One of the most taken-for-granted and “ I didn’t even know it was there” features of Apple’s iTunes digital music jukebox application is its built-in equalizer. The equalizer enables you to adjust the “sound” of your music by manipulating ten different frequency bands. You can set each band individually (the “manual” mode), save your manual settings as “Presets”, or select from 22 “themed” preset modes. You don’t have to be an audiophile to use the equalizer to make your digital music experience even more enjoyable.
To open the Equalizer window in iTunes, either select Window > Equalizer from the menu, use the Apple(Command)-2 keystroke, or click the small icon with the slider bars at the lower right corner of the iTunes window. You’ll see right away that you can turn the equalizer on and off. Note the Preamp slider on the left side of the equalizer window. The Preamp brings up the overall gain of iTunes, which is a lot like turning up the volume of your stereo system. Use caution, because if you turn it up too much you can overdrive your system, creating distortion along with the volume.
Before we get to the Presets (listed in the pop-up menu bar next to the On/Off button), let’s talk a little about the 10 frequency bands controlled by the sliders. Note that they range from the “low end” at 32 Hz (hertz), which only the best bass speakers can reproduce, to the high end of what the human ear can hear at 16 KHz (kilohertz, or 1000 hertz). Let’s look at the bands in brief.
64 Hz: Bass drums and bass. 125 Hz: Small speakers, like in your laptop, reproduce bass information here. 250 Hz: Low end of guitars and pianos. 500 Hz: Low ends of vocals and high bass. 1K: Midrange of most instruments such as guitars, pianos, snare drums, etc. 2K: Boost or cut the “nasal” sound of vocals. 4K: Electric guitars and many other instruments. 8K: Cymbals, hi-hats, upper range of synths, pianos, guitars and vocals.
The 22 themed Presets move the sliders to “emphasize” different bands. If you look at the “Rock” preset, you’ll see a V-shaped alignment emphasizing the low and high ends. Look at the “Pop” preset, and you’ll see the V inverted to emphasize the vocal ranges.
The goal? Make your music sound best to you! That’s all for this week.
© 2005 Peter F. Zimowski