Disagree -- remote controlled balanced controls should be the standard. To optimize your soundstage they need to be readily adjustable from the listening position.
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Onhwy61 - I agree. The dual volume control on my Simaudio I-5 LE isn't needed very often but being able to independently set the channel volume from the listening position is very nice when it's needed. It's available only from the remote and the digital volume readout that lights up only when in use is very well implemented.
Tune it for each individual cut? OCD much? I have had individual volume controls and they are a real pain. I removed the balance control from one of my preamps recently as I could not remember using having used that feature in 30 years or so. Another has electronic balance on the remote and I forgot about it for years. My current pre has that also; I have never used it.
They certainly make the presentation of space more correct.
I don't often use them for each individual cut unless something is very wrong but always do for each recording. And, yes, especially for analog recordings or those digital transfers that tried to preserve as much of the original recording as possible including noise and unbalanced channels.
Thanks Charles. It saved me $64,823.87. I had Circuit City mod my pre before going out of business for $176.13.
For the 1st time, I play Springsteen not only in my car but home system. I just dial the volume controls until it sound like a 192kHz/24bits download.
Basically I can dial in any sound I like, SET, OTL, Horn, SS ... whatever the mood at the moment just by playing with the DUAL volume controls. Sweet!!
I prefer single volume control on preamp + left and right gain controls on the power amp. Preamps with L + R level controls can be hard to match channel levels if they are not stepped and accurate. As a test, try matching (continuously variable) L & R pots by ear with music, measuring the results with test tones and posting your results.
That's great if you're listening to mono recordings, but how do you know where to set the relative balances if the channels are different? Maybe some of the sounds are supposed to be off center. It would be hard to set stereo recordings by ear until you have spent quite a bit of time listenign to the recording. By then you've spent too much time obsessing and too little time enjoying.
Two volume controls would always be better than one and a balance pot. It is however a bit more fiddly to adjust the levels. Here is a trick I saw Steve McCormack demonstrate at a High Fi show: He set up a preamp with the two volume pots connected with a friction string system like on an old school tuner. You can let them turn together while just moving one, or adjust them seperately if needed. I'm thinking "why doesn't everybody do that"
Yes Rrog & Charles1dad, it's unfortunate CC is out of business. Last week I had Radio Shack modded my 7.1 HT processor with 7 volume controls. So far all I can say is WOW!!! ... and not broken in yet. I was told it takes ~10000 hours for a thorough break in.
I like to adjust the volume between tracks and my sitting position from the processor is ~16' so get plenty of exercise. Only problem is it takes ~7 hours to play a disc because I usually play the same track ~10 times before getting the correct volume but well well worth the hassle. After all, I'm a TRUE audiophile.
Knghifi, You must really know what you're doing. Anyone else have an experienc they would like to share, possibly with 901s? 901s have virtually no box to resonate, no crossover, all drivers with the same voice and EQ to dial the system in to your room instead of room treatment. Direct/reflecting like MBL, Martin Logan, Magnepan, Mirage, Quad, etc.
Dual volume controls are not stupid, in fact they're highly effective. I first had them on a Superphon preamplifier from PS Audio back in the 80s. An incredible piece of equipment by any measure. They were however; a hassle. I had to adjust them for every piece of music that I listened to. The upshot was that separation and depth perspective were among the best I've had in my various systems regardless of price. Takes your picks............ personally and at this time later in my life, I'd trade the convenience of a remote with volume and balance for the extra enhancement.
It's bad enough giving up remote control.
Stepped attenuators are as far as I'll go.
I'm willing to give up laziness to a point.
I do remember noticing a long time ago that one channel (probably the right) was louder or had more info but I believe it was done intentionally, or so I was told. The brain does adjust.
I had a popular preamp with two individual stepped attenuators with steps so far apart in volume they couldn't possibly used for any type of balance control and just a nuisance. They must be some sort of profit maker for the manufacture who naturally claims a sonic superiority with them.
There are other more sensible ways to attenuate dual mono. My family hated them, in a few short months I hated them. Mine actually wore out after a few short years.
I have no balance controls on my preamp (although I love my remote) and rarely miss 'em. Ever notice how much things change when you turn your head? I was using a test CD once and noticed some test tones REALLY change when you turn your head a little...I do find test tones are hard to dance to though. Also...moving my ass (and the rest of myself) a few inches to the left or right obviates balance issues and can help you get closer to people.
If someone says yes, there will always be those who will say no or it depends. However, it appears that people who are not too lazy and have good hearing say yes in this case. By the way, Redgum has now an option of single volume control, but they warn on their website that it will sound a little worse.
Also, moving the listening position left or right will not always help and can actually cause even more soundstage distortion. Depends on room and recording, I experimented with the amp I had before with single control.
The point is that there is no way around. At least none that I can see.
I now sit perfectly still so as not to distort the soundstage. In fact, I've found that if I sit on spikes directly from my butt into a hard wooden chair, although extremely painful, helps curb the resonance my body creates from my heartbeat, breathing, sighing at the beauty of reproduced music, and otherwise non audiophile writhing around. The used medical head brace I found in a hospital dumpster also works wonders in keeping the imaging stable...that Mahler string section seems glued in place now...
I can certainly understand the appeal from an engineering point (no stereo pot tracks perfectly throughout its range unless it's a stepped attenuator w/ individual resistors carefully matched), but I have too much OCD to keep leaving the sweet spot chair to walk up to the preamp and tweak the dials hoping the soundstage and centerfill are fine once I return...I'd never get any listening done!
There's more to enjoying reproduced music than getting the best possible sound. If you end up missing whole sections of songs because you are jumping up and down to adjust volume and balance, it will be very difficult to enjoy the experience. I find that I often reduce the volume as I listen to music, not sure why, if my tubes are warming up and it is actually getting louder, or (I suspect the real case)I am relaxing into the music and can focus on it more as time goes on. I also find some discs have tracks recorded at different volumes, and like to adjust accordingly, which is so much more enjoyable with a remote. My analog rig does not have a remote, and I find myself listening at volumes that are not ideal, because I don't want to interupt the music by running up and adjusting the volume. Remote control is a real advance in music enjoyment, as important as any advance in sound reproduction. "Lazy" for not wanting to interrupt the performance? Words of someone who really doesn't get it.