Do you ever use your bass/treble/EQ controls?

Do you ever use your bass/treble/EQ controls?
Yes, for the fun of it
5% (24 votes)
Yes, to make up for equipment deficiencies
3% (13 votes)
Yes, to make up for listening room deficiencies
8% (36 votes)
Yes, to make up for recording deficiencies
13% (61 votes)
No, I prefer my music direct
28% (132 votes)
Don't have any on my preamp
43% (198 votes)
Total votes: 464

Reader Stephen M. Rose wants <I>Stereophile</I> readers to confess their audio sins. Do you ever use tone controls in your current system?

tony esporma's picture

My preamp has no tone controls, but the crossover to the Entec woofers in my system has a bass "cut" control that I can use to tailor the bass to a given recording.

Teresa's picture

I play my music direct—messing with EQ destroys imaging and phase relationships. I use the direct mode on my preamp, bypassing the tone controls entirely.

Chris Kuhn's picture

I do on very *rare* occasion use the tone controls for fun. However they tend to only result in artificial sound at best. Even if the bass control boosted the correct frequencies to balance my smallish speakers, I would be trying to force my speakers to do what they cannot. And there are better ways to solve that problem. I must admit I do use the tone controls in my car, but that is a completely different story, bad environment and a factory stereo.

Kevin O&#039;Toole's picture

More reasons: Screechy recordings, anemic bass on CD transfers, it's after 10pm and I live in an apartment—the bass control improves low level listening. My 50-year-old ears just don't hear the high frequencies like they used to.

Brad - Atlanta's picture

I don't want any steak sauce on my filet mignon, damn it.

Tony P., Phoenix, AZ's picture

Amazingly, I had no need to use them since I bought my current preamp three years ago. I was convinced I would need them, and bought my preamp accordingly, but turned out to be wrong.

Craig's picture

I have two systems. My original 1980 Sony receiver, don't laugh, it actually sounds pretty good. With it I can make judcious use of the tone controls to enhance the sound depending on which speakers I am using. There is absolutly no degradation of the sound quality using the tone controls, only more of what ever tone it is I need. On my main 2-channel system I have a seperate Pre-Amp. It is a Yamaha CX-2 ultimately driving a pair of Thiel 22 speakers. The CX-2 has a little switch they call "Pure Direct". With the Pure Direct feature off you can use the tone controls. With it on you completely bypass the tone controls. When they say Pure Direct they are not kidding. With it on you get true High End sound quality. With it off the advantage of being able to use the tone controls is completely negated appearently by including circuits that muddy the sound to the point that it is unlistenable.

Chris's picture

Yes, I confess. I am guilty of the ultimate audio atrocity. I . . . I . . . I . . . use an equalizer in my stereo! There, I said it. My conscience is already starting to subside. Seriously, a good equalizer, along with a good system, can make a good sounding stereo a great one when used properly. Audiophiles need to get over themselves and the notion that music on a CD or vinyl record is somehow a sacred, untouchable relic that dare not be altered by mortal hands. How much processing do you think has already happenned between the microphone and the CD? My stereo is quite good, but with a modest amount of tone correction, it borders on fantastic. I use an equalizer and I make no apologies for it.

james madore, canada.  pei's picture

Some recordings are just so sadly recorded that the highs need a triming. otherwise,i leave the knobs alone.

KRB's picture

Tone controls? Where's my affordable digital room correction/crossover already?

John Black's picture

I enjoy Direct Mode for CDs, but need to bump the treble a CH in 2 channel stereo to satisfy my experience.

- Louie's picture

I don't own tone or balance controls. I have to roll tubes . . .

Herv's picture

Well, in my second system my speakers are high sensitivity, one way drivers. They really sound great. As they are part of the main system in the living room, I do not put the speaker grills off (WAF), but increase the treble a bit by 1-2 dB instead. Sound is more than okay, and God save the tone controls! For less than perfect systems, they are very welcome if not massively used.

Travis Klersy's picture

If I am using my powered subwoofer I will adjust the output level if bass level of a recording is off. Otherwise I almost always leave everything neutral.

Norm Strong's picture

Whenever the balance isn't right and a tone control will help, I use it. Why wouldn't I?

Anonymous's picture

Most of the time I leave the tone control defeat switch on. But for very hot recordings, cutting the treble is a real blessing. Audiophiles without tone controls are missing an important feature.

Harold B.  Roberts's picture

Ton controlls are very much out of place in any quality sound system

Dr.  Arnold Le-Forge's picture

I didn't use these controls in the last 10 or 12 years. and since I got my Dignity Audio's power set, I don't even have them anymore.

Stephen Curling's picture

I use tone controls usually with recordings that lack some deep bass or have radio like top end.

Daniel Emerson's picture

Very very occasionally—there are four or five CDs in my collection that are extremely nasty in the upper frequencies. Tone controls may degrade absolute sound quality, but in these circumstances I prefer an adulterated (but listenable) version of a badly-recorded disc to a perfectly reproduced (but unpleasant) sound.

Rick Shapiro's picture

My Cd Player Is Connected Directly To A Crossover Which Splits The Signal And Sends The Signal To The Amplifiers. I'm Sure Some Golden Ear Will Tell Me That My 99 cent per foot Radio Shack Wire Is Adding Bass.

Pete Montgomery's picture

About 99.5% of the time I listen in "Direct" mode. But I have a few recordings that have either woofer-poofing bass or with torturesome treble—either of which must be backed off to be listenable. Once I'm done listening to those pieces though, I re-engage tone defeat.

Pedro Vidal's picture

I have a Cambridge Audio A1 Mk3 integrated amp, and even though it has bass and treble controls, when you use them it doesn't have that much of an effect on the sound. They aren't there for major correction, only for subtle changes in the low frequencies or high fequencies. So, I never use the controls. There simply is no use for them, anyways, my system,(NAD 502 cd player, Audio Alchemy v1.2 DAC, Cambridge Audio A1 Mk3 Integrated Amp, and Polk Audio R10 mini monitors connected with Tara Labs cables) sounds awesome. I am 16-years-old, so my dad has greatly influenced me to be an auiophile. On his Melos pre-amplifier, there are no treble or balance controls simply because his preamp produces such quality music reproduction there is no need to change the way it sounds.

Mike McC's picture

Tone controls are, by definition, distortion-producing mechanisms.

Mike Collette's picture

Tone controls? I don't need no stinkin' tone controls!

Brankin's picture

Huh? What do they do?

Anonymous's picture

Use Yamaha NS1000M speakers for front left and right and B&W CDMSE for center. Turned the high and mid controls of NS1000s to -3dB for better speaker match across front. Use Lexicon DC-1 for LF crossover and directing LF to appropriate speakers. Does this count?

Joe - Allentown's picture

I have found that with high-end gear, the controls are not present. I first discovered this with a Classe CP35 preamp. I was bummed. But then I discovered that a good quality preamp portrays such transparency that tone controls weren't needed. On my present Levinson No.380, the transparency is even greater and the introduction of any circuit into the signal path always has a detrimental effect on the sound quality. Any "tuning" of the sound can be accomplished through the judicial selection of the appropriate interconnect cables.

Jim Harris's picture

Tilt control helps in the bass end

Joe Pilon's picture

I would if I had it