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Equalizer for PulseAudio in Ubuntu 18.04

27 Jul 2018 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'

Do you like late night programming, while listening to music? Do you have these fancy modern speakers that produce way too much bass? Well I do. I use Ubuntu and "Audacious" (a WinAmp clone) as my music player and it has a very nice graphical equalizer. But whenever I switch to YouTube or a streaming radio station the bass is again way too loud.

To have maximum freedom while also keeping my neighbors happy I was in need of a system-wide equalizer. I have found the equalizer module of PulseAudio which does exactly what I want. PulseAudio is the standard sound system for a while in Ubuntu Linux. You can play with the equalizer by issuing the following commands:

pactl load-module module-equalizer-sink
pactl load-module module-dbus-protocol
qpaeq

This will show you a nice graphical equalizer. The equalizer settings are automatically persisted, but to not have to enable the equalizer plugin after each boot you may want to edit "/etc/pulse/default.pa" and add the following two lines:

load-module module-equalizer-sink
load-module module-dbus-protocol

This will enable the modules on your next boot. The dbus module is only needed if you want to be able to run the "qpaeq" command to adjust your equalizer settings. The "equalizer" module is the one that actually transforms the sound.

Happy (late night) programming (while listening to music)!