The Ipod doesn’t have a custom EQ, but the preset ones aren’t too bad either. They are certainly not as bad as some people say. The addition/subtraction on each frequency band is a little too extreme for me and I would’ve preferred a subtler curve than what is found on the preset EQ, but then the changes may not be too noticeable for some people.
Between the Ipod and the Itunes, they share almost the same equalizer presets (the Ipod has an 8-band EQ, the Itunes a 10-band), so you can use this method as well on your computer based setup (if you’re using Itunes for the player, otherwise other popular players should come with their equalizer presets as well). Here is some of the presets that I’ve used in the past:
- Acoustic: This will give a slightly more airier sound due to the less body in the midrange and added upper treble. If you like airy sound, try this one out.
- Bass Booster: Once me and my friends were listening to a Stax set-up (I believe it was an SRM1/Mk2 and SR-202). We all commented on how good the set up was, but would’ve been better if there is more bass presence. So I tried this preset (without telling the crowd that I did this), and they were all amazed on how I changed the sound without changing a single component (the word equalization don’t exist in the audiophile’s dictionary). Almost no distortions were felt by any of us listening to that set up, perhaps due to the SRM1/Mk2 or the SR-202’s mid level resolution.
- Bass Reducer: Sometimes when going to the gym, I use the JH16Pro straight out of the Ipod Nano, and the built in amp can’t do a good job of giving me the bass control and texture that I want. The Bass Reducer lightens the bass quantity, but on a JH16Pro to Ipod Nano direct set up, I can hear better texture and control of the bass. I do notice a slight unnatural transition from the midrange to the bass areas, but I’m willing to live with it.
- Classical: This is a V-shaped curve, which means less midrange but more bass and treble quantity. In a way the Acoustic preset is quite similar, but this setting is more extreme. Precisely what I need for the Zana + HD800 for some of the classical recordings I listen to.
- Jazz: Jazz is similar to Classical, but with less lower treble and less upper bass.
- Pop: I haven’t used this setting before, but it should do a good job for those of you lacking midrange body in your setup.
- Rock: Another variants of a V-shaped equalizer.
- Spoken Word: In my initial review of the Hifiman HE5LE headphone, I had commented that the headphone does not have as much of a vocal presence as I had liked. The Spoken Word equalizer will add that presence, but its gain setting is a little too extreme for me, and so if you’re on Itunes, you can build a manual setting that mimics the shape of this EQ, but with less extreme boosts.
The built in equalizer on the Ipod is a bit limiting. It would be good if we can have a custom EQ — something that Apple still haven’t give to us. And as I’ve mentioned, when I’m using the JH16Pro straight out of the Ipod, I can notice a slight unnatural transition from using the equalizer. But I’d still go ahead with it because overall I’m getting a more ideal frequency balance than without the equalizer.
Once you become familiar with the Equalizer panel, you can create a custom setting that will give you precisely what you need. When you do a custom EQ, try to not do abrupt jumps from one frequency band to the next (ie +2dB on 500Hz then +4dB on 1KHz) as that will come out sounding unnatural. If you decide to do a bump on an area (midrange, perhaps), try to make the equalizer curve fairly shallow (more like a shallow hill than Mt. Everest shaped). So if you want to raise the area from 1KHz to 2KHz by 2-3dB, also raise 500Hz and 4KHz by 1dB for a natural transition. Here are some examples of what to be avoided when creating a custom equalizer setting: