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  #21  
Old 03-15-2017, 06:14 PM
Bob Boyer Bob Boyer is offline
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I think one other argument that was advanced against tone controls that we've glossed over is that in most cases, they can be a bit heavy-handed in what they do and where they do it on the frequency spectrum. A bit like bringing a gunboat to a knife fight.

That said, while I haven't used tone controls in years because the gear that sounds good enough to me to buy doesn't have them, I would certainly welcome some well executed tone controls on occasion. Short of parametric EQ, the tone controls on the mid-70s Pioneer integrated amps made sense to me. They had both bass and treble controls but with switchable frequency location so you could touch up a more limited part of the spectrum if you needed to.

What I find more frustrating, though, is the lack of tape monitoring capabilities (or even tape outputs) on modern preamps and integrateds.
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  #22  
Old 03-15-2017, 06:30 PM
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Yes, monitor loops would allow for recorders, processors, and EQs into your system. I can't believe so many don't have them anymore. NAD is one of the companies that still has them, on their analog integrated amps, anyway. None of their new line of digital integrated amps have even a line out.
  #23  
Old 03-15-2017, 07:00 PM
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I like tone controls. I don't care if I'm not listening to what the engineer intended. He didn't master on MY speakers in MY listening environment.
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  #24  
Old 03-15-2017, 08:07 PM
80stech 80stech is offline
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While sometimes tone controls are useful, it sure is a nice feeling when you get things to sound right without them! ;) If I had tone controls on my equipment it probably would have made it easier to "cheat" to get close to the sound I was after, but since I didn't have tone controls I was "forced" into putting a lot more effort into mixing and matching my components. I used the same thinking with my car audio and think it turned out really well!
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  #25  
Old 03-15-2017, 08:31 PM
Max77 Max77 is offline
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Don't like tone controls? Don't use them. Think some recordings could use adjustment to your liking? Use them. It's amazing how some people on this forum need to rant about anything that they personally don't like with walls of text.

I keep tone bypass on probably 98% of the time on my pre, there are a few recordings I have where bass is a little heavy so I turn it down so that my neighbor doesn't hate me
  #26  
Old 03-15-2017, 08:40 PM
john from seattle john from seattle is online now
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Another factor that many seem to over look is with tone controls, you can "fix" certain recordings due to poor mastering and this is especially true if you listen to a wide variety of styles where the quality can vary, this includes RAP, HipHop, Trance, Electronica, Pop, Rock (in all its forms), New Wave, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul etc - they all vary in how they sound and some WILL come off bright, if not on the shrill side (some Paul Revere and the Raiders stuff from the mid 60's on Columbia comes to mind) and you need to tone down the treble to cut the brightness at least some.

But by the same token, reducing the treble and adding a bit of bass can mitigate some of the brighter recordings and bring a bit of heft to what you hear so at times tone controls are crucial and I agree, by themselves they affect too wide a swath of the frequency range so do like the select-able switches for the cut off for the bass and treble and the older Yamaha integrated will likely have this as well as older NAD integrateds amongst other brands.

Even in my modest system, some things such as Paul Revere or heck even vintage Honky Tonk can come off as very bright. I have a Webb Pierce song, Shangheid from 1958-59 on an original DECCA 45 in pristine condition and it may have used DECCA's own EQ curve because it has a significant tilt in the upper midrange/lower treble region that makes it very much on the bright side and you most hear it in the vocals but despite this, it's a cool little ditty.

But by the same token, some songs just transcend their recording fates, many of Gary US Bond's material from the early 60's was overdubbed way too much and some more than others and a lot of the highs were lost and the bass is definitely on the tubby side but much of the music has a raw energy that transcends the recording issues and I just love it as is and even the Rhino CD comp titled A Quarter to Three (taken from the title of one of his big hits) is not all that much improved over my 80's reissue of the 45rpm single on the original Legrand label.

To be honest, I'm not one to limit myself to only audiophile recordings and thus miss out on some great stuff that was recorded over the years so being able to make minor adjustments is often necessary.
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Last edited by john from seattle; 03-15-2017 at 08:42 PM.
  #27  
Old 03-15-2017, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Boyer View Post
I think one other argument that was advanced against tone controls that we've glossed over is that in most cases, they can be a bit heavy-handed in what they do and where they do it on the frequency spectrum. A bit like bringing a gunboat to a knife fight.

That said, while I haven't used tone controls in years because the gear that sounds good enough to me to buy doesn't have them, I would certainly welcome some well executed tone controls on occasion. Short of parametric EQ, the tone controls on the mid-70s Pioneer integrated amps made sense to me. They had both bass and treble controls but with switchable frequency location so you could touch up a more limited part of the spectrum if you needed to.

What I find more frustrating, though, is the lack of tape monitoring capabilities (or even tape outputs) on modern preamps and integrateds.
Yes, adustable turnover points can make tone controls somewhat more useful, as can a midrange control added to the usual bass and treble controls. Many of the upper end integrated amps of the 70's from Kenwood and Sansui had one or both. But if I was going to use varying levels of frequency attenuation to try to deal with room, speaker or recording weaknesses, I would use a good graphic equalizer or maybe even a parametric equalizer. Now that would give me something to be constantly adjusting!

For some reason, I have an affinity for integrated amps. The mass-market electronics companies of audio's "golden era" put out some really nice ones - with multiple turnovers and bass/mid/treble controls plus a bypass function - that can be had for relatively low $$, and many are fairly easy to "restore" back to close-to-new condition. I've found that some of these can compete quite well with the today's best integrated amps, and even with "audiophile" separates.

And my newest amp, a Parasound Halo 2.1, has record out connections! Unfortunately, no monitoring. But I digress.

Last edited by kcbluesman; 03-15-2017 at 09:27 PM.
  #28  
Old 03-16-2017, 12:52 PM
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Tone Controls? Nah I don't use 'em (on my main system) My amp is a homemade tube amp and It would have been a pain to include 'em. Nothing stopping me from using an EQ before the amp, But most everything sounds fine to me so.......

Now in the car, tone controls are a must! (for me anyways)
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  #29  
Old 03-16-2017, 01:38 PM
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I like them,be it only little tweaks,like a lot of people agree a lot of recordings sound like crap otherwise.then there's the room acoustics to think about.

God only knows what the guy who mixed the vinyl for bat out of hell,must have thought "I know it sounds better with NO bass!" Luckily I managed to get a remastered edition where they admitted the bass guitar did actually feature on the recording.grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!
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  #30  
Old 03-20-2017, 02:57 PM
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Im neither a proponent or detractor of tone controls. If it fixes what you want to hear, great. If one were to really want to fix what they want to hear, parametric equalizers are the way to go. That is if one wants remain in the analog realm. In the digital world, AVRs use mics and computerized analysis in an attempt to achieve a flat response with the room speaker interaction.. Brands like Yamaha go one step further and allow you to further customize the computerized results to one's tastes.
  #31  
Old 03-20-2017, 03:32 PM
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The problem I have with EQ is when an adjustment is made it sounds better to me "temporarily".

It then becomes a case of constant fiddling and adjusting. It doesn't sound better, just because it's different. Tone adjustment is more subtle and lasting IMHO.

ST
  #32  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:05 PM
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That's what I was referring to earlier in this thread. However, I'm surprised you find tone controls to be more subtle. I would think that, for example, a 10 band, ten step equalizer should be able to give you more discrete/subtle adjustment than typical tone controls.
  #33  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcbluesman View Post
That's what I was referring to earlier in this thread. However, I'm surprised you find tone controls to be more subtle. I would think that, for example, a 10 band, ten step equalizer should be able to give you more discrete/subtle adjustment than typical tone controls.
I agree and parametric equalizers are even better than equalizers that just boost or reduce amplitude at given frequencies.
  #34  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:54 PM
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Yes...that's why I mentioned earlier that if you need the ultimate in analog frequency manipulation a parametric is the way to go..at the price of ease of use.
  #35  
Old 03-20-2017, 04:55 PM
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Where no tone controls came from.

Back to the OP's question of why no tone controls.

Back in the era of mono hi-fi a group of people emerged called audiophiles. this "elitist" group decided that pure music recordings should not be enhanced by the listener and that the way the recording left the studio is how it should be listened too. They also believed that a sound system should produce a flat response all the way through the spectrum of 20 to 20k hz. In other words the bass should not be louder than the treble and vice versa; that when a spectrum analyzer is placed in the room the system should produce a absolute flat response, with out any spikes in any of the frequencies. Some of these audiophiles also believe that mono is the only way it should be played and that there should be no separation from left to right (and some will insist that the entire setup be all tube since "sand" does not produce true sound). These are also some of the believers in the more money spent the better the sound, which is mostly bunk. I know guys like this.

This group still exist today. Many of the higher end audio companies shoot for this group since they know they will spend big bucks to get that Flat response.

But what it comes down to in the end is how it sounds to YOU. If you want tone control then buy something with tone control.

Thomas
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  #36  
Old 03-20-2017, 05:24 PM
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Hmmm. It's interesting how the term "audiophile" is so often used as a pejorative. I see an audiophile as someone who puts more than average effort into creating a sound reproduction system capable of providing high quality sound (music). To some extent, it would seem to me that this definition would apply to a large majority of tapeheads members.

As with any group, there are varying levels of intensity and therefore varying levels of willingness (and investment) to achieve their objectives. The majority, however, balance their objectives against time and budget.

I don't believe that I am at all an elitist (nor or most audio enthusiasts), but I am certainly an audiophile, at least by the definition I offered above. And yes, I believe that the best starting point for a system capable of high-quality sound is one able to provide a flat response...that is, one in which the equipment itself neither exaggerates nor attenuates various frequencies of the recording.

From there, depending upon room and recording, I have no issue at all with the use of equalization...either in an attempt to offset the inability of the gear to achieve a flat response, or to tailor the sound to one's tastes.

I will admit, however, that I am entirely guilty of the belief that there is a positive relationship between $ and sound quality....though certainly not linear, and with full appreciation for the notion of a rapidly accelerating rate of diminishing returns once your system is of reasonable quality.

If this were not true, a $100 boombox (do they even still make these?) would be pretty much equivalent to a $1K or $10K system. On a related note, being an audiophile does not keep me from enjoying music played on the $100 boombox. I used one for years at our hunting cabin (no AC power there), and have great memories of listening to it while sitting around the fire and talking with friends.
  #37  
Old 03-20-2017, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcbluesman View Post
Hmmm. It's interesting how the term "audiophile" is so often used as a pejorative. I see an audiophile as someone who puts more than average effort into creating a sound reproduction system capable of providing high quality sound (music). To some extent, it would seem to me that this definition would apply to a large majority of tapeheads members.

As with any group, there are varying levels of intensity and therefore varying levels of willingness (and investment) to achieve their objectives. The majority, however, balance their objectives against time and budget.

I don't believe that I am at all an elitist (nor or most audio enthusiasts), but I am certainly an audiophile, at least by the definition I offered above. And yes, I believe that the best starting point for a system capable of high-quality sound is one able to provide a flat response...that is, one in which the equipment itself neither exaggerates nor attenuates various frequencies of the recording.

From there, depending upon room and recording, I have no issue at all with the use of equalization...either in an attempt to offset the inability of the gear to achieve a flat response, or to tailor the sound to one's tastes.

I will admit, however, that I am entirely guilty of the belief that there is a positive relationship between $ and sound quality....though certainly not linear, and with full appreciation for the notion of a rapidly accelerating rate of diminishing returns once your system is of reasonable quality.

If this were not true, a $100 boombox (do they even still make these?) would be pretty much equivalent to a $1K or $10K system. On a related note, being an audiophile does not keep me from enjoying music played on the $100 boombox. I used one for years at our hunting cabin (no AC power there), and have great memories of listening to it while sitting around the fire and talking with friends.
Agreed,, 100%.

I may add, if you are among those in the hobby who believe tone controls or an active preamp is the enemy of true high fidelity, there are more than enough esoteric examples out there available for purchase. I flirted with this dubious edict of tone controls, EQ's extra loops and so forth detract more from the 'pure sound' we seek than add to it. I tried to embrace the world without tone controls, as well as unnecessary signal paths between the source and speakers. What I did learn that in many cases, an Equalizer, and longer than necessary signal paths were taking me farther away from accurate and enjoyable sound, adding additional layers of distortion to the sound path as well as cloudiness, mostly that tone controls have a time and place where they work very well. Properly executed, implemented and engineered into a pre-amp, then used judiciously by the listener, they come off sounding very good, improving the marginal, even fairly poor sound quality in many recordings.

For the folks with older legacy gear here who did not get a chance to hear what this gear sounded like when new, I add this. It is very likely that as components drift with use and age, whether you bypass the tone controls (which are drifting with time passing as well) or not, you are in no way hearing the sound that these components were designed with. Taken a step further, many folks report after having their pre-amp or integrated amp, etc serviced ( new electrolytic's, tight tolerance resistors, and removing borderline semi conductors, transistors, et-al that have drifted significantly as the unit ages) in fact are hearing a COMPLETELY different quality and flavor of sound. Most common reports are that the bass firms up substantially, midrange and highs smooth out and become far more defined. This is with tone controls set flat or defeated altogether. The other side of this is these folks find they need to add far less bass, midrange or treble to the signal/source when listening. Consequently, the music comes off more accurate, faster, and with better pace, especially where aged tone control boards, phono boards were serviced using quality parts as replacements. Ends up these folks need far less tweaking of their tone controls, even less wattage applied for a given listening level. If you have gear over 25 years of age, chances are you are not hearing what the engineers and designers meant for you to hear to begin with. If you have owned the gear since new, the changes are so slight and subtle over the years, you likely never hear the changes as things drift. Next time you buy a vintage component based on liking its sonic flavors, remember you are probably not hearing an accurate portrayal of what the unit(s) were designed to sound like, whether it be solid state or tube based in nature.

Tone controls, loudness, filters and the like can get you a little closer to being back to square one, but there is no replacement for changing out worn, end of life board components, and replacing them with new and tighter tolerance components that the units were designed to operate with. Only then will you know whether or not adding bass, treble, midrange and loudness, or bypassing them altogether is needed, because of the music at it's source, or the effect that time has had on the units and their components in the signal path.

Don't believe me? Get a Marantz, Pioneer, Sansui, etc Integrated amp, or pre amp from say 1970-1977, listen for a while with tone controls in and bypassed. Then change out the needed end of life components with the exact ones the designs call for, nothing fancy, and have a listen. With tone controls bypassed, or engaged, you will hear a world of difference I guarantee it. Depending on the gear and components inside it, this aging can begin to have a major effect in as little as a decade, depending on how good the parts were that the engineers and their bean counters allowed them to use.

Even gear with no tone controls can be affected, unless using completely passive components, and even there are still things that can age and change the sound .

I did this with a working Marantz 1060 and was amazed at what the unit was missing before I did it. After the fact there was a considerable difference even with the tone controls bypassed, and in the case of quite a bit of the source material little to no tone control tweaking was necessary after the fact, unless the recording was sub par or overbearing in some way, or if the is room set up is less than ideal for the best possible sound propagation. In our less than perfect sonic world, I would rather have some sort of tone control, filtering or tweaking with the option to bypass then none at all. I can't see buying gear to work together and sound a certain way, surely that is just as bad as overusing tone controls. So much music in the analog and digital realm can be said to sound marginal at best, with no way to work around these deficiencies, you would be stuck listening to sources and recordings that fail to inspire and evoke the emotional results that music and this hobby are all about to begin with.

Last edited by macman007; 03-20-2017 at 07:24 PM.
  #38  
Old 03-20-2017, 07:51 PM
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I generally opt for used equipment (for me, it's by far the most cost effective way to get good gear), and as a matter of course rebuild it...at minimum, replacing electrolytic caps throughout, plus any components that time has shown to be less than ideal for any variety of reasons (signal path transistors prone to becoming noisy with age, certain failure-prone diodes, fuse resistors, etc.). I also occasionally do amp/receiver restoration work for others as a "hobby business".

This work assures that the unit performs as closely as possible to when it was new and can prevent failures (some of which might be of the cascading/catastrophic type). In my experience, this kind of restoration work sometimes yields an improvement in sound quality (ranging from subtle to quite significant), and sometimes does not.

Interesting that you mention the restoration of a Marantz 1060. This was the first decent piece of stereo gear I ever owned, and I still have it (along with the Pioneer PL-12D I bought at the same time). It has served to power our bedroom system (TV and DVD/CD) for the past 18 years...the only time it has been powered down in all those years was during power failures! Anyway, I bought the parts to restore it several years ago, and finally started doing the work just last week.

They really are wonderful little amps, and I am making some improvements to the power and phono boards that I believe may make it even better than new. BTW, you mentioned that you heard improvements after a recap of a 1060, both with tone controls and with them by-passed. My 1060 doesn't have tone bypass...is this a modification you made, or was there a version with a bypass switch?

Last edited by kcbluesman; 03-20-2017 at 11:03 PM. Reason: Added question about Marantz 1060 tone controls
  #39  
Old 03-20-2017, 08:04 PM
john from seattle john from seattle is online now
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Yep, what Macman said and I'll add, do this with vintage speakers too, their crossovers will age just like the rest of your gear and if they are more than 25 years old, better do 'em too.

I just got through doing some Sansui SP-3000 speakers that were my father's that he bought new that I got after he died whereby I recapped them and now I believe they'll be my main and permanent speakers as they are sounding really good with lots of dynamics, something they were lacking to an extent before the recap - and they are 46 years old now and thus the original caps were long past their prime and this was AFTER they'd been played for a good while on the old caps, they never did fully wake up and the new caps, good quality audio grade metalized polypropylene caps from Dayton Audio did the trick, the bass is MUCH better, tighter though they still won't rattle windows, shake walls and knock doors off hinges, but they DO put out good, but defined bass. The treble is now beginning to get a bit of a bite, perhaps a tad too much so as the caps continue to break in so will have to dial back the treble L pad to natural and see how they do, and hope I don't loose the inner detail I'm getting now, but without the added over bite if you will.

So in essence, recapping DOES make a big difference in how your gear sounds, and performs.
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  #40  
Old 03-20-2017, 09:52 PM
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I think I would say that it CAN make a difference in sound qualities....not that it WILL. I've done plenty of speakers and a good number of amps with no discernible sonic improvement.

Still a good idea, since values do definitely drift with age, and ESR tends to rise. In my view, in gear older than 20-30 years, sonic decline is inevitable, even if it is not yet significant. Might as well head it off, and prevent what may be nasty failures (in the case of an amp) at the same time.
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