How to Use the Loudness Control on a Yamaha Receiver

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The "Loudness" control on a Yamaha receiver (or any receiver that has this control) is usually a push-button that, when depressed, switches on the loudness contour circuit. When activated, the loudness contour circuit is set up, together with the volume control, to compensate for the human ear's tendency not to hear the low and high frequencies very well when they are played at a low volume. Hearing researchers Fletcher and Munson published their findings about this subject in the Journal of the Acoustic Society of America in 1933. Later, the "Fletcher-Munson curve" became an ISO standard engineered into countless audio electronics.

Things You'll Need

  • A recording of an acoustic ensemble with a wide-frequency range
  • Play the acoustic recording at medium-to-loud volume---with the loudness control off---and set bass and treble controls to reproduce all instruments to sound natural.

  • Turn down the volume control to low: low enough to easily carry on a conversation over it. You should hear a marked decrease in bass and treble relative to midrange frequencies.

  • Depress the loudness control button. You should hear bass and treble restored. If you have a continuously variable loudness control knob on your Yamaha, it is motor-driven and can be controlled from your remote. This circuit adjusts midrange frequencies as well. Experiment with the settings until you get the most natural-sounding frequency balance from your speakers.

  • Turn up the volume: the contour circuit will track bass and treble according to the ear's sensitivity at each level.

Tips & Warnings

  • When listening at medium to high volume levels, it is better to turn loudness control off: the extra circuit path does introduce a subtle amount of distortion that can reduce imaging, clarity and absolute timbre.

References

  • Photo Credit Tsuneo Yamashita/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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