Equalizers and Tape Monitoring

I've had a very old equalizer for about 25 years, and I would love to use it for listening to my tapes. To do so, however, I didn't know that the receiver needs a "tape monitor" capability, which most modern receivers don't have. Are there any equalizers that do not need tape monitoring?


Actually, you don't need a receiver with a tape-monitor function—all you need to do is connect the output of your tape deck to the input of the equalizer and the output of the equalizer to an input on the receiver. Of course, the EQ will apply only to the tape deck, not the other components connected to the receiver.

If you want to apply an external equalizer (such as the graphic EQ shown above) to any selected 2-channel input on the receiver, you need a way to send the analog signal out of the receiver to the EQ and then back from the EQ to the receiver. One way to do this is with a tape-monitor function—connect a tape output to the EQ and the EQ output to the corresponding tape input. In other words, connect the EQ just as you would a tape deck. (In fact, the original function of a tape-monitor function was to let you hear what the tape deck was recording.) Then, select whichever device you want to be equalized as the "record source" and engage the tape-monitor button to hear the signal coming back from the EQ.

Alternatively, if the receiver has preamp outputs and main-amplifier inputs (not the multichannel inputs found on many modern A/V receivers, which are simply another source you can select with the AVR), you can connect the EQ to these. The selected signal passes out of the receiver, through the EQ, and back into the receiver before being amplified.

One reason there are so few receivers that let you "insert" an outboard EQ in this way is that the onboard EQ in most modern receivers is so good, there's no point in using an external one. Also, few people record analog tape these days, so the tape-monitor function has become more confusing than useful.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askscottwilkinson@gmail.com.

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uavCJLA's picture

Hi Lafonte, A couple of things come to mind. First is that I believe the old Tape loop as you call it, which read on the terminals on the back of the receiver as Tape In (Record) / Tape Out (Play) is still around. The only difference is that they now have added video to this. Many receivers would label this as VCR In / VCR Out, but I would bet that it functions the same way, and would therefore allow you to hook up an external EQ to this.

Also as Scott already mentioned that the onboard EQ's in todays receivers are excellent, but many if not all also provide the ability to set the EQ individually for each input source - So you might not need to have an external EQ if you are interested in purchasing a new receiver.

One last thing, I'm guessing that if you use tapes that you also use a phonograph? If so and you are interested in getting a new receiver, most manufacturers don't include a phono input on the lower end models, so you would have to check the specs on this too.

uavMocha6ft3's picture

I am completely surprise by what i read here. I have been told by everyone that i would need a receiver that has "Tape Monitoring" capabilities in order for my equalizer to function. This includes sales people from BestBuy,J&R Music World,and even some sales people from "High End" audio stores. I have an old "Sound Shaper33"equalizer by ADC. I've had this beauty for over 25 years. As silly as it sounds, i have never heard it except when i was in the store purchasing it.After moving several times and packing it, the 45mm levels are all bent and the LED lights on the tips are falling off. I would like to thank Scott Wilkinson for answering my prayers. I consider myself "old school" and will get a new equalizer so i could hook it up to my new reciever.I currently have two tape decks. One by TASCAM, and the other by Denon. I love listening to tapes and always will now that my prayers have been answered. I would also like to say thank you to CJLA for his additional comments. Thank you gentlemen. You have made my year.Lafonte.

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