Channel Imbalance...HELP

I am encountering the most bizard channel imbalance in my system. This happens only with EITHER analog setup or digital front end.


1. If i use my analog setup as playback medium to setup my speakers, when everything is locked in with the analog setup (focus, bass timming, central image is dead center..etc), then the digital playback suffers a channel imbalance : central image ie vocal, solo instruments is shifted more to the Right channel.

2. If i use my digital front end to setup my speakers and get everything lock in, my analog setup in turn suffer a channel imbalance in which the central image is shifted to the Left channel.

This is confirmed with 2 different turntable setups (SME 20/2, SME IV.Vi, Lyra Helikon and Project Perspective & Sumiko Blackbird, Manley Steelhead) and 2 different digital playbacks (Ayre C-5xe, Audio Aero Prima).

First, i thought it might be caused by my cartridges, so i swap the L and R terminals of the tonearm cable at the phonostage input but this yields minimal difference.

Next, with the tonearm terminals in correct position, i swap the L-R terminals from phonostage to preamp, this also yields minimal difference.

the weirdest thing is that if i switch the L and R of BOTH cables from tonearm to phonostage AND from phonostage to preamp, then everything is locked in !

I also tried to swap the tubes of the phonostage from L to didnt do anygood.

Replacing the tubes with new matched sets also didnt help.

This drove me crazy so i took my Manley Steelhead up to Manley factory today for a check-up (by the way, many thanks to EveAnna and Martin for helping out in such sort notice!!!!), and the result came out that the L channel is only 0.2 dB louder than the R channel..according to technician, 0.2 dB is too small to be audible.

But still, my ears managed to hear this imbalance in my system.

WHAT ELSE can be the cause of this irritating, mysterious problem?

I talked to one of the guys from the Analog Room in San Jose, and one of them said he has the exact same problem at home but never figured it out even after changing his interconnects, amps, speakers..etc.

If the room acoustics is the cost, WHY does it effect the analog and digital source so differently???

I found a lot of posts online regarding this problem and seems like quite a few people have/had experienced it without finding a satisfying cure for it.

Anyone did find a solution for this and care to share?
Any suggestion , guys???

Thank you
..Is it possible that you have one speaker connection out of phase? Its very easy to do...Good luck.........
Have you tried using a Radio Shack or other SPL meter to measure the sound out of one speaker or the other? Do you have a mono switch to see if the sound comes from the center of the space between your speakers? Sometimes with analog I get the soundstage skewed slightly one way or another, but as the stereo warms up over time, the soundstage seems to expand and the channel balance improves. Maybe your system takes a while to balance out, for whatever reason.
??? My puter's playing tricks on me -- or not??? This is the same as another thread?
If so, pls check my response at the other thread. Cheers
I'll try this to see what's going on.