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Have Real Aluminum Volume Knobs Gone the Way of the T-Rex?

IntelliVolume

Active Member
Is there any A/V receiver manufacturer still offering a unit with a real machined aluminum volume knob, or are they all made of plastic?

I ask because I noticed when I look at units in local retail shoppes, even the higher-end Denons and Onkyos are still coming with cheap plastic bits, even on the knobs; indeed, my Onkyo 605 came equipped with a limp-feeling, cheap plastic knob which is totally not reflective of the kind of muscular power the amp puts out...but the Onkyo 8555 stereo amp in my two-channel system is decked out with a solid, heavy, smooth-rotating machined aluminum knob that feels really upscale to the touch.

Aside from maybe the Marantz receivers, are there any A/V amps coming with aluminum volume knobs today? I think even the more "esoteric/boutique" brands like Arcam and NAD aren't using real metal in their knobs, unless I'm mistaken; but do, for example, the Onkyo RZ premium line of amps come with metal volume controllers?
 

mushii

Well-known Member
Why do I want additional cost in my AVR because:
Machining costs
Raw material cost
Additional shipping cost

to have a chunk of metal that is totally superfluous to requirement and adds no extra functionality stuck on the front of my amp?
let’s not deprive the drinks industry of 20 more aluminium cans.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
Okay...

Anyone else with less of an opinion-driven response?

To me, the addition of such a knob isn't superfluous -- it's the mark of a more premium touch that some enthusiasts appreciate...
 

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
I have never, ever used it. There is no point in me getting out of the seat to adjust the volume when I can use the remote control.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
I have never, ever used it. There is no point in me getting out of the seat to adjust the volume when I can use the remote control.
Thanks...but I do use it from time to time (mainly the remote) when I'm up and, for instance, loading a disc into my player and want to drop or raise the level while I'm up there...

At any rate, I appreciate such elements on the face of an AVR...so are there any manufacturers that still make a metal knob?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I just did the feel test on all the AVR volume knobs in my house and they all feel metal to me.

Arcam AVR550, Marantz NR1508, Yamaha RXA810, Sony 3500ES
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I appreciate the usage of quality materials and proper build, and am prepared to pay for it.

Unfortunately though, most consumers share mushii's opinion. It just doesn't pay for the manufacturer to invest in quality when nobody buys his more expensive device. We have recently seen a few such manufacturers register for bankruptcy (e.g. Loewe :()
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
I just did the feel test on all the AVR volume knobs in my house and they all feel metal to me.

Arcam AVR550, Marantz NR1508, Yamaha RXA810, Sony 3500ES
That Sony is a bit older now, no? I was referring more to the latest AVRs on the market...

Which brings me to the Marantz and Yamaha you cited; I assumed Marantz was still making receivers with metal knobs, but always thought Yamaha's AVRs -- even those from the Aventage line -- came equipped with plastic ones.

At any rate, if it's true that these units are coming with heavier metal knobs, it's nice to know.
 
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IntelliVolume

Active Member
I appreciate the usage of quality materials and proper build, and am prepared to pay for it.

Unfortunately though, most consumers share mushii's opinion. It just doesn't pay for the manufacturer to invest in quality when nobody buys his more expensive device. We have recently seen a few such manufacturers register for bankruptcy (e.g. Loewe :()
What is "Loewe"?

And how much more can an AVR cost to manufacture if the company adds a metal volume knob? I mean, they're already including (most of them anyway) brushed aluminum-esque faceplates...
 
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IntelliVolume

Active Member
Overpriced TV brand that appealed to lifestyle customers due to the aesthetics and superior build.
That's the first time I'm hearing of it; were the products available only in the UK or Europe?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
That's the first time I'm hearing of it; were the products available only in the UK or Europe?
German firm I believe. Have a gander here:
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
It's a German brand. The products wouldn't be something you'd find in your average high street store and were more the kind of thing you'd see in specialist retailers such as Harrods.
I think some folks forget that there are a few members here from outside the UK/British Isles and won't immediately recognize some of the brand and store names being tossed around; still, I did recognize Harrods, as I recall seeing the stores when I was in London many, many moons ago (and have seen their stores appear in films like Nighthawks). :thumbsup::):smashin:

Thanks for the info, though.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member

IntelliVolume

Active Member
WOW is their stuff esoteric...

And the company has declared bankruptcy?
 

mushii

Well-known Member
Oh on the cost of an Aluminium knob, I asked one of our manufacturing cells roughly what materials and time would cost on one of our machining centres, assuming large scale runs, tooling, aircraft grade Al bar stock, QC, yada yada, all in maybe £10 for manufacturing and maybe an extra £1 on shipping. It doesn’t sound much but add that additional cost over 100,000 units, in a cut-throat market where you are looking to save pennies, it adds a sizeable chunk of additional extra cost. Now if you are some esoteric small British manufacturer selling to the slippers and pipe brigade (or Welsh ex-firemen 😉) then an extra £11 on your £4k amp is neither here or there, but when you know your product will be heavily discounted within months of going to market you need all the margin you can get.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
WOW is their stuff esoteric...

And the company has declared bankruptcy?

Yes, which is I believe the reason that they were mentioned. They made TV's that aren't doing anything that sets costing an aweful lot less cannot do, but they are made to a higher standard, using better materials and subject to higher design ideals.

The issue is that not enough products sell due to their price so the company goes out of business.

The nearest manufacturer you can equate to them is probably Bang and Olufsen. Again, they appeal more the the lifestyle buyer than to home theatre or audio enthusiasts. Posers in other words LOL, but posers with lots of money.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
That Sony is a bit older now, no? I was referring more to the latest AVRs on the market...

Which brings me to the Marantz and Yamaha you cited; I assumed Marantz was still making receivers with metal knobs, but always thought Yamaha's AVRs -- even those from the Aventage line -- came equipped with plastic ones.

At any rate, if it's true that these units are coming with heavier metal knobs, it's nice to know.
You missed out the Arcam.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
You missed out the Arcam.
Noted.

It's difficult to tell in the pics I'm seeing of the 550 whether that center-mounted knob is actually metal or a textured plastic...
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
Oh on the cost of an Aluminium knob, I asked one of our manufacturing cells roughly what materials and time would cost on one of our machining centres, assuming large scale runs, tooling, aircraft grade Al bar stock, QC, yada yada, all in maybe £10 for manufacturing and maybe an extra £1 on shipping. It doesn’t sound much but add that additional cost over 100,000 units, in a cut-throat market where you are looking to save pennies, it adds a sizeable chunk of additional extra cost. Now if you are some esoteric small British manufacturer selling to the slippers and pipe brigade (or Welsh ex-firemen 😉) then an extra £11 on your £4k amp is neither here or there, but when you know your product will be heavily discounted within months of going to market you need all the margin you can get.
I still say it wouldn't be an end-of-the-world scenario for a company to add such a premium touch, perhaps exclusively on their upper-tiered models (for example, with Onkyo's RZ line).
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
I believe Yamaha still implimente turned aliuminium source and volume knods on at least the top three Adventage models. Not sure about the models below the RXA1080 though?

I think some manufacturers put less importance upon such things because of how seldom it is that their customers actually physically touch or use the volume dial these days. You could technically do away with the knobs entirely and replace them with buttons. There's no practical reason to still employ rotary dials on AV receivers any more. The inclusion of the knobs is more to do with aesthetics than it is a proctical consideration.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
I believe Yamaha still implimente turned aliuminium source and volume knods on at least the top three Adventage models. Not sure about the models below the RXA1080 though?

I think some manufacturers put less importance upon such things because of how seldom it is that their customers actually physically touch or use the volume dial these days. You could technically do away with the knobs entirely and replace them with buttons. There's no practical reason to still employ rotary dials on AV receivers any more. The inclusion of the knobs is more to do with aesthetics than it is a proctical consideration.
Perhaps; but there are some of us who still appreciate good solid knobs (especially on hi-fi gear)...I do realize that there are some manufacturers that don't even include knobs on the faceplates anymore (there's a British brand, I believe, that has done away with them on A/V receivers but the name escapes me right now).

At any rate, I just wanted to know if there were actually AVRs still being made with metal volume knobs, and I suppose everyone's input here has kind of answered that; as for the "big brands," can anyone confirm if the higher-end Denons and Onkyos have plastic or metal knobs?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
The higher tier Denon models use the exact same plastic dials as you'd find on their entry level models.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member

gibbsy

Moderator
Does it really matter. How often do you actually touch any of the dials on a receiver or amp. It's the crappy plastic remotes that customers should complain about as they take 99.9% of the burden. That doesn't even mention those tech savvy people who use things like the Harmony remote.

When not in use, with the exception of my Denon SACD player and headphone amp, everything else is out of sight in a solid wood cabinet when not in use. Personally whether it's plastic or aluminium has never bothered me as long as the audio is top notch.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
The higher tier Denon models use the exact same plastic dials as you'd find on their entry level models.
That's disheartening; I'll assume it's the same for the Onkyo RZ's.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
Does it really matter.
It does to me.

How often do you actually touch any of the dials on a receiver or amp.
I actually touch these buttons/knobs quite often -- I know how that sounded -- such as when I'm up at my hi-fi rack in the two channel system changing a record and I realize the volume is too high/too low (so I adjust it by bending over to rotate the volume knob) or when I'm in the home theatre room and I am adjusting the level of volume before loading a disc.

I just appreciate tactile-feeling, solid buttons and knobs on A/V gear, and always have/will. That's the only reason I was asking.

It's the crappy plastic remotes that customers should complain about as they take 99.9% of the burden. That doesn't even mention those tech savvy people who use things like the Harmony remote.
I agree about the remotes; most of them are absolute garbage. As a matter of fact, beyond the plastic build quality of the deck itself, one of the reasons I returned the Panasonic 820 4K BD player when I first bought it was because of its ridiculously cheap, non-backlit remote...in comparison, the remote that shipped with my Cambridge CXUHD disc player looks and feels like a million bucks in the hand, complete with a brushed aluminum-esque finish that really screams "class."

Too bad the ergonomics of the remote are for absolute sh*te; the essential PLAY and PAUSE buttons are so haphazardly and illogically positioned in a semi-circle arrangement that it's almost a crime against humanity.

When not in use, with the exception of my Denon SACD player and headphone amp, everything else is out of sight in a solid wood cabinet when not in use. Personally whether it's plastic or aluminium has never bothered me as long as the audio is top notch.
Okay, but that's you -- others have different likes/priorities/preferences, no? :D
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Okay, but that's you -- others have different likes/priorities/preferences, no? :D
That's fair comment. I'm not that tactile it's how they sound that's important to me. However I do admit that the tray in the Denon 2500 SACD player is something beautiful to behold, that however is there to make audio reproduction better and if the choice of the bean crunchers had to make a choice of spending on an aluminium knob or spending on a higher degree of engineering within the unit then surely that's where the money should be spent.
 

IntelliVolume

Active Member
That's fair comment. I'm not that tactile it's how they sound that's important to me.
Oh, don't get me wrong...I appreciate a unit that sounds good as well, and agree that in the end that's what matters (though I do take exception at certain times...such as when I spent over $500 U.S. for the Panasonic model 820 4K Blu-ray player and it greeted me as a tiny plastic toy that I felt like I was going to break just by touching the tray open/close button on top; I mean, for that kind of money, the player shouldn't be 100-percent plastic and half the size of a "standard" component).

However I do admit that the tray in the Denon 2500 SACD player is something beautiful to behold
That's the stuff I'm talkin' about -- the way a disc tray slides in/out, the silent whirr of a well-made piece of gear, etc. One of the first things I noticed when I replaced the Panasonic 820 4K disc player with the Cambridge CXUHD was the way the Cambridge's disc tray was like a Rolls-Royce compared to the Panasonic's cheaply-made variant that seemed as if it was going to break right off with too much use...

Still -- there is something to be said about gear being made internally well, as even with all its "superior build" nonsense and the physical appearance of the player itself, my CXUHD has been exhibiting nasty "ticking" noises when playing regular DVDs, and it's driving me crazy...especially given what I paid for this thing and how it was supposed to be built so much better than the plastic-esque decks...:facepalm::facepalm::facepalm::suicide::suicide::suicide:

that however is there to make audio reproduction better and if the choice of the bean crunchers had to make a choice of spending on an aluminium knob or spending on a higher degree of engineering within the unit then surely that's where the money should be spent.
I get you on this; I was merely expressing my desire to pick equipment that boasted such "upscale" touches. It's quite disappointing -- although I suppose not entirely surprising -- to learn that the Denon and Onkyo AVRs don't come with aluminum volume controllers...regardless of price point.
 
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