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How to use Spotify's built-in equalizer for better sounding music

Spotify has a built-in equalizer that can greatly improve how you hear your favorite songs and podcasts. Here's what you need to know.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
Person with headphones on looking at phone with a laptop open
carlosalvarez/Getty Images

I remember back in the 80s when I had a 20-band equalizer in my crusty old Audi Fox that allowed me to hear Rush and Van Halen to my precise specifications. I was and am an audio nerd. These days, I much prefer listening to vinyl, but I do opt for Spotify on certain occasions: This includes when I'm running, when I'm searching for new music, or when I want to hear something that was either never pressed on vinyl or is out of print.

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For most people, the default Spotify settings will do just fine. And given many listen to Spotify through earbuds that don't always have the best sonic clarity, does it really matter anyway? Of course, it does. If you really want to enjoy your music, you should know the default equalization settings aren't ideal for every type of music or content.

Fortunately, Spotify has a built-in equalizer that allows you to select from a number of presets and even adjust it manually. Now, the manual adjustment only allows for six bands (60Hz, 150Hz, 400Hz, 1Khz, 2.4KHz, and 15KHz) but that should be enough for most. 

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The EQ feature is available on both desktop and mobile apps. I'll demonstrate on the desktop app (but the process is very similar on both the Android and iOS applications).

How to enable the Spotify EQ

What you'll need: You only need the Spotify app and a valid Spotify account. That's it. Let's make your music sing.

1. Open Spotify Settings

The first thing to do is open the Spotify app and then open the Settings window. 

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On the desktop app, click your profile icon and, from the resulting menu, click Settings.

The Spotify desktop client profile menu.

Accessing Spotify Settings via the profile menu.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Enable the Equalizer

Locate the Playback section in Settings and you'll see the Equalizer entry. Click the On/Off slider until it's in the On position.

The Spotify Playback section in Settings.

Enabling the Spotify Equalizer feature.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Adjust the equalization

After enabling the Equalizer, you can then select from one of the many presets or manually adjust it by clicking one of the band dots and then dragging it up or down. 

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If you're new to the world of EQ, I would suggest selecting a preset that matches the genre of music you are listening to (such as Classical, Dance, R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, or Rock). You can then fine-tune the EQ to better match your taste.

The Spotify Equalizer preset selector.

Selecting from a number of equalization presets in Spotify.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

One thing to keep in mind is the EQ is per-instance. In other words, if you use Spotify on both your desktop and phone, when you adjust the EQ on your desktop, it will not affect your phone. You must make those adjustments on each device.

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And that's all there is to enabling and using the Spotify Equalizer. I find this to be a must-use feature to get the most out of the experience. You don't have to be an audiophile to enjoy good music. But to really enjoy good music, you'll want the sound to be as vibrant and pleasing as possible, and a bit of EQ can help make that happen. 

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