We NEED tone controls

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RichardMA, Aug 10, 2002.

  1. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

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    The problem with the idea that people don't need tone
    controls on good equipment is that often the software isn't
    as good or uniform as it can be. Case in point; "Beautiful Mind" compared to and "John Q." Now, leaving aside the relative merits of
    the movies, the voice sound track in John Q is amazingly
    clear and lifelike. "Beautiful Mind" has voice sounds like
    they are filtered through a pillow. This has nothing to
    do with the equipment someone uses. But it does mean that
    my 5 presets (full equalization for all channels independently) on my Sony TA-E9000 come in VERY useful to deal with these soundtrack differences. We all know the
    edict that the speaker response should be flat in the listening environment across the frequency range, but this
    does not address differences in soundtracks. It assumes
    uniformity in soundtrack presentation, which is not the
    case.
    For that, equalization methods are sometimes needed.
    We haven't even addressed the relative sound LEVEL differences in soundtracks either. And I don't mean dynamic range as much as level differences on things like voices which would not vary on average IF producers implemented uniform mastering of DVDs.
    But as previously implied, tone controls or equalization in
    home theater processors and receivers MUST be discrete and
    available to all channels individually and must NOT only
    work on all channels or none.
     
  2. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Richard

    I strongly agree about the need for tone controls. There can be many reasons why equalization is important. I think one of the best arguments can be seen in the Pioneer Elite 49-TX. This not only has a 7 band equalizer, but takes the giant leap to using it to equalize speaker/room response from all speakers independently. Speaker/room equalization is going to spread. As more equipment incorporates it, the price will drop. Right now a 49-TX is $2,400, but this is a monster receiver. The MCAA equalizer is not a large part of the cost.

    At the same time there are many who want a pure path especially for 2 channel music listening. This can be incorporated as well. Denon's 5800 series seems very well regarded in providing a pure direct path that elimiinates virtually all digital processing.

    So we know that you can have powerful processing for things like equalization and a pure direct path for those who want it.

    One last thing. There is a myth that it is unholy to use tone controls. This goes along with the myth that a room response flat from 20Hz to 20KHz is the holy grail. Many writers (using sophisticated equalizers) have tried listening to 20 to 20 flat. The sound is awful. Bright, no bass. The Fletcher-Munson curve tells us that extra bass and less treble is more appropriate.

    3 cheers for a brave tone control user.

    Artie
     
  3. DanielSmi

    DanielSmi Second Unit

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    quick correction the 49tx has a 9 band eq and the 47tx and 45tx has 5 band eq there is no 7 band eq.

    Daniel Smith
     
  4. Jim_F

    Jim_F Screenwriter

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    I can't remember when a piece of software was so unredeemably flawed as to be totally insufferable when reproduced as faithfully as I am able.

    With that as a starting point, I am of a mind that whatever is on the software source, that is what I want my system to play. If the makers f'ed it up, then so be it. There are rare exceptions to the rule, like using a soundfield to mask a really, really bad soundtrack, but I almost never do that, either. I experiment sometimes, but I always come back to plain vanilla on 99+ percent of the software I've used.

    For my purposes, I regard an EQ as only useful in taming unwanted room peaks.

    But that's just me.
     
  5. RobertSchaez

    RobertSchaez Stunt Coordinator

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    I completely agree, and will take it one step further, into music (Oh noooo). Sure, music should be heard "as the artist intended". But I bet that not every CD out there comes out of everybody's speakers that way, even with everything set to "Flat". Look at how many people ask "What is the best speaker for my system?". It is a prime example of how many different "sounds" of speakers there are (even among the ones considered accurate), and how different people's ears hear them differently. How about the different "signature sound" of receivers/amps (Rotel, Denon, Pioneer sound warm, Sony, Yamaha, Onkyo sound bright), not to mention how the CD source preamp sounds. My favorite are people who spend untold thousands of dollars on a great system. They wouldn't dream of using tone controls (if they even had 'em). Then, they buy expensive cables that they claim "increase bottom-end punch", or "sweeter highs", or "expansive, airy soundstage". Isn't that altering the "Flat" response they spent so much money trying to achieve?! The fact is, I don't believe there is any completely true, "flat" response. I say use tone controls, EQs or whatever you want to get the thing to sound the way you like it. If we chose the brand and model of our equipment based on how it sounds to us, aren't we already doing this? Sorry, I guess I ranted a little!
    Don't worry, enjoy the damn thing![​IMG]
     
  6. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

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  7. Bob Marker

    Bob Marker Stunt Coordinator

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    Having owned a number of preamps without tone controls, I fully agree that these controls can be very useful and would no longer want to be without them. While I still keep tone controls on the equipment I currently use switched off 90% of the time, they sure can come in handy when I want to improve the "listenability" of poorer quality source material.
    Bob
     
  8. Steve Zimmerman

    Steve Zimmerman Second Unit

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    Quick questions for those of you who use tone controls.

    (1) How are you determining what frequencies need to be altered? SPL Meter? Test tones?

    (2) What frequencies are affected by increasing the treble tone control by 2 dB?


    --Steve
     
  9. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  10. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

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    I use "tone control" and adjust to where it sounds good to me, period.[​IMG] That's what I base it on, no SPL, "gizmo", or "whatchamacallit"
    I really don't care how the artist or studio intended me to hear the recording, I will listen to it the way I want to.[​IMG] If that means pure direct then so be it. If it means 11 bands of pure unalduterated equilization then so be it.
    I know this post perhaps seems harsh, but I have heard this debate for years.
     
  11. RobertSchaez

    RobertSchaez Stunt Coordinator

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    Lee, with all due respect I have two problems with what you say.

    "If the music is recorded properly, the best you can do is faithfully reproduce the signal as accurately as possible. If you have set up your system properly, the sonics are fine as recorded. If recorded poorly, it is still better to listen as closely to what was on the master tape as possible."
    Seems to me there are a couple of variables that cannot be ignored:

    1.My ears are different, have different physical characteristics than the guy at the studio putting it all together. I may be less sensitive to 10KHz due to me listening to too much Led Zeppelin in my younger days, so I NEED that tone boost to hear "what the artist intended".
    2. Since when is listening to a poorly recorded source as is the best way for everyone? Maybe the band could only afford a meager studio to record their master tape, and that it sounded BETTER in front of them performing it than it came out on CD? Isn't that WHY a lot of CDs have been RE-mastered?

    I know that music is a bit more demanding than movie soundtracks, but if your whole point is keeping things honest to the artist's intention, why do you allow latitude in the case of movies? Don't room acoustics make just as much of a difference, if not more, on the way we hear how music comes out of the speakers?
    For what all this is worth, I definitely agree more with Phil.
     
  12. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    Even if the sound was properly recorded & transfered why be stuck with only "WHAT THEY WANTED" I've found on some music I will love the way one track was mixed & the very next track I will hate because of the way it was mixed. At least tone controls give you the option of altering the sound. See my post on "My Beef With Home Theater Receivers"
     
  13. dan z

    dan z Auditioning

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    I agree with Robert in that human ear's frequency response probably has a band-pass characteristics. We (at least some of us) often crank up the low and high-freq tones to compensate or post-emphasize the part we are less sensitive to. I just purchased a low-end Pioneer VSX-D811S and realized that it lacked an equalizer. I are not sure if there is an effective way to add tone-control capability given the optical I/F. Elite VSX-47 has 7-band EQ (for each channel) which in theory should satisfy some serious listeners.

    Daniel
     
  14. Brian O

    Brian O Second Unit

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    It's all about options people. The more the merrier. Everyone has different equipment, acoustics, and ears. The more we can fine tune to our liking the better.
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  16. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    when it comes to music:

    i bet many if not most recording artists would tell you that the way they intend for you to hear their music is the way that sounds the most appealing to you.

    IE - it's your decision.
     
  17. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

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    Just buy the music!!! I agree Josh[​IMG]
     
  18. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    RobertSchaez:

    In higher end audio equipment used for the reproduction of music, tone controls tend to cause more harm than good, by screwing up the all-so-delicate waveform. Believe it or not, many of the finest preamps lack balance controls, for the same reason.

    OTOH, if one's primary interest is movies soundtracks, I doubt that any of above matters.

    Larry
     
  19. Meaux

    Meaux Stunt Coordinator

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    I use 3 Aural Exciters w/Big Bottom between pre-amp (Adcom GTP-550) and amp(s) (Adcom 555, 7000) and I love it. Set it and forget it! (Thanks Ronco)

    I tried EQ's and they just messed things up. I have no idea why these exciters work so well.

    I have a fourth one I use on my Geetar!
     
  20. Daniel Lindgren

    Daniel Lindgren Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello.

    I'm leaning towards using tone controls, as I feel most CD:s simply sound better with some tone control - maybe not all, but most. Why should one person's (artist/engineer) preferences be the one and only truth out there? Has he listened to his music in my room, with my stereo?

    Anyway, I've seen other discussions regarding this topic, and the standard reply to "tone controls are good" is that either

    A) Your hearing is flawed.

    or

    B) Your stereo is crap.

    I'm pretty sure that my ears are not flawed, so that leaves my stereo setup. I wonder if there is some way to tell if my stereo is good enough to accurately play music, my guess is that there is no such way. Maybe money?

    So, to my questions:

    - What kind of price range for an amp/receiver/pre-amp do you have to be in to NOT have any use for tone controls?

    - And (of course) - is price necessarily a good way to know if an amp/receiver/pre-amp is any good?
     

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