How to Use the Equalizer in VLC Media Player

Enhance your digital music library's sound

VLC Media Player Equalizer
VLC Media Player EQ Tool. Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Users often assume when they are streaming songs, playing music videos or watching movies that their favorite media player is already set up to output audio in the best possible way. However, the default audio settings those devices come with are not always optimal, although audio enhancement features are built into some players specifically aimed at tweaking the sound for any listening environment.

VLC media player is free, cross-platform media player software. It is available for desktop and mobile platforms including Windows 10 Mobile, iOS devices, Windows Phone, Android devices and others. One of the most important features in VLC Media Player for enhancing audio is the equalizer. This is a tool that allows you to control the output level of set frequency bands, which range from 60 hertz to 16 kilohertz. The program's 10-band graphic equalizer can be used to get exactly the audio you want.

The equalizer is disabled by default in VLC media player software. Unless you've already tinkered with VLC Media Player's interface, you might not have noticed it at all. This guide covers how to use EQ presets and how to manually configure the equalizer with your own settings.

Enabling the Equalizer and Using Presets

To activate the equalizer and use the built-in presets, do the following:

  1. Click the Tools menu tab at the top of VLC Media Player's main screen and choose the Effects and Filters option. If you prefer, you can hold down the CTRL key and press E to get to the same menu.
  1. On the Equalizer tab under the Audio Effects menu, click the check box next to the Enable option.
  2. To use a preset, click the drop-down menu located on the right side of the equalizer screen. VLC Media Player has a good selection of presets that mostly cover popular genres. There are also a few specific settings such as "full bass," "headphones" and "large hall." Click on a setting that you think might work with your music.
  1. Now that you've chosen a preset, start playing a song so you can hear what it sounds like. Just play a song from one of your playlists or click Media > Open File to choose one.
  2. As the song plays, you can change presets on-the-fly to evaluate the effect each preset has on your music. 
  3. If you want to tweak a preset, you can do this with the slider bars on each frequency band. If, for example, you want to boost the bass, adjust the low-frequency bands on the left side of the interface screen. To change how high-frequency sounds sound, adjust the sliders on the right side of the EQ tool.
  4. When you are happy with a preset, click the Close button.