How do I change the EQ on my headphones?

What is EQ?

EQ stands for equalization. It allows you to adjust the volume levels of different frequency ranges within an audio signal (PCMag, 2022). Equalization is used to customize the sound profile of audio devices like headphones, speakers, and audio players to achieve a desired balance across bass, mid, and high frequencies (Aulart, 2023).

An equalizer, or EQ, is an audio filter that allows users to boost or cut gain at different frequencies along the audible spectrum, typically grouped into bass, midrange, and treble bands (Landr, 2024). Using an EQ enables listeners to shape the audio output to better suit their preferences or correct for limitations in playback equipment.

Common Types of EQ

There are a few common types of EQ that provide different levels of control over the sound:

Graphic EQ – This allows you to adjust multiple frequency bands (typically 5 to 10 bands). Each band controls a fixed frequency range. This gives you basic and quick overall EQ adjustment. Graphic EQs are common on basic stereo systems, headphones, etc.

Parametric EQ – This allows you to control fewer bands (typically 1 to 5), but each band has more flexibility. You can adjust the center frequency, bandwidth (range), and gain/cut amount. This allows for more surgical and precise EQ adjustment. Parametric EQs are common on mixing boards, audio interfaces, etc.

Preset EQ Modes – Many devices have built-in EQ presets optimized for various use cases, like “Rock”, “Jazz”, “Pop”, etc. These provide quick overall EQ adjustment without having to manually configure specific bands. Preset modes are common on headphones, speakers, and other playback devices.

EQ Terminology

There are a few key terms to understand when working with EQ:

Frequency – This refers to the pitch of a sound, measured in Hertz (Hz). The human hearing range is generally 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Adjusting the level of a specific frequency allows you to boost or cut certain tones.

Gain – Gain refers to how much a frequency is amplified or attenuated by the EQ. Positive gain boosts the level, while negative gain cuts it.

Q/Bandwidth – The Q or bandwidth controls the width of the frequency band being altered by the EQ. A higher Q value narrows the band, while a lower Q widens it. Narrower Q values allow more surgical/precise adjustments.

Understanding these core concepts allows you to effectively utilize EQ to shape the frequency response of audio and adjust the tonal balance. See EQ Explained – The Basics for more details on EQ terminology.

EQ on Headphones

Many headphones have built-in EQ presets that optimize the sound for certain genres or activities. According to Reddit user u/shoturtle, “V-shape emphasizes bass and highs, which makes things sound fun.” These presets allow you to quickly switch between sound profiles without having to manually adjust the EQ bands each time. For example, Bose and Sony headphones often include presets like Pop, Rock, Jazz, Spoken Word, and Gaming (1).

Some headphone brands also offer mobile apps that provide more advanced EQ customization options. The Sony Headphones Connect app lets you adjust the level of each frequency band to tune the sound signature precisely how you like. Apps may also include genre-specific EQ presets designed by professional audio engineers (2).

Adjusting the EQ on your headphones impacts the overall sound signature. As a Redditor on r/headphones explains, “The best way to understand this is to give it a try. My EQ focused on subbass and mids” (1). Boosting certain frequency ranges like bass and treble is a common way to shape the sound to your taste. However, drastic EQ adjustments can also negatively impact audio quality.

The main benefit of EQ on headphones is enabling personalized audio based on your listening preferences. With the ability to tweak EQ settings, you can better enjoy your music across various genres (3).


Accessing EQ Controls

To adjust the EQ on your headphones, you first need to access the equalizer controls. Here are some common places to find EQ options:

Check your headphone and device settings – Most headphones, smartphones, tablets, and audio players have built-in EQ you can adjust. Look in your device’s settings app for “Sound,” “Audio,” or “Equalizer.” There may also be a settings option in your headphone’s companion app.

Download the headphone app – If your headphones have a companion app, download it and check for EQ controls. Brands like Bose, Sony, Beats, and others often have apps that let you customize the sound.

Use EQ in music apps – Apps like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, and others have built-in EQ you can use while listening. Enable the EQ and adjust to your preference.

So in summary, check your headphone and device settings first, download any companion apps, and look for EQ options in your music apps. This should give you access to equalizer controls for customizing the sound on your headphones.1

Adjusting EQ

When adjusting EQ, it’s best to start with small boosts or cuts of 2-3 dB and listen to the impact on audio quality before making additional changes. As this guide mentions, EQ adjustments of 6 dB or more can significantly alter the sound.

To adjust EQ:

  • Begin with bass EQ bands, boosting or cutting frequencies around 60-200 Hz for more or less bass.
  • Next, adjust midrange bands around 500 Hz to 2 kHz to boost or cut vocals and instruments.
  • Finally, tweak treble bands above 2 kHz for more or less brightness.

It’s best to adjust EQ bands one at a time to isolate the impact on audio quality. Listen to a familiar song while making small boosts or cuts until achieving your preferred sound signature. Be careful not to over-boost bass or treble bands which can muddy the sound.

With practice, you’ll learn which frequencies to target to tweak the sound to your taste. Adjust EQ thoughtfully for the best audio experience.

EQ Presets

Presets provide optimized EQ curves for different genres and styles of music. Instead of manually adjusting multiple bands and frequencies, presets let you quickly load specialized EQ settings with just a click. Examples of common presets include:

  • Rock – Boosts bass and treble for lively, powerful sound.
  • Pop – Focuses on vocal clarity with a gentle boost to bass.
  • Jazz – Provides clear mids for standup bass and cymbal definition.
  • Acoustic – Balances EQ for natural instruments and vocals.

Using presets enables fast audio customization to match your preferences. If you primarily listen to rock music, load the “Rock” preset for optimized sound. Instead of needing advanced audio engineering knowledge, presets provide a simple way to get great EQ settings.

EQ for Genres

The optimal EQ settings can vary depending on the type of music being listened to. Here are some recommendations for EQ settings for different music genres:

For rock music, you typically want to boost the low and high frequencies. This will emphasize the bass and drums in the low end and the presence of guitars and vocals in the high end. Many rock tracks have a “U” shaped frequency response.

With pop music, the focus is usually on boosting the midrange frequencies where vocals, guitars, and other instruments reside. De-emphasizing the lows and highs creates a forward vocal sound.

Jazz requires a more nuanced EQ approach. Often the high frequencies are softened so the music sounds more natural and less harsh. Boosting the low mids around 240-300 Hz can accentuate upright bass and low brass instruments.

For classical music, the priority is on the midrange frequencies where most instruments live. De-emphasizing the extreme lows and highs allows the nuances of the instruments to shine through.

Having different EQ presets for major music genres makes it easy to customize your listening experience. Experiment to find out what sounds best with your headphones and musical tastes.


When adjusting EQ on your headphones, it’s important not to overdo it. As noted on Reddit, “EQ changes character of a sound a lot too.” Too much EQ can actually degrade the audio quality and cause distortion or imbalance. The goal should be to make subtle boosts or cuts to shape the overall sound more to your preferences.

As Quora discusses, “The downside of using an EQ is that sometimes it can alter the sound of the original mix/file/song.” While you may wish to boost bass or treble, try to retain balance across the frequency spectrum and avoid drastic adjustments.

EQ can be a powerful tool to shape your listening experience, but use it judiciously. Small tweaks go a long way. Listen critically and adjust EQ to your preferences without degrading quality or losing the original character of the audio.


In summary, equalization allows you to customize the sound of your headphones by boosting or reducing specific frequency ranges. Proper EQ can lead to a more pleasurable and balanced listening experience. The key points are:

  • EQ enables boosting bass, enhancing treble, fixing mids, and more
  • Graphic EQ and parametric EQ are common types to find in headphone software
  • Terminology like gain, Q/bandwidth, and frequency are important to understand
  • Access your headphone’s app or use systemwide EQ in your operating system
  • Adjust EQ bands subtly, avoid drastic boosts which can distort sound
  • EQ presets can quickly optimize sound, or make custom presets
  • Tailor EQ profile to music genres for ideal reproduction

Getting the most out of your headphones requires taking the time to experiment with equalization. When done properly, you’ll rediscover details in your favorite tracks and find the sound more impactful overall. For further reading on advanced EQ techniques and headphone reviews, sites like and offer in-depth resources.

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