Equalization (British: equalisation) is the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal. The most well known use of equalization is in sound recording and reproduction but there are many other applications in electronics and telecommunications. The circuit or equipment used to achieve equalization is called an equalizer. These devices strengthen (boost) or weaken (cut) the energy of specific frequency bands.
In telecommunications, equalizers are used to render the frequency response—for instance of a telephone line—flat from end-to-end. When a channel has been "equalized" the frequency domain attributes of the signal at the input are faithfully reproduced at the output. Telephones, DSL lines and television cables use equalizers to prepare data signals for transmission.
In the field of audio electronics, the term "equalization" has come to include the adjustment of frequency responses for practical or aesthetic reasons, often resulting in a net response that is not truly equalized. The term EQ specifically refers to this variant of the term. Stereos typically have adjustable equalizers which boost or cut bass or treble frequencies. Broadcast and recording studios use sophisticated equalizers capable of much more detailed adjustments, such as eliminating unwanted sounds or making certain instruments or voices more prominent.
Equalizers are critical to the successful operation of electronic systems such as analog broadcast television. In this application the actual waveform of the transmitted signal must be preserved, not just its frequency content. Equalizing filters must cancel out any group delay and phase delay between different frequency components.