Best Car Equalizers: Review and Buying Guide (2018 Update)
Replacing your audio system can be a big undertaking - there are all sorts of speakers, tweeters, amplifiers, subwoofers, and the like that can modify your rig to something truly great. The best rigs have the ability to fine-tune controls with an equalizer - but not all them are made equal. There are numerous features built into these machines with varying qualities. To the laymen, all of this might seem a bit confusing. In this buying guide you'll learn the ins and outs of these devices, and what are the best car equalizers for you.
What is a Car Equalizer?
An equalizer controls the tones of your sound, up to an above what is found in most radio systems. This precision control allows for unique customization based on your needs and wants of your sound system. Each system comes with a certain set of bands that allow you to control certain frequencies. These bands can be adjusted based on numerous different quantities and ranges. All these adjustments might seem a bit superfluous to you, but if you really want a killer sound system setup, a great equalizer can push you over the edge. Allowing to tune to your tastes can give you a sound not heard before. Physically these devices are made from a non-conductive metal and are flat and wide in appearance. The back has a series of inputs and outputs to connect to your audio equipment, while the front has different knobs that can control the frequency bands. Equalizers can also have additional adjustments, lighting for the knobs, along with the ability to save certain adjustments for repeated use. These tastes can be tailored to overcompensate for certain noises intrinsic to cars such as wind, road, grills over the speakers, and so forth.
Equalizer Terms to Know
To understand a bit more about car equalizers you need to know some of the lingoes. While not an exhaustive glossary of terms, knowing what some of these words mean will definitely give you a leg up when picking the equalizer that you want.
- Analog: This type of equalizer uses physical mechanisms to work, such as sliders and knobs, to control the frequencies.
- Articulation: The level of articulation is the how intelligible each part of the sound, or frequency, is.
- Bandwidth: High bandwidth translates to a higher range of notes that are affected by that specific control. Also called the Q.
- Crossover: These filters isolate certain frequencies that are typically higher and lower on the spectrum to make your music sound less distorted.
- Decibel (dB): This is a relative measure of sound, that increases exponentially. For example, 20dB is 10 times louder than 10dB, not twice. For an equalizer, decibels are used to show the relative loudness of one part of the frequency to another.
- Digital: These type of equalizer use software to control frequencies.
- Filter: This electronic circuit blocks certain signals while allowing others to pass. Filters are often described via bandwidth, magnitude, and frequency.
- Frequency: An audible tone that is measured by the amount of air vibrating per second, typically measured in hertz (Hz).
Car Equalizer Buying Guide
These machines come in many different varieties, types, and brands. While all of them allow for more fine tune controlling of your audio system, there are certain qualities and features you need to be privy of to get the model that is best fit for you.
- Bands: The more bands, the finer tuned control you can have. Each band represents a certain amount of frequencies, but it's important to know what frequencies they are, as it can vary depending on the equalizer. What is a mid-range for one equalizer isn't the same for another.
- Crossovers: These features control the lower and higher frequencies that can disrupt music. The larger the decibel range, the more frequencies it can cover.
- Adjustment Range: Often measured in decibels, the higher the range the more you can diminish or boost certain ranges.
- Spectrum Analyzer: These are found on higher end rigs as they give real-time measurements of your audio signal. They allow you a visual representation of your frequencies.
- Bipolar Switching: This unique electrical system allows for increased voltage output by using twice as many quadrants compared to traditional systems.
- Parametric Equalizers: A step above more common graphic equalizers. These allow even more adjustments in the form of bandwidth control, the primary frequency, and the level.
- Sound Processors: Another higher end part of the equalizer that allows it to automatically adjusts its setting based on the noise found in the car
Top 5 Car Equalizers
To help you on your journey of obtaining the best car equalizer for you, we have made a list of suggestions that we think will work nicely. If you're looking for a good equalizer that is also inexpensive, then look no further than the BOSS Audio model. If you're the type of person who thinks the more bands the better, than the Massive Audio brand equalizer is great.
While the Planet Audio equalizer has one of the most impressive ranges of a frequency distribution. For overall great quality, there is the always impeccably made Clarion, while the Soundstream has the unique bipolar switching power supply.
1. Clarion EQS755 Car Equalizer
Clarion is known for their remarkable audio equipment quality, and this equalizer is no exception. This graphic equalizer has 6 frequency channels with a built-in low-pass filter to remove that terrible static sound. The 3.5mm aux input allows for the attachment of your phone or other electronic devices. This machine also comes with a variable gain adjustment to give you more customization of your sound. For easy use, there is also an independent master volume control knob. To improve safety this machine has a ground loop isolation circuit.
Reviewers mention that this is one of the best equalizers to pick for aftermarket audio setup. The separate subwoofer is also praised by those that love their bass heavy music. The 7 bands range everywhere from 50Hz to 16kHz, while the knobs themselves light up in a nice blue glow that lets it be used at night.
2. Massive Audio EQ-7X Car Equalizer
This great Massive Audio equalizer has 7 bands that will do everything you need to correct the peaks and valleys associated with your car interior. This machine has numerous adjustable features, like the subwoofer, gain, and master volume. The RCA aux input and 7V RCA outputs allow you to hook up your audio system with ease. The 12dB low-pass crossover can be adjusted in both 60 or 90Hz, which allows you to siphon out all that white noise and improve music clarity. The terminals are gold plated, which improves conductivity and thus sound quality. The frequencies can be adjusted from -12dB to +12dB, and there are fine-tune controls for the front, rear, main, and more. Users have commented that this machine is both affordable and sounds great, which isn't surprising considering its extended frequency response and 8-volt output line driver.
3. BOSS Audio AVA1210 Car Equalizer
This BOSS equalizer comes in both 4 and 7 bands ranging from 125 Hz all the way 12kHz. The subwoofer filter is switchable with just a flick. The machine itself has outputs located on the front and rear for easy access. Most impressively this machine has frequency adjustments as low as -18dB and as high as +18dB. The exterior is a sleek silver with blue knobs that illuminate in the dark. The input sensitivity is turned up to 150mV with an impedance of 10k Ohms.
Customers mention that this BOSS Audio brand equalizer works just as great as expected, with some even investing into primarily the BOSS brand now. To push audio quality even farther this machine has gold plated RCA connectors on both the inputs and outputs. The 20dBs of headroom also ensure that any distortion of sound waves by the motor or amplifier is kept to a minimum.
4. Planet Audio Half-DIN Car Equalizer
This machine can be bought in both 4 and 5 bands, with a +/-12dB adjustment for each one. The adjustable subwoofer crossover blocks out all those bad bass frequencies that can distort your music. The gain control and adjustable filter give you all the customization to listen to your favorite tunes. For easy use in a pinch, there is the master volume and fader control. Along the back end, there are ten inputs and outputs for everything from your CD player, to the front and rear amplifier inputs.
People have said that this is the pinnacle of their audio system as it cleans up all the sound to crystal clear precision. It does this by having a wide frequency response as low as 20Hz to as high as 20kHz. The bands are easy enough too - with the four you have the sub(75Hz), low (200Hz), mid(2kHz), and high(20kHz).
5. Soundstream MPQ-7B Car Equalizer
This equalizer is the perfect measure of price and quality - with 7 bands ranging from a low 40Hz to 14kHz, you'll be able to get the sound you've always coveted in your audio rig. The low-pass filter is adjustable in 32, 64, and 125Hz - which helps block out unsavory distortion in your music. This Soundstream machine is covered in black metal and has a blue backlit control knobs. These knobs can adjust each frequency band from -18dB to +18dB. There are two sets of RCAs located on the front and rear. The 20dB headroom helps eliminate any signal overload. This equalizer has a master volume, fade control knob with 82dB of control. The power supply is outfitted with a 30V bipolar switching. This bipolar system gives four quadrants rather than just two that are normally found, allowing for superior voltage output.
Car Equalizer Installation
Because you are going to be messing with electrical equipment, you're going to need a wire stripper, crimper, and electrical tape along with a screwdriver and screws. Depending on your setup you might also need some wrenches, a drill, and wire ties. Most equalizers are mounted above or below the dash, but a few can be put into the trunk. Wherever you mount yours, make sure to stay away from steel or other metal surfaces as this can interfere with your sound quality from vibrations.
When it comes to the wiring you're going to need to strip a 16 gauge wire that is attached to the fuse box. In order to activate the turn-on signal, you're going to need to attach the turn-on wire from the head unit - this is typically a blue wire. You're also going to need to connect the amplifier with RCA cables, use wire ties to keep everything that is needed together. Connect these RCA cables through the output of the amplifier into the input of the equalizer - make sure to avoid any power cables as this can distort your sound. Most sound systems will require approximately four different outputs - the front, center, subwoofer, and front. From here it's just a matter of hooking your battery back up and trying it out. As long as the equalizer is powered and doing its job properly, go ahead and put everything back together as you are ready to go.
When setting up your audio system there are a few pieces of equipment that stand out - speakers, amplifiers, and of course equalizers. Providing fine-tune control at your fingertips to create a unique sound that is perfectly tailored to your wants and needs, an equalizer is a must have for your audio automobile rig. When picking a car equalizer you need to see how many bands it has, how much they can be adjusted, along with all the other features like crossovers and bipolar switching. Follow the proper installation instructions and you'll be jamming out to great tunes in no time.