Why tone controls?

June 4, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

6 comments on “Why tone controls?”

  1. Hello Paul,
    We agree as far as the points you covered. But what about uses you did not cover? Here are three:

    1. If I wish to listen at a lower level at night, how about a Loudness Control switch to automatically track the low and high end, keeping them in approximate balance below a certain volume level?
    2. Compensation for older (or newer) recordings with insufficient bass.
    3. Hearing compensation for 49, 59, 69 year old ears.

    I acknowledge that some of this is difficult to accurately implement due to variables. But surely approximate high-quality compensation, conservatively implemented (with a defeat switch) can sometimes be better than none!

    PS surely has the talent to figure out how they can implement something. And what a marketing, buzz-factor advantage an audiology-based (defeatable) approach would have for your brand. If you are really frightened, do a seperate box. You were not afraid to tell the world there is a better way to manage AC power. Initially there were skeptics, but you were right; you won.

    Thanks for listening Paul. Except on this matter, you are the greatest (have been since the 1970’s). – Jeffrey Saunders, Philadelphia

  2. Agreed JAS, especially point #1. I recall Paul discussing loudness button in the past for the reasons of upper and lower frequency roll off at lower SPL. It’s specifically for that reason why something like the Schiit Loki Max is something I’ll likely add to the kit.

  3. There are plenty of recordings…esp vinyl…that are not ancient and need a boost here and there….usually in the bass. I’m happy that my current gear…which is certainly NOT Best Buy level includes bother tone and balance (Handy for those of us with damage in one ear). I don’t see the point of living with an unlistenable recording for no reason.

    PS…I never owned Advents, but my 2 best friends did. I don’t recall them being especially bass deficient.

  4. Hello Allan,
    I own a Loki. As long as you do not over-compensate, it is very helpful. Used modestly, it improves SQ with no hearable distortion (to my ears). I use it 20% of the time to compensate for items enumerated in my prior comment. The rest of the time I have it off. I have a nice system (Rogue tube pre., M700 monos, Maggies, REL Ti9s, P12) and listen mostly to classical and 60s-80s Rock via CD.

    I have also discovered a 4th use. I have good seats at frequent Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, a 3-minute walk from home. Every time I came home, my system sounded worse. Maybe it is my listening room, but at the concerts when the cellos and basses “launch”, the sound was warmer, more “textured” than my system sounded. I found that on a lot of discs, the Loki can restore some of that missing mid-bass reality with the second control from the left turned to the 1-2 o’clock position.

    – JAS, Phila.

    1. I fully support the concept of sophisticated/advanced “tone controls” via modern DSP based processors allowing loudness adaptation, EQ, removing of timing/phase errors and crosstalk cancellation. The latter is the biggest problem of stereo and there are solutions out there since 20 years!

  5. Some manufacturers of home-audio amplifiers do tone controls very well & others not so much.
    Just like all things home-audio, the listener has to find the ‘right’ component for him/her.

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