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The LOUDNESS switch - Why turn it off?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

So, in the past few days, I have been studying about the loudness buttons on different amplifiers. I have never really put any thought into it before... Every amp I have ever used has always had the loudness switch on ALWAYS. NO QUESTIONS.... I always wondered why it was even there at all... I recently tested my father's Nikko NR-819 amp with the loudness switch OFF, and then listened to the same song, in the same headphones, directly connected to my laptop just to compare. To my surprise, I couldn't tell any difference. I tested this on all sorts of amps in my home. My father's Marantz, an old KLH in the basement, and they all had the same effect. It's almost like the loudness switch, when turned off, just bypasses the amplification, and makes it sound like I'm not even listening through an amp at all. I've been looking online, and seeing all these posts about the loudness switch just being a way to "boost the bass" at low volumes. I always listen to music with the switch on, and I always feel like the music was meant to be listened to like this. It almost feels like people are saying that this is not an accurate way to listen. But, in studios, when the music is made, doesn't studio equipment provide this same "loudness" automatically, without a button? I've always been looking for the sound closest to the sound that engineers actually heard when mixing the album.

post #2 of 42
The purpose of the loudness button is because the "frequency response" of our ears isn't the same at low listening levels as it is at higher listening levels (Google "equal loudness curves"). At lower levels we are less sensitive to lower frequencies and higher frequencies compared to mid frequencies where our ears are most sensitive. At higher listening levels the response is more flat. So in order to achieve approximately the same frequency balance at low levels as we hear at higher levels, the loudness switch boosts both low frequencies and high frequencies.

Recordings are made assuming louder listening levels so if you want to hear something closer to what the engineers intended, listen with the loudness switch off at higher level listening and engage it for lower level listening. If you just want to have a bit more boom and sizzle when listening at higher levels (and this is why a lot of people will leave it engaged, along with cranking up the bass and treble controls) then go ahead and turn it on.

se
Edited by Steve Eddy - 5/1/14 at 7:06pm
post #3 of 42

The loudness correction in modern A/V receivers is dynamic, so more is applied as the volume goes down. Ideally, you shouldn't hear a difference in tone quality as you turn the volume up. With this sort of dynamic loudness control, you just leave it on and it works.


Edited by bigshot - 5/1/14 at 8:05pm
post #4 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The loudness correction in modern A/V receivers is dynamic, so more is applied as the volume goes down. Ideally, you shouldn't hear a difference in tone quality as you turn the volume up. With this sort of dynamic loudness control, you just leave it on and it works.

Ah. Didn't know that. Don't really have any interest in modern A/V receivers.

Oh, happy birthday!

se
post #5 of 42

It's actually tomorrow. Facebook gets all excited and jumps the gun every year.

post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 

I just find it really weird that with the loudness off, it sounds just as "amplified" as the direct-out from my laptop... These are all late 70s "Hi-Fi" amps btw...

post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ODDEEO View Post

I just find it really weird that with the loudness off, it sounds just as "amplified" as the direct-out from my laptop... These are all late 70s "Hi-Fi" amps btw...

Because "loudness" isn't the same as volume level or amplification. Engaging the loudness isn't the same as turning up the volume.

se
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

It's actually tomorrow. Facebook gets all excited and jumps the gun every year.

Then happy birthday tomorrow. biggrin.gif

se
post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 

And yet people have been telling me that "loudness is just a boost". To me, it brings the amp alive. I don't know if it's my amps, or headphones, but it sounds a ton better with loudness on. I'm not one of those bass-head kids that likes beats by Dr. Dre or anything... With loudness on, the signal seems perfectly flat. With the loudness off, it sounds like a tiny little iPod (all midrange). It doesn't have the same "powered" feeling that the loudness gives, and yet I know deep inside it's not just a "bass and treble boost". It seems like this is the way by which everyone would prefer to listen to music. I just can't think of people in high-end studios listening to such cheap and under-powered sounding stuff. All that powered equipment surely would sound "beefier" than an iPod, or Computer sound card output... Sure the loudness adds punch to the bass, but it also adds clarity (at least in my amp) in the highs and some a nice texture to the mids. It's simply a gorgeous sound. I just couldn't let go to the "loudness" that I have grown up with. Plus, after all this time, I am plenty used to how the amp sounds with "loudness enabled, so I should still be able to make a "perfect" mix if I ever needed to. What I'm hearing when "loudness" is engaged, is not what people have been describing to me. Its not like my headphones are the problem... I have tried a variety of headphones including original (1980s) AKG 240s "600 ohms", and new 38 ohm, Koss headphones... Maybe I just need a good pair of speakers...

post #10 of 42

I've got your loudness right here!

 

 

:L3000:

 

Cheers

post #11 of 42

Would you all guys leave the Loudness button on all the time, no matter it does anything or not, or you must turn it off for having the original sound to listen.

post #12 of 42

If loudness on all the time sounds right, then odds are the midrange is taking a big dip in your speakers or headphones,

post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

If loudness on all the time sounds right, then odds are the midrange is taking a big dip in your speakers or headphones,


Or, perhaps you've simply gotten used to the way "loudness" sounds, and so when you turn it off it just doesn't sound quite right because it's different.

 

Cheers

post #14 of 42

the biggest difference between loudness on and loudness off is going to be bass. Bass is also the thing that cheaper speakers and headphones have trouble with.

post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post


Or, perhaps you've simply gotten used to the way "loudness" sounds, and so when you turn it off it just doesn't sound quite right because it's different.

Bingo.

se
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