edited - I need any info about car stereo EQ

I am doing some final touches on a group of songs, trying to get everything just right, volume levels, etc and have been hit over the head with an EQ dilemma.

I use my car stereo to make most of my final decisions about mix and content, and as I said I am 99% there with 12 songs. Then while giving it one more listen during a drive through the countryside on a beautifyl Spring day I tinkered with the EQ setting on my Chevy Impala car stereo. Nice stereo but basic controls. For no good reason I turned the bass up from setting zero to +2 and the treble down from zero to -2 and drove on. After awhile I began to think it sounded a lot better. Every song had a “nicer” feel to it. My question is this, what do I do now? How do I relate the car stereo EQ basic +1, + 2, etc to Cubase. I have overworked this material as is, and would really like to know how the car stereo EQ is set up, i.e. +2 relates to what? I’m tired. I think you guys get the general idea and will pursue this tomorrow.

Thanks for any help.

I would set the eq to your normal listening position for playback of commercial CD’s then reference your material to that.

Definitely… Always go back to some commercial references you trust. If they feel to toppy or too bass light in the car then your stuff probably will too. If they don’t… Well, it’s back to the mix again!

Also… it might be worth taking a few days away from the mixes. Many suffer from mix-burnout, where you loose objectivity after getting too close to the songs (I know I did mixing my album - had to take a good 3 weeks away from the material, and when I got back to it I had a much better perspective on what sounded good, or not)


MarkOne said

Also… it might be worth taking a few days away from the mixes.

Which is good advice, nothing but good advice here. I’ve had problem mixes in the past which I’ve cracked easily after a short break, you wonder what the problem was!

IMHO this is key. But it is very hard for artists (of all stripes) to do this.

One approach is to get it sounding as close as you can and then ‘silence’ for about two weeks.

Then when you go back to listen,

1-Take a pad and pencil.
2- Start the play back of the entire CD.
3-Once the music has started, DO NOT STOP THE PLAY BACK!
Only take notes on your pad of changes you want to make.
(these will now be very obvious)
4-Once these changes are made, ‘bob’s yer uncle’.

The longer you can put off listening the better.
Gives you a more objective view.
You may even find you do not like one or more songs and you will
end up replacing them with other songs recorded in that session.


I like to do this and also like doing it from the other room, I feel like being outside of the control room sometimes gives a better overall on the mix.

Just use an iPod for reference. Chances are that will be the playback method most employed nowadays. :wink:

Me too. I have 3 systems outside the CR that I listen to music on. I drive with mixes too and keep a pad of paper in the car with me to write notes down on.

Woodcrest Studio wrote

keep a pad of paper in the car with me to write notes down on

Do you use the old “steer with the knee” trick? :laughing:

Nate already does that for eating his burgers, no free knees … :laughing:

Not sure if anyone else has noticed but commercial music, the “mastering EQ curve”, has definitely changed over the past decade or two. I used to have a standard setting for listening to my CD’s in my cars. Now with all EQ flat everything sounds like it did EQ’d 15 years ago, plenty bass and plenty of high end, with no EQ engaged.

So I keep my car EQ flat and reference my studio mixes that same way when I play them in the car.

Anyway, I attribute at least part of this change to the proliferation of poratable digital music players. I rarely EQ anything these days. Play a song from 1975-1980 or so and you’ll hear the difference in the curve… as those songs do need EQ to bring out the bass and similar.

Along similar lines as relates to referencing, if you have a home studio (studio in your house?) it seems kinda logical to run a feed from there to your actual home stereo system where you listen to music normally. Like the car, you’ll pretty much know if things are “off” before you print if you check it there.

Lots of good answers but not to my question - sorry, probably my fault for not explaining it better.

I want to adjust the EQ in Cubase to equal what I have done on the car stereo - therefore, does anyone know how car stereo EQ is “setup”?
How does +2 bass and -2 treble relate to Cubase?

I’ve been in the auto industry my whole life, and what some people won’t tell you is that many car stereos are hyped at both ends, simply to make the sound “better” in order to sell cars.

This might explain why it sounds better if you cut the treble, but I can’t explain why it requires a bit of bass boost. My problem in this respect is two-fold: I have the classic room mode at the mix position which leads me to mix in too much bass, and then when I play it on my car stereo the bass is WAY too loud. Also, I check my mixes on two very different cars and the freq response in both of them is quite different.

I guess now that I think about it, that isn’t that surprising … but wow! That’s for that perspective and experience twighlightsong. I can’t figure out if that’s horrifying (hours on the perfect mix on the best speakers we can afford, and what is it all for in the end - it all depends on whether the listener drives a coupe vs. a pick-up!), or if it’s liberating (in the sense there’s no “gold standard” to meet).

I wonder if the definition of a good mix is that it makes the listener comfortable, rather than whether it meets some sonic standard. If there is a gold standard we have to meet, maybe it’s a subliminal one on the listener’s part: “This sounds just like all the other songs I like to listen to, so it must be good”. So the recommendation to the original poster re: referencing CDs of a similar genre sounds like a good option - irrespective of whether they drive a Ford or a Chevy!

If your mixes compare - as relates to their basic frequency balances - to commercial mixes in the studio monitors and room they should sound similar elsewhere. I mean to say that’s the first valid reference, A/B to a similar (very good) commercial mix in the studio. Most people mixing at home should be doing that regularly anyway. Granted, if your monitors don’t have an extended low end you still might be missing a good part of the picture so frequency analyzers can help there allowing you to see what you maybe can’t hear in that case.

Ears are tricky things and they’ll pretty much eventually adjust to whatever they hear so I’d think less about “trying to match the DAW EQ to the car EQ” than trying to match the mixes - their relative frequency balances - to good commercial mixes that (I assume) always sound good in the car and elsewhere.

So if you can balance your mix similar to a good commercial reference mix, it should translate pretty well. A/B’ing against a really great commercial (and mastered) mix can be quite humbling… but it works. Put one on a track, lower it’s level if it’s “really loud”, which most are, mute it, and solo it occasionally during mixing.

It’s not a bad idea for the home mixer guy to listen to the commercial reference mix all the way through a couple of times in the monitors before even starting a mix, to kinda “tune” your ears to a target.

Sorry if my replies don’t directly address the “car EQ” thing but I feel you may be approaching it all the wrong way.

One last thing and I’ll butt out… :cry: … you should probably keep a good spectrum meter on your master bus anyway. There is a curve (or a slant as it were) that represents how humans hear and if your mix doesn’t kinda fit that response, it will generally be off. It’s not an “absolute” thing but a general guide… the one I use is pictured below (re-sized smaller to fit).

I put it on my master bus post-fader along with the TT Dynamic range meter, which I use as the big master meter instead of the daw meter.

But of the mixes I did before I start using the analyzer, the ones that translate better kinda fit that curve.

set an eq: For your bass 300hz-down shelve and treble try 10kHz-up shelve.

The problem is that any suggestion on what your car stereo bass and treble shelf frequencies are, is at best a guess and what +/- 2 equals is anybody’s, totally unknown.

Say full boost or cut equals +/- 12dB and your scale goes from 0 to 5 then if a liner scale +2 would be +4.8dB but this is all assumption, we don’t know what the full boost is or how much and the scale will not be linear.

Hence the suggestion to look at it the other way and apply EQ to the mix untill it sounds correct.

But maybe you could try +4.8 at 300Hz down (shelving) and -4.8 at 10KHz up (shelving) and take it from there.

Take a tried and true cd to reference on too, like Steely Dan’s Aja, and see if that sounds good in your car at with eq set at 0. If it does then your mix is off in your room and make adjustments there. A lot would depend on the car stereo as well, like did you get a premium stereo or just the one that comes standard? Like for me, I payed extra for the premium stereo package and believe that it sounds much better than the standard one. Is it an aftermarket? All of these things will effect how a mix translates from control room to car.