Loudness Button

I am for the Loudness Button....

Below is an odd comment I thought from PS Audio.

You don’t see loudness controls on high-end audio equipment much for two reasons: its benefits have to be weighed against the impurity of additional phase shifting circuitry, and most high-performance systems aren’t used at background listening levels so it’s not needed.

"Not needed"......I beg to.disagree.

Having been around back when they were common, I would say the real reason they are gone is they were blowing out speakers. Hardly anyone understood the reasoning behind them, but everyone likes bass, so loudness was on all the time. Very common.
I would have to conclude that if you feel the need for a loudness contour button in your system, something is amiss. I have no need for one in my system and the majority of my listening is done late at night at low volume. Just sayin
I use the loudness button on my McIntosh preamp at night while listening with headphones. Love it. However, I don't use it otherwise. If you want/need one, then find a piece of gear that has it. YOUR ears are all that matters!
I would have to conclude that if you feel the need for a loudness contour button in your system, something is amiss. I have no need for one in my system and the majority of my listening is done late at night at low volume. Just sayin

Fletcher-Munson. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour  
Just sayin
I would have to conclude that if you feel the need for a loudness contour button in your system, something is amiss. I have no need for one in my system and the majority of my listening is done late at night at low volume. Just sayin

It is true.  I have 4 different systems, and depending on how loud I want to listen to music, I go around the house to the right system. No problem at all.
I am a strong Promoter of ’proper use’ of’ Loudness

Loudness (weird name) ought to be called ’LOW VOL BOOST" or something similar.

Mostly mis-understood; mis-adjusted- thus mis-liked.

lots of my yap here

524 posts02-07-2020 9:12am

A Simple Path makes sense, EXCEPT, lack of controls leaves you with no control when adjustments would increase enjoyment.

Controls, done right, do nothing until desired/engaged. Optional Tone Control Bypass are liked by many.


I see this as distinct/related/interactive parts

1. TONE controls

2. BALANCE Control

3. IMAGING Refinement (assuming decent imaging to begin with).

4. LOUDNESS: AUTOMATIC Low Volume Contour.

4. moved up

Essentially Bass Boost at Low Volumes. Good but hard to get right. Only needed if you listen at low volumes, i.e. while reading, or dreaded unwanted visitors arrive ...

4a. Mis-named, thus mis-understood, often improper implementation.
LOW BOOST; LOW VOL+; some name short enough to print on panel face.

4b. It does not know your speaker’s efficiency, so, how can it be automatically correct?

4c. Boosting/retaining bass, i.e. Jazz Bass, Low Piano notes, at low volume listening is much better than losing it.

4d. It should begin and work below your ’normal’ listening level.

One, or sometimes Two volume controls are involve for proper implementation.

4e. Some old pre-amps/receivers had two volume controls.

First, Loudness Volume Control to un-engaged position. Then main volume for preferred listening volume. Then reduce volume using Loudness Volume Control, thereby progressively engaging LOW Volume Boost.

4f. Lacking that rare feature, you need to achieve the same arrangement with a pre-amp with LOUDNESS engaged when you want it.

First get a volume ’mix’ with Loudness OFF.

You need to find when your preamp’s loudness contour begins when ON. Then set pre-amp just above that, and use your amps volume to get your preferred volume, and volume increase, and back to ’normal’ when done listening.

Then, use the preamp to reduce volume, thus beginning the progressive bass boost. Also back to normal when done listening.

If you have two cartridges with different outputs, use the amp’s volume.

Loudness OFF. Amp half way up. Preamp half way up. Raise preamp, Now turn LOUDNESS ON, then lower preamp, until you hear bass BEGIN TO STRENGTHEN. Raise pre-amp a bit, NO LOUDNESS. Lower than that is where you want progressive Loudness Boost to begin.

Amp volume control for louder, Preamp volume control for reduced, below normal volume listening WITH BASS BOOST.


1. TONE Control.

1a. Generally, I prefer listening to what artist/engineer put out. If I don’t like it, I am not likely to listen again. However, they certainly can be beneficial.

1b. Tone Controls, in some situations, can ’fix’ asymmetrical/difficult listening spaces, finding a general adjustment for the system.

1c. In the past, other systems, I’ve tried for ’perfection’ with advanced equalizers, pro microphones, ... it was a trap, back to basics please.

2. BALANCE. System’s Balanced, Great.

2a. After that, I find for some tracks, tweaking balance a little can make a large improvement. Adjusting Imaging ’opens up’ all the instruments. It could be/occasionally is the engineering; your side wall; a system imbalance; a slightly weak tube ...

2b. Remote Balance is the easiest to make very slight and quick adjustment from the listening position.

2c. PHONO/TT setup (skip to 3 if no phono)

Anti-skate is critical for balance/imaging/groove/stylus wear.

Get it right, re-check it occassionally. (re-check tracking force occassionally also). I just learned a lot due to an arm with only one 2.5g weight.


1. TT dial/hanging weight/rod with notches often are not perfect, or even close!

2. Stylus shape varies the effect of inward skate.

3. Smooth disk method works very well.


4. Stylus with brush effects both downward force, AND inward/anti-skate. Using the smooth disk, leaving the brush DOWN while adjusting anti-skate proved successful.

5. I use my protractor/overhang/null point disc, it has enough smooth area


6. I saw a video of someone using a blank CD. However, small diameter, be ready to catch the arm before it goes off the outside edge onto .....

7. Listening. This disc is my final confirmation/tweak.

Side 2, tracks 2 and 3: Three distinct guitars, and equal audience noise.


It is a very good example of 2a. above, how a slight tweak can make a large difference.

Eurythmics, Any: Annie Lennox/Dave’s Symetrical effects; Cassandra Wilson, Blue Light Till Dawn; Fontella Bass, New Look. Your favorite. Voices engineered to be dead center. (as long as they are not moving around the stage, i.e. live performances). Get them center, then, look a bit to the left: can you imagine them over there? Look a bit right, can you imagine ... tweak, dead on!

NOT Hot Sardines. (Great Jazz Band). Singer is OFF Center, leaving room for tap dancer, staying close to Piano. She may be right (saw her live at SOPAC), or left, Donna saw her live at Joe’s Pub, at this performance



3a. Balance as noted above.

3b. Boost favorite instrument, i.e. Jazz Bass; Piano; Sax/Trumpet/...; Voice. At decent volume, just change the engineer’s choices to suit. Just a slight touch, only for that track ...

What happened to the old premise of straight wire with gain? Just saying, again
What happened to the old premise of straight wire with gain? Just saying, again

I buried it when I realized how much personal taste and imperfection was inherent in music production. 

It came back as a ghost of scientific perfection, which I had exorcised with gear I liked the sound of.
Hi @tooblue

Listen, I just want to say that was a little cold of me. You should buy and enjoy what you like, according to your own personal values and aesthetic.

I gave up on arbitrary perfection. I rely on tests, numbers and science a lot, but in the end, this is about my own somatic pleasure.

When it comes to tone controls, I've heard issues with some, and not with others. I had to step back and think about whether the alleged imperfection of the tone control itself was worth denying myself better sound.

I'm lucky to have a unit whose tone controls I cannot tell.  Maybe my ears have gotten worse? I've heard other units and did not like the tone controls.  Now, at night, listening with the loudness switch on is heaven. It means I don't have to have live sound to have great music.

Should you? Up to you, but the rigid self discipline of avoiding them is something far in my past. I even use a digital EQ to do some careful room correction.


@erik_squires, no opology necessary but that is where we differ. I could care less sbout the spec sheets as they usually have very little to do with what my ears tell me. Enjoy the music

I am with you.   All these digitalists and numbers guys....ok wow very impressive talk but seriuosly it does not always add up to a presentation of the music being played in an impressive way....again we can talk circles regarding sound...I have listened to so many high end audio systems that seriously I would take a really good Mid Fi setup over it.

Being a Bass player of 45 years now it really shocks me of most people's idea of Bass for example....I have stood there auditioning systems and the seller looks at me waiting to hear a positive response on the Bass in the system when there is only a sense of it but no weight.

There must be some realistic weight to it.

This is where most high end expensive systems leave me scratching my head in an underwhelming thin listening experience.