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How To Optimize iTunes Equalizer To Your Mac Computer Speakers

Any given set of speakers - whether they're large or small, cheap or audiophile quality - Each have their own unique characteristics and frequency response curve. The iTunes built-in equalizer gives you an opportunity to 'shape' your sound output to best match the response curve of your particular speaker's capabilities - and can be customized to your preferred listening tastes. Here's a few tips for setting the speaker equalizer optimally:

Setting Frequency Response Curves For Small Speakers

Using, say, a small USB travel speaker as an example; start by dragging ALL your sliders down to the bottom. Fire up a fairly hard rocking or whomping dance tune to have a good steady bass rythmn and set the volume 3/4ths of the way up - in both iTunes AND your System Volume. We're driving the speakers LOUD but not maxed out.

Work from the low 32Hz frequency up. In the case of the MacBooks internal speakers, or the Mac mini internal speaker -- they CAN'T reproduce the lowest bass frequencies, SO DON'T TRY! It'll give you cleaner sound by not sending these electrical signals to the tiny speaker's voice coil.

Move up to 64Hz, then 125Hz bands. Slowly slide each upwards, listening close for when buzz and distortion starts to occur. Back off slightly till it sounds 'clean', then move up to the next. Getting these 3 sliders right on the low-frequency end are the most critical with smaller portable laptop speakers. Optimizing but not over-driving them is key to full-sound without distortion.

In the 250-4K mid-range we have most vocals and instruments. The sound of distortion here has more a 'hollow', overdriven character. Optimal settings will vary greatly between different speaker systems - and on personal taste.

Lastly, the 8k and particularly 16K frequency range will depend a lot on both taste - and the condition of your hearing. Aging ears often become less sensitive to the highest frequencies and you may need to compensate upward here especially to bring out cymbals and percussion.

The 'Preamp' slider is best left alone. Most will find cranking it up anywhere more than even a notch above center will simply result in distortion. It may make the sound louder - but NOT cleaner. Use only if desperate in a very noisy environment.

Finally, Pull down on the Presets Menu and ADD A PRESET to save your custom equalizer setting with a good name that means something to you. You may find many of iTune's included presets don't sound good AT ALL, some horrible in fact - so create your own using this bottom-up technique tailored to your particular computer speaker's abilities.