Equalizer in Review – accurate, full featured, but in need of an overhaul

If anything came too late to Apple’s iDevice line, it was proper equalisers. EQu blew me away, but the App Store’s first equaliser, Equalizer, only really nudges my inner audiophile that can get by Equalizer’s gamey interface.

Feel free to discuss Equalizer in our forums.

Why? Well, it simply is more accurate than EQu – or at least it was when I originally reviewed EQu. You can adjust any frequency up to 20 000 Hz, while EQu tops out at 16 000 Hz. Right, anything above 16 000 Hz is for teenagers and dogs, right? It really depends on the condition of your ears and the nature of the music. Suffice it to say most digital music runs in 16 bits, and from 20-20 000 Hz. Equalizer allows you to tweak those frequencies brilliantly.

You can carve any shape into the Q metric, down to the tiniest fraction of a kHz; you can independently set the gain for each frequency and overall gain; and you can add any frequency hump from 20-20 000 Hz. Brilliant. You ARE limited to seven user-customisable frequencies at a time, but trust me, with the parameters available, seven is more than enough.

But Equalizer’s real trick, the layering of an EQ on top of presently playing iPod music is something else – if you can get it to work. The problem is that it isn’t that straight forward. In fact, nothing about this app is really user friendly. Oh well, Equalizer can brag on about allowing you to stream your music over wifi and add spatial effects and add dithering to your music.

But, that is where things start to get shrill. Equalizer’s interface really is a puzzle. Each item seems like it was designed by a different company and then stamped together in a software wrapper. For instance, if you choose to listen to music from your iPod library via the graphic EQ button, you can add songs, albums, or playlists, but no matter what you pick, the screen displays the one option: ‘pick song’. Then, you might get a greyed-out screen with no options on another screen.

The ubiquitous export button sometimes moves and sometimes doesn’t. Then, when you’ve gone into the EQ settings menu from the main screen and set individual settings, you have only two options for applying a user EQ: save or dismiss. Um, what? Which brings me to the last, but major function: direct EQu manipulation from the main screen.

Well, it turns out that when you dismiss the settings screen, you basically apply the EQ to your music. I suggest adding via the main screen’s plus button and giving the rest of the features a rest till they are ready. The plus button and the main screen EQ are easy to use and readily tweakable.

Regarding how well Equalizer adjusts music, don’t be worried – it is top quality. It will distort if you go mad boosting every frequency without the proper precut and gain adjustments. But that is how it should be. Compression the dynamic range, while easier for the newbie, isn’t the audiophile way. Equalizer’s devs have stuck to their guns and given music lovers a GREAT sounding equaliser. Another plus Equalizer has is its ability to navigate through playlists and songs. Playlists are a snap to create, and you can search in any direction through songs. Kudos.

Just like EQu, you can expect to drain your battery faster than normal, but that isn’t the fault of the app, it’s Apple’s fault. They’ve never included  EQ chips or a real EQ engine in their players.

Buggers.

Conclusion
So, what can I say? Equalizer was the first of its kind at the App Store, and at least from an audiophile perspective, it is probably the best. But, it hasn’t fixed its clumsy interface, and that is the real kicker. As much as I love its abilities, I simply don’t use them. Instead, I opt for EQu, or at best, wimping out and using the main screen only. Equalizer, you are a great app, but even two months on, you feel at best, like a beta. Tibor, all you need to do is fix the UI. Right now, it is a train wreck, but with some serious tweaking, you could have as good or better an app as EQu. I’m looking forward to the improvements.

App Summary
Title: EqualizerDeveloper: Tibor Horvath
Reviewed Ver:2.17Min OS Req:
Price:$2.99App Size:8.93MB
  • accurate sound
  • playlist and song naviation
  • dithering, wifi
  • WTF moments aplenty
  • horrid user interface
  • hit and miss utility of functions

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