Some things are just plain wrong…

Nor does this issue only impact classical music. Early pop and jazz pressings can be affected too. Over the years I have conducted many a public presentation of the record replay EQ phenomenon. Two of my regular demonstration discs are early pressings of Miles Davis/Kind of Blue (1959) and Bob Dylan/Highway 61 Revisited (1965). Both being on the Columbia label, you might reasonably expect them to be RIAA compliant, but one listen with Columbia’s own replay curve demonstrates that they aren’t. Does that mean that all pressings of Kind Of Blue need the Columbia curve? Definitely not. Later pressings are, just as demonstrably, RIAA. All of the audiophile re-issues and 180g re-pressings are also RIAA. But if you are going to invest in an early pressing, then the chances are, it will have been cut with the Columbia curve.

Which brings us to the nub of the issue:

If you only play records produced since 1990, you don’t need switchable EQ.

If you only play 180g discs or audiophile pressings, you don’t need switchable EQ.

If you predominantly play jazz or pop/rock music released since the 1960s, you probably don’t need switchable EQ.


If you collect early, stereo pressings in any genre (but especially classical) or play original mono LPs (jazz, pop or classical) then you’d almost certainly benefit enormously from switchable EQ.

Those demonstrations that I mentioned above normally take place at audio shows or dealer events. To conduct them, I’ve used phono-stages from Audio Research, Zanden, Graeme Slee, FM Acoustics and CH Precision. There are plenty of others that also offer switchable (or adjustable) EQ as standard or as an option. The fact that this many companies take the issue seriously should also give you pause for thought. What is absurd is the blanket denial that this issue exists. Instead, we should understand it, consider our musical tastes and record collection and, if it might apply to you, find out for yourself whether it actually does. Not everybody needs switchable EQ on their phono-stage, but if you do, then the musical (and financial) benefits are potentially enormous. Once you’ve heard them, they’re hard to ignore…