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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Inoperative Tone Controls in Pioneer A/V Receivers

    This is a general comment that apparently applies to ALL Pioneer A/V Surround Sound Receivers, and may apply to other manufacturers as well.

    Pioneer advertises adjustable Tone controls, but they are inoperative in all surround-sound modes. The tone controls are only adjustable in the Stereo/Direct modes.

    I called Pioneer about this and talked to several people who claimed that this was proper operation. They said, "Why would you want tone controls in a surround mode?" Rather than explain that the question was an idiot one, I did explain about the common need to adjust tone to compensate for speaker/room characteristics. I also explained that both their advertising and manuals indicate that the tone controls are generally operative. Their comment was that many people only used these receivers in the stereo mode without surround sound, and they could use the tone controls. I replied that this was rubbish.

    I am really incredulous at their attitude and thinking. But I do want to warn users of these type of receivers that the only way they can control the tonal balance is to put a graphic equalizer in the tape monitor path of the receiver and keep this path active all of the time. I believe that manufacturers that offer this kind of tone control feature are dealing in false advertising, and providing a dis-service to their customers.

  2. #2
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    Can You Be More Specific On The Surface This Doesn't Make Sense

    Can you clarify your comments. On the surface I am taking this to read you can not adjust your bass & treble controls which doesn't make any sense so please clarify.

  3. #3
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    My whole point was that it DOESN'T make sense, I'm glad you agree.
    There is a pushbutton for entering the mode for adjusting bass and treble, you then use the jog control to set the + or - dB setting, for Bass or Treble. But it will not go into this mode with any of the Surround modes active, you must go into the 2-channel Stereo or Direct mode to be able to adjust Bass and Treble. The settings have NO effect on the sound in the Surround modes (there is no Bass/Treble adjustment). This was confirmed by Pioneeer Technical Support. All Pioneer receivers work this way, as (they say) do other brands. I say that this is ridiculous and an incorrect function.
    If you don't believe this and you have a Pioneer A/V receiver, go into the Stereo/Direct mode and set the Bass up all of the way and the Treble down all of the way. This will make for a bassy and muffled sound; then switch to any Surround mode, the sound will be bright and normal.

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    I'm the original poster: I just wanted to add that Pioneer's company line on this issue is that "the Surround Sound Processor in their receivers automatically takes care of Tone control". This is so absurd! There is no way their surround sound processor can know the tonal characteristics of my speakers, or my listening room, or my own desired tastes! Some people like a "brighter" sound, or a "strong Bass you can really feel", but others like a so-called "natural" concert-hall sound; this is the old LA JBL/EV vs. the New England AR/KLH battle, where everyone was justified in their own preferences of sound. Hifi buffs from the 60's and 70's will remember these fun arguements. The fact is that Tone controls exist for very good reasons, and manufacturers have no right to advertise them and not have them work in the modes that most users will be using. It is false advertising, and poor marketing/engineering.

  5. #5
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    This sounds totally insane

    I'm not calling you insane but the concept of you not being able to adjust bass & treble controls sounds nuts. On my Denon Receiver, as was my previous JVC receiver, there is a tone control button where I can increase/decrease the bass or treble levels in increments of 1.
    I listen to CD's on 5 channel all natural sound and DVD's usually on 5.1 dolby digital surround sound which I prefer, I'm in the minority here, over DTS which I can also get. On each of those receivers, whatever the settings are set on, in my case both the treble and bass are + 2, the sound on any of these modes with be plus 2 bass and treble. Either the people you spoke to at Pioneer misunderstood you or else their product is totally messed up which ultimately would cost them sales losses in the long run. I'm shocked that these things happen with name companies but they do. For instance, I bought an HP Scanner that scans horribly and makes noises too & the software is awful. Apparently other people experienced the same thing with that model. I'd recommend you do one or all of the following: 1. Go to the store you bought this from and explain this to them again and if the guy still gives you that answer back, exchange your receiver if you can & get a Denon or another decent brand., 2.Just list it on Ebay, don't say anything about the tone controls at all, and just say you got another one as a present and it works perfect which is why you're listing it and it comes with a warranty. You won't take that much of a loss.

  6. #6
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    The very fact that you made this comment shows how incredible this problem is --- "I'm not calling you insane but the concept of you not being able to adjust bass & treble controls sounds nuts."- previous poster.
    I probably would react the same way if I had not had the experience with my own receiver and with the support people at Pioneer!
    I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with 2 different people, and they did understand my problem with the receiver.
    Anyone with a Pioneer A/V--- please try adusting the tone controls, and let me know what you find. You won't be able to adjust them in the Surround modes, but go into the Stereo/Direct mode and take the Bass to +6 and the Treble to -6, listen to the sound, it will be dull and bassy, then go to any Surround Mode, the sound will be normal, proving that the tone controls are disabled in the Surround/Prologic modes. It is just crazy that they designed their receivers like this. They refused to react to my logic of why the tone controls should work in all modes, so it is obvious that they are "coached" to respond as they did to this question, it must come up pretty often.

  7. #7
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    Get rid of it & dump it off on Ebay

    I'd just write this off as a fluke & sell it on Ebay and take a slight loss and buy another brand.
    I think everyone getrs screwed on a few times in their life & nothing you can do but minimize your loss. I stupidly got ripped off for $240 buying a laptop that was never sent to me on Craig's list via Western Union payment (the guy lives in Northern California) & it just isn't worth the time, effort & hassles pursuing legal and or criminal complaint means. I should have known better but I didn't think anyone would go to the trouble of ripping me off for a lousy $240, well this low life did. Well I learned a $240 lesson & just am writing this off and to avoid a similar situation in the future. Go Denon!

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    The purpose of my thread was to warn others about the truth of the Tone Control feature. It may have been a bug that Pioneer was unwilling to fix, or it may be more common as they tried to tell me ("That's the way ALL receivers work", they said). It's hard to type that line with a straight face. The tonal balance in my system is pretty close to ideal with the tone controls inoperative as they are, but it would be nice to turn the treble down a bit.

  9. #9
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    Write the President of Pioneer a Long Letter

    One thing I should have suggested was, find out the name of the President of Pioneer, spell out the problem and maybe lie and say you do an Audio column for a newspaper or magazine. Maybe he'll send you a good receiver with tone controls for PR sake.


    Quote Originally Posted by gsanders
    The purpose of my thread was to warn others about the truth of the Tone Control feature. It may have been a bug that Pioneer was unwilling to fix, or it may be more common as they tried to tell me ("That's the way ALL receivers work", they said). It's hard to type that line with a straight face. The tonal balance in my system is pretty close to ideal with the tone controls inoperative as they are, but it would be nice to turn the treble down a bit.

  10. #10
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    It would be helpful to know how common this problem is- if it is only a bug in the Pioneer models VSX-D711 and VSX-D811S receivers, that's one thing; but if it is, as their Customer Support says, "the way ALL Pioneer receivers work", then they could supply a correctly working unit.

  11. #11
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsanders
    My whole point was that it DOESN'T make sense, I'm glad you agree.
    There is a pushbutton for entering the mode for adjusting bass and treble, you then use the jog control to set the + or - dB setting, for Bass or Treble. But it will not go into this mode with any of the Surround modes active, you must go into the 2-channel Stereo or Direct mode to be able to adjust Bass and Treble. The settings have NO effect on the sound in the Surround modes (there is no Bass/Treble adjustment). This was confirmed by Pioneeer Technical Support. All Pioneer receivers work this way, as (they say) do other brands. I say that this is ridiculous and an incorrect function.
    If you don't believe this and you have a Pioneer A/V receiver, go into the Stereo/Direct mode and set the Bass up all of the way and the Treble down all of the way. This will make for a bassy and muffled sound; then switch to any Surround mode, the sound will be bright and normal.
    Adjust them before you go to those modes.
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  12. #12
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    If you read my previous comments carefully, you would realize that I had said that does not do any good. Yes, you can adjust the Tone controls in the Stereo/Direct modes, but when you go the the Surround Modes, the changes are not made to the sound because the Tone controls are "inoperative" in the Surround modes. This can be proven by grossly misadjusting the tone controls (i.e. Bass +6dB and Treble -6dB) in the Stereo mode, then switching to the any of the Surround modes, the character of the sound does not change as it did in the Stereo mode when the Tone controls were set.
    The tone controls are not in the signal path in any Surround modes, or if they are, they are reset to Bass 0dB and Treble 0dB for the Surround modes. When you go back to the Stereo/Direct modes, they have whatever settings you gave them, and the sound quality of the receiver reflects those settings.

  13. #13
    AR Member JeffKnob's Avatar
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    I have a Pioneer receiver in my bedroom. It works exactly as you have described. The tone controls only work in stereo and don't work at all in surround sound. I agree that the sound is dull in stereo even when you can make the adjustments. My guess is unfortunately that is just the way Pioneer made it.

  14. #14
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Then i guess you have a crap pioneer. Better go get a denon.
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    Thanks for verifying my problem. Previous replies to my post have hinted that I must either not understand how to adjust the receiver, or that I am just crazy. I wonder if any more recent Pioneer receivers still are broken in this respect? Does ANYONE with another brand receiver find that the Tone controls are not active in the Surround Modes? I'm pretty sure that Pioneer was just BS'ing me when they so vehemently denied the logic of having tone controls in the Surround Modes. They surely just don't want to acknowledge their receiver "bug".

  16. #16
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    As far as i know,my tone controls work in everything except direct and pure direct and of course 6 analog from my DVD player.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsanders
    Thanks for verifying my problem. Previous replies to my post have hinted that I must either not understand how to adjust the receiver, or that I am just crazy. I wonder if any more recent Pioneer receivers still are broken in this respect? Does ANYONE with another brand receiver find that the Tone controls are not active in the Surround Modes? I'm pretty sure that Pioneer was just BS'ing me when they so vehemently denied the logic of having tone controls in the Surround Modes. They surely just don't want to acknowledge their receiver "bug".
    Hey,
    I don't think this is unique to Pioneer. I have a NAD T-743, and I will double check, but I am pretty sure the tone controls are only available in 2 channel stereo. It will not adjust the rear surrounds (which I don't have hooked up yet anyway) or the center. In any event, I don't care, as I always run my amp with the tone adjustments turned off, in pure mode. Just sounds better. I used to with my older gear always boost the treble, but once you get away from that, you realize how tinny it can make the sound seem. My last amp was more of a purist amp (Roksan) and it had no tone or balance controls whatsoever. I thought I would miss it, but I never did. And now with my NAD, I just don't see the need for them. Play with your room acoustics - you will find that makes a better improvement than playing with your tone controls.

    But to answer your original questions, Pioneer is not the only company that does this. My older Onkyo used only tone controls for the stereo mode, and I am pretty sure that is also true with Sony, and many others. I could be wrong though, but I wouldn't be surprised if what Pioneer is telling you, is more common than not.

  18. #18
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    Does anyone else wonder why the tone controls work in "direct" mode? I thought the purpose of direct mode was to bypass the tone controls so you get out exactly what your source puts in.

    Unless you have five identical speakers, why would you want a general tone control. I have Legacy Focus mains, Silver Screen center and use german T&A P-30s 3-ways for rears. Although the Focus and Silver screen share the same midrange and tweeters, I'm not going to get the same bass output I from the centers two 7" mid-range I would from the Focus 3-12" woofers. Many surround systems have a different compliment of speakers for mains and center. I think having a general tone control for all five channels would do more harm than good.

    I think Yamaha has the right idea with their automated setup program (YAPO, YPAO, whatever) which sends a test signal to each and adjusts speakers size, phase and EQ according to what it's calibrated microphone receives from each. I'd heard years ago that adjusting tone controls alters the surround effects. The original Dolby Pro-Logic limited the surround channel's frequency response to 100Hz-7KHz, so adjusting the high-end would only emphasize the mid and do little very little for the highs. Also, I'm not a big fan of Pioneer anyway. I think they muck-up the sound by using IC outputs. I think receivers with discrete outputs, or seperates sound much better.

    If you really want the utility of adjusting tonal balance Audio Control has an equalizer made specifically for home theater, I believe it's called the Bijou.

  19. #19
    AR Member JeffKnob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Then i guess you have a crap pioneer. Better go get a denon.
    I have a Yamaha RX-V1400 for my main system. Much better than a Denon IMO!

  20. #20
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    My original point was that Pioneer advertised that their receiver had Tone controls, but they are only operative and effective in the Stereo and Direct modes, which are seldom used by someone who would spend money for a Surround Sound receiver. In a room with Surround Sound, all of the speaker contribute high-frequency energy to the sound in the room. If your speaker are identical and due to the speakers or the room treatment the high frequencies are to prominent then turning the Treble down would correct the balance. For maximum versatility, it might be nice to be able to adjust the tone of each speaker separately, but I don't think this is necessary. Even if the speakers are not identical in tonal balance, an overall tone control would correct for a live or dead sound, because all speaker contribute to the room sound field.
    My criticism of Pioneer though is still primarily they advertise Tone controls and they don't work in the primary operating modes of the Surround Sound receivers. There is nothing in the manuals to warn you of this. And they deny that this is any deficiency on their part. I'm still outraged! I still maintain that the Surround Sound Processors can't know our speaker tonal characteristics, our room responses, or our own preferences for tonal balance. These are the reasons why there are tone controls. I agree that in a perfect world, you would leave the tone controls in their neutral settings, but in a normal world, the Tone Controls should be functional in all operating modes, except perhaps for Direct (which is supposed to be the definition of Direct - no processing on the main left and right channels).

  21. #21
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffKnob
    I have a Yamaha RX-V1400 for my main system. Much better than a Denon IMO!
    Might very well be. I know the force of Yamaha is on this Forum and i wont mess with it. LOL
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  22. #22
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    To much worry about tone controls? Set mine at +1 for bass and -1 for treble and havent touched them since.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffKnob
    I have a Yamaha RX-V1400 for my main system. Much better than a Denon IMO!
    Comparing Denon to Yamaha is like comparing Del Monte bananas to Chaquita bananas, they both taste like like a pretty good bananas.

  24. #24
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Might very well be. I know the force of Yamaha is on this Forum and i wont mess with it. LOL
    That's right! And don't you forget it!

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