without applying any playback DSP.
 
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buscon

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Thanks for your answer.

Right now I am using the EQ settings on Linux, whether using the PulseEffect built in EQ or the LSP EQ
And yes, in both cases, I can add a separate module/plugin that reduces the volume independently of the EQ settings.
Thanks, this seems the easiest solution.

I will look into your other suggestion for Audacity - or Reaper, that I actually use the most.
 

Blake

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I use Equalizer APO directly for this in Windows. I use the ability to include different headphone presets in the main config file, and I create one preset that does nothing but set the preamp for the same level I’m using for my headphone EQ. Then I can switch between the two settings on the fly: one for headphone EQ, one for no EQ but same preamp level. Makes direct comparison much easier.
 

Jimbob54

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I use Equalizer APO directly for this in Windows. I use the ability to include different headphone presets in the main config file, and I create one preset that does nothing but set the preamp for the same level I’m using for my headphone EQ. Then I can switch between the two settings on the fly: one for headphone EQ, one for no EQ but same preamp level. Makes direct comparison much easier.
Would be my suggestion too. The main thing to watch if trying to do this comparison :

If the eq and flat profiles both have (say) a 5db preamp reduction, but the eq profile has mainly boosts across lots of the spectrum, it's still going to be that much louder than the flat profile.

Perhaps OP might need to do some eyeballing of the overall impact of the eq and maybe make a slightly lesser adjustment to the flat profile to be overall more comparable.
 

oversky

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You can check my previos post here.
The standard for comaprison is level at 500 Hz.
But start with low volume every time you change EQ.

 

Grooved

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hi,

In most of headphone equalization adjustments (Oratory, Amir, etc.), the preamp gain settings are mostly set to minus something. I can well understand why, some frequencies are going to but raised in the EQ and we do not want them to distort the signal.
but when I do an A/B comparison (no EQ vs EQ with minus preamp), the equalized signal always sounds quieter, so it is difficult to compare the two options.

My solution is to raise the output gain of the EQ, so that the two signals have the same loudness. Is that a good idea?
How do you deal with this issue?

thanks.
Hi,
if you need to increase the EQ output, it's that you are mainly cutting things with your EQ.
But instead of increasing the output gain which may lead to clip in the EQ or later in the DAC input, you should decrease the non-EQ output (or decrease the pre-amp gain) by setting a "flat EQ" and the same minus than in the EQ signal.

For example, when I use Roon (has a clipping alert which is great), if I want to compare both non-EQ and EQ, I copy the headroom used in the EQ output setting and paste it in the non-EQ output. It's simple and already close in level. Same headroom on both first. Then you may adjust a bit if needed.
One thing I didn't try yet is to check it after that with a Loudness Meter plugin which I think would make more sense than any sine wave measurement if you are changing several part of the spectrum.
If you measure in the digital domain, what's the point to match a 500Hz a 1kHz sine wave in both non-EQ and EQ outputs if you have 3dB difference around this frequency, but also have -2db here and -4db there?
This measurement makes only sense once the signal have been converted to analog then render on headphones and speakers, which mean having equipment to do that.
 
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