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Old 28th August 2010, 06:25 PM   #1
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Default I use my "loudness" switch and I'm proud of it

The "loudness" switch on my 30 yr old Kenwood Basic C2 preamp prolly works like everybody elses. After some experimenting, I routinely use it.

It adds quite a bit of low bass at low "volume control" settings but not much at high settings. I have my six power amp channels all turned down quite a bit so I am able to crank up the pre-amp volume control in order to achieve the right balance of sound level and bass boost that tracks my taste in bass music about right.

One puzzling thing is that male announcer voices do seem pretty tubby with the bass compensation while I never get 'nough bass with music (and the bass compensation seems about right for music).

Ever see the mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap" about a nutty rock group? There's a hilarious scene where a band member says he ordered a guitar amp that has a volume control that goes to "11" because that is louder than the other amps that only go to "10."

I don't introduce this new thread to be chatty about the knobs on my kit but to open a discussion of the practical implications of the equal loudness curves ("Fletcher-Munson" and successors (real and engineer-arbitrary) and their approximation in vintage pre-amps) for proper sound reproduction.
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Last edited by bentoronto; 28th August 2010 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 28th August 2010, 06:28 PM   #2
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Most loudness buttons are either a graphic EQ type boost centered at around 100 Hz or a reverse shelving style boosting from 100 on down. Whatever sounds good to you is good. It only really has to please your doesn't it?

This disregards anything it does to the treble which is often the same but at 10K, some less dB's than the bass, some not at all.
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Old 28th August 2010, 06:34 PM   #3
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"Whatever sounds good to you is good. It only really has to please your doesn't it?"

Cal - thanks for data on controls.

But about the "no debating taste...." point. First, sure, can't (ever) argue about that. Second, kind of nips the discussion of issues and improvements in the bud, eh.

Third, there is a traditional response that goes something like this: sure, it may sound tickety-pooh to your ears today, but in the long run, the system with the qualities many careful people rate highly will be the one you endorse in the future too.

I'm sure you know all that already!
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Last edited by bentoronto; 28th August 2010 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 28th August 2010, 06:43 PM   #4
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Ok, we can discuss what ones were better or worse then. Some were volume dependent and others were straight boost independent of the volume knob.

Personally I liked what Fisher did in the early 80's. Theirs was volume dependent so you didn't have to turn it off as the volume went up and boosted the highs a lot less than the lows.
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Old 28th August 2010, 07:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
...

One puzzling thing is that male announcer voices do seem pretty tubby with the bass compensation....
Sounds like the boost comes up too high. If you knew which components needed to be altered, you could optimise it a little more for your ears.
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Old 28th August 2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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...this topic makes we wonder what kind of frequency shift the loudness knob on my McIntosh C712 (control center pre) displayed. I liked using it in some instances. It had a smooth transgression in dynamics.
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Old 29th August 2010, 04:52 AM   #7
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More info

Reverse of the old Loudness Control

Terry
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Old 29th August 2010, 09:45 AM   #8
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The one I had on my first tube amp - An Avantic Beam Echo - worked very well:

with loudness turned off I would set the volume to maximum comfortable sound level then use the loudness control to to turn it down as necessary.
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Old 29th August 2010, 09:53 AM   #9
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Wait a minute!!!

In discussions of loudness controls and shaping bass response in other threads, there seemed to be quite general agreement that acoustically flat bass is not satisfying at any domestic volume level. And that is the opinion of many people keen on measurements in their music rooms and who would die for plus-or-minus 3 dB.

That seems to be the general consensus above in this thread.

The question for me is not how many more people agree with that notion. But why isn't "flat" (which technically speaking, matches the original source) as satisfying at Fletcher-Munson correction? Shouldn't playing the Vienna Philharmonic at a low level be just like looking at the Mona Lisa from 100 feet away (the typical distance due to crowds at the Louve)? Nobody says, "bring up the highlights (using PhotoShop-like controls) on the Leonardo when the picture is small. Or do they?

At the moment, I am following the very informative link (and subsequent links) provided by pheonix358 above. Maybe I'll find some good answers there. As for Fletcher-Munson matching, Don Hills suggests matching your music loudness to typical studio loudness (83 dBC) and using loudness contour compensation for levels below.
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Last edited by bentoronto; 29th August 2010 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 29th August 2010, 10:42 AM   #10
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The essential problem - and one which nobody has recognized except maybe 454Casull - is that the loudness contours raise more questions than they answer, if you'll pardon that cliche. The Leonardo puzzle above is just one issue. And a variant of the El Greco Fallacy is another.

Let me approach what I believe is the core riddle sideways.

Everybody knows about coming out of the matinee at the movies and being blinded by the sunlight. The eye adjusts for light level and that is apparent as you slowly adjust entering a dark room. If you read psychology textbooks, you might also have seen that "at night, all cats are black" or at least gray. If you haven't read psychology textbooks, then you've seen that color vanishes in low light levels your whole life but maybe never really noticed it.

Is that how the loudness levels work? You get adjusted to say, a softly playing piece and you wonder why the bass is absent.

But what if the piece gets loud? What if there is a few seconds of silence before the bass part plays?

The equal loudness contours are perfectly true and you can replicate them. But how does that relate to sitting in your quiet music room and then turning on a quiet piece or a loud piece?


Footnote: you know, at heart, the problem arises from, once again, using visuals (like charts) to address auditory issues. It is easy to draw an equal loudness curve. But when you ask, "That last drum strike, which loudness curve are we talking about?" things are quite different.
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Last edited by bentoronto; 29th August 2010 at 11:00 AM.
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