Improving Sound Quality in iTunes Using the Equalizer Tool

Get the best out of your music library by shaping the sound your hear

iTunes Equalizer as shown in the software
iTunes Equalizer Screen. Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to dotDash

Just like physical graphic equalizers found on home stereo equipment, the equalizer tool in iTunes allows you to shape the audio you hear in order to improve sound quality.

Using the built-in multi-band equalizer, you can either boost or reduce certain frequency ranges in order to get the exact audio response you need through your speakers. You'll also find this technique useful for listening to music in different rooms, as environment has its own set of acoustic variations.

The process of audio equalization should not be confused with another audio enhancement tool in iTunes called Sound Check, which normalizes the loudness of songs so that they all play at the same volume.

Instructions in this guide refer to iTunes version 11 and later, as well as the new Apple Music app, which replaced iTunes with macOS Catalina (10.15).

How to Open the iTunes Equalizer Tool on a PC

Follow these simple steps to access the iTunes EQ feature on a Windows device.

  1. From the iTunes main screen, select the View menu tab at the top of the screen. If you don't see this menu then you'll need to enable it by holding down the CTRL key and pressing B.

  2. Select Show Equalizer. Alternatively, hold down the CTRL + Shift keys and then press 2.

  3. The equalizer tool should now be displayed on the screen and enabled by default. If it is not enabled, select the checkbox next to the On option.

How to Open the iTunes Equalizer Tool on a Mac

Follow these simple steps to access the iTunes EQ feature on a Mac.

  1. On the main screen of iTunes, select Window and then iTunes Equalizer. Alternatively, hold down the Option + Command keys and then press 2.

  2. Once the equalizer is displayed, ensure that it is enabled. If it is not, select the box next to On.

Selecting a Built-in Equalizer Preset

Before going through the trouble of creating your own custom EQ setting you may find that one of the built-in presets will do just fine. There's a good selection of different presets, including as Dance, Electronic, and Hip-Hop, as well as more specific settings like Small Speakers, Spoken Word, and Vocal Booster.

To change from the default preset (Flat) to one of the built-in ones, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Up/down arrow in the rectangular box to display the list of EQ presets.

  2. Choose one by selecting it. The multi-band equalizer will change its slider settings automatically and the name of your chosen preset will be displayed.

  3. If after playing one of your songs you want to try another preset, then repeat the above steps.

Creating Your Own Customized Equalizer Presets

If you have exhausted all of the presets that are built into iTunes, then maybe you'd like to create your own. Here's how:

  1. Play a track or playlist from your iTunes library so that you can hear what happens to the sound when you start changing the equalizer settings.

  2. Modify individual frequency bands by moving each of the slider controls up or down. Don't worry about changing any of the built-in presets at this stage, as nothing will be overwritten and you can always revert to a preset by selecting it.

  3. Once you are happy with the overall sound, select the Up/down arrow in the rectangular box as before, but this time choose Make Preset.

  4. Type in a name for your custom preset and select OK. You will now see the name of your custom-made preset displayed on-screen. It will also now appear in the list of presets.