Still the demons of GAS pursue me

Who among you has felt regret when a long-wanted item from yesteryear pops up?

About forty-five years ago, a certain popular HiFi manufacturer’s new parametric equalizer was, to me, the bee’s knees. I dreamed that I might have it one day and use it to get deep bass and tingling highs out of any speaker. A few years later, a friend who had been in the service picked one up, and it still seemed to be all that. Any frequency band could be emphasized to the point of loud or suppressed into silence.

This week, one appeared on that bay place, in “very good condition”, for next to nothing. I thought to hit Buy It Now as fast as possible; before it gets away. But then reality set in. It’s clear enough that where my system is today, adding that processor would radically degrade and certainly not enhance the sound of my system.  

So now I find myself browsing that listing daily or worse. I’d appreciate reading similar accounts that others may have.


I had an experience in the late seventies of a similar nature. I went to a local shop that was demoing a new ADS digital delay system. Honestly, it absolutely blew me away. The collapse of the sound field was so startling when it was turned off. That was a thing I lusted after and could never really afford.

Now days, many audiophiles consider such tampering with "purity" with disdain. i thought it was the best thing since sliced bread at the time. Now, such systems, especially in home theater and room correction or cheap and plentiful. Ironically, I no longer have the burning desire to have it,


No not Soundcraftsman. I do not want to tell the brand name because there is the chance of offending some members; besides, my thinking is that this could happen with many different brands from years ago.

Ifyou are into digital the issue is not getting the basics right for example 

you should have a modem router combo to start , the agood LPS power supply going to the router for these wall warts are $5 pieces of noise and digital from house to house brings noise  ,fiber optic sucks the life outof music 

you need a quality Ethernet switch Ansuz  and others sell them around $2500 and up, and good Ethernet cables ,the one at the endpoint most important .

for $400 Sablon makes a verygood one for the money .for example. ,even witha goood dac until your address these weaknesses then you-will not get that vinyl type  sound ,dac should be at least $4500 on up if you want true reference quality sound .I go to many audioget togethers and finally got the message ,no short cuts Allowed !!

In the 70s I had a Soundcrafstman preamp/eq. PE 2217 I recall the "edge wound" wring was a sales tool. The quality was good and I loved messing around with the curve. Back then I had no critical listening skills and my Bob Seger Live Bullet and Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo records were the height of my audio palette. 

Recalling the colored memory of "the good days" I recently bought a DBX 2131 on eBay for poots and giggles. It was fun isolating the frequency and tweaking the mix. HOWEVER; they are noisy. There are 2 little Chinese transformers in them that hum like a hooker.

IMO an 7 to 10 level rig will suffer using and EQ. BUT they are really fun to tinker with and great for party music. It also lets you have a hands-on learning / recognition of specific frequencies. 


Good thing reality set in… a good problem to have… your current system is clearly far beyond the dreams of yesteryear. The trick is to flip that feeling of regret into joy. 

It reminds me of the Apogee EQ reviews.

I think it's important to figure out how we enjoy Audio.  Some do so by endlessly buying and tinkering.  Some by falling asleep to Chopin.  There's nothing wrong with all of it.

In general though, I think that adding an EQ should be done with purpose, if not measurements in mind. I don't know if this brand of EQ would degrade your experience or not, but I do think that EQ's are best implemented with at least some idea of a goal.  If you just want to have it to play with it, get it! :)  Or consider a miniDSP as a cheap playground.

I sold a plethora of EQs back in the day. Never understood why anyone would buy them. Band-Aids for sure. I never heard one actually make a system sound better, just different with added noise. I take that back, the Cello Palette was pretty cool, but expensive!

The ADC Sound Shaper was popular along with all the DBX crap of the day.

It must be an SAE EQ, as James Bongiorno worked at SAE before founding GAS. 

popular thinking in the 70's was "the more gear you can feed the signal though, the better". Guys used to drool over the rack mounted components. Some of that equipment still commands a fair dollar. I see the Pioneer SX1250 with an asking price of $4000.00 Just nuts. I had two of them. I paid in the $600.00 range and sold for the same amount. My first step forward to better audio was when I removed the jumper plug between the preamp and amp section of the Pioneer and inserted an Onkyo preamp. Much, much better sound. The rest is history.

I don't understand what the big secret about the equalizer is. Hurt feelings? C'mon... Oh well, who cares anyway.

@jnovak  As part of that was the idea of a flat frequency response to rule them all.

I'm very much a fan of EQ, either from subtle adjustments in tone controls that are transparent, or DSP in the subwoofer path, but otherwise I think we still expect too much from them.

As has been discussed often (maybe too often), I found it amusing that in the 1980s and 1990s, EQs (and even tone controls that could be defeated) fell out of favor and all the strident "audiophiles" wanted to hear everything "plain" as if THAT was what the recording engineer heard. Well, nope, not by a long shot. Here we are today and even DACs at any price point don’t all "sound the same", so what is so-called "truth"? There is none, unless you can visit the studio and hear exactly what the engineer is hearing. Even then, you might not PREFER it! And at some point with extremely revealing DACs you might be hearing things the engineer or even the artist never did. Does that somehow get you closer to the "truth"? It’s like looking at a pretty girl, then having x-ray vision and you can see beneath the skin. Might not be as pretty in that case.

EQ’s can help a system or more specifically some poor recordings, but they can’t really correct a room. There are a lot of albums from the 1970s that sound "thin". I gladly add a touch of EQ to them. I’m about enjoying the music. If you want to hear them sounding thin, well, more power to you.

Today with DSP we can have our cake and eat it too without adding additional noise (much). Good times. 

@mofimadness I understood the attraction of the ADC/DBX joint venture into pink noise generators that you could use to shape a system's sound curve--i used it with sound curves published by various music magazines of pink noise generated in music halls to various seat locations and it worked quite nicely if you wanted to gradually roll off highs.  I still have my ss-525X but it is not in use because speakers and system are so much better than what i had then.  They were useful when most could only afford cheap speakers and equipment and i still think they can be useful in that application.

@eurorack (OP)

and GAS stands for ?

Even if my guess that G stands for gear is correct, I run out of gas after that.

GAS: Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

A somewhat pejorative label offered to people who perpetually buy, sell, and/or trade audio or HiFi equipment, often in the false hope of finding their last components.

Still, a Schiit Loki or Lokius can really help with bad recordings - especially those harsh early CDs.  And I really don't think they add much noise or distortion.

GAS...never heard of the meaning mentioned?

GAS to me is:  Great American Sound.  Jim Borgiorno was a dear friend.  What a character.  R.I.P. buddy...


I am delighted to comment, after being bored for several years by a-philes who cling to the dogma of audio purism.  I am a violinist with lifelong experience listening to the sound from my seat in the 1st violin section in orchestras on different stages, and listening in many great concert halls from the 1st row and further back in numerous locations.  I did recordings of orchestras using close ORTF cardioid microphone technique AND EQ.  Most commercial classical recordings are quite laid-back, striving for ambience and the sound heard at mid hall, 50-100 feet away from the stage edge.  Compared to the 1st row sound, the sound mid hall is severely rolled off in highs, sounding impossibly dulled for my tastes.  The sound is more evenly balanced than the 1st row, but at the big sacrifice of instrumental detail.

For playback of most commercial recordings using EQ to boost HF, I get much more of that 1st row experience.  Even for playback of my own recordings using close mike placement, when I began without the EQ, the bass was too prominent and HF were dull when played back on most speakers.  This pertains to dull dynamic speakers and is less true about my electrostatic speakers.  Quickly I achieved the brilliance of what I was seeking by using the Rane ME 60 analog EQ, which I bought at Sam Ash in 1995 for $600 retail.  The conductor of my orchestra was unhappy with my recordings before I used EQ, but was much happier when I added EQ in the recording itself.  He was not an a-phile, and had a mass market audio system, but certainly as a musician he had an educated ear.

It is true that EQ can distort the tonal balance of the music if done carelessly, and introduction of additional electronics is undesirable.  But these factors are vastly 1000 to 1 outweighed by the benefits of increased clarity, spaciousness, air.  Audio purism is inappropriate because all speakers are hopelessly distorted compared to natural instruments, regardless of how much money is spent on preamps, amps, sources, cables.  I prefer the sound of my electrostatic speakers with my good sounding ancillary components WITH MY EQ, to a live concert sound from further away than the 5th row.  The 1st row center is the best in the audience, but still nothing like the excitement of being on stage hearing it that close.

I don't have any experience with digital EQ or other analog EQ's like Levinson Cello Palette.  Using the Rane in its flat setting without EQ, it was more neutral with greater clarity than the Spectral DMC 10 gamma line stage.  Regardless of how good you think your current system is, without EQ it is nothing compared to what it would be with any decent EQ.  Go for the GAS!!!!!!  Use the EQ judiciously and experiment to see what sound suits you.  Then when your rich friends visit, tell them you have a new mystery component they are hearing.  Then reveal the truth.  The honest ones will be delighted and thank you for the education.

The later version of the Rane, ME 60S had more features and is sonically colored compared to the original ME 60.  They are both 30 band, 1/3 octave EQ ranges, so much flexibility from 20-20kHz, boost or cut by up to 12 dB.  I go from source to Rane to power amp.  No line preamp stage.  The Rane has a crude rotary volume control, which could certainly be improved.  Even as is, the Rane with EQ will please more than any preamp without EQ.  I haven't compared many line stages, but the Rane without EQ certainly outperformed Spectral, Pass, Belles preamps for clarity, etc.  Engaging the EQ completely wiped out these preamps without EQ.  EQ is that important.