Let's test knobs and dials

When I buy something I care about the knobs and dials and handles, and the quality of those is impossible to tell online. I can’t stand plasticky dials and buttons. Even snazzy cars with chrome buttons (like the Mini) turn out to actually be unsatisfying chromed ABS plastic. So I will often not buy something substantial before trying the knobs out in person. Could CHOICE add this to our testing matrix?

Here is a somewhat hilarious series of video reviews on this topic:


Agreed. Not just tactility, but usability.
We’ve got a Miele oven with round knobs, smooth, which are incredibly difficult to use to get a precise oven temp. (And a horribly noisy fan, but that’s another issue)
And an Asko exhaust fan with tiny push button knobs on which the IDs wore off after about a year, so you have to guess the speed.
Terrible flaws on what were expensive products. These things usually have to be bought sight unseen from brochures or whatever as not stocked by shops.

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Knobs reliability testing is also good idea.

In the past, usually something associated with the device electronics or hardware would fail before knobs. Knobs were one of the more robust pieces of equipment.

However, with the new generation of knobs which can be turned in one direction infinitely (not like the old ones which had a stop as maximum and minimum settings), I have found on a clock radio and HiFi system, the knobs have failed first. A k n o b failing renders a device unusable unless there is a work around (such as using a remote instead). The knobs which have failed were nice to turn when they worked…but would now not have cared what they felt like if I knew they would last.

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You’d need to test the potentiometer also (or relevant control). Or do you mean that also? I tend to think of the round bit that goes on the end not the rest of it…

As a side note: I was looking for a volume nob recently for a project I was constructing. I searched and searched but I couldn’t find anything that I was satisfied with. As I was thinking about it I took a swig from my drink bottle and noticed the lid was a kind of nob. So, I searched around and ended up finding something I liked from a red wine bottle. Then, I filled the back of it with resin, drilled a hole and bingo!

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Our wall oven, a St George, has four plastic knobs immediately above the oven door. All have been damaged by heat, one particularly badly. However – I cannot buy just one replacement, I have to buy a set of four: and I have to go through their agent and pay an outlandish price for them: and then the new ones are only plastic anyway, and can be expected to go the same way… This was an expensive oven, whose reputation has been damaged for the sake of the few dollars necessary to provide proper heat-proof knobs.

In the event, I did much what Rimlan did, and rebuilt the damaged knobs with resin, then repainted them with heat-proof stove paint. But I should not have had to.

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Hi @rimian.

I think the issue is the potentiometer rather than the attached (k)nob…when the volume (k)nob is rotated to increase volume, the volume display jumps around (goes either up or down in a number of bars) or jumps to maximum volume for less than a second. If it was the (k)nob, I would assume that it would rotate and the sound would only move in the direction of the movement intermittently.

With the Hifi, the (k)nob/…potentiometer has become stiff as though something has come loose inside. Have pulled off the (k)nob and tried turning without to no avail.

Apologies for the (k)nob, but looks like the background web master/marshall software thinks the whole word is inappropriate…and inserts squares instead.


We bought a Westinghouse wall oven and cooktop when we renovated our kitchen just over two years ago. The knobs on the wall oven are just black plastic with a silver coating, but much of the coating has scratched off. Meanwhile, the knobs on the gas cooktop appear to be more robust, but the marks indicating the ignition setting, low and high flame, have just about worn off completely.

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I totally agree, there should be a better standard. In regards to the noisy fan in miele oven, I have a Miele oven and have had the fan replaced twice the last one is just as bad very noisy. Also the thermostat has had issues and fixed several times. I also have a very expensive microwave conduction oven (Whirlpool) The printing on the knobs and dials wore of after 12months. The oven works fine but have to use a marking pen to mark and expensive oven. When I contacted whirlpool when the writing first started to disappear I was told only use a damp cloth (what a joke) I only use window cleaner on the outside of the oven. I just have bought a top of the line slow cooker/pressure cooker the knobs are a joke very flimsy and tinny (to use an old world phrase.
Just my input