A marketing ploy? Can you show me any marketing where any manufacturer is selling their products based on the strength of not having tone controls? Where do they even mention that? equipment at this level is sold on the strength of how it performs. If it would perform better with tone controls and therefore sell more units, it would happen. Do you honestly believe that a company making pre amps and integrateds that cost well into the five figure range are omitting tone controls as a cost saving measure? As you say, it’s a very simple design and not expensive. Do you think they sell their products by engaging in clever marketing ploys? you might be well served to take a trip to a brick and mortar audio store and audition some equipment. Perhaps go and listen to a modern tube amp. It seems you have some pretty staunch and immovable opinions based on using low powered vintage receivers with low efficiency moderns speakers and entry level analog source equipment. In that case I’m sure tone controls are very helpful. Go to a shop and listen to the products you are accusing of marketing ploys and cost savings.