EQu in Review – your tunes, perfectly tweaked

It’s funny: I’ve been taught not to bite the hand that feeds you, but Apple have fed music-loving fans like me the merest of crumbs for so since 2007 that I long to sink my finely manicured fangs into something fruity. Gapless, lossless, and great headphone performance are just niceties for the regular Johan who wants to pump up the jam on his Justin Bieber collection without hitting distortion’s ugly overhead. For that crowd (and me), audio app developer, elephantcandy, have delivered EQu – the quality equalizer.

Feel free to discuss EQu in our forums.

EQu is one of the most important apps to debut at the App Store. Why do I say this? Firstly, EQu does NOT distort even when you cue up too much bass. Secondly, it allows YOU to choose how to listen to your music. True, there are good and bad ways to EQ music, but it’s always nice when those choices remain yours.

Sound Quality
EQu is great. It is capable of an infinite combination of EQ settings. You are not limited to gain steps for each frequency band. Better yet, EQ settings do NOT culminate in compressed dynamics ala typical EQ’s. No, EQu keeps your music mostly intact. I say mostly, because the music is re-normalised in order to skip clipping, but it is done in a more elegant way than most off-the-shelf DAP equalisers. 100% accurate, no, but definitely good enough.

Setting EQ’s is easy: simply tap a segment of the red line to add an EQ point. Frequencies are nicely displayed at the bottom, so you won’t get lost thinking what’s what. In portrait mode, that line can get cramped, but landscape is plenty roomy enough to make some crazy patterns.

EQu is a parametric EQ, meaning that for every frequency you tweak, the Q, or bandwidth, for that frequency can also change. If, for example, you drop the 800Hz band a little bit, frequencies around it, too will be lowered. Ditto for raising a frequency. If that bothers you, just add more frequency points in the spots that you don’t want to be affected, and raise them as well.

You can save EQ settings with unique names and unique characterisations. Mine are headphone-dependent, so I’ve got ATCK10, FE333, RE2, and so on. EQu is a veritable SimCity of EQ apps: pretty and endless.

NOTE: Some users have complained that iPod’s gain is lowered when music is played through EQu. Firstly, without lowering the gain, the age-old crack, snapple, and pop would engage every modern album. You can’t get a great EQ without creating working room. This room is either built-in to the song itself, extended with outboard equalisers, or is extended via the use of software. EQu is that software. There is NO other way to get a great EQ on the iPod/iPhone without it because Apple don’t have dedicated EQ chips in their devices. I don’t consider this a tradeoff, but then again, I don’t listen to my iPod at ear-destroying volume levels.

At the same time, perfection isn’t possible in any audio app layer, but EQu is the closest EQ layer I’ve used on any portable app, much better, for instance, than Sony’s much-praised built-in equaliser.

Performance
On newer iDevices, EQu runs like a dream. It is also a universal binary, so a one-time 3$ purchase is all you need to enjoy great equalisation on any of your Apple devices. This by the way, is a huge advantage over the App Store’s first equalising app, Equalizer. That said, performance on my iPod touch 2G is worse than my most recent, post-influenza 50-click jaunt.

EQu 1.0 was hampered. You couldn’t choose albums, playlists, or artists. Rather, you were stuck fumbling around alphabetically in your music library. Today, the interface is fast, clean, and full of additions to Apple’s stock software. For instance, if I pull out my headphones, the music keeps playing rather than stopping. While this isn’t good news for battery life, it is great news when braving the cold as some large-lipped tourist asks for directions. I can just pull out my headphone plug, say, “I don’t know.” and plug back in without thrusting my moist, finely-painted fingers into the bitter cold.

Conclusion
EQu is an app that I both love and hate. It sounds great, works great, looks great, and is a breeze to use, but it is such a personal hit that:

  • I am retiring my Rockboxed iPod nano 1G
  • I am using my iPod touch 4G for music
  • 8GB is no longer enough for apps and music!
  • The battery on my iPod touch 4G is getting some use now
  • I don’t know what to do with my unused iPods now
  • it makes me wish my iPod touch was smaller, because I LOVE it now!

Music lovers, this is one of the best 3$ you’ll ever spend, and elephantcandy, consider yourself closely watched from now on! Well done.

App Summary
Title: EQu – the quality equalizerDeveloper: elephantcandy
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req:
Price:$2.99App Size:1.04MB
  • great sound performance
  • ease of use
  • parametric EQ
  • universal binary
  • slow on old iDevices
  • no frequency plot decibel markings

appstoreicon

  • BlurInTheHouse

    Well, there is a few issues with lowering the dynamic range of the music that is typically already over-compressed. Seems like they went at it from the wrong angle. The other equalizer app (Equalizer: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/M…321267949&mt=8) in the store since last year already has a much better playlist handling, does not cut the dynamic range and is parametric as well. Plus you can seek within songs, a feature that Equ dearly misses as it is not as mature yet. Give both a try and see which is more to your liking. Equalizer supports older devices too and works fine (sans backgrounding for second generation devices only). It’s great to have choice

  • http://www.touchmyapp.com shigzeo

    Thanks for the comment. With Equalizer’s newest release, I’ll be reviewing it in short order. Till now, I’ve been dissatisfied with both EQ’s because they were unable to really play the music I wanted when I wanted and I didn’t want to review them in that shape. Now, both are on good footing and generally, good to use.

    That said, EQu makes listening to music (other than seeking), a breeze, while Equalizer is harder, if more accurate.

  • frenchbat

    Wait… What ?
    Did you just said that this app adds gapless support on the Itouch devices ?

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