Why Does Good Remote Control Design Elude so Many Companies?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Helom, Jul 15, 2022.

  1. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    Why does it seem like the majority of remote controls are aggravating in use? Is it really so difficult to design one with an ergonomic size, shape, and button layout?

    Have you ever attempted to raise the volume and instead you shut down the component, because the immediately adjacent button is “Off”?! :realmad:

    Or how about you frequently go to adjust volume and instead you fat finger the input switching? :cussing:

    Ergonomically speaking, I think the best remote I’ve yet used is the plastic one that came with the Bel Canto Pre5, and it certainly isn’t what I’d consider ideal.

    What’s the best remote you’ve encountered and why?

    Should we get a petition started to distribute to those companies producing the lame ones? :nauga:
  2. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Cause techs probably design them.

    those guys with pocket protectors.

    make sense now nightjar?

    carrick doone, Bob Casner and hi_watt like this.
  3. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    One of the worst?

    the benchmark remote.
    Volume up is right next to the off button. Whoops!

    apple remotes are worse.
    so small they will only fit into a baby’s hands and then disappear into the crevices of the sofa never to be found again.

    Most of the best ones I’ve found on Japanese gear.
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum member Thread Starter

    But they print screened a white box around the volume buttons. Resolved!
    Ilusndweller and Tone? like this.
  5. Dafox

    Dafox Well-Known Member

    Northern Colorado
    Rogue Audio Sphynx remote is Simple, volume and mute. The thing I have come to appreciate about it is that you can adjust the volume a little at a time with the touch if the button, it makes controlled precise changes, you don't have to look at the knob to see where you are, makes a gentle mechanical click that you can feel and barely hear, no overshoot or missed attempts, just right. I find myself making frequent small adjustments to volume as I am listening to music.
    Sneaky Pete, garythain and Helom like this.
  6. Prighello

    Prighello Forum Resident

    Because all the good UX folks are in tech.
    carrick doone and Atmospheric like this.
  7. Davey

    Davey NP: Carmen Villain ~ Sketch for Winter IX: Perlita

    SF Bay Area, USA
    My CJ preamp remote works well, and is machined from a hefty slab of aluminum, but it's a pretty simple layout, you don't really have to look, and no power button to accidentally push :)

  8. AudioAddict

    AudioAddict Forum Resident

    Best remote used is a wired (!) Revox A77 R2R with 5 buttons that mirror the FF Rev Play Stop Record pattern on the machine itself. Simple, intuitive and workable. The RME remotes for my DACs and AD/DA converters are also good because they allow you to select choices from the online menus.
    The worst remote I have ever encountered is the one for the Emotiva UMC200 preamp. It has nothing to do with the controls on the unit itself and neither get any of the jobs done. This one's farcical.
    Simple is always better for a remote. And there is a fellow on EBay that makes remotes for a lot of cassette and R2R equipment and his prices are reasonable (typically less than $100) and his remotes work. He uses a simple Dish physical remote configured for the basic functions with a wireless box connected to the device.
    Recently had to lengthen the cord for a Otari R2R remote and this required ordering a special 11-wire cord, 2 fittings no longer being made, and lots of solder. Was a nightmare and illustrates how little attention is paid to old equipment/remotes.
    Cassette remotes on EBay are garnering large sums because they are so hard to find.
    Helom and McLover like this.
  9. AudioAddict

    AudioAddict Forum Resident

    Should add that some of the "statement" remotes attempt to do way too much. Have another fine Emotiva Preamp, the XMC-1, that is one of their flagship products. But the remote is a statement remote -- heavy with a ridiculous number of buttons.
    And this is the key for me. A remote should just cover the basic functions of the component. Once it becomes too inclusive, you have to relearn all the complexities involved. If the companies would try to standardize some of the positions (the way TV remotes have) then you could just grab the remote and get the choice made.
    My 5.1 theater system requires 4 remotes to turn on and if I haven't used it in a while, recalling all of the various oddities. Of course there are the universal combination remotes and I have also tried those. Seems they never last for one reason or another. And making the universal keys operative is chancy.
    Mr. Bewlay and Dave112 like this.
  10. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    While I love my Cronus Magnum MkI, Rouge did not get their remote right when I bought it. If you tapped the either button (MkI does not have a mute feature), the volume change was so fast, the remote was pretty useless. Well, ironically, it was a decent mute because it lowered the volume to nothing in less than 2 seconds. They did eventually correct this on the MkII, and made the upgrade available to MkI owners for a reasonable price. I think it was $20, $25 with the tool you needed remove the chip off the circuit board. It took about 5 minutes to install it. But I do like that remote only has volume. Really it's the only thing you need for a tube, all analog integrated amp. Well, mute would be nice. A power switch and source selection seems completely unnecessary to me. You can get off you couch for those things. But it took Rogue years to get that remote to work properly. It does work great after the upgrade and I liked that they made the upgrade available really cheap. I see it as Rogue admitting their mistake. Other companies would have not done this at all. You'd have to upgrade to the MkII to get a functional remote. And that kind of stuff is really petty and the MkII wasn't really much of an upgrade over the MkI. The MkIII does seem to be a huge upgrade.
    Helom likes this.
  11. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    SF, CA, USA
    The best one I've used so far was the one for the family TV when I was growing up:


    The only downside was that the bottom was slippery and curved. Too many remotes have way too many buttons, or even with few buttons like on my Apple TV, poor placement of them.
    Tim S, Kyhl, Dave112 and 5 others like this.
  12. Lenny99

    Lenny99 The truth sets you free.

    Clarksburg WV

    I agree.

    I've had similar mishaps time and again. Some of the worst remotes: Sylvania CWD player remote. (I used it as my transport for a few years.) The buttons are small, on top of each other, and are slow to respond. My Yamaha RS 202 receiver's remote advances the bass, bslance, and tremble by two with the slightest touch. For example, if any of those controls are is set at 4, one tap and your at 6. Why calibrate the advance in that manner?

    I had a Sony STRDH 190 that had a decent control. It was a bit complicated, but the main tasks such as the volume control were a breeze to use. Other less common controls were a bit difficult to locate. But, I'd think that control was properly engineered.

    It seems to me in most cases remotes are an afterthought. Just throw one in the shipping box so the company can state the component comes with a remote. And don't forget the weird off brand batteries.
    Stanton56 and Helom like this.
  13. bever70

    bever70 You sustain the rhythm, I'll maintain the beat

    Best and most beautiful remotes by far are made and used by b&o: beolink 1000, beo 4, beolink 5000, beolink 7000, etc...
    My parasound remote (the black p6/7 version, not the earlier grey p5 version) is plastic but as perfect and handy as they come!
    I had some Bel Canto and Schiit remotes that were utter crap. Oh and the RME adi2 dac remote is also bad.
  14. Oddiofyl

    Oddiofyl Forum Resident

    I agree about the RME remote for the ADI2 is well thought out and functions can be customized and remapped. I use a Russound learning remote I picked up for $10 on clearance... looks like it was made for them by Universal
  15. normanr

    normanr Forum Resident

    London, UK
    I have a Linn Classik tuner/CD/amp whose remote has 56 buttons. Dropped it on the floor and the little fixings that hold the back on broke. All 56 buttons fell out. Now I have to keep a cable tie round it to stop the back falling off and all 56 falling out again.

    Classic (or Classik) old-school product design: do more, rather than do less but do it well.
    timind likes this.
  16. theMot

    theMot Forum Resident

    Oppo had nice remotes.
  17. Tony C.

    Tony C. Forum Resident

    I'm a sucker for simplicity. My current integrated amp, a Circle Labs A200, came with a narrow, high-quality metal, four button remote. It is very similar to the one that came with the Jeff Rowland Concentra I integrated that I once owned.


    My biggest related pet peeve are the space consuming number pads that invariably come on CD player/transport remotes. I never program the tracks, as it's so damn easy to just skip ahead when desired.
    garythain, Tim S, gestalt and 4 others like this.
  18. Swann36

    Swann36 A widower finding solace in music

    Lincoln, UK
    Its interesting your thoughts on the Benchmark remote as i find it one of the best i've used , admittedly its the all metal one of the DAC1 HDR and for my fingers the off is far enough away not to get caught by accident, i like that its cast aluminium and has rounded corners ... but each to their own
    pscreed and Ilusndweller like this.
  19. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco

    Btw. I have both the benchmark AHB2 and LA4.
    Love them to death.
    But the remote dude

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shut the LA4 off whilst reaching for the up volume
    timind likes this.
  20. MGW

    MGW Less travelling, more listening

    Scotland, UK
    The most user friendly one that we have ever had is the Bluetooth one for our Samsung smart TV, about like this although not sure if it is exactly the same Samsung BN59-01242A Smart TV Remote Control

    Minimal buttons but all features remain accessible and being Bluetooth you don't even have you point it at the receiver.

    That said I do like the chunky Moon Simaudio remote for my amplifier.
  21. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    I strongly agree about the need for better remote control design. I have a Sony Blu-Ray player, and the remote has 32 buttons that it fits in the space of 4.5 inches by 1.5 inches. The major problems with the remote are: (1) small size of the button, (2) their very similar shapes and sizes, and (3) putting the buttons so close together that you basically have to look at the remote to make sure that you press the correct button.
  22. Dafox

    Dafox Well-Known Member

    Northern Colorado
    Remember when you didn't need to use the remote, you could just click a couple of spoons together?
    jfeldt likes this.
  23. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    The Rega Brio-R originally shipped with a very nice, simple remote, that had five buttons for input selection (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and then volume up/down. That was it. It was fantastic.

    Sadly they've since replaced it with an elaborate device with two dozen or so buttons.

    Apart from that, the best remotes I have used are the one that used to ship with an old Denon AV amp called the AVR-3803, which was fully programmable, had a good ergonomic layout, and was backlit and so easy to use in the dark.

    I also adore the remote that comes with my current Arcam AV9 and the remote is possibly the main reason I haven't switched it out for another pre!
  24. manxman

    manxman Forum Resident

    Isle of Man
    B&O's remotes are indeed beautiful, but they also suffer from the ergonomic problem mentioned above. On more than one occasion, I've managed to turn my TV off when trying to change volume as the controls are next to one another on the BeoRemote One. Thankfully I control my Beolab 90s' volume via a desktop app.
  25. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Although I don't recall ever turning the unit off accidentally, I was not a fan of the Benchmark remote. I sold my HPA4 partly due to the remote operation, and partly due to the display. I replaced it with a Bel Canto Pre5, and while the remote is a cheap plastic thing, it works much better than the Benchmark.

    As for those large aluminum remotes, my Simaudio had an aluminum remote the size and weight of a brick. It worked ok, and was ready to serve as a weapon if an unwanted intruder ever made their way in to my basement.
    The Pinhead, Tim 2, Kyhl and 4 others like this.

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