EQ Limitations // Idea for improvment from a sound engineer

Userlevel 3
I have been using the SONOS BEAM consistently for 2 weeks now. I love it, but as a live sound engineer and sound geek, am wondering why there are not more customizable EQ parameters for the BEAM.

I have used the TRUEPLAY TUNING twice over and it did not correct the lack of vocal tones I was hoping for (suffering around 1K - 3.15K in my opinion + compared to Play; 3 lacks in the 400 - 900 range but I acknowledge BEAM is designed with video audio in mind).
I have used every variation of the SONOS App's Dialogue boost, night setting, Loudness enhancer, compression - All great features, but even Spotify has a 4-band EQ while the SONOS app seems to only provide a 2-band; BASS, TREBEL.

As a live sound engineer I work with 32-band graphic EQs, which I don't expect to see on an app, but would love to see a happy medium from a high end sound company that I do really like for music in the home or on the road. I love the low end, the spread and music is seems to tackle (Spotify w/ eq settings on the app) very, very well, but I think the BEAM may be stuck in a flat EQ in the mid range where vocal clarity is suffering no matter what tuning button the app offers.

For example; it's the "heh" sound in the word "hey". The honkey and flat sounding 'heh' in the vocal inflection.

Would anyone else like more EQ bands to play with and save instead of hitting a dialogue button/loundness button?
Would anyone like to see customizable COMPRESSION settings (ratios, frequencies, attack etc.)?

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21 replies

Userlevel 3
Our first questions always are, where were you standing? Front row is too close to front fills, in front of a PA in a medium to large venue is a bad idea, metal bands and DJs with a lot of subs can be the worst because of the overload. I agree, some shows are too loud, foh engineers do lose hearing after a decade... Bring ear protection next time but understand that person mixing is who the band wants or what the band wants the audience to hear, or it’s a venue provides mixer who is hopefully doing their best under crazy circumstances that occur just trying to get doors open! 🙂
100% I would love to see more control over EQ or even have some level of control over how aggresive Trueplay works. Anything more than what we have would be nice...

I am quite frustrated at the moment, after having moved my Playbar from one location where it sounded fine, to another (in the same room) the app prompted me to run Trueplay tuning again and now no matter what I do the sound just feels completely stripped of the mid range, lows are reasonably clear but the highs are honestly just brutal. Dialling down the treble setting doesn’t do enough to calm down the frequencies that are bothering me. I’m no sound engineer, but I know what I like to hear and what I don’t, with an EQ and some time to experiment I’m sure I’d be able to find a better balance.

I’ve tried running tuning multiple times and have played with the available settings at great length but there just isn’t anything else I can do. So I’m stuck with the choice of living with the settings as they are, or turn off Trueplay altogether and lose any sort of clarity or the spatial effects that come with it.

EQ presets are, of course, another very good idea for folk like me. Even most mobile devices seem to have those, but I doubt that they, by themselves, would satisfy the sound engineer, like yourself, who may want to enhance a particular frequency, like 4.2 kHz for example, to get the best sound out of the very top end of a concert piano (I’m not being clever, I just read that somewhere ?)... but, how far should the Sonos development go in this area? ...is perhaps one of the questions here and would such development and its associated costs, create any additional sales for the company within their chosen market?.. I’m not sure that it would and such companies are usually mostly driven by their sales.

It boils down to more EQ Parameters being a 'real nice thing to have' for some knowledgeable users, like yourself. Many, if not most users, would likely choose to steer clear of any EQ changes, or maybe have a quick play with such tools, before returning their settings back to default.

My guess is such development of the EQ Settings is probably on the Sonos list of things to do... but it’s one of those pieces of work that probably keeps getting pushed back down the list as new 'smart home' features continue to take priority and help improve the Sonos market share.

Oops I forgot to say, I love my Sonos Beam too ... it’s a great sounding piece of kit for its price range. I can also now tell my friends and family that a 'sound engineer' agrees with me on that point! ?
Agree 100 percent. The one obvious drawback to Sonos is lack of a meaningful eq. Especially now that I've connected vinyl to Sonos, I want to really bring out everything I can in the music. Send like a pretty easy plugin to provide. How about it, Sonos?
As a general audio-listening novice myself, I’m quite okay with the simple EQ settings and hope Sonos and TruePlay will do most things for me, though I do like a 'touch' of extra Treble and Bass occasionally, depending on what I am listening to.

I can understand why more EQ parameters maybe useful to people like yourself, to adjust the timbre of individual instruments and voices by adjusting their frequency and to fit individual instruments within the overall spectrum of the mix. So I could not argue against seeing a more advanced set of parameters, but I do wonder that if they are put in the 'wrong hands', that a novice user (like me, for example) may sometimes do 'more harm than good' to their own overall listening experience and not realise that fact until they 'neutralised' their own adjustments back to their defaults. I’m not even sure if 'neutralised' is the right term to use here?

But slightly more advanced EQ parameters I could perhaps go along with for people like yourself.

Oh and as an 'aside', are you aware of the voice enhancement button on the Beams Room 'Now Playing Screen'? ... it’s only available though when playing a TV source. See my screenshot attached. I don’t know if that helps you at all with the speech/voice issue, but it’s not available for other audio source types.
Userlevel 3
I agree with all of your comment. The Beam sounds great, looks great, maybe it’s my audio OCD but I know there are a few frequencies that could use a dB adjustment here and there.

Desktop audio players used to always have EQ advanced settings one could use and save. There are the ones now that have ‘rock’ or ‘acoustic’ etc. Those modified to TV would be great as well!
Hey Mr. live sound engineer. Please stop cranking live concerts up to deafening levels! You guys must all be freaking deaf! My ears are still ringing from a concert on Friday. Why do you insist on deafening levels? It’s insane, and detrimental to everyone’s hearing.
Userlevel 1
Allow the trueplay eq curve to be customized similar to ARC. Default full auto mode for those who don't care to make adjustments but option adjustments for thise interested.

I agree with the OP. Trueplay makes everything too flat and it is too fatiguing to listen to it at loud volumes. I’ve tried to correct it as much as I can with the current EQ, but all it does is take the clarity away from the vocals and still leaves me with fatigue. I think it is something to do with the midrange, but that’s an area that I cannot adjust because it isn’t part of the EQ.

We need at least a 5-band equalizer.

I would also like to see customizable Dynamic Range Compression because it isn’t going far enough.

I thought I'd post an update from my comments of 8 months ago. I don't know if SONOS read any of these comments at all! but due to the frustration of trying to find an acceptable sound at low levels for my wife I've now given up on the Beam and disconnected it. Back to the rubbish TV speakers - but I can hear dialogue at low level (my wife's level) much better than the Beam - even with the Beam dialogue enhancer on.
I miss the quality of the Beam and the low frequencies are none existent on the TV speakers .... but needs must.
This is pretty poor SONOS when all that's required is a simple 5 or 6 band eq, and considering the Beam cost as much as my TV, it's not much to ask.
I have even thought about getting an HDMI audio embedder in the hope that I can feed the Beam from the 3.5 headphone jack on the back of the TV but even that won't work, I've discovered, because the graphic eq in the TV doesn't effect the headphone output.
So......unless SONOS or anyone else has any ideas, eBay beckons! Such a shame for a really solid piece of kit!
I also would love to have more comprehensive eq. I love the beam which I bought a couple of weeks ago and it has the frequency range to be really special (and without a separate sub bass) but the eq is so limited. The really low bass response is good on my tv for dynamic films and the like but a real nuisance for anything else: news, game shows, current affairs etc. My wife commented that’s it’s like having a party going on next door!
If I reduce the bass (it’s currently on minimum) the really low frequencies are fairly balanced but you lose the upper bass area and it sounds a bit thin. The dialogue enhancement is really helpful for dialogue at low volume but it can make the voices a bit honky when all that’s really needed is a bit of sibilance boost at about 2k.
All of this and more could be solved with the addition of a five of six band eq. The 40” tv I just bought has this but the sound is terrible because of the hardware in the tv and any eq changes on the tv don’t affect the Beam.
Having said all this, it’s a fantastic piece of kit and I’m really glad I bought it but it could be so much better.
I get that in order to sell speaker systems they have to be really dynamic sounding when compared to other company’s systems in shops, But when you get it in your living room you should be able to adjust it so that it doesn’t sound like an iMax cinema the whole time.
Any help with this Sonos? A software update with better eq - especially a band that can reduce the really low frequencies.
I to do sound engineering but as a part time one and I agree there needs to be a more comprehensive EQ for people that want to get a better sound as I feel out of a lot of sonos I've heard it has a very deep sound with not alot of clarity, and that's not all bass or treble causing that.

As Sonos heavily talks about music lovers, I'm surprised with how there isn't much ability to adjust the sounds. The only reason I didn't get another product brand was for the well engineered smart speaker capability, but I am questioning if I made the right choice, but I have faith that thinks will continuing to improve.

Having a few presets of different sounds would be nice for people to choose and ability to save custom presets also.
Userlevel 5
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I have also serious problems on noticing the difference when "dialogue boost" and "night setting" are on or off.
Do they work only with a correct 5.1 dolby stream with dolby metadata?
I've never tested, but have always made the assumption that dialogue boost affected the center channel signal, and night settings affected the .1 (LFE) channel. If those don't exist, such as in a stereo signal, they wouldn't be able to affect anything.

But, I could be wrong on that.
Yes, 5 band EQ, PLEASE! Feel like I'm using a 1972 8-track with bass/treble/balance!
Indeed, an EQ upgrade is really needed for audio lovers. I would like to customize the lows on the Sub, adding more 'deep' (25Hz-50Hz) and reduce the 400 a bit. Those Bass and Treble sliders are extremely outdated. Please Sonos, add this in a future update...
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
I've never tested, but have always made the assumption that dialogue boost affected the center channel signal, and night settings affected the .1 (LFE) channel. If those don't exist, such as in a stereo signal, they wouldn't be able to affect anything.

But, I could be wrong on that.

Any official answer on this from Sonos staff?
Documentation is pretty bad on these features.
I could do with a pre set to get rid of all the low frequencies from a certain band so that I don't upset the neighbours as I listen to the radio.
Why not allow users access to the parameters that are changed during Trueplay tuning?

I would like to see a 6 channel eq within the advanced Settings for any device where TruePlay is not applicable.