In praise of Tone Controls

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by JoeSmo, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    So it’s kind of like adding tone control?
    4011021 likes this.
  2. The Pinhead


    Caps raise the volume, leaving tone unaltered:D
    Archguy, Fishoutofwater and marcb like this.
  3. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    But smeared. :wave:
    Fishoutofwater and The Pinhead like this.
  4. recroom

    recroom Forum Resident

    I recently purchased the Schiit Loki mini equalizer. I bought it because: 1) the price was right; 2) many recorded sources can use a little tweaking; and 3) my aging ears can also use a little bit of tweaking, especially in the high frequencies. The Loki is the best low-cost addition I've made to my system in decades!
  5. ShockControl

    ShockControl Forum Resident

    You're amazing to yourself? ;)
  6. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Of course there are no standards for recordings, recording studio's or recording and mastering engineer's.

    That it is. Some recordings may be made in a large room, some are made in small booths. All with different microphones, with different miking technique's. More often than not, the control rooms have small studio monitors, which are going to present different sound signatures. The recording engineers themselves are all different people of all different ages and all different hearing curves.

    The recording console's are all made by different companies, from small mixing boards in modest studio's, to huge multi-track boards.

    Then, there is the time factor, which governs when the recordings were made. Different periods of time. If we were to look at the studio's, the recording equipment over the past sixty years, it is in a constant state of change. There is no such thing as "typical", it simply does not exist, never has and never will.

    Every environment that music is played back in is different. All the playback equipment is different.

    In my current listening environment, I have four separate systems that each sound different from each other. Two are tubes and two are solid state. One turntable is vintage and one is a modern day design. I have both new and vintage amplifiers. I have ten different tube amplifier's and they all produce a different sound.

    I have solid state amplifiers which sound different from each other. I have efficient speakers and less efficient speakers, they sound different. I have bookshelf speakers and tower speakers, they all sound different from each other.

    I have different phono cartridges that all sound different from each other. I have phono preamps which sound different from each other. I have equipment with modern day tubes, that will sound different if I roll different NOS tubes into them.

    All the systems sound signatures sound different, depending on what volume I have them set at.

    I listen to different types of music at different volume levels. I listen a different volume levels at different times of the day and when I'm in different moods.

    Sometimes the same recording sounds different to me, depending on the mood that I am in.

    Different background noises effect playback as these environmental conditions were not in the recording room.

    Air density and humidity effect sound transmission.

    Some people are listening in cars, some with earbuds, some with speakers...

    Some people use audio cables that alter the sound (I refer to those as "tone control" cables).

    The same "mastering" can sound different on vinyl vs. CD's.

    On top of all these things, maybe I don't particularly care for the engineering on the recording and want to make changes on my end that appeal more to me?

    When I'm playing anything within my listening environment, I'm not trying to please anyone but me.

    The who argument about listening to music, how the "recording engineer intended it to sound" goes right out the window.

    Plus, I don't happen to care, what the recording engineer, in his opinion, thinks the band sounds best. I've listened to live bands and I have heard the same music in a vinyl recording and found so many things are changed and often enough, not for the good.

    Certain music sounds good on one type of "quality made" speaker and not so good, even on another quality made speaker.
  7. crazy eights

    crazy eights Truckstop Lovechild

    new york
    there are some songs from bands that i really didn't "get" fully until i saw them performed live

    i also have a loki that's fun to tweak with and then hit the bypass, also it helps when i have to tone down the higher frequencies occasionally so as not to set off my tinnitus
  8. Galactus2

    Galactus2 Forum Resident

    Great post; couldn’t agree more. The only thing I could add to it would be a 4th point: the Loki helps my imperfect room be a lot more tolerable.
  9. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire

    Tone controls can alter the quality of the sound with using inferior capacitors. Some newer amps have a tone control bypass switch. When I rebuild vintage tube amps & receivers I use paper in oil or at times ultra high quality polypropylene capacitors in the tone controls. Of course, rest of coupling caps are replaced too. Some tone controls use grossly inferior ceramic capacitors that cause distortion.
    crazy eights and SandAndGlass like this.
  10. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    Damned iPhone...

    But I like the way I think. :shtiphat:
    Fishoutofwater likes this.
  11. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    I don’t know what kind of finely tuned NASA built audio systems folks are using, but I have never detected a reduction in Fidelity with tone controls in my system. Low Fi is bliss:)
  12. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    My amp sounds better with the tone control bypass switch on so I keep tone control off usually. But I'm happy it's there just in case.
  13. The Pinhead


    I checked your profile. Lo fi ? You gotta be kidding !!o_O:)
  14. Panama Hotel

    Panama Hotel Forum Resident

    maybe it's more like overusing tone controls.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  15. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Forum Resident

    Brooklyn New York
    I do not give a rat's bottom what any artist or engineer wants me to hear from their music. Just like I could care less about their often moronic world views. All I care about is enjoying the music that they've put out there and if that means being an additional member of the band that plays tone controls I have no shame!
  16. The Pinhead


    How newer ? Both my '79 receiver and my '81 amp have that switch. You mean some newer amps don't have tone crontrols at all ? Sad state of affairs.
    Manimal likes this.
  17. Wollemi

    Wollemi Active Member

    Yorkshire, UK
    Over the last seven months I have (mostly) replaced my system. Years of Naim meant I was used to no tone controls, so when I got Accuphase I thought that the tone controls would not be used, in fact we’re pointless.
    Whilst trying to get Proac D30RS speakers to work in my room, sometimes there was too much bass, sometimes not enough and low volume listening was underwhelming.
    My dealer suggested, why not use the tone controls - and yes, the loudness button improved low level listening and the bass could be turned up or down as required. I saw the point of the tone controls after all.
    But eventually realised that those speakers were not really right in my room, so tried, and bought Sonus Faber Olympica ll , which worked so much better, and since getting them I haven’t touched the tone controls.
  18. Gie663

    Gie663 Forum Resident

    Flanders (Belgium)
    Accuphase and Sonus Faber work together wonderfully indeed !
    I only use the loudness when the volume is turned to minimum.
    The tone controls only seldomly, mostly to compensate for poor bass recording (e.g. The Machine’s album ‘A World of Machines’).
  19. Pancat

    Pancat Senior Member

    Still EU. For now.
    Like others, I'm also digging the new Loki tone control gadget. When I recently moved house I hated the sound of my beloved system and I started thinking about expensive room treatments. But this little wonder has reduced all the mid bass boom and now I'm a pig in Schiit.
  20. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Remember that tone controls can be of benefit because of where you actually position your speakers.

    In normal homes, people usually decide where to place the stereo, which is usually related to where the furniture in a home is placed.

    If a room has a sofa, then the speakers are usually positioned somewhere in front of that sofa.

    In most rooms, people place their speakers where it is practical to place them, where thy won't be in the way of normal everyday life.

    Being that room boundaries can affect a speaker's performance, by either increasing bass or decreasing bass, a tone control can be a useful thing to bring out bass that might be deficient due to a speaker's placement in a room. If there is excess bass bloom present, then a tone control can effectively reduce the "bloated" bass, more easily and more effectively, than the application of room treatments everywhere.
  21. Panama Hotel

    Panama Hotel Forum Resident

    come to think of it, ALL CAPS is more like TWISTING THE VOLUME KNOB UP, and returning to lower case is like backing off of it again.
    DigMyGroove likes this.
  22. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    Believe what you want.
    But along with making sure the consumer version of the recording sounds "sweet" and sometimes "distinctive"...

    the mastering engineer USED to make his levels, bass/treble balance etc, sound close enough to other successful recordings already on the market that the consumer would not go crazy trying to play it back on his set.

    My set is perfectly balanced and not bass heavy OR piercingly sharp.

    I enjoy being able to hear which way the recording leans---from powerful to sweet to woody to electronic.

    And I never have to twiddle my knobs to get it to sound superb.

    You on the other hand may feel free to do things to "correct" how bad your system sounds.

    Not my problem.
  23. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I'm with @russk on this one. recordings are all over the place, in every way they can be. Since there is no defining standard, I have a hard time swallowing, my stereo is perfect for everything, just as it is. This seems like a "one size fits all approach" and I don't see it happening here any more than in real life.

    What a recording engineer hears in the control booth, has little to do with the original sound as it is being played live in the recording room. The recording engineer may have a lot or very little actual knowledge of how the band actually sounds and very few recording engineer's even take the time or the effort to sit in the room where the band is actually playing, to hear what the band actually sounds like in real life.

    What sounds are captured also depend on what equipment is out there to capture them and every studio is different.

    While that is all well and good, I'm not buying the album to listen to the studio, I'm buying the album to listen to the band and their music.

    Then comes the mastering part, has the mastering engineer been to a live concert and enjoyed the opportunity to hear the band playing live?

    Most likely not. Most recording and mastering engineers are only hearing the music from within their environment.

    Most recording today are not one song recorded from start to finish, in its nothing but punched in sound bytes, because this phrasing sounds better than that phrasing during this particular five bars of the music bed.

    The recording engineer's studio is not the same as the (most) mastering engineer's studio's.

    Some music sound good (but different) through my different systems. Some of it sounds better through one system than it does through another system, that is just how the chips fall.

    I deal with this by having control over different aspects of my systems and will make adjustments, where appropriate, in real time, while the music is playing.

    That approach may not work for everyone, but it does work for me in my environment.
  24. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    If you had perfect 20/20 vision you wouldn't have to squint to see what's in front of you.
    Just sayin.
    Sounds like either you listen to a LOT of poorly mastered modern stuff OR your playback is not neutral and "peaks" on different sounding recordings all the time.
    You shouldn't have to change your eyeglasses every five minutes.
    But go on, do it YOUR way.
  25. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Since you you not been in my listening space, I don't imagine you are an authority of how my system operates or how it sounds, therefore, you have no qualifications to comment on something that you have no expertise in, yet you do.

    Yes, and since it is in MY system, I assure you, that I will continue to (as I encourage others to) listen to MY system MY way.

    I don't record the source materials. What ever I listen to, I listen to. While I prefer perfect engineering and mastering, at the end at the day I am personally not going to listen to something that I find to be audibly offensive. I will do what I am able to do downstream from the original to correct these "defects", you may listen to them through your "perfect" system as you may.

    Since I do not require your permission, I WILL continue to listen to my system, my way.

    Thank You for your input, and good night.

Share This Page