Almost every musician knows that performing requires lugging around a LOT of gear. You can’t just show up and use what’s available. If you’re performing and not playing in your mom’s basement you’ll know what I mean.
Today we are going to look at equalizers and learn exactly how they work and what they are important. You’ll also learn how to install one (which I don’t recommend).
What is an Equalizer?
Ever heard of Auto-Tune, it can alter voices and make it sound better.
Well an equalizer works like that but on a smaller scale and with instruments. You might think that the guitar-amplifier combination is enough for guitarists and for the most part, however, professional bands need more control for their instruments (especially their guitars). That’s where equalizers come in.
Equalizers can basically alter the audio frequencies being emitted by the instruments. This ability gives users a greater control over the output of their said instruments. Equalizers can change (boost or otherwise) the bass and treble frequencies of the instrument.
Equalizers can also eliminate unwanted sounds coming from the instrument/amplifier. Sometimes, a low sound may emanate from the amplifier or even some distorted sound. The equalizer can stop that. Think of it as a filter that helps the sound seem a lot more clear.
Equalizers and amps always go together, so to speak. The steps below will highlight the connections between the devices. Novices may have a hard time following the steps below.
As always, the rule practice makes perfect is applicable here. It also never hurts to ask some advice from a seasoned studio pro (like me 😉 ).
1. First Step: Gathering the Materials
Pretty self explanatory gather the below items. Listed below are the things that you need to prepare for this process.
- Cable/ Wires
- Flashlight (handy for fixing equalizers at night)
There are many brands of wires/cables in the market that may suit your needs for thisoperation. Just make sure that the wire that you will be buying is a RCA Cable. Buy two pairs of RCA cables for this process (or maybe another pair as spare, it is always better to be prepared). Click here to find out more about amp wiring kit details.
The receiver (stereo) is where the output will come out. Basically, it is where the sound will be projected from after being intensified by the amplifier and “edited” by the equalizer.
The three electronic devices (the amplifier, the equalizer and the receiver) go hand in hand for this process. There are different combinations to install your equalizer. You can install the equalizer between the amps and the receiver.
One can also hook the equalizer directly into the receiver. This is usually done if the receiver at hand cannot connect directly with the equalizer. The steps below will talk about the installation of the equalizer by directly hooking it up with the amplifier.
Second Step: RCA Cables between the Equalizer and the Amplifier
- Make sure that the length of each cable/wire is the same. You do not want to be cutting wires to make sure that they are uniform. Avenues for mistakes rise when you commit this error.
- Select a pair of RCA cables and connect it to the designated ports in your amplifier. The ports mentioned are called the pre-amp output channels. They are usually located at the back portion of the amplifier.
- Each wire of any RCA pair will have different colors at the end. Sometimes it will be a red-white pair or a red-black pair. Insert the red ended RCA Cable to the right pre-amp output channel while insert the other one (white or black) to the left pre-amp output channel.
- Labels for the ports in amplifiers may change for each of the different brands out there so it the pre-amp output channel may be used. Sometimes, the labelling could be “tape monitor’. In any case, check the manual or call the customer service if you’re having some difficulty.
- The other ending of the pair of RCA cables that you have connected to the amplifier should also be connected to the equalizer.
- The RCA cables should be connected to the pre-amp input channels of the equalizer.
- As with the amplifiers, labels used by your equalizer may not be in the same standards as with “pre-amp” labelling. It is always a safe advice to consult the manual that comes along with the product.
- Be sure to check while buying if the product has a manual, shoddy products usually will lack essential items such as manuals. Of course, this advice is not applicable to second-hand devices.
Step 3: RCA Cables between the amplifier and the receiver.
If you’ve reached this step, that means the equalizer and the amplifier has already been connected. You may stop that is your goal. However, you must not forget about the receiver which is where the output of your instrument will be funneled out. The steps to connect the amplifier and the receiver is almost the same with the amplifier-equalizer connection.
- Remember the other pair of RCA Cables? Connect the two of them to the amplifier, specifically to its pre-amp output channel of your amplifier.
- The other end of the cable pair should be connected to your receiver, specifically to its pre-amp input channel.
- In reality, most of the receivers will have both pre-amp input and output channels. For those receivers who lack the aforementioned ports, the method being discussed here (direct connection between equalizer and amplifier) is suitable.
Step 4: Testing
As with almost every process, the last step involves testing the three electronic devices that is discussed here (amplifier, equalizer and receiver). Testing it before any activity is imperative. Faulty connections will be exposed and corrected. You don’t want to be performing in front of a crowd only to discover that your devices were not connected properly. The steps below cover this particular section.
- Some manufacturers have placed in dedicated on/off buttons for the preamp channels. Check the manual or the channels themselves to see if your amps have this feature.
- Turn on all the three devices, plus a guitar (or any other instrument).
- Belt out some tunes and see if all devices are working.
At this point you might be thinking, “Wow, this German guy explains things so terribly.”. I apologize for my unclear explanation. Perhaps this video shall help. 🙂
Setting up the amps with the equalizer is quite easy once you get used to the ports. Locating the right ports is the most difficult step in this process.
Master the ports (and their locations) and you will have an easy time redoing this process over and over again. Of course, as mentioned above, soliciting advices from a local expert is recommended. This is their job after all. Ask them if you have some difficulties in setting up your equalizer with your amp.
Or you can pay me to fix it for you….
I’m Mark Mullen. For the last 20 years I’ve worked with some of German’s biggest bands and promotion companies organizing industrial sound systems and special acoustic installations. I created this site as a resource for my many friends worldwide to make the process of buying a quality amp easier.