On tone controls

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by UCrazyKid, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk Thread Starter

    [Moderator Edit]
    With so much emphasis placed on transparency, achieving sound closest to the “original master recording” and sound purity I can’t believe there is still a market for tone controls and equalizers. Why add an unnecessary circuit or add a wide frequency shift to the sound. It just seems counter productive to the end goal.
    royzak2000 likes this.
  2. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident

    Simi Valley, CA
    Some recordings need tone adjustments to sound more pleasing. To use tone controls or not is a personal choice and for me, I would not have an amp without them.
  3. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Yo-Yoing where I will...

    Brooklyn New York
    Not my end goal. I don't give a rat's a$$ what the artist/engineer/producer was going for. All I care about is what sounds good to me. Hell I'm thinking about dubbing electric jug on every recording I own.
  4. JamesD1957

    JamesD1957 Forum Resident

    Cypress, Texas
    I use them to make the music sound more realistic and pleasing to me. I don't care about any philosophical BS concerning the abhorrent use of tone controls. I would say if you don't want to use them, don't use them. If you're content with how ALL of your music sounds then more power to ya! I'm not. But I'm VERY satisfied after I make a few adjustments.
    Xabby, Aftermath, showtaper and 10 others like this.
  5. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Drum machines are not inherently evil.

    Austin, TX
    I don’t even want to look at that horrible piece of garage in the meme.
  6. It makes sense to me the part that adding unnecessary circuits is not good for the sound, even if high quality connectors and stuff might make that loss very small. I don't buy the purity of the sound part, since I became a tube guy and I can tweak the sound by doing some tube rolling.
    Having said that, most of my gear doesn't even have tone controls, and the one that has, I bypass them.
    WapatoWolf likes this.
  7. uzn007

    uzn007 Pack Rat

    Raleigh, N.C.
    Because very few albums are mixed and mastered specifically with my listening room and gear in mind. I rarely adjust the tone controls beyond "flat" but it's nice to have the option.
    Xabby, Aftermath, George P and 13 others like this.
  8. 911s55

    911s55 Forum Resident

    Wa state
    Do you listen to the music in the environment it was mixed or mastered in? If not how do you know how it is intended to sound.

    By the way there are plenty of tone controls on mixing consoles so the original instrument will already be altered in it's presentation and microphones have their own signature as well.

    Do what you want, your ears.
    showtaper, russk and The Pinhead like this.
  9. Jeffreylee

    Jeffreylee Rock 'n' Roll Typist

    I want my records to sound good, not accurate. There are way too many records that are poorly mixed or mastered and they benefit enormously from some tweaking. I don't ever want to be that guy who plays the same four records over and over because those are the only ones that sound good.
    Aftermath, showtaper, jmczaja and 7 others like this.
  10. Soopahmahn

    Soopahmahn Well-Known Member

    I love the passive EQ that is implemented in my Rotel RC-1070 pre. It strikes a balance between minimum phase distortion and usable tone shaping. When it's bypassed it's 100% neutral.
    I can bump +3 or +4 dB @ 100Hz, and +3 dB at 10 kHz.

    I like to bump the bass a little when listening to thrash metal or hard rock, depending on the record. I rarely bump the treble unless it's very low level listening or a perhaps a recording from the 1930's that is very soft up top.

    95% of the time I don't use it, but it's a fun and musical option!
    showtaper and The Pinhead like this.
  11. Michael Chavez

    Michael Chavez Forum Resident

  12. appledan

    appledan Resident Rockist

    There are lot of 80s recordings that I cannot listen to without boosting the low end with an EQ. I do not like bass-shy recordings/mixes.
  13. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    If one is pleased with all recording as is or even if not, prefers to listen to said recordings as is, then tone controls are not needed.

    But if the opposite is true, tone controls are wanted to improve the listening experience.
  14. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    San Diego
    I was thinking about adding that little 4 band EQ from Schiit. Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

    I haven't had tone controls for decades but this one looks pretty interesting for the price. The 20hz adjustment actually rolls all the way up above 60hz and might add a little bass slam for recordings that need it.

    Also, a separate EQ for people who use a 2 channel system for home theater duty would also be useful. Movie soundtracks are already heavily EQ'd and not optimized for 2 channel sound.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    EggBreakfast likes this.
  15. Ray Blend

    Ray Blend Forum Resident

    The Midwest
    If all recordings were perfectly mastered, and all listening environments had perfect acoustics, I think the OP would have a valid point here.
    showtaper, Jim N., dirtymac and 2 others like this.
  16. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    To everyone saying “I just care that it sounds good to me” I say, yes, of course, but for me, tone controls usually make things sound weird, not better. There are some records that do sound better to me with tone controls applied, but it’s always a tradeoff in which I am choosing the weird tone coloration over the perceived imbalance of the mastering. I’m glad they are available to me, but I am even more glad to be able to bypass them completely nearly all of the time.
  17. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    I do listen to many recordings flat but if I need to make an adjustment, there is no weirdness at all. Guess I'm lucky and have great sounding tone controls!
    uzn007 and 911s55 like this.
  18. vinylbuff

    vinylbuff Forum Resident

    North Port Florida
    I have tone controls on my preamp (Parasound P6), but rarely use them. I look at it this way...… It's better to have tone controls and not use them rather than NOT have them and NEED them.
  19. Michael Chavez

    Michael Chavez Forum Resident

    I'd like to receive ONE DOLLAR U.S. for every time this thread has or ever will be started
    then, I would have a LOT of dollars!
    : - )
    showtaper and Vinny123 like this.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    when i had tone controls they rarely made the sound good enough to stop wishing for even more adjustment.
    without tone controls i have carefully shaped my room, speaker and listening positions and system synergy to let pretty much every recording sound excellent.
    WapatoWolf likes this.
  21. JackG

    JackG Forum Resident

    Speakers are tone controls and most choose them based on them producing tone they like. Same with carts.
    groovelocked, Kyhl, Kristofa and 4 others like this.
  22. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    ...mostly kept Flat.
    Adam9 likes this.
  23. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Hey haven't I seen this thread before?...well yes, but a discussion on tone controls is always welcome. For me they're essential. I listen to music in a home office or in bedrooms. I don't have and likely never will a dedicated listening room. This of course means I share my love of music in a real world setting with furnishings, art, window treatments, and the stuff of life, etc.. I must have the ability to shape the music to my ears in my spaces.

    I own both tube and solid state gear, and have found that I need far less tone adjustment when using my Fisher 800 c tube receiver than I do in either of my two solid state based systems. The Schiit Loki tone control came along just at the right time for it allowed me to decide to purchase an Acurus R11 pre-amplifier which has no tone controls to go along with my Lector VM200 power amp. They're a terrific combo and but for the Loki I wouldn't have known that.

    I've also purchased a Parks Audio Puffin Phono DSP a few months back. This device offers a wide array of tone control and sound shaping for vinyl playback. I've used it solo and in conjunction with the Loki. In the case of the latter the Puffin's Bass and Treble are left flat, but I do make adjustments to the Tilt and Air settings. In the end I just want to enjoy what I'm listening to, tone controls of any kind help me do that and always will.
    Bill Why Man and AnkySoho like this.
  24. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    San Diego
    The Loki looks good. My next purchase I think. I have a McCormack Micro Line Drive with dual mono passive attenuators and an input switch. I use it in both passive and active modes. If the defeat switch is very good on the Loki (let me know what you think!), I can just pop it in the mainstream.
  25. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident

    The last time I had tone controls was 1987 and haven't felt the need during that time.

    I don't have any ideology about the issue and in fact I was put off the idea of my amp by the omission of tone controls, end of story really.
    WapatoWolf likes this.

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