The Best Sound Equalizers for Windows and Mac (Free and Paid Options)

Utilities   •   Updated on June 13, 2022

Editor’s note: we’ve looked over this guide and updated with two new picks for enhancing your sound.

Are you trying to get better sound without having to buy more expensive hardware? Then you are definitely going to need some sort of an equalizer – and that’s why we decided to make a list of the best sound equalizers for Windows and Mac.

There are both free and paid options for both platforms along with simple and more feature-rich options in the mix. You are bound to found something that fits your experience and budget. So, with all that said, let us get right into it!

RELATED: The Best Music Management Software for Windows 

What is an equalizer?

In case you don’t know about them, software equalizers are programs that you can use to adjust your computer’s audio. You can put more (or less) bass, treble, and anything in-between.

This means that you can easily make your sound boomier, sharper, muddier, crispier, louder, wider, or in any way you want it. And this works very similarly with amps – except you do it with software instead of adjusting physical knobs.

Not to mention that this is only the beginning. Many equalizers are built to do tons of other things, like adding 3D audio processing, increasing volume, adding more effects, reverb, and tons of other stuff – depending on how deep you are willing to go.

You’ll find both free and paid equalization options out there with the paid counterparts often offering more features and a tidier UI. But, if you are new to this stuff, definitely consider starting with the basic free options first.

Quick peek

Built-in equalizers

  1. Realtek Equalizer: Best way to get started since it requires little to no technical knowledge and it’s built-in.
  2. Mac Music: Formerly known as iTunes, it is useful for basic customization of the audio outputs.

Our top 3 Windows picks:

  1. APO Equalizer with Peace: Our feature-rich pick. It’s more complicated to setup and use but offers the best results if you are willing to learn how to use it.
  2. Boom3D: A 3rd party equalizer that’s extremely easy to use with tons of presets and the only downside that it comes at a price.
  3. FxSound: The best equalizer wrapped up with tons of features to enhance the listening experience for the audiophiles and the general users.

Our top 3 Mac picks:

  1. Boom3D: Best overall equalizer – if you are willing to pay the price for it. It’s not just an equalizer but a 3D audio program as well.
  2. eqMac: A great free, open-source pick that gets the job done. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hard to go wrong with it.
  3. Audio Hijack: A professional equalizer with enough features to cater to basic as well as advanced needs.

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Built-in equalizers

1.Realtek Equalizer

Almost every Windows PC nowadays comes with some sort of built-in equalizer. More often than not, that’s Realtek’s equalizer and you can find it under the taskbar.

If you can’t find it, chances are that your computer is running the basic Windows audio driver that doesn’t include the equalizer. In such cases, you can try finding it online – but we hardly see a point in doing that when there are tons of other equalizers to download out there.

The whole point of using a built-in equalizer is to do the bare minimum with the most lightweight option while avoiding 3rd party software. So, if you can’t find a built-in equalizer, we’d recommend you move on to our other picks. But if you absolutely must get the ‘default’ one, the best place to get started is your motherboard’s/laptop’s support page.

That aside, there’s also Groove Music that comes pre-installed with Windows 11. You can find a simple equalizer for it under its settings. But, it only works for music that you play through that specific program – which is a massive bummer for most people who also use Spotify, YouTube, or other streaming services.

Pros:

  • You don’t have to install or setup anything
  • Probably the most lightweight option there is
  • Probably the easiest equalizer to use

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer a lot of features if any at all
  • Windows updates can mess with pre-installed equalizers in a couple of different ways

2. Mac Music

If you only need a simple equalizer that gets the job done, there’s no point looking for 3rd party equalizers online. Just use the built-in Mac Music one. After all, every Mac comes with it, and it works just fine for basic adjustments.

To use this, you just need to open the Music app on your Mac and choose the equalizer option from there.

As you can see, it’s extremely straightforward and easy to use without any bells and whistles. All you get is a 10-band equalizer along with a few presets and the option to add your own.

That’s really all there is to it. If you want a simple equalizer that gets the job done, look no further. But if you are thirsty for more, definitely check our other picks down below!

Pros:

  • Doesn’t take any space or resources since it’s pre-installed
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Very plain UI
  • Free

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer any additional features

Our top 3 Windows picks

1. Equalizer APO with Peace: free feature-rich equalizer

If you are after an equalizer that’s both free and feature-rich, Equalizer APO is for you. No doubt, it is much more complicated to use than a simple equalizer. But, installing the Peace UI plugin should make things much easier. You do not need to use the other features if you don’t want to use them. It works just fine as a simple equalizer too.

The Peace UI gives you a 15-band equalizer to play with. And if you are only here for the pre-sets, there are 19 to choose from. But, mostly, the equalizer pre-sets rarely provide good audio quality in the specific tastes, no matter how good and refined they are.

If you have multiple speakers or headphones, you can also make individual equalizer profiles for each one of them. If even all that is not enough, you could always stick to the ‘traditional’ APO without the Peace plugin and use other 3rd party plugins along with its 31-band equalizer. But, for the rest of us, the Peace plugin is going to be plenty enough.

Extra Effects and Plugins

Apo is our feature-rich pick for a good reason. Several good reasons, actually. You don’t just get an equalizer, but also plenty of other built-in effects to play with.

You’ve got plenty of options to work with for free and how you are willing to use them is going to come down to personal preferences and creativity.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Plenty of presets
  • Tons of effects to choose from
  • Support for 3rd party plugins

Cons:

  • Installation and setup is a bit more complex compared to most of our other picks
  • Has a relatively big learning curve if you wish to take full advantage of it

2. Boom3D: Best paid equalizer for both Windows & Mac

As software and music enthusiasts, we’ve tried plenty of premium equalizers before. And, frankly speaking, they don’t differ all that much in terms of quality compared to something like APO. So, we wouldn’t recommend them. Boom3D, on the other hand, offers not only an equalizer but also 4 extra effects that make a huge difference along with 3D virtualization.

Before you ask for anything else, take a moment to appreciate its clean UI.

These are all the controls you’ll ever need right there. There are no extra panels or anything like that. Everything you are going to need is right in front of you and can be adjusted with a couple of clicks.

Let’s start with the equalizer. By default, you are going to get 10 bands to adjust. But, if you 31 bands by selecting the ‘advanced’ button, right next to the equalizer button.

Also, if you don’t feel like adjusting at all, you can select the ‘Windows’ pre-set, which will very lightly adjust the sound to make it louder and clearer without touching the frequency bands too much.

Boom3D Sound Effects

You can pick from 5 different tools – but only one of them can work at a time. We assume this is because using two of them or more at the same time would most likely mess up the sound.

Here is all you need to know about them:

  • Pitch: It allows you to change the audio pitch by 5 semitones. The adjustments in the pitch can be made in real-time while recording any audio.
  • Ambiance: This feature allows you to add surround sound effects to all works, such as playing games, playing music, and other works, making the work more immersive.
  • Fidelity: It boosts the weaker frequency bands of the audio and increases the overall quality of sound, bringing it somewhat closer to the original ones.
  • Night Mode: Keeps volume at a specific volume so that you’ll avoid sudden changes in loudness when switching from song to song or binge-watching any movie or web series.
  • Spatial: Boosts stereo music listening, movie watching, and gaming experience by adding 3D effects.

Pros:

  • Full of features
  • 3D surround is a welcome addition (Whether it’s actually useful or not is up to debate for each and every one of you)
  • Unlike most of the other equalizers, sound effects and presets actually make sound better
  • Great UI
  • Easy to use despite offering so many options

Cons:

  • Paid only (Comes with a free trial, though)

3. FxSound

The most feature-rich equalizer that can help you control what you are listening to on your computer. It can carry out all the functions of a normal equalizer and also comes with some extra features.

It corrects the limitations of your audio devices, such as an external speaker or headphones, and helps fix any issues with the audio files. The transcription feature helps in boosting up the clarity of voice messages and the voice during any online call or conference.

The twenty-band equalizer helps you customize and balance the sound levels according to your ears and hearing ability. The various options available in it allow you to change the audio output according to the content, such as music, video games, movies, and more.

The audio visualizer helps in an immersive experience and provides a blended experience of the audio and the visuals. The bass boosters allow you to increase or decrease the bass on your device according to your needs.

The various pre-sets allow you to switch between different contents while viewing them on your computers. Plus, the volume booster helps you in boosting the audio of the computer over the normal level.

Pros:

  • Provides clearer, louder, balanced, and deep audio.
  • It boosts the volume without any distortion.

Cons:

  • The trial version has fewer options.

Our top 3 Mac picks

1. Boom3D: Best overall

This is the very same equalizer that we checked out on Windows. If you are willing to pay for something that offers a lot of features while still being very easy to use, you just can’t go wrong with this one.

And the good thing is that despite all it offers, you can still make it sound extremely good with little to no effort. Really all you have to do is just tweak some knobs and that’s more or less all there is to it.

Leaving all that aside, you can also use Boom3D audio on mobile devices as well. The only downside is that it asks for a payment of anywhere from $12 up to $35 or so, depending on the discount.

If you feel like there is something missing from your equalizer settings like you could use just a bit more treble or bass, but you just can’t get it right, you’ll definitely want to rely on some of these extra options. They are particularly tuned for these kinds of things.

These are called:

  • 3D surround: Adds a 3D effect to the audio. Most effective in games or movies where there are a lot of directional cues. It greatly enhances details and depth but it’s not recommended for music.
  • Ambience: If you want more soundstage, this is the first option to check out. You can use it to make everything sound more spacious – great for pretty much everything including music and gaming.
  • Fidelity: Basically a treble knob (But a very-well-tuned one).
  • Night Mode: Keeps volume at a specific volume so that you’ll avoid sudden changes in loudness when switching from song to song.
  • Spatial: Just good-old reverb/echo.
  • Pitch: Can increase or decrease the overall pitch of whatever sounds are coming out of your computer. Nothing that’s particularly useful for music.

Last, but not least, there’s also the option of selecting the kind of audio gear that you are using. But, personally, we barely feel like it makes any difference.

Pros:

  • Tons of features
  • Available on multiple platforms
  • Easy to use despite all the features
  • 3D audio is a welcome addition

Cons:

  • Paid only (With a 2-week free trial)

2. eqMac: Most simple 3rd party equalizer

If you want something that’s free, easy to use, and with a few more options than iTunes, eqMac is one of the first equalizers you should check out.

Just like with Mac Music’ offering, you only get some basic stuff here along with a couple of extra options. There is a 10-band equalizer, various presets to choose from, an audio booster, and an audio balance knob as well.

The good thing is that if even a 10-band equalizer is too much for you, then you also have the option of using the basic option that offers just 3 controls.

It literally can’t get any easier than that. But, of course, the downside to simplicity is that you don’t get any of the fancy features that Boom3D comes with.

Then again, we are looking at a free, open-source equalizer that’s more than enough for a casual user. So, it’s really hard to go wrong with it.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Clean UI
  • Couldn’t be easier to use

Cons:

  • No extra features (But the website mentions that an ‘expert’ mode is coming soon)

3. Audio Hijack: Best for professional use

If you are a professional who is a lot into audio tunings and recording, you can surely opt for this equalizer. It comes with a number of options that allow you to record the audio from various input devices and from different apps.

It also allows you to tweak the frequency of the input audio and also for the output audio from different output devices connected to your Mac. It allows you to capture the audio from different applications such as skype, safari, and many others available on your Mac.

You can also use this to record any type of meeting or podcasts, and it can also be used for live streaming your audio.

The 10- band equalizer allows you to configure the audio outputs from the different output devices such as a headphone, speakers, or others. It also allows you to boost the output of the in-built speaker beyond the maximum level without any distortion.

It also comes with a number of additional applications which allow you to gain more control over the

Pros:

  • Allows recording of audio.
  • Allows customization of audio output.
  • Allows live streaming.

Cons:

  • Not much equalizer options.
  • The paid version is expensive.

Tips for using an equalizer

Using an equalizer isn’t much different than adjusting the bass, mid, and treble knobs on a stereo system. The only difference is that instead of 3 knobs that adjust 3 main frequencies or a combination of frequencies with one knob, you get to play with 5, 10, 15, or 31 sliders depending on your equalizer and option of bands.

Equalizers are easy to learn but hard to master. Think of it this way. On a 10-band equalizer, from left to right:

  • First 3 sliders: Responsible for bass and warmth
  • Middle 4 sliders: Mid frequencies. Use for depth
  • Last 3: High/treble. Use that for sharpness and detail

It’s the same thing no matter how many bands you use – except you get more frequencies to play with and, thus, more options while editing.

If you are looking for the best equalizer settings online, don’t. First, audio largely comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer warm sound with boomy base while others love flat or sharp sound.

Secondly, your results will greatly differ depending on what headphones or speakers you use and even on your hardware amp. So, you could try asking in forums what settings are other using for your specific audio setup. But, again, it all comes down to personal preference. So, at the end of the day, just experiment with your options and find whatever personally suits you best.

Equalizer FAQs

Q: What equalizer is best for bass?
A: First things first, bass is largely a matter of hardware. No matter how good your software is, if your headphones can’t kick or if you don’t have a decent subwoofer, you aren’t going to increase your bass by 300% or anything like that. That said, we found that APO provides the strongest thump on Windows while Boom3D was the most effective on Mac.

Q: Is there a sound equalizer for Windows 10/11?
A: Windows 10/11 doesn’t have its own equalizer. However, most computers use their own version of Realtek drivers that usually also contain an equalizer. Your mileage may vary from computer to computer and whether the latest version of Windows is compatible with that equalizer or not. That aside, Groove, Windows’ default music player, also has its own equalizer. But it only works for the music player itself and not for games or other streaming services such as Spotify or YouTube.

Q: Is there an audio equalizer in Spotify?
A: Unfortunately, Spotify still doesn’t have its own equalizer on computers – even though there is one on the mobile app. Still, you can just use one of our aforementioned equalizers instead. We’ve personally tried them during the review process and they work just fine with both Spotify and other music streaming services.

Q: Should you use an Equalizer?
A: 9 times of 10, the answer is going to be yes. Even if you don’t know anything about equalizers, installing the simplest one that you can find or using a built-in option and then putting a bit more bass or treble in is going to make an enormous difference. So, give it a try.

Q: How can I improve my bass?
A: If we are talking about speakers, the first thing you should do is make sure that the subwoofer is turned up to your liking. And if your speakers don’t have a subwoofer, definitely consider investing in ones that do as it makes an enormous difference for bass lovers. As far as equalizers are concerned, simply adding more base is not enough. You also need to balance things out. For example, if your sound becomes muddy and the bass overwhelms everything else, try increasing the higher frequencies a little bit to even things out.

Q: Why is Spotify so quiet?
A: If you are trying to boost your audio levels in Spotify with an equalizer and it still sounds quiet, you may need an external amp. And that’s especially true for those of you who are using audiophile headphones with very high levels of resistance.

Q: How do you turn down the bass?
A: The left sliders of an equalizers are the ones that are responsible for bass. Lower these and things should calm down a little.

Final thoughts

These are our top picks for now. All of them have their own pros and cons, so, choose whatever personally fits you best.

Again, from our test the FxSound provides the strongest thump on Windows while Boom3D was the most effective on Mac.

That’s all for now. If you liked this article, feel free to share it with your friends by using the social media buttons down below.

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