I NEED a tone control to control bass.

The problem is, I'm living in an NYC apartment with suspended hardwoods and a downstairs neighbor with very sensitive ears. I have no interest in rolling off treble, but bass is another matter, as it varies from recording to recording, track to track, and gives me peace of mind to be able to adjust it on the fly, especially late at night. I know tone controls are taboo in this day and age, but wondering if any one has any suggestions on a way to introduce a high-quality bass control, probably subtractive, without degrading the signal path too much and without breaking the bank? Anyone know of a possible custom builder for this? Would also consider a bass-and-treble control if there's a good alternative out there these days...
I just looked at Ebay, found an ADC equalizer that so far is only bid up to $19.00. Also a Pioneer with less than half a day to go, needs a $20.00 bid.

I have no idea about quality of these but at this price you could experiment in your system, install as a loop and "subtract" bass as required.

I think this will harm the sound but considering you are trying to keep peace with your neighbors this is a cheap fix and one you can throw away later if you move.
If you are using a DAC with your system, a Behringer DEQ2496 is very good to insert into the digital connection.
The Behringer is really good at adjusting the sound.
Itt retails for about $325 now. The Behringer really has a complex setup ,and reading the owners manual is a MUST.
Otherwise a cheap EQ box is a possiblility as Albertporter mentions.

I have always lived in an apt building and just worry about bothering my neighbors. (I used to not care many many years ago.. but i grew up!)
I have Magnepan speakers, and have to say the Magnepan bass is pretty cool, in that you can hear it in the listening seating area, but it does not go through floors and walls as normal box speaker bass does.
The front and rear output of the dipoles really cancels out the bass, so it does not travel far, nor go through walls, floors...
So my 3.6s are an ideal apt speaker.
(Any of the Magnepan speakers could be good. (if you have room for them)

Other things to help cut the bass entering the floor, is IF your speakers are on the floor, move them up off the floor!!
Get some concrete patio slabs, like 18" square, two inch thick and put some small items (tiptoes are ideal but any object will work (wooden spools of thread, a few thick washers..)
Then place the speakers on the concrete slabs. Use something between the speaker base and slab. I would add rubber bottle stoppers, or a carpet square or two..
This will cut the bass from the floor. Also additional small carpet pieces in front of the speakers..
I used to use round 75lb slabs on tiptoes under my big Infinity speakers to very good effect.
Also flipping speakers with the big woofer on the bottom upside down, and have the woofer at the top will cut the bass, especially good if you do raise them up.. Naturally this depends totally on the speaker design.. And it may mess up the sound, but it could also help.

As for the neighbor, I hate listening to others music through walls too. The worst is bass, and a regular beat like fast disco or drum machine is the worst possible.
An irregular beat, a syncopated beat is far less annoying.
In general I despise loud bass, and a lot of other gals I know dislike bass also. So if it is coming in via the walls, she may start raising hell. Especially if she has lived there a long time.
Move to the bottom floor... is another way to help cut the problem.
I'll second Elizabeths' recommendation of Behringers' 2496 as a room calibration unit and EQ/tone controller. Once set-up, the DEQ feature is just what you may be looking for. One DEQ sub-feature is adding a low frequency shelf. I can add or subtract the bass volume, frequency spread, and slope height of low frequencies using 3 rotory dials instantly, by ear. Once I set up the best slope for my main's, all I typically need to adjust the bass is one rotory dial, the gain of the entire bass slope.

The LED screen clearly shows the curve and effects. The DEQ effect can be set to flat or boosted/reduced by up to 20 dB's in 1 dB increments. 6 dB's doubles the sound pressure, giving you plenty of headroom.

Mine is connected between the transport and pro and is perfectly silent. Note that this connection and setting, when switching from 2-channel to 2.1, also increases the subs sound pressure level in the same frequencies through my digital processor.

For every 3 dB's of sound pressure level gain, it nearly doubles the load on subwoofer amps, so you may need to offset the sub's lower slope to keep it flat. I set my subs' slope to remove 12 dB from 40Hz down - nearly a reversed mirror image of the main's DEQ adjustments. That keeps both my EQ's main's boosted and the sub nearly flat. I set my SVS Ultra 13 low shelf at a gradual reduction slope to offset the DEQ boost - using 40 Hz at a gradual 12 dB reduction slope.

There are various connection options, too. Some prefer adding it after their DAC's, between the pro and amps. That removes the pro's digital processing effects on subs and extends its' use to all your music sources. You can connect it both ways with this unit and simply select the one you want.

It will not effect the mids or highs unless you extend the slope. Another cool feature is stereo width. One dial, and the stereo separation can smoothly merge into mono, to the original stereo signal, and onto a wider stereo separation.

I also emphasize first reading slowly through the short manual TWICE. It's actually well written once the newer pro-audio termonology is understood.
There was an article on this problem recently in HIFICRITIC and it was solved by isolating the speakers from the floor by an air suspension system. It is not sold over here and was somewhat expensive but you should be able to make up something that would work fairly cheaply using rubber innertubes. I would use the slabs Elisabeth recommended and use a tube of good size between them; do not over inflate them. This system also improved the bass in the system they reviewed and greatly lessened the sound transmitted through the floor.
A subwoofer and sub-controller (like the Velodyne SMS) is one viable solution. The SMS is +/- $400, and if you have 2 pre-outs (or an active x-over like the NHT X-2 @ app $300),you can keep the EQ unit out of the main signal path. It will work in the main path, but it uses ADC prior to room correction/EQ, so, given your stated preference, I suspect that you'd be happier isolating it.

Digitally room corrected subs are a wonderful thing! One more nice benefit - multiple presets. You can store full , room corrected bass response under one preset and polite, rolled off, neighbor-sensitive bass response in another. Switch in the bass when the neighbors are out, play nice when they're at home.

However, you need a sub/main speaker set-up to make it work.

OTOH, I lived on the 32nd floor 60 E. 8th st for 16 years and I never found a truly good solution.

Good Luck,

Here's another possible solution to elevate your speakers off the floor. 2-3 sturdy, unexpensive end tables. The legs can be trimmed way down to provide a healthy air pocket between the table bottoms and floor. Paint to match decor or get lucky and buy a close match.

If you have room, longer coffee style tables may work better than trimmed end tables. The speakers can be slid back on the coffee tables, leaving the remaining length of the coffee tables facing forward in line with the drivers. The table section that extends forward will also help direct bass forward rather than downward.

Pre-finished furniture outlets and the usual discount department stores usually have sturdy tables at good prices.
Best you move to a 'bunker', as all else is just fooling around. I solved the problem by moving to a cheap missile silo, boy does the government know how to control the 'bass'.
Monitors and a sub?
Hire a lady of the evening and send her to your neighbor complements of you and your hifi rig. If that does not work then you will need to move. All seriousness aside even if you went to headphones you will still have a problem. I had a neighbor who would complain even when I was at work. There usually no solving the problem.
When I was in an apartment in those school days, isolation did work wonders for the neighbors below. Breaking that solid contact does a lot more than we think sometimes since we're in the listening area, not the area that wants silence.
You could try Auralex subdudes or speakerdudes:


Sorry for the slow response, a glitch has prevented me from posting the past couple of days. At any rate, thanks for all the responses, it's nice to know that a lot of you can relate. I have indeed thought about introducing a subwoofer into the system, although I honestly wonder whether it wouldn't aggravate the problem in some ways, and would really prefer to keep this a two-way setup. I guess the crux of my problem is that I am generally pretty obsessed with maintaining a clean signal path in the system and hate the idea of introducing a substandard piece of equipment into the chain.

That said, seems like the Behringer is worth a look. Do I gather, though, that this involves digitizing an analog signal then converting it back to analog? Scary. To answer your question, Elizabeth, I do have a DAC that I really like a lot. Anyway, i obviously need to read up on the Behringer. Will also check out the ADC, thanks for the rec on that, Albert.

As for isolating the speakers from the floor, I've currently got them on some Herbie's spikes which are in turn going into the Herbie's gliders. My feeling is that they do a pretty good job. My concern, really, is not so much about the bass traveling through the floor from the speakers themselves, but more just pressurizing the whole apartment, along with the neighbor's - this is a 100-year-old townhouse and we can hear each other talking on the phone, etc. A nightmare, basically, which has indeed conjured many a thought of moving to a bunker. Too bad because we love everything else about the place.

It's funny Elizabeth - I too have grown up, for better or worse, and honestly do sympathize with my neighbor. Per your point about syncopated beats, I do think that has something to do with the fact that I've been listening to a lot more jazz since I moved to this apartment, and somehow feel guilty putting on rock and dance music... sigh.
Good headphones?