What Is A Baxandall EQ? (And Why Use It?)

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  • What is a Baxandall tone circuit?
  • How does Baxandall EQ work?
  • Also, check out our guide to the 7 types of EQs

If you’re looking for new ways to enhance your music or want to understand some of the nuts and bolts of sound, Banxandall EQ may well be of interest to you. 

Baxandall EQ is an interesting and mainstream concept that lies “under the hood” of music. 

Baxandall EQ is almost like a plugin manual – it’s hard to wrap around at first, but once you do, it opens up an understanding and a curiosity for musicians and anybody else involved in sound.

This article will help you explore the benefits, history, and intricacies of Baxandall EQ to see if and how it can be useful in your music.

What Is A Baxandall EQ?

The Baxandall equalizer is a shelving EQ with an extremely wide Q curve with a gentle slope.

The broad curve can adjust a larger portion of the frequency spectrum, but the gentle slope gives a more natural sound and minimal phase distortion.

The minimal phase distortion enables users to make bigger boosts and cuts without imparting negative artifacts into the signal. 


During World War II, Peter Baxandall worked for the Telecommunications Research Establishment, researching circuitry and working on many different types of projects.

The included loudspeakers, frequency transformers, oscillators, high-speed tape duplicating equipment, and high-precision microphone calibration methods, among other projects.

He published his tone circuit in Wireless World magazine in 1952. If you’ve ever seen bass and treble control knobs on a stereo or amp, that’s likely a Baxandall EQ circuit. 

Where Is Baxandall EQ Typically Used? 

Because these equalizers offer a subtle yet remarkably effective way of adjusting the frequency spectrum, you’ll often find them being used on the mix bus, and in mastering.

They are also very popular in guitar amps and stereos, because of the quality of sound and the ability to finely adjust the frequency response. 

Don’t forget to check out our review of Soundtheory’s Gullfoss ”Intelligent EQ”.

What Are The Benefits Of Baxandell EQ?

1. Non-overlapping Frequency Bands

Non-overlapping bands mean that the low, mid, and high EQ bands do not overlap each other.

This allows you to adjust any band up or down without affecting the frequencies of other bands, giving you a split frequency response.

The big benefit here is that changes to one band won’t destroy your hard work of dialing in other bands.

2. Wide Range of Controls 

The controls are both more sensitive and more powerful than its competitors.

The Baxandall circuit can amplify signals on, for example, a guitar amp, up to 4 times as much as others without ruining the sound. 

3. Midband Acts as Gain Stage

The midband acts as a secondary gain stage. This allows you to crank up the mids on a guitar for example, and have the overall loudness not skyrocket up. 

What Is A Baxandall Tone Circuit? 

The Baxandall tone circuit makes its name by having very low harmonic distortion due to the use of negative feedback in the circuits, which helps keep more precise control over the behavior of the op-amps among other uses.  Negative feedback works by sending a polarity-reversed copy of the output signal back to the input of the amp.

What Is Baxandall Tone Stack?

A Baxandall tone stack is essentially a high/low shelf EQ. With the controls set to 5, the frequency response is basically flat.

A Baxandall tone stack is capable of essentially a hump in the mid frequencies, allowing the frequency response to sound more pleasant in its tone than its competitors and predecessors. 

What Is The Difference Between Passive And Active Tone Control? 

In short, passive tone controls are only able to cut frequencies (i.e. a high-freq roll-off), while active tone controls afford you the ability to cut AND boost several frequencies at once.

How Do Amp Tone Controls Work?

Tone controls change or modify the tone of an electric guitar signal as it passes through an amp. This can be achieved by rolling off the bass of a guitar; trimming the treble when you plug in something too distorted; or boosting the mids to cut through the mix.

What Is A Shelving EQ?

A shelving EQ attenuates or boosts frequencies above or below a marked cutoff point. Shelving EQs come in two different types: high-shelf and low-shelf.

Low shelving filters boost all frequencies below a specified cutoff frequency while leaving other frequencies intact. High shelf filters boost everything above the cutoff frequency and leave lower frequencies unaffected.

What Is Tone And Volume Control?

The volume adjusts how loud the output is, while the tone knob will increase or decrease the amount of treble that is passed through to the amp. The pickup switch will activate different pickups, usually the neck or the bridge pickups.

How to Use Tone Control

It’s really quite simple – just adjust it until it sounds good for you and your style of playing.

Tone control is an intuitive process that is assisted even further by the built-in gain stage, which the Baxandall tone control circuit allows. Exploring and playing around with tone control is how many guitarists find their sound. 

Final Thoughts 

The Baxandall EQ separates itself from parametric equalizers or other modern software EQs such as Fabfilter Pro-Q 3 with its simplicity and subtlety.

Seen in many guitar amps, stereos, and software plugins around the world, its innovative development in the 1950s led to its utility in music and sound. The simplicity of its tone control allows its users to hone in the sound that they seek with ease.