Would An EQ Aid the Sound of Lower Quality Live Recordings?


Silver Member
Username: Lovegasoline


Post Number: 104
Registered: Jul-05
I've recently begun listening to a significant number of live recordings. These are Rock recordings (many are Grateful Dead concerts) most of which have been analog taped by a wide spectrum of equipment and skill. The music is legally transferable and shared, in the form of .shn files which I expand into Lossless AIFF files and then burn to CDR.

As I stated, the recording quality varies. Some recordings are superb, others display weaknesses such as being poorly mixed (levels of various instruments & mikes are poorly balanced), sometimes tape hiss, etc. I've been downloading and playing mostly the recordings that are recommended as being at the upper range of quality sonically, however, there are other recordings that are of poorer quality, yet have a historical and musical significance that interests me, and I'd like to have as pleasurable an experience listening to them as is reasonably possible.

Would the introduction of an equalizer into my audio system provide a more listenable experience to poorer recording?

My system now is Yamaha A-770 Integrated Amp (mid 1980's), Meridian 508.20 CDP, Polk Lsi9 Speakers.

Any thoughts on this?


Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 6759
Registered: May-04

An EQ probably won't help much. Particularly if you're trying to repair Grateful Dead bootlegs. At any sort of reasonable price you have a choice bewteen two types of EQ's. A graphic EQ has set frequency centers and frequency bells. Since you can only work at specific frequencies with a graphic EQ you will find that you most often need to adjust a frequency that falls between the two points you can adjust; or you want to adjust a frequency band more narrow than the fixed bell insists you will adjust.

If you find a parametric EQ, you can adjust the frequency center, to some extent, and the width of the bell. Since this requires more complicated electronics most paramteric EQ's are limted to two or possibly three bands of EQ. That is seldom enough to actually do an effective the job. Parametrics that don't add noise are somewhat expensive also. That brings us to the final problem of trying to adjust EQ after the fact; you normally end up boosting the tape noise or ambient noise while trying to pull out the music.

EQ is best applied before committing the sound to a recording. After the fact EQ is seldom successful. If you find a cheap EQ on the used market you can give it a try but don't expect too much. Otherwise the best advice is to develop the ability to listen past the recording and focus on the music.


Silver Member
Username: Lovegasoline


Post Number: 106
Registered: Jul-05
Thanks for the advice Jan.
I'm fuzzy as to what "frequency centers and frequency bells" refer to. Maybe I'd need to get my hands on a diagram or graph to get a feel for how the EQ alters the sound.

Your advice of listening past the recording to focus on the music is mirrored in statements such as, "I do have an old school ear from years of picking sounds out of bootlegs of suspicious quality but, I can pretty much hear everything I need to get a good feel for this mother jam."

Bronze Member
Username: Anubis

Birmingham, West Midlands England

Post Number: 49
Registered: May-06
Develop the ability...?! Wow! That's something I've not heard said before. Kind of thought it, though.

I wonder if I could develop this ability to negate the need for a nice Hi-Fi system? :D

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