Evil tone controls

I may only use them once a year, but I’d HATE not having tone controls. Just listening to a cd that was sounding totally lifeless. A slight tweak to the highs is all it took to make it much more listenable. I may have to turn in my audiophile card.

Lonson can tell you about the Decware gear to help there…might be the most high end tone controls for reasonable money.

I struggled for a long time. . . . I don’t see tone controls as necessarily evil, and perhaps for a lot of mediocre recordings a necessary evil. As I have tubes all the way after the DSD to the speakers tube-rolling helps me a lot. Also I have bias choices on my amps and also speaker ohm settings that give me help, and a treble cut circuit that REALLY helps with a lot of digital (and is just a shunt to ground, not really in the signal path). And then the icing on the cake for me is this ZROCK2–it really is very transparent and very helpful in dialing in a great frequency balance:


I was very reticent about this product and feared it would be detrimental, but now I won’t be without it. I used to be a purist, “Keep it Simple Stupid” guy but now I have flip flopped!

Being too dogmatic is probably the bigger evil. I used to drink espresso mochas a lot, but I noticed quite a variability, so I starting just getting shots of chocolate syrup in espresso and discovered that many people just didn’t have good espresso. I started ordering ristretto espresso and discovered that almost no one could build espresso consistently - but in the end what was I really proving? A good mocha is available many places, does it really matter if each of it’s ingredients is pure and/or the best available if you enjoy it?

On the audiophile front, for me, tweaking with too many knobs take more fun out of music than the having some of my discs not sound as good as they could with some adjustments, but that’s just me.

Garbage in, garbage out. Apparently this same logic applies to espresso :joy:

I think the smart take away is what you mentioned about knowing when to use it. Knowing that most music doesn’t need it makes you an audiophile just as much as knowing when some help is needed does as well. Don’t feel ashamed. Do what you think sounds good. After all, you’re the one who’s listening.

Thinking of trying one of these in my office system - looks like it would also function as a buffer: http://www.schiit.com/products/loki

Like I said, I VERY rarely use them…but it’s sure nice to be able to tweak a lousy recording. And on my admittedly run of the mill Anthem integrated, I hear no difference at all when they are defeated or just set flat. As I contemplate upgrading to either separates or a Rogue integrated, I hate to lose the option. That little schiit seems interesting.

Hi Bob… I ordered a Decware Zrock2. As Lonson says, it did just what I wanted as a bass management system, BUT, it added unacceptable hum that I and Steve Deckert could not solve. Sadly I had to return it. Then I tried the Schiit Loki, and Wow. It does just what I need (with Alps pots and four bands of control)…and all for $149. Give it a try.

calord, thanks for that info… Decware seems to make really great stuff, and I came within seconds of ordering their phono pre once, but I have heard several people say that they have had intractable hum issues with a few of their products. It seems to be a fairly rare issue but I didn’t want to deal with that so decided on something else. But a Loki is still on my radar list.

I love not having tone controls. The music, no matter what source, should sound like it was supposed to. I don’t want to interfere or mess with the signal.

Thing is, the response curve of every system is gonna be different. And you may be listening to music which was mastered with the assumption that it will be played back on speakers with no low bass and thus has a huge bump at 60-100hz. Or any number of other things. Personally, it’s fairly rare that I need or want EQ, but it happens. The only way you’re going to get exactly the same thing that the mastering engineer heard would be if you use exactly the same playback chain, and even in that case, the engineer likely made assumptions about the playback chain that would be used which may or may not be correct for your system. So I think it’s good to have the capability even if it’s rarely used. If the preamp in my main system had a true monitor loop (which I firmly believe all preamps should) I would probably pop a Loki in there just because…and in my office system the acoustics are pretty ugly, so there it would address a real problem, in theory.

Interesting. I’ve had a predominantly Decware system for two decades and the only time I’ve ever had hum issues it’s been unrelated to the Decware gear. Biggest offenders were a DVR and unshielded cables near power cords. (Careful routing is needed with the small box Decware components as the power cord is so near the interconnects.)

I love my ZROCK2. It was the icing on the cake for my system. It relieved anxiety about the sound of discs–with the ZROCK2 I can really tailor the sound and relax into the experience.

There is an easy solution here… I wrestled with this for a long time…

I use Foobar as my music player on my PC to a PS Audio Junior DAC. Foorbar has the capability to activate/deactivate an equalizer. So I have a curve set for evil CDs… just roll a bit off the top. Then when that CD (or set of music files) is over, I just deactivate the equalizer. Done.

You have to activate/deactivate and not just flatten it out. You want to pass bit-for-bit so you have to deactivate all those plugins. No big deal, very easy and works.

BTW, Foobar allows you to load pre-set equalizer curves if you want to.

Bruce in Philly

I don’t do any files or computer or network audio so Foobar doesn’t help me! That said. . . I love the configuration I have now so much. . . I’m just listening and listening and listening. . . hate to shut the system down! The ZROCK2 really works for me.