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Old 03-15-2017, 07:08 AM
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Lack of tone controls

Many high-end makers of integrated amplifiers and pre-amps don't have tone controls. The main reason I've heard for this over the years is so that people can hear exactly how the recording sounded at the recording session. That puzzles me a bit, because unless you have the exact same speakers & room acoustics as the recording booth where the recording session took place, it's not going to sound the same. Not everyone has the same speakers or room acoustics, which is why tone controls come in handy. That just seems like a silly, illogical reason.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:27 AM
nobody nobody is offline
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And, some recordings are crap. I usually press the bypass button on my amp to keep things flat, but some recordings are just dead and need a boost somewhere. I don't use the tone control often, but I am glad to have them for when the need arises.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:33 AM
JVRaines JVRaines is offline
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Good engineers will listen to their mixes on little speakers to make sure they don't suck for Average Joe setups.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:48 AM
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Tone controls are just more electronics in the way. You can tailor your systems plenty of other ways e.g cables, speaker placement etc.
I donít have tone controls as I donít need it.

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Old 03-15-2017, 07:50 AM
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This is a lame excuse.
Surely, the presence of tone controls complicates the schematics, and one f the puristic approaches is to drop anything that is superfluous. Tone controls are such thing. Buffering is another. Up to a point one can understand the craze - less components thus less distortions due to them.

On the other hand - the simple tone control has only a function of trebles attenuation - nobody wants this (and some CDs sound awful if this control and its siblings are left to max). Useless.
The double one (bass + treble; the mids are played by B+T+Volume), usually in Baxandall configuration, is again left untouched in years (I know I rarely use mines).
From the triple ones upwards (usually collectively named equalisers) one cannot avoid distortions and noise, even if only a little - and we all know that the audiophile have the ears of an owl...

Finally (the third other hand ) is that regular consumer amplifiers have their own circuits to compensate for the room acoustic and speakers, be it called MCAAC, AccuEQ, YPAO, Audyssey and so on.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:04 AM
Nick Sunn Nick Sunn is offline
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It is "perception" and MARKETING.
The high end makers are "suggesting" that their equipment is so great that you will not need 'TONE CONTROLS' because you have Audio Perfection that cannot be improved upon.
The prospective customers buying very expensive gear have adopted the current thinking (trend) that with perfection, ...we don't need no stinkin' tone controls.......and if your gear has tone controls, then it must not be perfect.......thus they also firmly believe that we don't want any tone controls, and if a manufacturer does include tone controls, this exclusive group of prospective buyers WILL choose another manufacturer that does not have tone controls on the equipment.
Hey, it is what it is, folks buying into the nonsense. It is much like folks that purchase and drive the most expensive brand new Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars. No question that those vehicles are luxurious and well equipped, but are they superior to a brand new fully equipped Honda Accord, Kia Optima, or Toyota Camry? Well that answer depends on who you ask. Consumer Reports would say that the Accord, OPTIMA, Camry are among the most reliable and durable cars in the world today.
You won't impress Kanye, or The Kardashians by showing up in Beverly Hills in a Honda, Toyota, or Kia. At the same time, if you have to worry about what it costs to repair and maintain a Roller, you don't belong driving or owning a Roller. These days you don't need a watch to tell the time.
Everybody's phone gives that to the precise second. A $3 watch from China will be at least as accurate as a $20,000 Rolex. The rule of thumb seems to be if what you wear on your arm/wrist costs more than what you earn in your weekly paycheck, then you can refer to it as a "TIMEPIECE" instead of WRISTWATCH. That is essentially what is going on with the current Audio buffs with a massive amount of disposable income. Belief that the exclusive group of Audio owners knows something that others do not. Ten years from now, this same group may believe that TONE controls that precisely isolate the vocal range are a must. It is just a current trend or fashion. The equipment is great. No doubt about the quality of such gear, but Tone controls might prove useful for the REASON given by a previous poster, ---THAT THE MASTER SOURCE MATERIAL IS NOT GREAT IN THE FORMAT OF IT's COMMERCIAL RELEASE, e.g. LP, CD, dvd, blue-ray, tape or whatever... Room size and shape and type of furnishings all contribute to the sound. Dead Room or Live Room... Speaker placement can only go so far in some cases............. the other variables are SPEAKER choices and the type of music and how loud or soft the music volume when listening. These dummy snobs that are bold enough to say, well its perfect and doesn't need any Tone controls are just limiting their choices. They prefer it that way. It's just the trend or fashion at this time with this type of highest end audio consumer. It makes them happy. Isn't music listening about enjoyment and as the old Partridge Family sang, "Come On Get Happy."
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:27 AM
john from seattle john from seattle is online now
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This is why I'm seeking, eventually to locate something that has tone controls in an Integrated like the NAD brand that can also convert to a pre-amp later and get a tube amp, but with tone controls, you can adjust as needed the tonal balance of a recording.
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  #8  
Old 03-15-2017, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john from seattle View Post
This is why I'm seeking, eventually to locate something that has tone controls in an Integrated like the NAD brand that can also convert to a pre-amp later and get a tube amp, but with tone controls, you can adjust as needed the tonal balance of a recording.
Professional power amplifiers do not have tone controls either. The complicated spectrum, speaker and phase controls are carried out in separate units. For consumer use a graphic or even better a parametric equaliser would be sufficient. I use the graph equaliser only when listening to cassettes, for other uses I defeat the controls.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:39 AM
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Accuphase, McIntosh, Yamaha & NAD have tone bypass buttons on them, so if you want the flat response, you can go that route. I like tone controls because some recordings are a bit to boomy or are a bit dull, so the controls come in handy.
  #10  
Old 03-15-2017, 09:41 AM
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I use an entry-level Insignia receiver as a 2.0 channel amp for my TV, because this receiver's Bluetooth and remote control are perfect for TV usage.
The bass and treble are remote controlled, which would be great if they were set at useful frequencies.
Problem is, the bass freq. is way too high, around 250 hz, and the treble is too low, around 4khz.
And, this being a modern receiver, it lacks a tape monitor, so I can't add a 10-band graphic equalizer....
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  #11  
Old 03-15-2017, 09:41 AM
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I've never hear a bigger 'ROAD LOAD" (read BULLSHIT) than some of the above statements. If your gear has a proper bypass for the tone controls / equalization, and their electronics, your not getting any contamination or alteration to the signal. Neither are you adding 'all these extra electronics in the schematics. If you look at any normal decent 2 channel schematic or circuitry in most gear, the tone board is fairly small, smaller than many Phono-stage boards.. I get it that some people prefer passive pre amp stages, with no active equalization. What do you do at low levels? With no tone or loudness controls, your music must sound about as flat, uninteresting, and uninspiring, as a transistor AM radio from the 1970's.

Bypassing the tone controls or loudness, even the sub and satellite speakers in no big deal. Very small sealed relays that do not affect the signal path or degrade the signal path can be used, along with switches the use digital application to change or eliminate the tone controls, thus no scratchy noise, no injected noise, no imbalance or other garbage between and control and it's circuit, or its circuitry.

No matter how many room treatments or how much you pay for the speakers, the position of the room contents and speakers, or the gear itself, systems and music selections need some coaching from time to time. No 2 music titles live or studio are recorded or EQ's the same way, there is no reference, especially on older music. Better recordings can always use help somewhere, and recordings that suffer from the lack of polish or technology available at the time of recording mostly need some sort of tweaking.

I know some people tune their system by choosing components and cables that impart a certain sonic flavor, you can't get away from it. However once your system is complete and the tone or flavor is set, your stuck with that on every single source type and recording, digital and analog, and that doesn't 'sound' very good to me. If your running multi-channel audio again, tone and level controls for the signal are imperative.

I don't have golden ears. I'm sure to some folks my gear sounds like crap with its tone controls. However at least I have a way to adjust my kit until it sounds a little 'LESS' like crap. Now I understand why many audiophiles switch gear so often in search of the 'perfect sound', they have no tone controls and have to switch gear, speakers, and cables to adjust the sonics..What on earth do you do when going from analog Tape or LP, which is notoriously bass heavy and punchy, to digital sourced music.. that is an awfully big swing in sound and equalization to not have any tone, loudness or balance control.

I'm all for low distortion and accuracy from the source to the system and thru the speakers, but accurate doesn't mean the same thing as sterile, flat and lifeless. Anything else and your gear, cables or speakers are being used to adjust the overall sound to taste. I don't advocate many EQ's, I don't use them in a home system, most of what needs to be adjusted can be done better with room treatment, proper setup and placement. What is left the tone controls can handle if needed. a 40 band per channel , 6 octave, parametric EQ is just as bad as no tone controls at all. I think McIntosh did a study 3-4 decades ago and found in a properly set up room you only need up to 5 points of adjustment to achieve harmony and accuracy. In a better room you only need Bass and Treble. I guess Oddyssey 'Room Perfect' is off the tables to, since it uses crossover points, and signal level/intensity correction to adjust the room to it's ideal sound most accurate sound, based on the dimensions of the room and listening positions (s). I've seen room perfect used , and just like it's name it will allow the room to sound the best it possibly can with the gear, speakers, and objects populating the room surrounding the listening space.

Removing all tone adjustments to make a system sound it's best in an urban legend IMO, and just like setting and adjusting tone controls, have as many variables that contribute to it, as Bass and Treble combinations on a given pre-amp. A passive Pre-amp is not in question here, even systems that use a passive pre, use SOMETHING to adjust tones, crossover and frequency levels at some point within the room. If not for all the accuracy, because of the room, format types, and material played, your 'accurate sound' will be anything but. I have met more than a few mixing 'engineers' that are about deaf as a post, one in particular had a serious deficiency in high frequency's, starting at 7.5k. It was from listening to music and making it in a room well at over 100 db's for too long, without any hearing protection. He was only 27 at the time and he was not alone.

Last edited by macman007; 03-15-2017 at 09:52 AM.
  #12  
Old 03-15-2017, 10:36 AM
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Itís funny how some people slam people who donít want tone controls. No body is saying you have to have the music the way the engineer recorded it, I mean the way he recorded it my not be the way you like it. For me personally I chose my system to sound the way I like it. I have just chosen to do it by matching and buying what sounds the way I like it. Everything I want to buy goes home with me to be used in my system that way I know how it will all sound together before i pay for it.
Other people choose to use some sort of equalisation, thatís fine that way too just not everyone choose to do it that way.

Why canít people live and let live, if someone buys something with no tone controls well according to some people they must be gullible idiots that buy into the manufactures BS.
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  #13  
Old 03-15-2017, 10:57 AM
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One reason will be that

from this

we arrived at this

because people do not need this and that and quality is not essential either...
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Old 03-15-2017, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macman007 View Post
.....What do you do at low levels? With no tone or loudness controls, your music must sound about as flat, uninteresting, and uninspiring, as a transistor AM radio from the 1970's.....
Any purist should accept that at least at low volumes you need tone controls.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:06 PM
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I think if a company makes an int. amp without tone controls it should have a monitor loop so an EQ can be added if one chooses to. Especially at the kind of prices some of that gear sells for.

Last edited by NAD613; 03-15-2017 at 12:09 PM.
  #16  
Old 03-15-2017, 01:08 PM
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Bring back a knob I can just twist. I honestly could care less what some dude heard from his studio monitors someplace. What's important is how it sounds to MY ears and system in MY room.

Modern AV receivers with Apps for control just make me so "meh" at this point. A music only system is more and more precious IMO. Sadly I'm stuck for now.

At least give me the option if I want to colour the sound. Again, with a knob with variable control would be nice. I hate my receiver B/C of this, only lets me step bass and treble in chunks. I like the option for pure direct bypass too... sometimes you need it, and thankfully my crappy Yamaha has it, sans knob of course.

Isn't that part of the appeal of vintage equipment? It is for me...

ST
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEMOaudio View Post
Any purist should accept that at least at low volumes you need tone controls.
Sorry donít agree, loud or quiet I still enjoy my music.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
What's important is how it sounds to MY ears and system in MY room.
ST
I agree 100%, just some of us choose to do it without tone controls. I personally chose to do it by putting together a system that sound like i want it from the word go.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:46 PM
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Agreed. I would also add that while all of my preamps have tone control adjustments (with the option of bypassing the tone section of the amp), I rarely use them. Not because I have anything against them, necessarily, but rather because what I've found over the years is that for me they are just another thing to mess with.

I think most of us agree that louder = a perception of "better"...this has been shown in multiple audiological experiments, and underlies the Fletcher-Munson curve (and its subsequent improvements). Using the tone controls, one is effectively boosting a range of frequencies...that is, making them louder (usually).

So, when your first boost a particular range - say, with an equalizer - you think it sounds better. So then, at least in my case - I boost another...and another, etc. By the time I'm done, all I've done is re-created the same response curve at a higher (louder) level.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you give me something to play with, I'll play with it. Going direct/bypass keeps me from messing with it, and I've instead focused on finding the speakers that sound right to me, in my room, with my music. I've not had much luck with truly improving a poor recording , past the first few moments of "hey, that sounds better".

I certainly recognize the fact that our hearing becomes more linear at higher SPL's/energy levels, which should make boosting low and high frequencies a good idea at low volumes...but I always end up thinking, within a few moments of flipping the switch, that it doesn't really sound any better....just different.

I will say, however, that I tend to listen to music at louder levels than most folks....certainly not concert levels, but quite a bit beyond "background", and probably at the edge, or beyond, of allowing for easy conversation when in the listening position. For me, music at very low volumes never sounds very good because, simply put, it's too far away from the actual performance at those levels. Therefore, adjusting tone controls to make up for the relative lack of sensitivity we have to lower and higher frequencies vs those in the middle when SPL is low, is not usually a factor for me. I know, of course, that others use tone controls as a means of offsetting problems with room acoustics, speaker characteristics and poor recordings...but as I said, for me, it just doesn't seem to work. I can make it sound different, but it never really seems better over extended listening.

Just my 2 cents. You can keep the change.

Last edited by kcbluesman; 03-15-2017 at 03:53 PM.
  #20  
Old 03-15-2017, 03:53 PM
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If were touching on what the engineers master and mixed with while monitoring, then school's out entirely. I've seen folks who use Yamaha powered monitors, Bose studio stacks, JBL Century's, Altec VOTT's and everything conceivable in between. Abbey Road and several other of the big boys others use B&W 801 Diamonds or similar 801's, for 2 channel and multi channel. I can't speak for all B&W speakers, but the 801 and 802 Nautilus/ Diamonds sound like A$$ without any tone controls and a butt load of watts and not a whole lot better with them. I have 501's (amps) here, they provide a MINIMUM of 500WPC to ANY LOAD, since they run off the output transformer tap that is closest to the lowest impedance seen at the amp, and you can't get much lower than 1 ohm, or typically higher than 8 ohms not with most CURRENT speakers.

With a dedicated 20 amp circuit straight to 120 the volt AC line 200 amp service for each amp, the 501's will produce over 700 WPC continuous. If you red light these amps 50% of the time (meaning apply Power Guard, which internally lowers the input signal from the pre-amp, before the load will see any flat topping/clipping/ DC, whatever you want to call it, and you never hear or see it in a load test. Even with an amp this burly, the B&W 801, 802',s Diamonds/Nautilus series speakers not only eat all that power but want more. Worst of all they sound flat and lifeless with OK mid range and almost non existent bass response. That is with appyling moderate tone controls and setting them for optimum response in the room. Even in the dealers speaker room dedicated with all B&W-McIntosh components, since they say the two sound best together.

I know folks are gonna jump all over me for saying this, and even ask what is my point. My point is, sometimes you just can't get away without having to use tone controls. In the case of the B&W's, my feelings and observations are highly subjective. Let me go a step further here. I had a pair home to demo in 2006, along with Wilson WP 8's.. I liked the Wilson's a lot, since they had far more punch, life and warmth, without bloat or the need of excessively large amplifier for each channel. The ones I liked the best in the showroom, and in home audition were the XR290's, followed by the Martin Logan Summit's and Wilson WP8's. I ended up liking the XR290's bes by far, but the other 2 ran a pretty close tie for second place. The B&W's didn't even place in my ranking, tone controls, big amps, or not. Often no matter how great a speaker sounds, invariably a minimal amount of tone control or Loudness ( continuously variable, only in low volume listening, such as late night) needs to be added or removed. Where people often go wrong is adding too much of any one thing, instead of removing something else. Then they chase their tails going back and forth adding adding adding.

I couldn't swing the cost of XR290's at 27K$, the Wilson's at 27K$, or the Summits even at around the same costs with modifications. In any case I would have been settling either way, unless I got the XR-290's. I guess what I'm trying to say here is no matter what speakers I use, or listen to, it seems they can benefit from a little judicious tweaking from time to time, especially when changing drastically between sources and formats. Even cost of the speakers really makes no difference, mostly higher cost speakers require less overall tone control tweaking, provided the room is set up correctly. But hey, if someone is happy with no tone/loudness controls, and passive pre-amp, who am I to say any different. Obviously we all hear differently. I didn't end up buying any of the speakers, and opted to completely rebuild a set of speakers I had, the XRT-20's which only require small amount of tone control tweaks, most times it's 2 steps down or up with Bass. Treble is between 0 and plus 4 depending on the music, format and source in use. What I use isn't drastic in any way from the way I see it. It seems most others feel the same way, to some extent or another.. The tone controls have steps ranging from -12 to +12, with 0 (flat) in between

The XR-290's are my bucket list speakers, I would never need another speaker. As prices drop and my income recovers, I will get them. They still need some sort of tone control to add or subtract what I deem necessary the frequencies, allowing the music sound it's best to me anyway....
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