alsaequal: Not omitted, by any means

I realized the other day that in 18 months of type-type-typing about this program or that, I only obliquely mentioned alsaequal once or twice.

I found alsaequal — or maybe alsaequal found me — years ago when I realized that for the unending trail of console music players, only one or two sported an onboard audio frequency equalizer. And for what I could tell, there wasn’t one in the wild.

I was wrong on that point, which is always a good thing.


alsaequal behaves much like a standard band frequency equalizer you might buy in any audio or department store. Left and right arrows navigate from band to band, and you can push levels up or down at the listed frequencies with the up and down arrows.

There are also preset levels for each band, accessible by pressing number keys.

alsaequal piggybacks off alsamixer, which is why you see the AlsaMixer title and version number in the screenshot above. If you eschew alsamixer … well, you’ll have to scrape around for a text-based frequency equalizer that will work with your audio subsystem. Let me know what you find.

There is also some specific setup that is required with alsaequal; your .asoundrc file will need attention and in my case, it looks like this:

ctl.equal {
type equal;

pcm.plugequal {
	type equal;
	slave.pcm "plug:dmix";
pcm.!default {
	type plug;
	slave.pcm plugequal;

Naturally, if you use different sound cards or if you have specific settings that need attention, you’d do better to look at the instructions on the home page.

As a final note, you start alsaequal with alsamixer -D equal — not some “alsaequal” binary. To that end, you might want to add alias alsaequal="alsamixer -D equal" to your bash profile and/or rc files. ;)

It pains me that, even at this late date, alsaequal is only in AUR for Arch, and as far as I can tell just hasn’t found its way into Debian. I can’t say why that is, but it seems an oversight. To the best of my knowledge, there is no audio-environment correction tool available in either distro that doesn’t require the bloated underpinnings of the Xorg dynasty, with the exception of this.

Of course, if I’m wrong on that point, I’d be happy to add another title to my list. … :)

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