DIY with EQ! (Don’t do it…)

The first thing everybody tries, when they have hearing loss, is makeup gain with an equalizer. This helps – heck, anything helps. But it isn’t correct, and it can be potentially dangerous to your hearing.

Way back at the beginning, I did this dumbass experiment with an outboard graphic equalizer while listening to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherezade”. Everything sounded so much better – until those trumpets blared in during the 3rd movement. WOW! Oww! I nearly fell off the stool in the lab. Waaay too loud!!

In order to get things to sound about right in the soft passages, like that extreme soft solo violin at the very beginning of “Scheherezade”, I had to use more than 24 dB of boost in my treble region. But the trouble with EQ boost is that it constantly boosts, no matter how soft, or loud, the source material becomes. By the time those trumpets blared, they were already loud. And adding another 24 dB of gain caused a huge, shocking, surprise.

So don’t try this at home…

Going over to the physics of hearing, here’s what is wrong about just adding EQ boost at any frequency:

This figure shows normal hearing as the green line, the proper anti-recritment compression curve in blue, and dumbass EQ boost in red.

You see that plain old EQ works perfectly! – at only one loudness level. At levels fainter than the perfection level, it isn’t loud enough to let you hear the fainter stuff. And at levels above perfection, it is too loud compared to what you actually need.

Plain old EQ boost is simply never going to work the way it needs to do. In that region below the perfect level, go ahead and experiment for yourself, and you will quickly accept that it is insufficient.

But in that region above the perfect level, please don’t be a dumbass like me…

  • DM

Author: dbmcclain

Astrophysicist, spook, musician, Lisp aficionado, deaf guy

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