Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Whoopycat, Feb 22, 2017.
I don't use loudness controls, but the Yamaha stereo receiver (RX-496) I picked up t'other day for $18 has an interesting approach I hadn't seen before: instead of a button, the loudness "contour" is controlled by a knob. The manual recommends you adjust the volume to the loudest you will be using, and then turn the knob counterclockwise, which leaves the bass and treble alone and drops the mid-range to whatever level sounds good to you.
Since I've gotten used to a bit more of a warmer sound cause of vinyl and all.... I find myself actually using the loudness knob on my amp. Makes overly treble-heavy cd and digital songs sound closer to what I would expect in vinyl. I have a Yamaha CA-610 and I have had other yammie amps and receivers from the same time and they all have great loudness controls. My amp just has a on off knob, but I know some of the other high end receivers it is adjustable from 0-9 (or was it 10?).
Anyways, It's a useful feature to have in some cases. If you would have asked me a year or two ago before getting into vinyl..... I probably wouldn't be using it at all...
My McIntosh preamp has a variable loudness control also and works really well. I usually only use it when I am listening in the morning at low volumes. In the 70s/80s I was using my old Acoustic Research integrated hich didn't have one. I did witness friends who used it and I always wondered why as it sounded like kaka.
Decware has their own take on it called the ZROCK 2. I haven't heard one, but it has a lot of positive feedback over on the Decware forums and you can go all out on it as far as options are concerned.
The only time I needed a loudness button is when I was trying to integrate my Klipsch Heresy II speaker with my subwoofer and my Crown SL-2 preamp filled in the hole quite well. My Heresy III speakers do not need such help to integrate.
When I was a teenager (back in the 70's), I always used the LOUDNESS button my Marantz 2238B. That receiver is now my bedrom amp along with a pair of Harbeth M30.1 speakers and the LOUDNESS button is set to OFF with that setup. My living room setup uses a McIntosh C712 preamp with a Variable Loudness control set to about 20%.
Variable loudness is good
Bumping this up for anyone else who is tempted to ridicule loudness contour functions in amplifiers. Please read this first.
Back on topic, I agree that a variable loudness contour function is FAR more useful than a simple "on/off" circuit. I've been testing and readying a Marantz 1300DC integrated for sale and was reminded how useful that function is.My Sansui just has the "on/off" style, which is better than nothing but kind of hamfisted.
But as with all tone controls, having the ability to bypass the circuit entirely (not just have it on or off) is critical, IMO.
As Charlie Brown famously said, “That’s it!”
My Marantz PM-57 Loudness button that I only use through headphones, sounds freaking awesome, never use it through my speakers though, no need.
Best loudness button I ever heard “your lookin at em”
No seriously I love loudness buttons on equipment that have them. Love em.
My old Realistic STA-100. Very nice EQ boost.
I have no idea what the best is. I do like the loudness button on my Luxman L3 Integrated for low volume listening. For years I had an "audiophile" YBA Integre that didn't have a loudness button, or tone controls, or a mono switch, a subsonic filter, or really any features beyond volume control and source selection. The YBA was a terrific amp, but I do like having these features, and honestly the Luxman sounds about as good to my ears. If it's compromised by having these features I don't hear it.
There is a kind of audiophile ideology when it comes to amplification that says you always want the straightest signal path. While this is no doubt true under ideal circumstances, in the real world my mono albums sound better with the mono button pressed, and if I'm listening quietly late at night when everyone else is in bed music sounds better with the loudness button depressed, etc. I'm too lazy to play around with the tone controls (although Luxman clearly put a lot thought into designing theirs), but I don't doubt some albums sound better with the treble turned down a bit or the bass boosted. Not every source is ideal to say the least.
I have a Sansui AU-7900 and I love the loudness switch. I hooked up my Polk Audio's that lacked bass and it was kicked up nicely!
Yes, I understand completely and agree. Still, the compensation for hearing response at lower level still sounds artificially compensated to me, bass too heavy, mids less open, high frequencies too prominent. Back when I first purchased my Pioneer system, I loved the Loudness switch, and used it often. The reason for this, my Pioneer speakers (CS-66 with squawker midrange driver) sounded more natural with the Loudness on. Their very fast response in the treble, excellent group delay of the mid and tweeter at their crossover point (squawker mids are very restorative, fast drivers, but nasally sounding) .. so there was not much loss of detail with the loudness on. I think the loudness helped most of all to compensate for the nasal upper-midrange character of that speaker. Certain records sounded better with the Loudness switch on, Edgar Winter, "They Only Come Out at Night", "Frankenstein" sounded awesome with Loudness on. Mine was one of the early pressings, but sounded "midrangy" and lacking punch, especially the drum solo. With Loudness on, the kick drum hit you in the torso.. with it off, it didn't.
As my gear improved, mostly my speakers, I preferred not to engage the loudness.
Music played live does not include loudness compensation. For instance, a jazz band in a park heard from a distance will sound less "present" and "distant sounding". As one walks closer to the band, the music gets louder, bass more prominent, instruments and vocals more "present". When listening on our stereo systems, the image likewise tends to recede at lower level.. or as if we are further away, similar to a live setting. This to me sounds more natural.
My Denon integrated has variable loudness.
I am restoring one of these now. It is very impressive.
As to the OP, I thought Yamaha had the best system, with variable compensation.
The only loudness button I use on a regular basis when listening is on my Sansui 9090 reciever, because everything just sounds better with it on (at all listening levels). All other loudness buttons Ive used (about 20 other pre-amps, integrated amps and recievers) just make the bass sound tubby or overpowering when turned up, but not on the 9090. The next best is my Yamaha 620 reciever, with the variable loudness control-very useful at different loudness levels. Of course the standard type loudness control is only meant to be used for very low level listening levels and thats all they are good for.
I always feel guilt when using the loudness button.
It just sounds so good
I can't really say what the best one I've heard was, but I haven't really heard a bad one yet. They are especially useful in the car. I'd love to find a preamp with a variable loudness control.
Dumb question: if one has an EQ in their system, do they still need a loudness button? In other words, could the same contour be achieved using the EQ or is there more to the loudness function going on?
I think it depends on what type of "loudness button" we're talking about. If the button is basically just applying an EQ curve and that's it, then you could theoretically achieve the same effect with EQ. If it's a variable loudness, such as that used in a lot of Yamaha amps, then it would be very difficult (though I suppose not impossible) to replicate with an EQ (unless of course the EQ is really advanced and can change variably along with the volume setting).
I imagine (and this is only a guess) that would be useful for 78 RPM records as that would be at the top of their frequency range.
Hey!!! I bought that amp the same time I bought my Cornwalls back in 1979. Both are long gone now.
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