Originally Posted by paxman
Many, if not most (?) high end amplifiers come without eq settings, don't they? The point, as I understand it, is for the system to recreate the recorded sound most accurately. Some of your examples are not really representative, anyway. I think equalizing the sound is more like having the ability to change the colour of the lighting in a room in order to make your art look 'better'. Ideally the lighting should recreate natural light in order to see the art as intended by the artist. Not that I am an audio snob and people can listen to sounds any way they like for my money. Personally I never touch the eq controls though in the future I might. I know that people's hearing change as they get older.
Originally Posted by anantksundaram
Most people can't afford those, so it's a moot point.
Unless you are saying that people who own "low-end" amplifiers should also not change their EQ settings because high-end do not have them. If not, what are you saying/implying? I don't follow.
You brought up age, and how our sensory organs change with age. Spot on. But you ignored my point about the type of music (e.g., jazz v. classical v. rock), about the type of speakers one has, about lossy versus lossless, and about the environmental settings in which we typically listen to our music. Not to forget that audio quality is a function of the sound engineer as much as, perhaps more than, it is of the musician.
To suggest that EQ should remain at 'neutral' regardless of all these contingencies simply does not make sense to me.
Amplifiers don't come with EQ, but preamplifiers (except for phono preamps) and receivers (which combine a preamp with a power amp) do come with EQ (or tone controls). That's because EQ is supposed to be part of the control section of an audio chain. Phono preamps have a set de-emphasis built-in according to the RIAA phono curve.
You are never listening to the music exactly as intended because you are not listening in the same room and with the same equipment as the recording. The primary purpose of EQ is not to change the sound of the recording - it's to change and balance the sound of the room.
In addition, recorded music will sound different depending upon the level that it's played. At lower levels, we tend to hear less low and high end. That's why stereo equipment (as opposed to multichannel A/V equipment) used to have a "loudness compensation" switch which increased the low and high end at low levels. As you increased the level, the compensation would phase out. These were established according to the Fletcher-Munson curve, which detailed how the ear responds to various frequencies at various levels.
And even in addition to all that, it's simply a matter of personal taste. If someone wants to hear a little more bass and uses EQ (or simple tone controls) to do that, there's nothing wrong with that as long as only slight adjustments are made. Same for the high end, especially if you have some hearing loss as the vast majority of middle-aged and above urban dwellers have. Kids can generally hear to 20Khz or even slightly higher. Most older adults can't hear much above 13-15Khz and may have threshold loss at even lower frequencies. EQ can help compensate for threshold loss.
However, if EQ is overused or used improperly, it can result in some phasing problems.
So frankly, I think it's a bit "anal" to say that one is never going to use EQ as a matter of principle. And if you listen to music on an A/V receiver or controller, almost all of them have room calibration setups (such as Audyssey) that include an automatic EQ (for better or worse) to compensate for the effects of the room.