Remotes: Who needs 'em?

Just bought a nice used pre-amp, make and model unimportant, that is aesthetically and functionally what was needed for one of my systems EXCEPT... Other than a bedridden or legless person, what kind of inadequate, drooling idiot would need a 56-button remote? What happened with our society twenty years ago to convince marketers and manufacturers (no right-thinking person would EVER ask for this crap) that a remote with literally dozens and dozens of little buttons would ever appeal to anyone who is attempting to operate a machine for the purpose of listening to music? The only sane remote I have ever used is that on my 1985-vintage HK CDP (owned for historical reference only!), which has no more buttons than a touch-tone phone of the same era.

It is taking all of the reserve I have to avoid crushing the remote underfoot and pretending that it never existed. I'll get my lazy azz up and handle the limited faceplate controls manually rather than even open the separate manual for the remote, thank you very much! I came very close to purchasing the Vincent SA-31 and taking a hit on frequency extremes precisely because it does NOT have this ludicrous appliance included (and which a recent reviewer bemoaned the lack of...) just to reward them for actually having the chutzpah to offer a reasonably-simple component. Who is reponsible for the idea that every device I own must have a remote? Where can I send the mob of fellow luddites with their pitchforks and torches?

I listen to relax, not to go from my electronically-enhanced workplace to sit and fiddle with some idiotic plastic cell-phone wannabee!
Chill man. Personally I like the remotes, and I am not a lazy slob, I work out everyday.
Sounds like you have more than a remote problem.
Simple, either do not buy gear with a remote or throw it away, done.
I sold the wonderful sounding Portal Panache because it lacked remote. The Panache was beautifully simple; volume, balance and source switch.
On/off, volume and mute are all I want but I do want them.
You do seem a tad angry though.
I find that many customers can live without a full function remote for their pre or integrated.

However, most want volume and/or mute remote control.

There still remains a number of "purist" manufacturers who have not yet acceded to the remote world and lose business to competitive brands. Some of them are planning to introduce remote models; others remain steadfast and have no intentions of doing so.

PS to the OP- try decaf
I feel the same way about automatic transmissions and cell phones,where is Jim Bridger when we need him....
I used to "hate" auto transmissions till I ruptured my achilles tendon and I couldn't drive my car for 100 days.

I laughed at blue-toothed cell phones till I got one of those too.

Luddites deserve what they don't get :)

Why, a man’s remote ranks right up there with air-conditioning and pizza. I don’t think I want to be associated with you!
My VAC pre has a solid heavy remote that looks classy and exhibits a tactile sense of pleasure when operated. It only has buttons for volume, mute, and source so there is simplicity and no confusion as to what does what.

I do dislike the cheap plastic remotes with the multitude of buttons. They look tacky and feel like crap to operate. My backup pre which is a Manley Shrimp, has no remote but has a huge volume knob that feels good to touch and turns with a silky feel.

I prefer an excellent remote but it is not an absolute necessity.
I love remotes,[seriously for a change],what I dont get is guys who need the feel of a heavy,metal,sensous piece of metal/composite which performs the exact same function as a cheap/plastic,ergonomically[sp] uncomfortable one does.They do the SAME thing.....who cares if know what????????I just realized why they dig stimulates a part of their makeup their not getting elsewhere.Like the feel of a throttle of a Harley on a sunny day,or the feel of a Joss or Balabuska on an old 5x10 Brunswick with Belgian Super Aramith balls....splendid......I love our 2008 playthings,though not as much as Kennedy and Marilyn in 62.....well,this has been fun.Now,back to my coma......
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I am curious if you also don't have or use a remote for your TV and a remote keyless entry for your car/van etc. If you really don't have a remote for them either, then I respect your right to just not like remotes, if not then you are picking on one item and not the others. Also do you, like most people, always look for the closest parking space at the mall or do you park more remotely (no pun intended). And how about those useless escalators once you are inside the mall, I assume you use the old fashioned stairs like I do. I personally park far away for exercise, take the stairs if available, and use a key to get into my car, but I sure do like my Preamp, and CDP remotes. I get more than enough exercise on those frequent trips out to the kitchen to get another beer.
My BAT VK-D5 has a remote milled from a solid piece of aluminum, then anodized. It looks and feels classy, and gives me the option of inserting a CD, returning to my listening position without having to rush, and leisurely seating myself/getting comportable before starting any cuts. I also enjoy the freedom of skipping cuts that don't appeal to me, or answering my phone without returning to the system. There are a variety of functions I utilize on my TacT RCS 2.2aaa remote(cheap plastic piece) that an immediate A/B comparison(from the sweet spot) facilitates, not to mention: I like to adjust the volume from there as well. If you really feel so strongly about yours: Put them in the microwave on high for a few minutes, and see if they melt(could be a fun experiment and may serve as a replacement for the therapy you seem to require).
OK, I'll address Bbro's cross examination. I don't watch TV-- there is too much real life to live, so no remote problem there... I don't particularly enjoy Springsteen, but I did gain a lot of respect for him when I heard him chanting "fifty-seven channels and there's nuthin' on..." years ago. However, the question is appropriate as a TV is an appliance, but audio gear is audio gear. Anyway, I only own manual transmission cars, prefer motorcycling to driving and walking to either, and yes, I park remotely to avoid those trolling for close spots. I always take the stairs within five or six floors. Don't need keyless entry-- I never lock the car because everyone else does and thieves either assume mine is also locked or can steal my change without breaking the windows. So now y'all know what a nutcase I am, but what's that got to do with fifty-six little buttons on a pre-amp remote?

Maybe a good, solid remote with a volume control-- I'll give you cats that, but what else do you need to do in the few minutes you are allowed to sit down anymore?

In my real life, I am a molecular biologist, so I have very little fear of complexity or technology. My complaint is with unnecessary complexity and the consumerist idea that more button-operated gadgets makes a better life-- this philosophy has worked its way into audio over the past few decades. Yes, this does have a lot to do with audio, or what we once knew as audio...
I for one would not be without a BASIC remote for my preamp - volume and mute (polarity would be nice, too).
I'm wondering if we can dispense with the hyperbole...

What audiophile, 2-channel preamplifier has a remote with 56 buttons? A 2 channel preamp has only so many functions: Volume, source selection, mute, balance controls. Maybe a unity gain/HT bypass button, a button to reverse polarity, a Standby/On button, CD player functions if the preamp has a matching CDP in its lineup.

Surely a far cry from 56. Maybe I'm missing something, but can you please cite some examples of 2 channel preamps with 56 buttons on the remote? Heck... find one with 30 buttons.

An A/V Processor or receiver is a different beast. With those pieces your dealing with way more functions.
There was a piece about this very phenomena on some Sunday night hour long news show a while back. It seems the short time from design to market is blamed as engineers don't have time to create intuitive remotes. Some MIT prof said he couldn't figure some of his out either!
the concern with a mechanical device such as a remote, is a trivial pursuit. there are many more important things in life to complain about than a remote.

why make a fuss over a mere bagatelle ?

If you're a "retro-grouch", all you have to do is toss the remote and be done with it.
Morgenholz, begging to differ with most above, the subject as well as your humorous prose touched a soft spot.

I assume the 56 button remote is there to outdo its neighbour, sporting a now insufficient 54 buttons...

There is, however, ONE near-indispensable function for a remote: volume control!

When listening to classical music, the difference in spl between the soft (ppp) & the loud (fff) passages is such that it warrants the use of the volume control. Remote volume is great as it keeps you minimally distracted from the music.
Morgenholz, I can appreciate your mindset in regard to functionality. Complexity is not the issue, or else we'd be in real trouble - a cell is a testament to specified complexity. However, it is no more complex than it needs to be, and fairly well designed, I'd say.

Sometimes designers, in the pursuit of absolute informational domnination of operability, have created remotes like you describe. Fifty-some buttons, while likely hyperbole, is not too far off the mark. I reveiwed the Ayon Audio CD-1, which is tremendously sweet sounding, but has a horribly cluttered remote. I suggested an additional remote with simplified functionality to eliminate the confusion.

Seems you're more upset with poor design, and feel the simplest/cleanest method is preferable, and that we've become far too lazy in the modern world. I wholeheartedly agree that we're too lazy. However...

Two thoughts: I prefer having a remote, as I often adjust the level while listening, sometimes between individual tracks. Truthfully, many times I am thankful for a remote as I excercise vigorously daily, and many times in the evening I am exhausted, and simply want to relax and physically rest while listening. Frankly, it's a pain in the ass to have high end gear which does not allow me to control its functions from the listening chair.

Also, whatever gains/losses due to a component having or not having remote pales in comparison to the system synergy. One IC can make as much difference as the presence or absence of a remote. One power cord can do the same. I have heard in my rig a few pre/amps/integrateds which are remote controlled and sound every bit as good, considering ALL parameters, as some high dollar, low watt SET amps!

I would not go so far as to say that a remote control option on a pre, for example, fails the Law of Efficacy - in other words makes so little difference that one cannot hear the distinction. However, there are so many variables in the rig/system that the remote is a very small compensation acoustically to be made for the huge amount of convenience it provides. If only pre/integrateds without remotes were superior, I'd use only them. However, that is not the case, and there is no roadmap to the perfect/ideal sound of a rig with or without remote.

Being a molecular biologist, you should be able to appreciate more than most the nuances I have described in relation to the system and a remote's functionality within it. After all, you did not actually take the position of a remote damaging the sound of the rig. Your concern seemed to be more or less with the fat-ass humans not using their wonderfully arranged molecular structures to get excercise. Poor life management.

I excercise, but when I want to relax and am dead tired, I LOVE the remote! :)
OK-- Now we're getting somewhere! I'll attempt to address some of the more thoughtful comments and questions that are emerging. There are three operatives here, in ascending order of relevance:

1. No Hyperbole! The preamp in question is a Rotel RC-995-- perhaps at best a mid-fi piece to most of you, but purchased to match a RT-990 and RCD-991 that do perform at hi-fi levels, and because it synergizes very well sonically with the two amps that I intend to use with it. However, I did make a mistake-- there are actually 57 buttons on the remote, not 56 as my stultified eyes first estimated. Before any of you technocrats or others who have a firm grasp of the obvious jump on me, the remote is indeed designed to control other Rotel components, including four video sources (components that ALREADY have their own remotes) from one large, 57-button, James T. Kirk-style console.

Now, I am IN TOTAL AGREEMENT with those of you who find a volume and mute very handy, as well as a track selector for a CD player (why not go ahead and manipulate the program content of a convenience medium?). The critical volume buttons are just two among the 57. The mute button is a tiny one just under the power button. So, the most important, and arguably the only important, controls on the whole stupid thing represent less than 6% of the expanse of little plastic buttons. The first six track selector buttons are dual-function to allow you to alternatively select from up to six discs in a carousel changer. To bring you this vast array of perceived personal control (and today's marketing is all about the perception of personal choice and control*), these buttons actuate switches that are of no better quality than the fifty or so that you will NEVER USE, once you memorize the location of the relevant, cheap little buttons (I do like listening in dim light with a glass of cab or zin or IPA). Miss the mute, and your power goes off. As far as the other fifty or so, you go ahead and memorize their functions and locations, taking care not to confuse them with those of your other devices...

2. Yes, indeed we are becoming a more physically lazy and nutritionally decrepit society as a whole, but this is not the intent of my comments. I am far more upset with the INTELLECTUAL laziness and decrepitude that would allow a manufacturer to actually produce such a monument to idiocy, as well as anyone who would consider fifty-seven (not including dual-function) buttons better than, say, six or seven. While I'm confident that some of you can tell yourselves "Who cares about the other fifty-four? I'll just use the volume and mute," every time we buy something like this, the marketers and designers produce the next iteration with 62 buttons and five video inputs-- all they have to do is make the volume and mute buttons smaller. After all, 0.003% of the potential buyers may in fact be bedridden or legless.

3. I have been through some tough situations and can certainly live a meaningful life knowing that there is an unused remote (actually several!) in the carton(s) in my basement. However, I am concerned that this is just a signpost on the road we are being cattle-prodded down. Once I begin buying new, well-made, bona-fide hi-end, will I even have the choice? Will a 115-button control center be considered a default afterthought whose advantages would be lost on only a smelly troll living in a bomb shelter? I would NOT have bought this piece new for the above reasons-- Don't feed the bears, as they say.

Mr. Schroeder, you hit it squarely on its pointy head-- a cell is quite complex, but no more complex than it needs to be to function efficiently in its environment.

Do any of you cats REALLY sit down not knowing whether you intend to watch movies, listen to FM, do some dubbing, or spin a CD or maybe some vinyl, and just switch between the sources, channels, and programs as all of the components run? Personally, I usually know what I intend to do before I take action...

Reminds me of three dear relatives (all male) who have cable or satellite and very large-screen televisions, or flat screen monitors, or whatever people with more time than brain cells call them. They sit down, grab the remote and some beverage that TV commercials tell them to drink, and proceed to change channels methodically, never, ever settling on one and absorbing whatever paltry cerebral nutrient might be available. The only time they do tacitly settle on one program is when the family and/or guests are eating or temporarily engaged in some conversation. This is what the concept of remotes and electronic "entertainment" has done to their brains, and their bodies are following. I do not ask my audio equipment to babysit me while I drink Diet Mountain Dew.

*Perceived personal control... Reminds me of a neurologist with whom I was talking, who said that the wife of one of his Alzheimer's patients pleaded with him, "Stop giving him those Viagras. He takes one, then I have to hide until he forgets what he took it for."

No wonder I go for my turntables 99% of the time now...
it is very impressive you took time to count the number of buttons on that remote.

and even if it has 156 or 256 buttons, why would you want to fiddle with this remote while listening? You say you want to relax while listening. Don't you just use the remote to adjust volume and mute the unit? or if you don't like the remote, don't use it! it's pretty simple.

you complain about people who flip through TV channels? That you think is bad? Counting buttons on your remote control isn't bad, ha?

A clear case of OCD.
OCD, perhaps. Counted 'em to provide hard data to support my hypotheses. Please do rest assured that I won't count them again, and certainly will not memorize their functions and positions. I'm more concerned with why this kind of garbage is produced and fishing for input from ANYBODY who actually uses these "features."

And no, I never use remotes for anything. I choose my material, set my volume, sit back, and listen-- I don't fidget with silly toys. I'm just acknowledging that many on this board do indeed use volume and mute and that these are quite legitimate applications for a remote. Regarding channel-flippers, garbage in, garbage out.
Remote buttons are akin to breasts, buttons that should be fiddled with constantly.
Find a roll of duct tape(a color pleasing to your eyes, to avoid further angst), cut off a suitable length and cover the face of your remote. With an Exacto knife(or an, as yet, unconfiscated scalpel), trim out around those precious few buttons you have no objection to. Out of sight, out of mind! Perhaps a pair of gloves might be in order, lest your sense of touch betray those nefarious button demons lurking beneath the tape and trigger an apoplectic episode. Happy listening!
"Reminds me of a neurologist with whom I was talking, who said that the wife of one of his Alzheimer's patients pleaded with him, "Stop giving him those Viagras. He takes one, then I have to hide until he forgets what he took it for."

Now that's funny!!
Ha. Still not a single one of us that admits using even half of them on a given unit, just some possibly defensive replies that could be fueled by some sense of personal inadequacy for not having mastered all of 'em. No real defense for even twenty or thirty buttons.

I suppose many who routinely use a remote like to lay that remote next to the cell phone or Blackberry(R) so that they can be interrupted by another little multibutton electronic device, maybe even one that can take pictures and make little movies?

Gawdbless, most breasts, at least the ones I've seen, provide only one button per unit. Again, not forty or fifty. I have seen a duplicated nipple, but you've still got only an analogy to volume up, down, and mute.
I just read that Viagra joke somewhere else today(can't remember where though). I WILL say that both my TacT and BAT remotes are very intuitively designed and devoid of any un-necessary buttons.
So I guess I am inadequate as I am disabled, thankfully I can control the drool but other than the fact you made me understand my physical shortcomings I see no point to your thread. When you dont need the remote dont use it, when you need it then use it and figure out something in life that makes you happy.
Hmm... so the neurologist was feeding me an urban legend/industry joke rather than an actual (but anonymous) patient account...

Chadnliz, and anybody else who does actually use a remote, my intent was NOT to castigate anybody who uses a remote for any kind of real purpose-- My rant concerns an otherwise very intelligently-designed piece of two-channel audio gear that has a standard remote with 57 buttons, including 14 dual-function ones and four videos. If I can find anybody who has ever taken advantage of even half this number on a given remote, I will be satisfied that there is some niche of the market that actually finds this a real selling point that would tip his purchasing decision toward this device over, say, an identical unit with a rational remote that provided only the basic, useful functions. My invective is driven by my pessimism that NOBODY wants this kind of complexity and overkill in his personal life and it is being forced on us by marketers and designers who subscribe to a phenomenon known as "feature creep." The "drooling idiot" is a character that I am positive does not exist in real life excepting the imaginations of the marketers and designers, a character that they must think characterizes us. The inadequacy I am lampooning is our collective inability to memorize and utilize a 71-function remote on which the only useful buttons are quite small and will be worn out long before the majority are ever touched, except by accident. I do apologize if anybody feels personally attacked. My goal is to encourage anybody who agrees to comment about this insidious trend at point of sale in an effort to influence the marketers and designers-- That would make me happy! The style of my rant reflects the absolute sillyness of the whole subject.
Well,you sure picked a captive audience to incite with your techno-withcraft rant....well done,now back to the news.........."Yesterday over Thailand ,3 Siamese transexuals on a Northwest flight from Burma hijacked the plane and announced they were heading to California for the ........................
It's pervasive no doubt. Look at the auto industry. The other day I listened to a piece on NPR about the high price of gas. They were profiling a family with five children living in Ohio. The father of the children drove a Ford Excursion while his wife drove a Ford Expedition. It was the marketing of the 90s that convinced people those large vehicles were "necessary." I came from a family with seven children, all born within an eleven year span, and we managed fine without these types of vehicles, ah yes, the 1963 Rambler Classic wagon.
The only solution is to not purchase the crap being pushed down our throats. A few years ago we bought a Honda CRV. There were maybe 20 of them on the lot but only two of them were two-wheel drive. We live in Indiana (flat) and don't need four-wheel drive. I bought the two-wheel drive version which gets much better gas mileage.
Unfortunately, U.S, auto makers and their customers are feeling the pain caused by this marketing strategy.
They were profiling a family with five children living in Ohio. The father of the children drove a Ford Excursion while his wife drove a Ford Expedition It was the marketing of the 90s that convinced people those large vehicles were "necessary

It's like a law suit against McDonalds because you got obese from eating their food. It's absolutely irelevant what they show you on TV and what the marketing strategy is. We need to start using our brains.
Precisely Audphile1.My latest fav is the "Are humans to blame for the Midwest floods?".Like the Missisippi always had concrete locks and dams from the Ice Age to control the flow...........I'm sure there are some out there who dont think we had a thing to do with it.........the same ones who vote for a pol because of what he says he'll do for fav was Sen Tower from Texas who once said to a committee"I'm not an alcoholic,I just drink alot"....OK......cheers,Bob
Billy Joe just jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge cause his remote told him to via the readout screen.Maybe we should think about Plan B pretty soon regarding technology and the future.Is there a state in the Union that doesnt have a bridge?Is there a state in the Union?Can we sell the Midwest back to France?Waiting patiently,but dont take all day,cheers,Bob
I certainly wouldn't get my knickers in a twist over a mere remote. If it upsets one so much then simply bin it.
Thank God, I am an amputee, otehrwise, I could be deemed as lazy!!! However, I have been an amputee for only a few years, but a remote control lover for many years!

The range of volume that is "correct" and sounds right is amazingly narrow. One only finds this point with a remote. I really don't need a remote for anything else but volume control, and perhaps balance, but, I find that to be almost a necessity.

If one "needs" manual activity to work off some fat (who doesn't), perhaps one can fashion a "heavy hands" remote control for the couch potato (remember those weights that were sold to be held while walking or jogging?). Perhaps I can make a fortune with lead weights for remote controls.
Gawdbless, most breasts, at least the ones I've seen, provide only one button per unit.

Apart from sympathising with yr multi-button plight, I forgot to admit that I rarely use the remote volume control anyway.

OTOH, I live in Yourp, use blue tooth &, uncharacteristically, an automatic transmission!
Well, this one ran its course and finally reached its destination. It took a fellow Hoosier-- Timrhu-- to interpret my obsequious political aim: We don't need most of the crap being shoved down our throats, and we need to ask exactly what is being inserted when we buy new. Being the Fourth, I would defend to the death the rights of any of you to use remotes, automatic transmissions, power windows, elevators, etc., but I am also told by my wife that I am "rude" or "inconsiderate" when I merely politely question the purpose of some bill of goods being hawked to me.

Case in point: Living in central Indiana, when I tried to order our Cherokee (back in '99, still have it, I keep our cars for 15 or more years) with 2.5L four-cylinder, 5-speed, crank windows, and rear drive only, the salesman nearly went apoplectic that I wouldn't want the "power" and "convenience" packages that all of the ones on the lot had, "for resale value." I told him that I was buying a vehicle for my use, not to re-sell at a loss... now laughing as ours gets 24-28mpg... also don't need a 21-speed mountain bike...
Peace, brothers, and thanks for all of your comments. I walked in on a clearance sale at my local used record store right after they took in some old '60's collections last night and I've got a stack of 79-cent LPs to clean, including some real gems.
Mr M- Sounds like you are as pragmatic as I. All that power/convenience equipment is just 'more-stuff-to-go-wrong'/'more-money-in-their-pocket', in my experience. I like to get about 150K out of my vehicles too. I've owned the same Harley for 18 years now(and it's way over 150K). As a fellow Hoosier(though an import): Happy Fourth and relaxed/stress-free listening!
Sorry I got into this thread so late but, to those of you who suggest we members of the remote crowd are lazy: Ha!- I say - Ha!! I get far more exercise, walking around the house, searching behind seat cushions for my remote controls than you guys get, simply rising from you seats to access your components directly.
My remote has 120 buttons, I settle in to listen only after first spending 1 hour getting my system up and running. After hearing 1 song on a CD the repeat the 1st step......
I want to second Morgen's rant. After reading this entertaining thread, I inspected my Oppo DVD player remote yesterday (used as a transport). Between 40-50 buttons. The four that I use maybe 90% of the time (play/pause, stop, skip tracks back, forward) are the same size as all the other buttons (including things like "zoom" (???)) and are located in the middle of the keypad. Awful design.
I had a remote control for a television that not only had too many buttons, but also a deadly "reset" button that changed all of the video calibration back to factory default settings. I ended up using a razor to cut off all of the buttons I did not want to accidentally employ. I could still use those buttons, but I needed to stick a sharp object into the hole to so do.
The problem with remotes is that they have toooooo many needless functions on them. The basic concept is good, but
they make them so confusing. Also, the buttons must be made for little tiny people. It takes the joy out of listening or viewing. I wish the manufacturers would just take it easy and make them more basic.
After a nice IPA and glass of Cab, I'm sitting back looking at what my '08 rant harvested this year... thanks to all of you who are beginning to sympathize with me after the first few personally insulted way back... Rodman, I have been operating a Guzzi big twin, pushrods, carburetors and all, for the past fifteen years here in Hoosierland, no problemo. A remote can be a useful thing, to change tracks or adjust the volume, but that's about it. Now, can we get the designers to listen to us?