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Why are 31 band style equalisers not really a thing in home hifi - I understand that modern equipment does auto room correction via Audyssey, YAPO etc mics etc but dont people prefer to tune to their own tastes, rather than just switch out equipment?

 

Question stems abit from frustration here..

 

Im only just dipping my toe into proper home hifi but Im playing with a bunch of VAF gear trying to get some decent midbass when I feel it could be easily tuned in using an equaliser.

 

Any advice appreciated as Im struggling.

Checked all speaker levels, measured distances etc, now just shuffling speakers around the room...

 

 

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Love my sansui - analogue, fun to watch whilst changing settings and provides another gizmo to fool around with! I even used the room eq setup and sounds great. Best part is that it is a piece of cake

If there is a frequency response error in my speaker .... there is also a corresponding phase error.   So I WANT the "phase error" you refer to here.   OTOH, if I did want to avoid the phase

I tube roll, that's as good as any graphic equaliser 😂😎🤠

 

A lot of people are intimidated by them or don't really know how to use them.

Hence the popularity of automatic room correction.

 

A lot of 'stereo systems' came with them in the 70's and 80's but most people just boosted the bass frequencies and blew up their woofers!

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Every time I have tried EQ ( parametric ) it seems OK/better after done, but when I go back to none/flat it shows me that it was not better and was actually worse.

 

Edit: this is with my system and room......and myself, YMMV.

Edited by muon*
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There are certain equalizer circuits that are beneficial to audio reproduction, sadly though multi-band eq is not one of those, as multi band eq adds distortion and separates ( tears apart )  the actual ability of the recording from your proper appreciation.  You are far better assessing exactly where losses occur in your audio system, rather than taking on trying to sense the loss in terms of certain frequencies alone by using a equalizer, you will never achieve ability to hear the recording as it was intended.  .

 

Our sensory ability is simply amazing, we can perceive depth, harmonic structures, dynamics, but we can only reassemble recordings as they are recorded when they are heard, when there is  minimal or ideally no  interference to the original signal.

 

The purest form of audio signal is via the properties of resistance, as it does not alter a audio signal, other than providing attenuation. If we add a capacitor to a resistor we then form a emphasis circuit, which is the basis of equalizers, however we then create a lead/ lag relationship across that resistor and add various distortions in the process. 

 

Where equalization is not only permitted, but is very beneficial is historically the work of Murray Crosby     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosby_system

 

Crosby's inventions were used and are still used today in broadcasting, however mid 1960's to the present day found the same form of circuit in a proposal to drastically improve the preservation of dynamics in recordings. Incidentally  the same form of circuit is the RIAA curve introduced in 

the 1950's  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization

 

In every emphasis deemphasis circuit, effort is stringently made to create a flat frequency response, by applying the exact opposite curve when recording, to that which is used at playback 

 

Companding a portmanteau of compression and Expansion, built upon the ideas of Crosby's in emphasis and de-emphasis, but added in a very similar mathematical fashion, compression and expansion. two corporations did and are still doing battle over which is best, namely Dolby and DBX. DBX took the ideas of companding to new heights, however Dolby headed backwards in the consumer marketing area, you may remember Dolby B, but did you get to hear a Type 1 DBX ?     

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Trevm said:

Why are 31 band style equalisers not really a thing in home hifi - I understand that modern equipment does auto room correction via Audyssey, YAPO etc mics etc but dont people prefer to tune to their own tastes, rather than just switch out equipment?

 

Question stems abit from frustration here..

 

Im only just dipping my toe into proper home hifi but Im playing with a bunch of VAF gear trying to get some decent midbass when I feel it could be easily tuned in using an equaliser.

 

Any advice appreciated as Im struggling.

Checked all speaker levels, measured distances etc, now just shuffling speakers around the room...

 

 


In my opinion, the old style analog graphic equalisers are no good. They introduce phase errors which modern digital EQ does not. 
 

Depending on the rest of your system it can be relatively easy to

try EQ digitally. Roon has parametric EQ which you can adjust manually to your hearts content. I’m pretty sure other music players have something similar. 
 

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3 hours ago, Trevm said:

Why are 31 band style equalisers not really a thing in home hifi - I understand that modern equipment does auto room correction via Audyssey, YAPO etc mics etc but don't people prefer to tune to their own tastes, rather than just switch out equipment?

 

Question stems a bit from frustration here..

 

I'm only just dipping my toe into proper home hifi but I'm playing with a bunch of VAF gear trying to get some decent midbass when I feel it could be easily tuned in using an equaliser.

 

Any advice appreciated as I'm struggling.

 

Possibly your VAF spkrs are the problem (in lacking mid bass)?  :(

 

Like others, I suggest that graphic equalisers are a 70s artefact that, yes, allowed you to compensate for your spkrs non-flat FR ... but had 'fidelity compromises'!  :)  Just like tone controls.

 

These days we use room EQ delivered by miniDSP, DEQX or Dirac units.

 

Andy

 

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10 hours ago, andyr said:

Like others, I suggest that graphic equalisers are a 70s artefact that, yes, allowed you to compensate for your spkrs non-flat FR ... but had 'fidelity compromises'!  :)  Just like tone controls.

 

These days we use room EQ delivered by miniDSP, DEQX or Dirac units.

 

 

Not that digital eq isn't without it's own set of problems.  I was just reading about linear phase eq using things like fir filters and the pre-ringing smear of transients.

 

https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/learn/should-you-be-using-linear-phase-eq/

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26 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

Not that digital eq isn't without it's own set of problems.

 

 

True.  :)

 

26 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

  I was just reading about linear phase eq using things like fir filters

 

 

"Conventional" filters - whether they're analogue or digital - produce phase problems. ... FIR filters don't.  However, my understanding is ... you can only achieve these in the digital domain.

 

Andy

 

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Just now, andyr said:

Conventional" filters - whether they're analogue or digital - produce phase problems. ... FIR filters don't.  However, my understanding is ... you can only achieve these in the digital domain.

 

I think you misunderstood.  A linear phase equalizer is digital, and uses FIR filters.

 

"Thanks to digital signal processing, we can have equalizers that do not produce any phase shift artifacts. These EQs are called Linear Phase Equalizers. These equalizers avoid phase shift by analyzing the frequency content and applying gain with FIR filters, a process that takes a lot of time (latency).  The processed audio is subsequently shifted earlier to try to keep everything in time. This time shift produces an audible echo, called a pre-ring, that immediately precedes sounds with strong transients, like drums. This pre-ring can smear or weaken the attack of drums and picked or plucked instruments. Getting back to the no free lunch idiom, linear phase equalizers trade phase shift for pre-ringing artifacts."

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Ok thanks.  I might look into some digital eq options then.

 

As I have a largely car audio background seems very foreign to not have some adjustments available!

Edited by Trevm
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8 minutes ago, Graywulf said:

I tube roll, that's as good as any graphic equaliser 😂😎🤠

Better! 😁

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23 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

"Thanks to digital signal processing, we can have equalizers that do not produce any phase shift artifacts. These EQs are called Linear Phase Equalizers. These equalizers avoid phase shift by analyzing the frequency content and applying gain with FIR filters, a process that takes a lot of time (latency).  The processed audio is subsequently shifted earlier to try to keep everything in time. This time shift produces an audible echo, called a pre-ring, that immediately precedes sounds with strong transients, like drums. This pre-ring can smear or weaken the attack of drums and picked or plucked instruments. Getting back to the no free lunch idiom, linear phase equalizers trade phase shift for pre-ringing artifacts."

I reckon this simply shows a person who doesn't understand processing in the digital domain. It doesn't matter how much time the processing takes, as the whole signal is processed at the same time. If it's a really slow processor, then the whole signal might be delayed by half a second. Think about what happens if you put the needle of your stylus one groove 'earlier' - the whole signal is delayed, but there's no 'pre-ring' or smear.

Edited by Cloth Ears
added one word to make a little more sense
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41 minutes ago, Cloth Ears said:

I reckon this simply shows a person who doesn't understand processing in the digital domain. It doesn't matter how much time the processing takes, as the whole signal is processed at the same time. If it's a really slow processor, then the whole signal might be delayed by half a second. Think about what happens if you put the needle of your stylus one groove 'earlier' - the whole signal is delayed, but there's no 'pre-ring' or smear.

 

No it's real, just a few examples from a quick search

 

https://www.dsprelated.com/freebooks/filters/Minimum_Phase_Filters.html

"In the minimum-phase case, all filter ringing occurs after the main pulse, while in the zero-phase case, it is equally divided before and after the main pulse (see Fig.11.2). Listening tests confirm that the ``pre-ring'' of the zero-phase case is audible before the main click, giving it a kind of ``chirp'' quality. Most listeners would say the minimum-phase case is a better ``click''."

 

 

https://www.hometheatershack.com/threads/pre-ringing-can-you-hear-it-what-does-it-sound-like.151049/

"Pre-Ringing can occur in systems that involve digital signal processing (DSP) with some sort of time shifting or correction taking place. Linear Phase systems, FIR filtering, Room Correction, and similar processes can cause pre-ringing."

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1 minute ago, aussievintage said:

 

No it's real, just a few examples from a quick search

 

https://www.dsprelated.com/freebooks/filters/Minimum_Phase_Filters.html

"In the minimum-phase case, all filter ringing occurs after the main pulse, while in the zero-phase case, it is equally divided before and after the main pulse (see Fig.11.2). Listening tests confirm that the ``pre-ring'' of the zero-phase case is audible before the main click, giving it a kind of ``chirp'' quality. Most listeners would say the minimum-phase case is a better ``click''."

 

 

https://www.hometheatershack.com/threads/pre-ringing-can-you-hear-it-what-does-it-sound-like.151049/

"Pre-Ringing can occur in systems that involve digital signal processing (DSP) with some sort of time shifting or correction taking place. Linear Phase systems, FIR filtering, Room Correction, and similar processes can cause pre-ringing."

Point taken.

 

But, time shifting is not EQ, a different kettle of fish altogether. And obviously badly implemented - you implement it properly and it should be time-aligned. At least for each individual speaker - trying to physically time align 9(.2) speakers so they don't cause some sort of echo is difficult.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Cloth Ears said:

Point taken.

 

But, time shifting is not EQ, a different kettle of fish altogether. And obviously badly implemented - you implement it properly and it should be time-aligned. At least for each individual speaker - trying to physically time align 9(.2) speakers so they don't cause some sort of echo is difficult.

 

 

 

I think it was the authors attempt to explain in laymans terms.  It isn't time shifting per se.  I think he means it is a time shift resulting from variable processing times whilst doing eq (not trying to time align speakers in a digital crossover either).

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I still have 31 band eq's, one incorporated here in my Horn equipment which needs tweeking. A DIY project in the making.

 

For my home theatre I use my trusty CX-A5000 done with the mic digitally, I did have a Yamaha A1 and AX1 very messy when doing it manually on all the adjustments.  

 

Like the guys have mentioned you have to be atleast close to the mark when asking for it to correct.

IMG_9136.JPG

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6 hours ago, Irek said:

image.png.ac2466cafc81381c14df6c804e70d338.png

Are these discontinued now?  Havent found a unit in stock anywhere yet.

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8 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

No it's real, just a few examples from a quick search

The pre-ringing is real, but it’s a property of the filter’s transfer function, and not due to parts of the signal taking different amounts of time to process (they don’t).

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On 11/01/2021 at 6:53 PM, muon* said:

Every time I have tried EQ ( parametric ) it seems OK/better after done, but when I go back to none/flat it shows me that it was not better and was actually worse.

 

Edit: this is with my system and room......and myself, YMMV.

 

Of course, parametric is better because you can select the frequencies you want to cut or boost.

(always cut before you boost)

But!..........the 31 band job is a formidable thing if the sliders aren't noisy and you are practised at using it.

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17 minutes ago, LogicprObe said:

 

Of course, parametric is better because you can select the frequencies you want to cut or boost.

(always cut before you boost)

But!..........the 31 band job is a formidable thing if the sliders aren't noisy and you are practised at using it.

Certainly better than analogue jobbies, but I find in my system and room at least, I'm best leaving these things alone.

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IMHO...if you are interested in equalization.......just go straight to 'roon'.       Not only do you get all the other benefits of roon, but you can create tailored sound profiles  in seconds, and store each under a special name.     You can switch between profiles in seconds, and turn off EQ completely.      

 

It's GOT to be the way to go.       

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16 hours ago, Steffen said:

The pre-ringing is real, but it’s a property of the filter’s transfer function, and not due to parts of the signal taking different amounts of time to process (they don’t).

 

Yep, but as I said, the article was probably trying to explain it in layman's terms which really can't be done.  Indeed the mathematics in the second link I posted would probably make a lot of people's eyes glaze over, but that's probably the only way to explain it. 

 

My point is that I see  people having absolute faith in digital eq here,   but as was said,  there's no free lunch.  

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

My point is that I see  people having absolute faith in digital eq here,   but as was said,  there's no free lunch.  

Absolutely (the free lunch thing, I mean)!

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Love my sansui - analogue, fun to watch whilst changing settings and provides another gizmo to fool around with! I even used the room eq setup and sounds great. Best part is that it is a piece of cake to use for any source input via the hookup through amp. Do I use it all the time  - hardly ever, but when I do it is fun.

 

IMG_20210114_212109.thumb.jpg.f875c9ff24a0c99a8377768a9d44e4fe.jpg

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Equalisers are damn popular out there away from the total purists. If your stuck in a situation where you really cant try alot of Amps and Speakers I totally support the idea particularly if you lack tone controls on the amp.

 

I used one on my in yer face A400 and it was one of the best things I did against what all the other purists kept saying, you can easily switch it off.

 

Go for it I say! Get 20 nobblys that move up n down with a Spectrum Analyzer that is cool too gawk at 😁

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13 minutes ago, Powerslave said:

Equalisers are damn popular out there away from the total purists. If your stuck in a situation where you really cant try alot of Amps and Speakers I totally support the idea particularly if you lack tone controls on the amp.

 

 

 

Ah, yes.  Tone controls.     Another thing that needs to be brought back into the mainstream.

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I remember that the VAF's were based on a design philosophy of minimal crossover components. The DCX speakers had (from memory) a single capacitor to the tweeter and a smallish inductor to the woofers. As a result the frequency response of the speakers definitely tipped up from the lower to the higher frequency range. As the DCX series evolved, I remember that the designer added a resistor to the tweeter to "pad" the high frequencies a bit. Can't find any freq response graphs on google but I remember reading the tests over the years in Australian HIFI which I read regularly.

Anyway, that's the situation you have most likely. What you really need is a "contour" to be applied to change the gradual tip into something less pronounced. Generally I wouldn't recommend excessively eqíng speakers because. as someone pointed out before, it can sound unnatural.

This reminds me of a workmate who's house I visited in the mid 90's who had a high-end Rotel integrated (from memory, might have been a preamp and power amp!) and it had 2 contour dials on it. It did exactly what I'm talking about. Rather than a simple bass / treble tone knob, it applied a +/-  tip from bass to treble which varied depending on the dial setting. Very clever and just the thing for your situation (if I'm guessing / remembering correctly). 

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Found one- https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649641212-rotel-rb-1070-power-amplifier-and-preamp/images/2809323/

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/853127/Rotel-Rc-1070.html?page=9#manual

Of course you might be able to do the same in Roon / DIRAC using a very low Q parametric peak. This article talks about "Q" https://www.presonus.com/learn/technical-articles/What-Is-a-Parametric-Eq

 

 

Edited by deepthought
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In order to put the debate about the virtues of various types of frequency equalisation into perspective, I thought it might be useful to break it down to the fundamental issues behind each of the 3 very different approaches:

 

(1) Additional circuitry in the signal path

It's indisputable that the more the bandwidth is split into narrow sections, the more the user is able to home in and manipulate the "offending" frequencies.

The development of crude tone controls into graphic equalisers and then parametric equalisers, finally moving into the digital domain, illustrates this.

In lower resolution systems, the more sophisticated the equaliser, the more useful it will be.

 

(2) DSP software  programs

Tackling equalisation earlier on in a system has obvious benefits and those marketing the variations of this approach claim a much more advanced level of control without the drawbacks of (1). The catch is they can require the purchase of hardware that is not cheap and in some cases require a fair degree of IT competence. DEQX, Acourate, REW and Dirac are some examples, but the "SAM" (Speaker Active Matching) program incorporated in Devialet electronics is probably the best known in Australia. While some users swear by the benefits obtained through introducing SAM to their system, the program does not support every speaker. Other obvious issues are its restriction to the Devialet brand, which may be too expensive for some and not going far enough in sound quality for others who are very high end .

 

A more fundamental issue applies to all of these systems, however. They are not able to take into account the behaviour of a specific speaker in a specific system with all its varying components and acoustic environment. However, there is now a solution available from "Home Audio Fidelity" in France which does and costs a pittance! In simple terms, a microphone recording of white noise played through one's own system is uploaded to HAF and then returned after detailed processing for a flat response. It's accessed as a filter file via Roon (and possibly others) which can be switched in and out from the server to experience the difference. A friend who has employed the HAF system is raving about it and I'm looking forward to having a listen. I've noted online reviews from users who've found it sounds less artificially processed than the other DSP programs they've tried, and they're still able to reap the benefits of approach (3). This seems very likely to be the type of approach of the future, for those already committed to the digital domain. 

 

(3) Audiophile tuning of the signal path environment

Based on the philosophy that everything in the signal or mains pathway has an effect for better or for worse. According to this principle, anything introduced into the signal (or mains) path may have a beneficial effect such as being able to produce a more enjoyable frequency balance, but will always come at a cost, especially in higher resolution systems. This may amount to the loss of fine detail, increased distortion or the unintended masking of other recorded material which is pushed back in the adjusted mix.

 

Apart from the more commonly understood methods of changing tonal balance with signal, speaker and power cables, audiophiles have available countless devices that are capable of improving overall sound quality and in the process affecting frequency response. These devices tackle electrical, mechanical and field system resonances without any downside, if chosen wisely by careful listening. An example that may relate to the original enquiry about bass response is the introduction of appropriate power leads. I've found that certain models introduce fundamentally more bass energy than possible with standard leads, while conversely I've been able to tighten bass response with alternative brands when required. Apart from cables, audiophile "tweaks" might be viewed as more subtle individually, but when several are combined the overall effect can be quite dramatic. Other examples of tuning a system within this approach include speaker placement, acoustic room treatments and minimising signal and mains pathways by eliminating unnecessary elements or lengths.

For some listeners these methods require more knowledge or experience than they possess, but with the help of other enthusiasts or a professional audio consultant, the potential benefits can be massive without any trade-off, unlike approach (1) or more basic versions of (2).

 

Edited by Audionerd
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Personally I am all for it.  The old ‘70’s you beaut models may well introduce all kinds of losses but often they were usually linked to less than perfect systems and helped iron out the blemishes. Tone controls no doubt do lots of things that go against the purist grain. However, we don’t all have perfect systems, or rooms, or partners willing to accept speakers in the middle of the living room.

 

On low level listening with my old Accuphase E202 I always hit the mighty ‘loudness’ button for a much more enjoyable listening session. 
I might give Roon a try just to play with the equaliser.

 

My recently arrived Gale 401C’s sounded rather ‘brash’ straight out of the box. I quick fiddle with the rear knobs and bingo, just right. Is it the ‘truth’ ? Well probably not even close, it never is. If you have $$$$$$$$$ to spend on equipment and room treatments cool bananas. For most of us it is all a compromise. If a big fat tone control knob makes the listening experience better I say go for it.  If my hifi is telling me lies to make me feel good I can live with that.

 

5A20D1F5-F5C4-4651-AEA3-D4182AF3006B.jpeg

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On 13/01/2021 at 12:05 AM, Trevm said:

Are these discontinued now?  Havent found a unit in stock anywhere yet.

This is also what I use,  many high end user's have them, no noise and I can't perceive any degradation in using it, as posted it is available from Schiit Audio but is back ordered to Feb 20.

Schiit Audio: Audio Products Designed and Built in California

 

loki-mini-front-1920.jpg

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In a hobby where people are worried about the quality of the contact between their power outlet and the power cord, putting something extra in the actual signal path if it's not required would be considered a guaranteed way to cause degradation to the sound. The actual frequency response of audio reproduction in a real world home environment is wild and miles from flat, but then most genres of audio are mixed up the absolute wazoo and are even further from a flat frequency response than our homes. Thus most audio aficionados tolerate an insane amount of deviation from flat frequency reproduction in their homes and worry more about the different degradation that occurs to the sound  when you put extra components in the signal path - usually lower quality than high amplification, DACs etc. Whether this is correct or not is actually up for great debate, but there's a purist feel to not adjusting the tone, however right or wrong they may be. That said, I've heard systems with insane effort put into getting a flat frequency response, or one of the common "ideal" listening curves for the home but with otherwise cheap components and insist they don't understand why audiophiles spend so much on hifi gear that sounds thousands of times worse to them. Some of the most enjoyable hifi I've listened to has been in insanely "inaccurate" systems in terms of frequency response whereas these perfectly flat ones I've wanted to go running out of the room as quickly as possible. That said, if you can combine the best of both worlds, it may well be the optimal solution, but how does one maintain the same quality components with frequency response adjustments as the rest of their system? I do recall Mark Levinson started up his hifi brand called Cello when he sold the ML brand, and actually made a high end equaliser, but it never took off. In my opinion the only answer if you already have a digital system is DSP.

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5 hours ago, Wisker said:

This is also what I use,  many high end user's have them, no noise

 

loki-mini-front-1920.jpg

Awesome Price! Does this have a switch to turn the effect off? Unsure what that switch does. I just used a 7 Band Kenwood EQ bought new in 97 for $240 Cost Price at Hardly Normal, no dust acquiring knobs, cant hear any distortion.

 

Looks like they are hard to find these days and keeping their value :)

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6 hours ago, Powerslave said:

Awesome Price! Does this have a switch to turn the effect off? Unsure what that switch does. I just used a 7 Band Kenwood EQ bought new in 97 for $240 Cost Price at Hardly Normal, no dust acquiring knobs, cant hear any distortion.

 

Looks like they are hard to find these days and keeping their value :)

Yes, it's a by-pass.. Schiit is very busy, I waited about 3 weeks for the preamp but worth it. All the specs are on there site....

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18 hours ago, Ittaku said:

That said, I've heard systems with insane effort put into getting a flat frequency response, or one of the common "ideal" listening curves for the home but with otherwise cheap components and insist they don't understand why audiophiles spend so much on hifi gear that sounds thousands of times worse to them. Some of the most enjoyable hifi I've listened to has been in insanely "inaccurate" systems in terms of frequency response whereas these perfectly flat ones I've wanted to go running out of the room as quickly as possible.

 

Yes, I often think we don’t quite understand what’s important and what isn’t. Our hearing is very good at adjusting to certain tonal differences, to the extent that they don’t bother us at all. That’s probably because tonal colourations occur naturally in daily life all the time. We can have a conversation with someone while walking from the living room, through the hall, outside and into the garage, without blinking an eye, despite the tonal changes being massive. On the other hand, slight colourations of certain tones bother us a lot, and make things sound bad and unnatural. Since our hearing is based more on frequency ratios than absolute frequencies, perhaps preserving the relative volumes of related groups of tones is more important than a flat response?

 

Another important (for me) feature of music playback, besides the tonality, is the spacial queues. With these parts of the signal, the timing seems to be at least as important as their relative amplitudes. If a system gets that wrong the sound stage will collapse to a flat, featureless wall. Incidentally, I’ve had that happen numerous times to various degrees during my attempts at room DSP...

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On 11/01/2021 at 8:11 PM, sir sanders zingmore said:

In my opinion, the old style analog graphic equalisers are no good. They introduce phase errors which modern digital EQ does not. 

 

If there is a frequency response error in my speaker .... there is also a corresponding phase error.   So I WANT the "phase error" you refer to here.

 

OTOH, if I did want to avoid the phase "error" ..... then it would only be at low (fish) frequencies....  at these frequencies EQ without phase distortion has unacceptable delay (at least the delay is often unacceptable).

 

 

The long and the short of it is..... EQ is often misused, and in those cases will sound "good" (different) .... but ultimately "worse".

 

Hence the appeal of "auto" EQ.    While it too has many many short comings.... it doesn't usually make the mistakes most humans do.

 

 

 

FWIW I think a 31b-and GE (or similar) so people can "flavour to taste" ..... used in a well setup system (ie. "flat" frequency response, etc.) ..... is a very good tool, when used judiciously.

 

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