true fidelity is in essence staying true to the original music, thus adjusting certain frequency levels is the opposite of what pure hifi is going for. On a side note i would highly recommend the rouge gear but have had nothing but bad experiences with adcom, i think that better can be had for the same amount of money. How much are you looking to spend?
The simpler the path, the purer the signal thus less distortion in sound. Most high end pre-amps do not have controls. The sound is tweaked by room acoustics, speaker placement,cabling, as well as other high quality sources.
I never used bass and treble even when my componets had them, it just never seemed possible to jigger one sound without molesting the whole signature, I would say for sure that when you get into mid and hi fi that tone controls are not normal to see on equipment
Staying true to the music would also mean that it was recorded direct to disc, without a mixing board, overdubs, level changes before the master, etc. Think Sheffield lab products.
Now, almost everything else has been manipulated in some degree by the recording engineer. I prefer tone controls to tame harsh treble, for example. My McIntosh C22 re-issue from the 90's has tone controls, but in the 12 o'clock position, they are out of the circuit.
Best of both worlds?
....When tone controls are at 12 o'clock ....can one generally expext the tone controls to be out of the circuit....or is that an extra feature on your Mac
Thanks for the feedback. The Adcom is an older GFA-545. I'm thinking of getting some Tyler Linbrook Signature speakers. If I do, I will be looking to replace the Adcom shortly thereafter.
at 12 oclock they are out of signal.....pretty cool
Hpims is right about the Mac. Quad used to have a pretty good pre-amp with similar items but called them something other than tone controls; I can't remember what.
I think two reasons exist for not having tone controls:
1) It's still considered "less than purist and therefore not cool" to have them.
2) The designers don't have to address them as it would take more skill and work.
Not saying designers are lazy but why should they waste time and effort when we are demanding them? I remember calling conrad-johnson in 1990 asking when they would start supplying remote control volume with the pre-amps. I was told in a rather haughty tone, "We will never include remote controls. They do nothing but degrade the sound." Theirs are now the state of the art and accepted as the norm. It would be nice if we would start demanding the same effort applied to proper tone controls, and the companies would start compying.
We now use cables to affect the sound instead of bass and treble controls, as they apparently are "more precise than tone controls, and don't affect the sonic signature" as some have commented here. Go figure.
If 7671 is right in saying that "The sound is tweaked by room acoustics, speaker placement,cabling..." then how could it be as Asonciyouth indicates that "true fidelity is in essence staying true to the original music, thus adjusting certain frequency levels is the opposite of what pure hifi is going for". Is there a certain place in a certain room using certain cables etc., ect. that "true fidelity" apears.
It's nonsense - see what Tomryan says - much closer to reality.
MC, Accuphase and some other high end pre's have tone controls. Imagine - being able to affect the sound via a high quality potentiometer without have to deal with cables - almost boggles the mind eh? Otherwise, according to advise here, you'll be moving your speakers, changing your cables etc. everytime you put another disc in.
Search for a thread on loudness controls from about 3 months ago if you want another howl on this subject.
Tone controls effect the time domain and phase characteristics of the single. Most operate over too great a range for them to be useful. They also affect the harmonic structure of the music.
Manufacturers who design for the so called "High end" will not use tone controls for the very reasons I stated above. High end is about sonic accuracy for better or worse.
As for the 12 o'clock setting, many of the manufacturers have the tone control circuit out at this position. There is a benign (null) point with most all of them somewhere. NAD used this back in the 70's. Also, some feature a tone control defeat switch so you can have both features.
Most audiophiles don't use tone controls out of ignorance. Unless your music collection is comprised of perfectly recorded music, then at some point you'd be better off with some form of tone controls. Tone controls shouldn't be used to correct system or room problems, but to address problem recordings. I believe the audiophile prejudice against tone controls is a relic from the all analog days when added circuitry did add noise and otherwise distort the signal. I a digital environment that simple is no longer the case. Tone shaping/equalization can now be precisely applied without any deleterious artifacts. There's tons of great, but less than optimally recorded music out there. You can either not listen to it, listen to it and wince or enjoy it after twisting a knob. Your system should be a servant to your music collection, not the other way around.
As with all things audio, there are good an less good implementations of tone controls. Tact, Z-Systems and Drawmer make excellent digital tone controls/parametric EQs. Cello and McIntosh make very usuable analog tone controls.
Just because your tone control is digital doesn't mean that
it is without deleterious artifacts. The tone control is
characterized by a "transfer function" - the ratio of the
Laplace transform of the output over the Laplace transform
of the input.
For a given transfer function; you can implement it either
in analog or digital. Either way - the deleterious effect
will be exactly the SAME!! The deleterious effect is a
property of the transfer function, and not whether the
implementation is analog or digital.
Dr. Gregory Greenman
"The proof of a pudding is in the eating." - George Harrison
As a music lover I would not reject anything for any other reason than it reduces the music coming from the speakers. As an somewhat neurotic audiophile I'd be very careful before introducing another transfer of signal(s) in my system. This includes complex amp designs and multiple driver speakers.
However, I've been able to blend a REL subwoofer into the system which has only increased the musical enjoyment. Same thing for the Tonian supertweeters I bought 6-7 weeks ago. So now I'm running a 4 way system which sounds way more musical than the 2 way stand mounts alone.
I also had a Placette passive for 2-3 years which created better music than the conrad-johnson it replaced. However, about a year ago a Joule Electra LA150 made better music than the Placette so I bought it and sold the passive.
I have no tone controls in the system but intend to someday soon audition one of the digital or analog units out there like PARC.
My preamp: no tone controls, no balance control. I have never needed them. Custom made with no controls, on purpose.
I like tone controls since my room isn't optimal and many recordings are crap. I believe these people who say they don't want controls because it mucks up the signal path are kidding themselves - their room screws it up way more than that but I guess they don't know or care. I only trust a flat in-room frequency response for hearing "true" and "pure" sound the way the recording was meant to be. If you want tone controls, get them - just look for preamps with them like McIntosh. Arthur
Morbius, all active circuitry in some way distorts a signal passing through it, but there are orders of magnitude of distortion. DSP opens up a wide range of filters that practically speaking are not available in analog. My understanding is that some these filters exhibit far less ringing and other time domain distortions than typically used analog implemented filter type. Additionally, DSP allows a designer to chain filters together to compensate for the faults of a particular filter type. It sounds like a kludge, but if the processing power is there, why not use it. I'm not an engineer and I am regurgitating what I've been told by experienced audio engineers, so if I am totally off base, feel free to educate/correct me. Ultimately, the good sound trumps all and my direct experience indicates that some digital EQs sound far worst than others, which is also my experience with analog EQs.
Jw94055, why stop there? Eliminate your volume control! Seriously, a balance control is essential for dialing in soundstage info on some records. As with tone controls, a poorly designed one is pretty useless, but a well designed balance control can really bring the soundstage into focus.
It is true that one can implement some more sophisticated
filters in a digital implementation than would be practical
in analog. Your example re: ringing is a good one. One can
implement higher-order filters that have group delays tailored
to prevent ringing - which would be prohibitive for the
equivalent analog filter.
However, more and more I see the "hawking" of digital processing
as a panacea for all audio ills. DSP can side-step some of
the ills of analog circuits - but DSP has its own set of
problems which can be just as bad [ex. Gibb's phenomenon ]
unless those that implement the technology do it carefully.
Dr. Gregory Greenman
We have a George Wright AU-1000 (a/k/a AG-1000 with a gold face plate) that has tone controls. With a slight turn of the bass knob, we're able to enough bottom end even with his 4W SET mono blocks that we sold our sub. As others have suggested, recordings (and rooms) are not perfect. Have you heard Wilco's "A Ghost is Born"? When listening to that CD, I actually have to turn the bass down!
Onhwy61, Thank you... I have never heard Phase, Time, Coherancy change and all this extra distortion everyone believes is in circuits with Tone controls, but I listen to rock at HIGH levels and Absolutly any room I own needs some type of attenuation, Unless you can add subs or completly build the perfect room around a speaker, If you can say you have enough Slam out of every recording you got, then you like boring or Zero colored sound, thats fine but not everyone can have 10,000 invested in a system and not want it to flex the walls once in a while and get that Full Growl sound to impress the friends, So no I have never found any system completly satisfying when Absolutly Flat, VERY few recordings are fine this way in my experiance, now again I do not have much Jazz or Classical so its possible this is Possible, but if you want any kinda control to help enjoy the Weight of your system just in case then sorry I gotta have tone controls once in a while. But again some people really like the old beatles recordings sounding like they sometimes originally do coming out of a Transistor radio(don't take it literal) so go for it. Not slamming anybody but I am not a purist at all Add Colors to the wall if you ask me, I hate liveing in all white houses I tried to many times with the Hiend preamps and always found them dry to some extent especially ARC tubes, but never had super hiend ARC so who knows.
to me the whole lack of tone controls is nonsense & causes people to invest huge amounts of cash into other areas like cables & room treatments,i dont get it & i never will,to each his own but for me i'll never own a preamp without tone controls or balance,i use them too much.
my pre has a tone bypass & it sucks,i cant listen to music that has a flat response,to me it sounds steril with no life.
if i were you & just startin out in the hobby i would avoid pre's that dont have tone controls & only buy gear that allows you to tailor your sound atleast until you figure out what sounds good in your listening area & try not to get too caught up in all the voodoo.
I think Bigjoe is right. Although I own a tube preamp without any tone controls (just volume) & have had many other high end preamps of the same design, I also own one with them. I have a B&K PT3 that has bass & treble settings but there are no mechanical knobs to turn. The settings are all done with the remote. It is very nice sometimes to adjust the tone settings slightly to offset room acoustics & recordings that need this compensation. I'll be damn if I can tell they are hurting the music signal in any way because it still sounds very transparent/airy, & detailed. I might get away on this thread by saying: One slight turn of a tone control can save you hundreds or maybe thousands in interconnects & room treatments etc. Naturally people with unlimited resources will disagree but a well engineered preamp with tone controls will do less harm to the signal and I'm enjoying my music tremendously either way!
in a hobby where the enthusiasts change everything under the sun from caps & tubes to cabling its obsurd to ever say that not having tone or balance controls keeps the music pure,what happens when you swap a quad of funkins for gold lions? most of the stuff audiophiles talk about never crosses the mind of engineers or musicians.
while music is being recorded lots of things are changed & unless your running the exact same set up with the exact same settings as in the studio you will never hear music the way it was intended,not even close.
If you want less hassle in the end go with Tone controls... you could swap preamps and cables for the next 15 years and never get a perfect match, if you need more or less of something make it easy for yourself and have at least bass and treble adjustments. In turn you will see that its not your speakers or amp that you need to keep changing out, they will perform pretty well if you give them a little kick. I found the most important things to spend money on in the end was Source, Speakers, Preamp, And Room(acoustics) Then Worry about the amp, which are nowhere near as problematic to get a good one as the other stuff, and finaly worry about cables, power conditioning, Spikes etc... I just bought a Mcintosh Preamp with the built in 5 Band EQ which has adjustable Loudness and a 30hz control and never heard my system go to the subsonic levels with ease like this, truly got me to the potential of the system. So do yourself a favor and forget about Knocking that 1 db of treble off with a 500.00 pair of cables, or thinking that 1000.00 in bass traps will give you the extra boost you need for deep bass and get it over with by putting in something you can control at your fingertips, and not have to try and beat the odds and change the physics of your entire system several times.
I'm aware that if you invest enough money into your gear, the sound quality reaches such a degree that tone controls are an unnecessary circuit that would ultimately degrade the signal, I've been there. It is also true that preamps with tone controls are generally midfi or less but there are a few quality preamps out there that have incorporated tone controls with little effect on the overall sound quality. I have found even using the highest quality preamps (ARC Reference ll MK ll) and then inserting the B&K PT3 with tone adjustment, at times raised my musical enjoyment to a higher degree with some music. But we live in a free country, if you want to use them, no one will come to your home and arrest you! I don't have audiophiles sitting in my living room taking notes when I play my music, so ultimately I have to please myself regardless of what preamp I'm using. You can do whatever turns you on.