Adding an equalizer

Hi all
I've noticed that many of theseday's so-called hi-end preamps/integradeds are not equipped with tonal controls...

two questions:

My best guess is that they are all "neutral" and balanced as they claim to be?


Does adding an equalizer to a system help?
i.e. soften up the treble...?
(any recommendations on low priced ones?)
or would it color or ruin the sonic character of the system if I add a cheap radioshack equalizer?

I recently purchased the MF A5 integrated and it does not have tonal controls... (though older MF did)
and I was considering adding an equalizer just for the fun of it...
thanks all for your opinions
Properly designed equalizers such as RIVES, Accuphase, Z-Systems, etc. can help correct room/speaker problems. Most high end designers of amps/pre-amps like to keep circuits as simple as possible thus the lack of tone controls and this has been going on for decades, not just "these days".

However, a relatively inexpensive equalizer like something from Audio Control (pretty well built) can be fun to play with. I like listening to music more but then I'm pretty old. The days of playing around with how the music is made is pretty much over for me.
An equalizer will bring additional circuit paths to the stream (normally not of the best quality), so additional distortion and lack of transparency will arrise.

Proper speaker setup and a balanced system will reproduce music nicely, you won't feel the need to be playing arround with an eq IMO.

Integrating tone controlls in preamplifier is extra cost and less profit hence the new philosophy of an audio market such as "addiional distortion", "loss of purity" etc... has taken place instead.
This philosophy is OK when you're dealing with good recording but if you're not, you're simply let the system reveal an unpleasant sound reproduction.
Many of us force ourselves to be pleased with bad recordings with no tone controlls having in mind that they're completely unneccessary.
A good external high-end EQ might struck your budget and for now I'd recommend you to visit where you can select one of your choice in the low-hundreds range tube or SS and try it out risk-free(in many cases you don't even pay for s/h).
Your room definitely changes the sound. If the sound bothers you enough you should try equalization. I'm using what was the top end of Audio Control's equalizer line and it has zero degradation that I can detect as I can switch it in and out on my ARC LS 16. It has been worth every penny. My room is a dedicated LEDE with four bass traps but slight adjustments of a db or two and sometimes just a smidge with my thumbnail improved the sound considerably. A great option I think is the Tact 2.0. Tact will sell one with both A/d and d/a for 1500 with a 2 year warranty. Also the newer Tact models, deqx and other high quality pieces can be had. You'll find most people find it can help considerably making the sound more natural. At minimum you are depriving yourself of alot without at least experiementing. Don't even bother with the Radio shack equalizers as lower end Audio Controls are far better and can be had on Ebay for 50 bucks.
Warner is right about the Tact. I am looking into getting one but have to "dial in" my new speakers, pre-amp, and cables before doing so. May be doing this backward but I want to get the best from them in the room now and then later check out the Tact.

Warner's also right about the relatively inexpensive (compared to most high end stuff) Audio Controls. I borrowed one of his older ones and it taught me more about speaker and listening seat adjustments than I could have come up with by myself.