Equalizer in a Hi Fi system

Just curious to hear everyone’s opinions on using an equalizer in a high end hi fi system. Was at work tonight and killing time and came across a Schitt Loki max $1500 Equalizer with some very good reviews. What are some of the pros / Benefits and cons in using one. Just curious. BTW. I’m talking about a top of the line. Hi end equalizer. Mostly to calm some high frequencies and some bad recordings. 

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A good unit can be an asset, especially a bypass that helps you hear the differences it makes.

That unit does not have independent L and R adjustments.

It seems like a good choice IF your space is perfectly symmetrical.

You may know, but I am a big fan of Level Controls built into speakers, i.e. ’presence’ for the mid-range; ’brilliance’ for the tweeters. Remote controlled equalizer would be much easier, but I would want independent L/R and a global balance for errant recordings.

Many Vintage speakers had level controls, because the speaker might be used in a too dead or too live space. One speaker might be near a side wall and the other in free space or further away from the other side wall (like my office system). It’s tricky, but separate adjustments can be made to L and to R.

Vintage Receivers had tone controls, many of them dual concentric, adjust both sides together, or each side individually.

Some units hade several tone controls, and then you have the exterior equalizer, various number of bands, perhaps L and R separately.


You may move to a space that is dead/hard/unsymmetrical: I might first try a unit like this


and once the benefits are discovered, then move up to a ’supposedly’ better unit. Buy from a source allowing returns, you never know if ’supposedly’ better is actually better.

Of course a Sound Pressure Meter, set on a tripod at seated ear level, combined with test tracks would help find a measured balance, then you have your preferences, or specific hearing characteristics (not-always symmetrical)

make sure it has a bottom tripod screw


this test track CD, tracks 9-38, is terrific

this is the lowest price I have ever seen


If you don't buy it, I'll buy it for a friend.


You could always try a Lokius first. It's a non remote version of the Loki Max. Not quite all the features, but a close one for much less $$ ($299).

Why not! I have the earlier version of the Loki which I'm not using. It's virtually new. If you're curious, shoot me a DM and we'll work something out.

I put a Loki in my tape loop. Works fine when I need it, otherwise it is invisible, sonically speaking. 

Equalizers make a lot of sense for a lot of people. No idea why some folks have issues with adding an EQ. Probably same folks who scream all about "pure signal" and then run their music through a tube amp only to distort it anyway, LOL. Some folks cannot simply move speakers and treat their room to get decent sound, so an EQ makes a lot of sense.


Nothing wrong with good tone controls.  Also worth considering room treatments to tame excess mid/treble and improve imaging.

Hifi system yes. Audiophile system no.

I think you can see the difference I am trying to make. With an audiophile system you are trying to achieve the absolutely best sound possible at every level of nuance and detail. All your components are likely to be “straight wire” designs… the ultimate in simplicity to minimize any conceivable effect on the sound. Running the sound through an extra box and attenuating the split signal is going to impact the sound. The better the equalizer the less the impact… but there will be one. Decades ago the impact was very large… it has gotten smaller.

EQ is a tool for a specific goal but never a solution by itself alone ...

I use it for my headphone to go nearer the Harman curve ...But it does not replace the electrical,mechanical and acoustical necessary controls and treatment i also used and put in place with my headphone and speakers/room ..





Answer: whatever pleases “you”

Some don’t like the idea of adding anything extra in the audio chain from the belief that it can only degrade the signal.  Others may value the adjustability more, and some cannot discern the subjective significant sonic degradation.

I’ve toyed with the idea of dropping in an equalizer such as a Loki or the Cello Palette Preamp equalizer. Worse case I can simply remove from the audio chain.

I had a 15-band EQ in a tape loop of my receiver in my first system back in 1982. I think it was a BSR or ADC. Back then I wanted as many components in the rack as possible....more drivers, more watts, more volume, read the specs, etc.  The system cranked! ...guess I was a wannabe DJ, LOL! 🤘 😎

It’s not something I would add to my system now. It adds another component plus two sets of cables to the equation. I do have some gain/volume and bass controls on my woofers and subwoofer below 80hz that I can adjust as needed, but nothing in main signal path to the mids and tweeters.

Dude, every recording you own has already gotten eq'd out the wazoo. There is no "purity" in any recording you heard in life. So, feel free to eq until your ears are pleased. Some sasso headed mastering technician doesn't get to decide what should sound good to your ears or not...you do!

I use 2 lokius, one each channel for asymmetrical needs.  They have full bypass switch.  Even engaged I cannot "hear" them.  One poster here recently chose Lokius over Loki max based on what he heard.  YMMV.  Having independent L/R is really nice IMHO (listen up Schiit).  

Colorful language aside, I agree with deep_333. Anyone who has participated in the recording process can attest to the fact that not all masters are reflective as to what the artist intended. The goal of hearing exactly what is recorded is a fool's errand. Make it enjoyable to your ears and use every tool possible to achieve that goal. I still use my Soundcraftsmen AE2000 equalizer/analyzer in my audiophile system. I find the spectrum analyzer very helpful in determining just what frequencies are recorded out of balance.

Funny that some think having an EQ isn't "audiophile" or that it adds something unnecessary to the audio chain but they're happy to use mono blocks and a pre-amp instead of an integrated or receiver. But I suppose those aren't "audiophile" either. 

The Max could put the Room Treatment Cabal out of business. It's amazing and... hey...fun? Anybody have fun anymore? I’ve been using EQs of various types in pro work for decades although not in my main hifi rig as that’s traditionally been a sacred "less is more" audio geek space. Having become a fan of the original Loki (I use one for headphones and another in a video rig) as a very well designed thing that is astonishingly transparent unlike anything I’ve used before, It was easy to get a Max. You need stereo EQ? Get a couple of ’em, or maybe the less expensive ones...problem solved. As discussed in another thread, I improved the operation on my Max by adding cool little "chicken head" knobs that I can see from across the room even in low light (white knobs on a black Max)...seriously...the best and most effective cheap tweak ever, and they’re 100% vegan and recyclable (threw that in). Also they look cool. If you get a Max and don’t install chicken heads please don’t tell me as I will take it personally and be sad.

@hilde45   Hello. I DM you a few times. Didn’t get no response. I’d like to try that older until out that u don’t use anymore. Looking forward to hearing back from u. 

Absolutely, I have tone controls on my McIntosh C2300 preamp in my main system and I use an SAE 1800 Parametric equalizer in one of my vintage systems.

I have the Loki Max. It runs all my digital end, CDs, streaming, tuner and DVD player. It obviously is a huge help in tuning poorly recorded music and there is plenty of that. However I tend to listen to well recorded music so I do not use it very often. The sound going through it while in bypass mode is not affected at all. Great unit. I also run the Puffin on my secondary TT for the same reasons. My primary TT is the only thing running pure as I only play well recorded vinyl on it.

Many audiophiles do have a negative view of equalizers and it is at their own loss. Kind of like I stubbornly refused to go into streaming for years, being the "analog is the best way kind of guy". So glad I grew out of both these preconceived notions.

Thread 'The Charter Oak PEQ-1'

there are better products than Loki and Lokius!  See link

If you want ultimate SQ for an equalizer with minimal or no noticeable degradation, well then…

listen, the Schiit EQ products are, well, sh-t sounding. Sorry, but if you use them and think you’re hearing state of the art EQ you don’t know what you’re missing!

The bashing of equalization as a tool is ignorance but the use of equalization as a solution is ignorance too ... Equalization is a useful tool not an acoustic solution ...It help alleviate some problem but do not solve any acoustic problem by itself alone ...

I use EQ after establishing the right equalisation levels with my modified headphone because so good they are , they are not perfect, no headphone is , and can be too far at some spot from the Harman curve and my ears ask for such slight improvement ... It could be the same thing in a room for a form of DSP , the best DSP is the BACCH filters , eveybody needs this one knowing it or not because this DSP is an acoustic solution with no trade-off ...


The typical "mine is better than yours" argument. Yours still has no remote ☹️

Any piece of equipment that improves the music to YOUR EARS is a good piece....My system is $30 K and I use a LOKI MINI when I need to for certain recordings that need a little EXTRA something......EQ's don't improve your hi end system.....they improve the RECORDING that you are listening to....Thru your hi end system. Once audiophiles understand this fact.....it makes owning an EQ plausible.

I would like to elaborate. I compare the two in the context of bass and or treble tone shaping. Not semi surgical cuts. Mainly modest boosts. While I’ve not compared the two with frequency cuts, I certainly find a huge sonic advantage with the aforementioned pro studio gear in the context of boosts in bass or treble. 

And yes, I’m equalizing RECORDINGS. not gear. Excellent recordings obviously require less or no adjustment 

I have a vintage Kenwood that I use mainly when doing needle drops via my Sugar cube SC-2+.  Just a light touch of added low end seems to fill out some bass-shy records.  The rest of my system is dialed in well enough that I don't need it for listening.  Nor do I use the base and treble controls on my McIntosh preamp.

Sometimes I think that's exactly what I need for less than stellar recordings. Shrieky vocals especially are where I long to adjust.The ability to adjust subwoofer equalization has given me very positive results, so why not tweak the upper mids too.The possibility of degradation is why I hesitate and my negative prejudice to be honest. But this thread has inspired me to do some research and open my mind. It does no good to wish all of my favorite music should be remastered by Analogue Productions;-)

Equalizing each albums reflect an acoustic problem not related to your ears/room/system so much perhaps if your system is well done , than related to the bad recording and studio bad work and bad pressing often cumulated together in commercial music ..,.

I equalize to compensate some of my gear limitations , i could do it to optimize my room acoustic also , but never for the albums sake : for example to compensate for the AKG K340 design and my modifications limits i used equalization ..

After that hearing with the K340 the acoustic recording condition of each albums was a pleasure but i listen not to popular commercial music , it is true ... In the case of popular commercial music i can imagine why we must equalize each albums ...I offer you my deepest sympathies ...😊

Try jazz and classical ....

I apologize for the ironical tone ...

If we love some kind of music it could be indeed a problem and EQ will help... Purist can go sleeping...



I had a Soundcraftsman 15 band per channel EQ that added noise to my system.

I now have a Harman Kardon EQ8 that is dead quiet when in use, but....

I had a guy who's a professional musician, piano tuner etc. play with it for over an hour. I tested it on and off with his eyes  closed.  My system sounds best with the EQ8 off and the tone controls in the neutral position. 

The EQ8 is put in line to redo bootleg cassettes and such to record  them to CD's. 

This has been my experience, yours may vary.

Like most things, EQ's have plusses and minuses. 

Eq is a useful  tool but generally not a solution .... Eq. generally dont adress the trade off it create to "improve" something , decreasing or impeding something else ...

And our ears/brain dont work as a linear Fourier tool anyway... And physical acoustic controls cannot be replaced by DSP and in some room/system well embedded there is no need for DSP E.Q.but sometimes as with the BACCH filters some DSP is irreplaceable by anything else ... Life is complex sorry ...


Regardless the opinions of some outliers (Cello Palette. Really? Large and unobtainable, and try to get one repaired.) the Schiit stuff is generally accepted as superbly designed and great sounding. At least around my house anyway. There is absolutely no burden on the signal with the Loki EQs in the chain (unless there's something going on with the cables maybe), and like others here I only put it in if it's needed...the Max allows you to A/B the signal instantly from your beat up old beer stained couch without the need to hop over the dog to adjust it. 

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I’m a fan of the Loki Max, use it with my SU-R1000 (on bottom black). I run it XLR and don’t here any negative in my chain. Also has a remote and saved presents so you can adjust from your listening chair.

Want to point out that the universal audiophile sneer at tone controls and EQs was based in experience, but isn't always true anymore.

Several things were happening when EQs became common in the audio world:

  • Tone controls weren't great
  • EQs were noisy.  With lots of parts, it was common to get cheap ones.
  • Users often overused EQs

Not all gear has excellent tone controls.  My Luxman does.  I use Roon's DSP sparingly but to good effect. I have a DSP powered center channel and use DSP there to compensate for resonance issues with the location, not to mention the entire speaker is configured via DSP.

I know how well regarded Schiit products are. However a high quality studio grade parametric balanced piece has cleaner more natural sounding boosts. After all, these are the equalizers that are used in the studio to master your favorite recordings. Using one at home is the ultimate in hi fi tone control. 

Avalon AD2055, Millennia nseq4, and my own Charter Oak all sound unbelievable in home playback