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How to choose an equalizer

For superior tone control in your car

AudioControl EQL

AudioControl EQL 13-band equalizer

An equalizer (or EQ) lets you tune the sound of your car's audio system by giving you tone adjustment not covered by standard treble, midrange, and bass controls. We carry several types of equalizers, from the traditional in- or under-dash EQs to sophisticated digital equalizers that install in your trunk or cargo area. Some EQs work with any factory or aftermarket stereo, while some are specifically designed to work with one brand.

What to look for:

Besides giving you tight tonal control over your music playback, the equalizers available from Crutchfield also offer you plenty of other useful features.

  • Some of our EQs offers a front-to-rear fader for dual-amp balancing, even with a receiver that has only one pair of preamp outputs. The fader is also ideal for dialing in just the right amount of rear-fill.
  • You'll also find a "subwoofer output" set of preamp outputs (with a low-pass filter) on many of our EQs. Some models even engage high-pass filters on the front and rear channels whenever the subwoofer output is in use. These crossovers allow only certain frequencies to pass through them (high for your smaller speakers, low for your subwoofers), keeping your speakers and subs from having to try to reproduce sounds they weren't designed to. That's like having a free electronic crossover packaged with your equalizer — a pretty sweet deal.
  • Some EQs also feature line drivers that boost the voltage from your receiver to the maximum level accepted by your amp.
  • Graphic equalizers use fixed points of adjustment that you can boost or cut. Parametric EQs have equalization bands with adjustable center frequencies. These parametric (variable) bands really let you make exact adjustments within a given frequency range. They give you the maximum tweaking ability.
  • Some digital EQs let you program your own EQ curves and store them for repeated use. You can create one curve for rock, another for rap, a third for jazz. After all, each of these musical forms naturally emphasize different tones.
    Rockford Fosgate RFPEQU

    Rockford Fosgate's RFPEQU provides treble and bass boost

How an Equalizer Helps Your System

A graphic equalizer gives you ultra-precise tone control. A quality EQ, properly used, can fine-tune even a high-end system. It makes the difference by catering to your listening preferences and allowing you to restore great sound that gets disrupted by your noisiest, most hard-to-handle component — your car.

Vehicle noise, road noise, size and shape of the interior, the reflectivity of glass, and the absorbent nature of seats all affect your system's sound. You can use an equalizer to remedy each one of these ills, boosting the frequencies you're missing and attenuating the ones your vehicle exaggerates.

When you make these adjustments, use a light touch on those knobs and slider switches — a boost of 10 dB works your amplifier ten times harder, and this can introduce distortion. Here's a tip: Try turning down certain frequencies first. For example, before you boost your bass, lower the midrange and high frequencies a little bit.

Of course, an EQ is also a great way to protect your equipment. For example, if your system's bass is provided by a pair of 6-1/2" woofers, use an EQ to cut back all frequencies below 50 Hz. Your amp will work more efficiently and you'll get higher, cleaner volume while protecting your speaker drivers from tones they can't handle.

The best way to find out what an equalizer can do for your system is to try one out for yourself. A little hands-on experience and some trial and error tweaking will help you learn more about shaping up the sound in your car and really bring out the best from your system.

Get Everything You Need

You'll need patch cables to connect an EQ.

AudioControl EQS

AudioControl EQS 6-channel 13-band equalizer

  • Rey

    Posted on 3/29/2020

    I have an aftermarket radio connect to T600.4 with some set of t1693 fosgate an t1500.1bdcp but my system doesnt sound as good what kind of eq can I use

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 3/30/2020

    Rey, Check out the AudioControl EQS 13-band EQ for your front, rear, and subwoofer channels.
  • Lanni Erwin from Worthington

    Posted on 2/20/2020

    Not sure how to connect my stereo,I have a Kenwood head unit,a soundstream 9 band graphic equalizer and a rf p4004 amplifier,can you tell me how many RCA's I'll need and what hooks up to what please

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 2/24/2020

    Lanni, Run four RCA cables from the receiver to the equalizer and four more from the EQ to the amp.
  • Daniel

    Posted on 10/30/2018

    Hi, I have a 5 Channel amp connected to my OEM head unit, I use a PAC device to change the from High to Low Outputs. If I want to add an EQ to improve sound quality should I hook it up to the PAC Low Outputs, and then the EQ Outputs to the Amp Inputs? Best Regards

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/31/2018

    Daniel, I can't tell for sure without knowing exactly what gear you have, but that hook-up plan sounds me.
  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/26/2018

    Brett, There'll be no benefit at all adding a processor to a receiver that already has digital signal processing onboard. In fact you'd penalize yourself if you did because then you'd have to add an amplifier, which your receiver also has built in.

  • Brett from Daphne

    Posted on 4/25/2018

    Many aftermarket head units now provide a wide variety of methods to tune the sound in your car. My Kenwood Excelon DDX594 includes HP/LP crossovers, slope, time alignment, 13-band equalizer and several other impressive features that many of these standalone processors provide. What additional benefits would a standalone processor (such as the AudioControl DM-810) provide that my head unit can't handle?

  • mario from sylmar

    Posted on 4/9/2018

    I have a 2016 genesis sedan I upgraded the factory speakers to infinity kappa 60csx components and for rear infinity kappa 60.11cs components. Amps alpine pdx f6 4 channel and pdx m12 for sub. I left the double din stock radio as there is no kit to replace this radio the issue is my speakers sound muffled almost as if someone is covering the singers mouth. Would an equalizer fix this issue and what would u suggest? I just want that fixed I sent want to play with settings all the time.

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/12/2018

    Richard, You should never connect outputs of devices together, it could cause damage. Looking at that equalizer's connections and controls lead me to say that you'll probably get the best results using your receiver's front outputs connected to the equalizer's CD inputs. The equalizer then creates the front, rear, and subwoofer signals for your amplifiers to handle, and features front-to-rear fade control and subwoofer level. You set the input gains of the equalizer just like amp gain - turn it up until you hear distortion, then turn it down so it always sounds clean.

  • Richard Heinrich Ronildo from aruba

    Posted on 1/12/2018

    hi. mr BUck. i have a few questions. what pre amp outs to use from the HU to the eqaulizer.. front or rear...also can they be combined with a y splitter to the equalizer..and how do i set the gain on the cd in on the equalizer. i have a 7 band equalizer from super iascar

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/17/2017

    Ricky, If you're unsatisfied with your receiver's onboard EQ, maybe an AudioControl LCQ-1 with 11 bands of EQ per channel will work for you.

  • Ricky W Carver from JOHNSON CITY

    Posted on 11/17/2017

    Hey I have a DB drive 1050.1 AKUR series 3 amp it's pushing 2 12 inch Kenwood 3013 at 2 ohms. I have a 300 watt alpine 4 channel pushing 4 pioneer 6x9s. I have a dual deck the has built in eq would a better bought as be better for my system and if so witch would you prefer. Thank you. Ricky.

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Ahmed, That amplifier will work well with those speakers. You can fit an equalizer in your system if you want - just make sure you get one with speaker-level inputs.

  • Ahmed from Oman

    Posted on 10/15/2017

    Hi..I am going to fit Hertz speakers Front MPK 163.3 Pro (system speakers) + Rear MPX 690.3 Pro (3 Way Coax) + HDP 5 CH Amp in my Mini cooper S 2013 original car stereo and i want to know if this combination is ok? and can i fit EQ also with it or no need? later on i will fit subwoofer (if there are any mistakes plz correct them) Thank u

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/2/2017

    David, You do not need an equalizer to add a sub to your factory system, which you can leave intact, as is. Just use a subwoofer amp with speaker-level inputs, like a Pioneer GM-D8601. If you add a compatible subwoofer like a Kicker 43CWR124, you'd have to stretch your budget a bit to include an enclosure and wiring.

  • David Jake from Lincoln

    Posted on 1/1/2017

    I have a 2007 camry withe the jbl speaker upgrad. I saw a little amp under the passenger seat. My question is that i would like to keep the stock reciever and the little amp for the JBL speakers already in the car and i wand to add a 12in kicker with a pioneer 1600w mono amp. Would a EQ be the best choice for sound and can i keep that other amp also to run the regular speakers and leave the sub for the Pioneer amp. If possible what products would you suggest, i have a budget of around 300 or so

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/4/2016

    Chase, Check out the AudioControl EQS. It'll let you start with two channels equalization for your subwoofers, and allow you to have front and rear channels of equalization when you add those amplifiers later.

  • Chase white from Villa rica ga

    Posted on 10/3/2016

    I purchased an orion hcca 250r. I've been in and out of the car audio but it's been a while. And I plan on running it at 2ohms. What pre amp eq do you suggest for just 2 subs but plan on running a smaller amp for all the highs and mids later. Thanks

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/11/2016

    Hendrick, Not knowing exactly what gear you have makes it impossible to help troubleshoot the problem. If you want a question answered about your system, you must identify your equipment by brand names and model numbers.

  • Hendrick from Pretoria

    Posted on 1/11/2016

    I connected my EQ to the 4ch amp but my other two speakers doesn't produce sound. Pls help me out how to connect my EQ. I have two amp's 4ch and 2ch+a crossover. Thanks in advance.

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/3/2015

    Jason, That equalizer is intended to get its inputs from the left/right preamp outputs of an aftermarket receiver and then provide preamp-level signals for the amplifiers running the front pair of speakers, the rear pair, and a subwoofer. You say you have components using active crossovers but you didn't mention what amp you have running them. Or did you mean that the component sets are run from your receiver and use the passive crossovers that came with them? If so, then that EQ won't work in your system. If your components and sub do in fact get their signals from an active crossover and are powered by amps, then you'd connect the EQ between the receiver output and the crossover input.

  • Jason brock from Apollo Beach

    Posted on 8/3/2015

    My question is regarding wiring options.. I have a Component Speaker set up in my MK4.. With Active crossovers between the mids and the tweeters... On my 2600 Planet Audio Anarchy Series amp powering 2 Power Bass 12's there is a frequency adjuster but I was looking for a cleaner sound overall...would I be able to wire the sub's, mid's, and highs into 1 Planet Audio PEQ15 5 band Parametric Eq. ? Thanks for the help !! Of you have any other advice that would be helpful ....share away lol