5 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2011 1:03 AM by DIESEL-X
divnchuck Level 1 Level 1

can you set up a manual equalizer on a iphone?

iPhone 3GS, iOS 5
  • DIESEL-X Level 1 Level 1

    In answer to your question, no.


    Unfortunately and bizarrely there is no option to set up custom/manual equalizer presets for general listening.


    I believe this to be a major issue that needs addressing on the iPhone and that Apple have got it wrong with regard to this. The problem is that there is an overwhelming choice of headphone & headsets on the market, many of which are capable of producing exceptional sound and unfortunately many of them or so efficient that they can reveal a little 'too much' detail in the harsh mid-ranges and crisp trebles; the result in my experience can make for uncomfortable listening when realising that none of the current supplied Apple equalizer presets shape the mids and trebles in a way that makes it more comfortable for prolonged listening, especially when using quality headphones that reveal every sound very efficiently. Of course this can also be true for some cheap earphones that are just plain 'tinny' sounding, devoid of decent bass and trying to make up their volume by using excessive mids and trebles.


    So you see, it would be more of a factor and requirement for setting the overall sound for all the music on one's iPhone in relation to the sound characteristics of make and model headphones being used. Buying earphones/headphones is too much of a gamble and a lottery 'if' when you take them home, break the packaging, insert them into the ear only to find that after spending lots of money the sound can be a bit too ear-splitting'ly harsh and revealing on the highs, mids or both.


    It is mentioned many times that equalizer presets on the iPhone will of course have an impact on battery life, but which is more bearable? slightly reduced battery life or uncomfortable/painful prolonged listening. Personally I've found the battery life to be better than I anticipated when listening to music on my iPhone and I've never not even once have had the EQ set to off (Flat).


    Apparently there are some equalizer apps available, but I haven't tried them as I would much rather have Apple incorporate this within the iOS and not have to have an app running. But here are a couple of links in case you are interested (also typing 'equalizer' in the iTunes search bar may bring up some more):-






    Hope this helped.

  • RichieRich1274 Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks a lot for your great info and your links, they were very helpful in guiding me.  These happen to be just the two apps I'm looking at.  I'm just as divided between the two as you were before you bought them (though I'll buy just one).


    I was going to go for EQu - the quality equalizer too, but what stops me is a bug that is reported by at least three reviewers on the App Store about this app.  They state that this app (incl. the latest version) plays at very low volume when used under iOS 5.  Here's what they say :


    YEARS!!! (v1.3)

    by Plogic42 on NOV 20 11

    I have been waiting for this app for YEARS!!!  Must have!!  Nuff said!!  Note: in new iOS 5 volume has been severely reduced making this great app useless and now a waste of money.  Please fix this!!!!


    Awesome App!!! (v1.3)

    by ScutuMix on NOV 11 11

    .. thanks for this great app, BUT, please increase the volume, the app is useless at the subway or in public transportation with inear headphones!


    Not so great if you have good headphones (v1.3)

    by KK W on NOV 05 11

    Yes you are able to fiddle equalizer, but it doesn't equate to better sound.  The volume and the dynamic range are both reduced after the sound gone through the  equ app.  If you have a good pair of headphones (mine is etymotics hf3), the difference is very obvious when compares the output directly from itunes vs. through the app.


    **End of quotes**


    Now, I found it curious that neither in your review on the web page your second link leads to, nor in the ones that follow is there a trace of such discontent.  My question is : If you're running iOS 5, have you experienced this problem, as you seem quite satisfied with the app, or is it just a figment of these three reviewers' imagination ?  I'm waiting for the fix to come before I download it, or a confirmation that there is no such problem, as the reviews on the aforementioned web page seem to indicate.


    I thank you in advance for your helpful guidance regarding this.

  • DIESEL-X Level 1 Level 1

    I have since purchased both of the mentioned Apps 'Equalizer & EQu' and if it helps, this is my verdict:-




    Good Points:-

    • It appears to have many features when you find your way around
    • Can produce a powerful sound
    • Ocassional updates do improve things (i.e. the 'neo629' graphic modul wasn't working for me previously when playing the Carmot.wav but now it does since the most recent update)
    • Lots of Potential


    Bad Points:-

    • A bit unstable
    • A bit fiddly to navigate and negotiate
    • I think it overloads the iPhone's iPod/amplifier circuitry because the iPhone gets hot and soon after the graphically applied effect can suddenly become inactive and is no longer applied 'as if' an overload has took place and possible thermal sensors or overload voltage sensors have shut down part of the iPhone sound circuitry for graphic equalization. (not good really
    • Avoid the 'Xtreme' graphic preset setting as this makes the iPhone very hot and overload takes place much quicker. I was sure I could smell the combination of hot electronics and glue from my rather warm-hot to the touch iPhone a number of times after using the Equalizer app with certain setting.


    The above was my own personal experience with the app, however others may have their own different personal experience with it and may be quite happy with it, therefore one may have to try it for themselves, just excersice caution though. However it must be ok for the iPhone's hardware to have past Apple testing.


    With regard to the other alternative app:-




    Good Points:-


    • Easy to use
    • Highly polished
    • Everything works well
    • Sound is very good indeed (with right headphones)
    • The 'Safe Headrrom' option is handy to avoid overloads.


    Bad Points:- (not many badpoints really, there more like improvements)


    • Bluetooth control works, yippie! However the Play-Pause/resume can get stuck yet you can still skip forward or backward when this happens (strange)
    • The iPhone's iOS needs to have an option within the iPhone's General settings to tell it which default music player you want to choose OR a setting within Siri to tell it which music player you are refering to when giving a command to Siri to play a song or album etc. Then this will be real cool... But currently Siri only controls the iPod music app and using Siri aborts EQu and starts playing within the iPod excluding your sound adjustments and customizations.
    • Having the right in-ear headphones can help make all the difference, i.e. my previous in-ear headphones are not bad at all, but could make the graphic sound  a little lower in volume (I'll explain more later). However getting the correct-type decent in-ear headphones can make a substansial difference and really make the 'EQu' app shine, therefore based upon some good reviews for a type of in-ear headphones I then purchased some. I purchased the surprisingly inexpensive JVC XX Xtreme Xplosives HA-FX1X in-ear headphones and after some 'burn-in' time and ensuring a good sealed snug fit, they result in producing a slightly more powerful sound output which helps.
    • Although the 'Safe Headroom' option is very handy to avoid unwanted overloads, it can make some tracks sound a little too quite - Maybe an auto finalizer/auto mastering option for the EQu to apply a combination of subtle auto sound normalization boosting + soft-knee compression + limitimg at the apropriate threshold on-the-fly as the music plays? (Actually that would make an excellent plug-in for iTunes' library if done proper)


    The EQu is deffinately my prefered choice for use and for me personally is one of the best apps I've purchased. Ironically it was the Equalizer app that I had purchased first, but it almost put me in a cold sweat thinking that I had 'fried' my iPhone, but to be fair the iPhone was charging + acting as a Personal hotspot + internet bandwidth taking place + iPhone screen illuminated + iPhone active playing music through Equalizer with emphasis on the bass settings. The iPhone still works ok, but I'm going to play it safe and not use the Equalizer until after some updates (maybe they should incorporated the 'Safe Headroom' feature as found in the EQu app to avoid overload).. However I'm more than happy with the EQu app and with some of the above mentioned aspects within the bad points section addressed, then it would be even more formidable.


    Just a quick bit regarding the sound level that I said I would re-touch upon; naturally when one requires a much better sound being say comparable to a fully fledge Hi-Fi, then the goal is to acheive a more powerful sound experience thus having a better 'balance' of sound accross the whole spectrum i.e. having very capable powerful and punchy bass (if and when the music source so demands and outputs it) that can go dynamically low without distortion.. then on to producing rich-creamy and sweet 'mids' that are NOT to harsh nor earsplitting.. and then finally producing subtle and tingly crisp highs that are fine and sharp but not overly-so. Naturally this aproach makes most users tend to boost the rather pleasing (at least for iPhone's capabily) bass frequency sliders on the EQu app much higher which inevitably drives the peak performance of the iPhone's pre-amp and amp circuitry higher, therefore not being able to acheive overall higher volume boosting adjustment. Further more to that, users may also reduce some of the mid range frequencies to encorage more comfortable listening for prolonged listening and to try and acheive that home HiFi sound... Naturally the knock on effect is that you would actually need a proper fully-fledged HiFi and larger speaker driver units in order to compensate and boost volumes for that kind of sound shapping as the iPhone only being a phone, will only be capable of doing so much and to be honest what it does now is quite incredible. The best way of dealing with the sound level for now, is to try and source the most appropriate in-ear headphones - the Xtreme Xplosives HA-FX1X in-ear heaphones have improved upon my previous earphones phones for me personally and when used with the surprisingly good sounding Jabra BT3030 Bluetooth Headset unit, it then serves to help free-up the iPhone from having to use it's internal audio power amplifier stage. My aim is to try out the new Atomic Floyd SuperDarts earphones as I hear they may possibly be big on sound.


    Hope that helps.

  • RichieRich1274 Level 1 Level 1

    Wow!  What an incredible reply!  Thanks a lot for your time and dedication.  You really enlightened my choice as to which app to go for.  Turns out the Equalizer app is what I thought it would be — too much sophistication for my needs, too cumbersome (14.9 MB) for me who just want a simple equalizer that would make me enjoy my music again and not just hear it.  So I'll go for the EQu app, although it's hard to believe so much functionality and the "advanced music navigation" feature, as we read in the presentation of the app, can all fit within its tiny 1.1 MB size.


    Some of your detailed technical information is a bit beyond me too, so I'm sure I won't be hard to please with this app.  I don't use Bluetooth or Siri, so that won't be a problem, and I use a pair of Panasonic Ergo-Fit BL 600 noise-cancelling earbuds whose response range goes all the way down to 6 Hz, and they deliver quite accurate sound across the spectrum.  Prior to getting my iPod touch 4th gen in October, I used a Sony Walkman MP3 player with these earbuds, and with its 6-band adjustable equalizer I gould get very well balanced sound in these earbuds.  Now on my iPod, in the native app the equalizer setting that works the best (though it's quite bland, hence my need for the EQu app), is the 'none' or 'flat' setting.  But, I noticed that the iPod's basic sound is quite a bit better that that of the Sony Walkman (before applying its EQ), more sharply pounding, so I figured that when I get the equalizer set right it will sound no less good than if I were standing in front of a super stereo system with tall speaker towers that contain several woofers, mid-range speakers and tweeters!  And of course a subwoofer too!  In my earbuds, on the iPod's basic sound the midranges are already perfectly right — not loud but not too subdued either, and the bass is almost as intense as it was on my Sony Walkman's Clear Bass setting set to max.  Only the trebles are quite muted, which will be easy to fix.


    Finally, you say that the Safe Headroom option "can make some tracks sound a little too quite".  I think you lost your train of thought and didn't finish your sentence here, an important key word is missing, as to the way those tracks are made to sound.  So what was it you were saying ?


    Based on your detailed pro/con review, I can say that there aren't any real impediments as to enjoying the EQu app.  That low-volume issue that some have experienced (though seemingly tied to the iOS 5) would be just the result of using not-so-ideal earphones, from what I gather.  So it's well worth my try.  To preserve my hearing I currently use the iPod's volume setting at 7/16, so there's plenty of room for an increase if needed.  And if my iPod heats up a bit more, well it will help : I live in Canada and walk to and from work and even when it's in my winter coat's inner pocket the iPod gets fairly cold when the outside temperature is still well above -15°C (or 5°F), so what will it be like in a cold snap ?  A little heat from within the iPod will help. 

  • DIESEL-X Level 1 Level 1

    Excellent, let me know if your happy with EQu if you decide to go for it. I think it's well worth the small price.


    It's not to say that I am not happy with the sound quality that the iPhone's iPod produces, because I genuinely think it is a good quality music player. However it just lacks the ability to customize and shape sounds further still, which is the only true way of compensating for the many different sounding makes and models of headphones out there, i.e. (I know I've mentioned this already on my first reply post to this thread, but I'll ellaborate further) the preset sounds on the iPhone/iPod player; say for example someone mostly uses the 'loudness' preset for boosting the mid to treble frequencies a little for making some headphones jump to life and sound a little louder - however many other makes/models of headphones don't sound exactly the same using the various presets and many headphones can have a stronger/higher output level and be 'way too revealing' in the mid and upper frequencies therefore the loudness preset can sound too harsh and uncomfortable for prolonged listening, This is why I think a cutom EQ for the iPhone is absolutely necessary, as all headphones are not created equal, maybe it should be called a headphone sound-shaping utility!


    Wow and I thought it was cold here in the UK today at 3°C with a feels like rating at 1°C (has been milder though). If my iPhone's anything like me in the cold, it will stop playing at -15°C