App Battles is a new column by the iFans Review Team. Two applications will battle it out and only one will come out on top! In our first segment, we will be taking a look at two different equalizers for the iPod touch and iPhone.
Let the battle begin.
iPod Touches and iPhones are well known for their name, brand, sexy design, great audio quality, fun games, vast amount of apps, great warranty, and so on and so forth. I could go on forever about the amazing things that these products can do. However, the iPods and iPhones are notorious for having crappy equalizers.
Elephant Candy and Tibor Horvath look to fix this huge flaw with their apps, EQu – The Quality Equalizer (EQu for short) and Equalizer, respectively. Both apps include custom equalization for the best listening experience along with built-in presets. However, I ask the question, when pinned up against one another, who will come out victorious?
Round 1 — Features
Let’s start this fight off right, with some great features that both of these apps have. DING! DING!
Both apps include an equalizer as their main feature. Let’s go ahead and take a look at these first.
EQu offers an equalizer with 10 presets:
- Small Speakers
- Bass Boost
- Vocal Booster
All of these presets are of high quality and sound great with the equalizer. EQu also offers users the option to creating manual settings for the EQ. The EQ offers 2 modes, loud and safe:
- Loud: EQ runs normally, all sounds are as loud as they should be. The EQ can distort and create a “popping” sound in this mode if you don’t know what you are doing.
- Safe: EQ runs at a lower volume. This is good for beginners as the EQ rarely distorts; it also rarely creates the “popping” sound either.
In the actual setting up of the EQ, listeners have the option to add as many sliders as they would like. This allows users to customize their EQ to the exact way they want it. The touch and drag control scheme works really well for setting the equalizer bands, however, it isn’t as precise as Equalizer’s EQ when it comes to setting up.
Equalizer allows users to use the 7 built in EQ presets installed:
- Bass Booster
- Bass Reducer
- Vocal Booster
EQu (top) and Equalizer both offer users a set number of presets to use right off the bat
Like EQu, Equalizer allows users to customize their own settings into the equalizer. They offer users 2 ways to do this, by touching and dragging (the same as EQu), or by typing them in manually. The latter is much more precise if you want to use exact values. However, Equalizer only allows users to use a set amount of sliders; the magic number here is 7.
EQu (top) allows users to drag their sliders around to create a custom curve while Equalizer (bottom) allows users to type in the values directly for more precise control
Both apps offer EQs as the main feature. However, these also have a built-in music player as neither uses the built-in iPod (or Music) apps to play their music. This also means that the iPod controls on my headphones or in the multitasking bar won’t work. This is a real downer as I would like to use my remote and mic with these apps.
The music player in EQu offers a custom music selector that works, and looks nice with the player as a whole. EQu also has full landscape and portrait orientation support for every screen. Unlike Equalizer, EQu doesn’t require the user to wait while the app imports the songs each time the app boots up.
Equalizer uses the iPod framework built into the 4.0 SDK to access the user’s music. This allows the user to be familiar with the whole setup. Equalizer has limited support for portrait mode. The only thing that works in portrait mode is the music selector and then now playing modes. Like I said earlier, the only downside is that it has to import the songs every time it starts up.
EQu (left) uses a custom music selector while Equalizer (right) uses the iPod framework.
The music theme in EQu (left) looks a lot better compared to Equalizer (right).
EQu and Equalizer both have their downfalls. EQu can’t view all your songs sorted by title, while Equalizer can because of the way they setup their song selector. EQu is much more resource hungry than Equalizer, this means that it is slower when multitasking. However, Equalizer only has a 7-band EQ as opposed by EQu’s infinite band. Equalizer also lacks the presets needed. Equalizer needs to support portrait orientations more because this is what the user will normally be in when using the iPod.
At the end of the first round, Equalizer shows off its features and takes a huge swing at EQu to win the first round! Is EQu down for the count?!
Features: EQu: ★★★½ | Equalizer: ★★★★
Round 2 — Graphical User Interface
Round 2! The apps will fight off showing which one has the superior GUI. Both offer their own tastes and unique graphics; let’s see who ends up on top. Both apps offer their own special theme.
EQu offers users its clean matte theme. The theme is dark and shows itself in unison throughout the app. The theme does have some customize-ablity to it though. EQu allows users to customize the color of the spectrums and backgrounds. This allows users to add their own flavor to the dark theme.
Equalizer has the carbon fiber theme. It doesn’t look as good, or well rounded. The theme is mainly black. However, it also has specs of blue and rainbow colored music bars. The theme isn’t uniform throughout the app, especially with the iPod API that the developers use. Unlike EQu, this theme cannot be customized one bit.
EQu (top) and Equalizer (bottom) both have unique GUIs, however, EQu has the cleaner, more customizable theme.
Controls and navigation are important to any app. If you can’t control or navigate it, then there is no use in using the app. Both apps offer their own navigation structure and control schemes.
EQu has a very small learning curve associated with it, that is, assuming you know how to use an equalizer. The dragging is quick and dirty, but isn’t precise as stated before. The menus however, are simple and quick to understand. The whole structure is well laid out, all the buttons and controls are within’ reach on the main screen. Every other menu is only one tap away.
Equalizer has a slightly bigger learning curve because of the complexity of it. The dragging and manual typing of EQ settings is really nice to have. It gives me freedom to choose if I want to be precise (which I am a perfectionist), or to just do a quick dirty edit. However, the whole layout of everything is really complex and needs a little more organization. Instead of all the menus being one tap away, everything is 2-3 taps away.
Both apps offer users visuals outside of the theme. For example, EQu offers users more detailed music bars. They are thinner and move much quicker. Overall they just look much better compared to Equalizer.
The music bars in EQu (top) are much more detailed than Equalizer’s (bottom). The overall theme looks much cleaner as well.
The buttons are clear and nicely designed in EQu. It’s easy to tell what each one does. Equalizer really fails with this part, their buttons are blurry, complicated, and I couldn’t figure out what button did what at first. I still press buttons by accident thinking they serve a different purpose. The developers really need to work on this.
EQu has a near-perfect GUI for the listeners to use. Everything is in place, and just looks gorgeous. However, it could use more precise EQ controls like Equalizer has.
Equalizer has an atrocious GUI. The buttons are hard to understand, the complex menus take forever to learn, and they could use a better theme overall. Equalizer really needs a makeover with the way it looks and presents itself.
In round 2, EQu shows its GUI prowess and comes back with 2 big hits to win round 2! Will Equalizer be able to take back the lead?!
GUI: EQu: ★★★★½ | Equalizer: ★★★
Round 3 — Audio
OK, were talking about equalizers here, they better have some good audio quality to them! Round 3 is all about the audio! Let’s get the fight started again. Will Equalizer come back?
When you start up EQu, you are greeted with some really familiar music, and if it isn’t, you better listen to your iPod more often because it’s your own music. It will automatically start with the last EQ that was used. Equalizer starts out with a screen saying that it is importing songs, this can sometimes last up to 2 minutes (approximately 500 songs)… BORING!
Now to get to the actual meat of the apps, the equalizer. We know they both feature one, but how do they sound? Well, EQu offers listeners a high quality EQ that is extremely accurate. The EQ rarely distorts if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, you get a nice popping sound to listen to. However, if you aren’t good with equalizers, then you can always use safe mode. In this mode, the EQ will rarely distort, so you will rarely hear the pop sound. The EQ is loud enough, but isn’t as loud as Equalizer’s.
Equalizer has a louder, but less accurate EQ. The thing distorts constantly and there is no “safe mode” for novice users. The only positive about the distortion is the sound is distorted, so there is no pop. The distortion is still too much for me as this is an audio product and it just shouldn’t do that!
EQu’s only audio flaw is that it isn’t as loud as Equalizers, but it doesn’t need to be since that is the accurate sound that should be produced. Equalizer needs to fix its equalizer! It just isn’t accurate and distorts way too much! It is livable though and is better than the default iPod’s EQ.
In round 3, EQu continues with the pounding it started in round 2 scoring a perfect 5! Equalizer is falling fast and it better do something fast to get back into the game!
Audio: EQu: ★★★★★ | Equalizer: ★★★½
Round 4 — Reuse Value
The reuse value for both apps is dependent on the type of person using the app. For this purpose, I will assume listeners are either audiophiles, or regular users.
- Will use it more
- The equalizer is of high quality and extremely accurate
- The EQ does not distort your music as much either
- Regular listeners:
- Will also like to use it
- Support for novice users with Safe Mode
- The navigation is easy, everything is within one tap
- It supports portrait and landscape 100%
- The theme is clear and good eye-candy
- Will not use it
- Really inaccurate
- Distorts the music much more compared to EQu
- Regular listeners:
- Will continue to use it
- It’s louder, much louder. Regular listeners want to hear the bang
- Once you learn it, it’s easier to use
Both of these apps have their negative sides that will stop them from being used more often. EQu doesn’t multitask well because it uses lots of resources to produce the natural, accurate sound. Since it is more accurate, it is also softer than Equalizer.
Equalizer on the other hand has problems with the equalizer. The EQ just distorts more than I’m comfortable with. When a company makes an app specifically for audio improvement, the improvement itself should be of high quality. Equalizer’s buttons, layout, and organization is also very complex, which will draw many users away from it.
Round 4 ends with a big hit, from EQu to Equalizer. The tides have shifted, but will they shift again as we prepare for round 5?
Reuse Value: EQu: ★★★★½ | Equalizer: ★★★★
Round 5 — Value For Money
It’s time for round 5. If Equalizer is going to come back, it has to be done here! Is Equalizer down for the count, or will he get back up and fight?! It’s time for round 5, and it’s all about the bang for the buck!
Both apps sell on the iTunes App Store for $2.99†. They are both expensively priced in my mind. EQu is worth 1-2 dollars, although 3 isn’t a bad price for it because of the quality associated with it. However, I feel that Equalizer is worth 1 dollar max.
These 2 apps both offer listeners plenty of features that they purchase. This is what makes them worth the money.
- Clear, clean UI.
- The organization is simple and easy to understand.
- Infinite band equalizer.
- Loud and safe modes for advanced users and novice users.
- 10 EQ Presets are included.
- Precise EQ settings are possible.
- Less resource hungry and multitasks much better than EQu.
- 7 Band Equalizer
- 7 EQ presets.
Both of these apps have downfalls that lower their value as a whole. These are normally big flaws that can either be fixed, or are natural to the state of the app.
- Resource hungry! Difficult to multitask with it at all.
- Not as loud compared to Equalizer.
- Lacks the precision settings that Equalizer has.
- It pops when distorting instead of actually distorting.
- 7 Band EQ isn’t as good as the infinite band one included with EQu.
- The equalizer quality is very low.
- Distorts often, and heavily when it does distort.
- Complex layout has a learning curve to it.
EQu is definitely worth more in my eyes. It offers the better equalization, which is what you mainly pay for. At 3 dollars apiece, EQu is definitely the way to go for a bang for your buck. If Equalizer was one dollar, we’d be playing a whole different game, but it isn’t. EQu may not have as many features as Equalizer, but it does quality over quantity.
Round five ends with a big bang from EQu to finish off its opponent Equalizer. Equalizer is down. 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… KO! The fight is over!
Value For Money: EQu: ★★★★ | Equalizer: ★★★
Coming out with a big bang in round 1, Equalizer comes out to show off its features, and the mass amount that it has over EQu’s. However, that is all it has in it. After round 1, it is EQu that shines bright with its GUI, audio quality, reuse value, and bang for the buck. Although Equalizer takes EQu for a ride for its money, EQu turns out to be the true quality equalizer.
- Features: ★★★½
- Graphical User Interface: ★★★★½
- Audio: ★★★★★
- Reuse Value: ★★★★½
- Value for your Money: ★★★★
- Features: ★★★★
- Graphical User Interface: ★★★
- Audio: ★★★½
- Reuse Value: ★★★★
- Value for your Money: ★★★
† All prices are in US currency unless stated otherwise.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Overall scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All applications and accessories were purchased at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.