My Audioprism Mantissa preamp volume controls can be set for 1.5db steps...exactly what I do when I sit off center, which is very often because I'm on the computer a lot!
In the good old days preamps had a balance control...but I really don't think that making one speaker play louder than the other will help. Both ears hear both speakers (or are supposed to).
I would suggest correcting the problem where it lies, in your ears. My wife recently got hearing aids, and, as an electrical engineer and audiophile, I was quite impressed with the technology. The audioligist we used ran a bunch of tests including what is basically a frequency response test of the ear. Then the hearing aid frequency response is adjusted to compensate. Various other hearing defects can also be compensated. Of course it is all done with downloaded software. Not cheap...but hey we are audiophiles.
A customer of mine some years ago, switched to the MAC preamp because of a slight hearing loss in one ear. He noted that the balance control tracking of the MAC was reputed to be VERY good, and after auditioning, very much on target, in his opinion. He switched to it and was eccstatic with the results. Back was his beloved center image.
Eldartford makes a great point--there are terrific hearing assist products out there with today's technology.
You may try the balance control first--long term think about Eldartford's suggestion--a great one.
As you apppear to not have a balance control, (neither do I for that matter), there are a couple of possible solutions to your problem that I have read about.
(Luckily for me, I have not had to implement these solutions, as my hearing is still pretty good. Knock on wood!!)
One of the simplist solutions is to alter your listening position to one side or the other. Merely sitting a few inches to one side or the other, can shift the image quite a bit. Another is to alter the position of the speakers. Moving them or altering the toe-in might help as well.
Good Luck in your search.
PS I have heard from some other audiophiles that as good as the S.O.T. A. hearing aids have become, they are still not nearly as good as our hearing, or our stereo equipment. (However, I wish you luck, should you go that route.)
I have a similar problem with my hearing as I have "Eustacian tube Derficiency"so my Dr tells me. Basically my ears will block up as if I were going up or down in an airplane but just by themselves. I could drive my car to the store a block away, no hills, and my ears particularuily my right ear gets blocked. This plagued me for many years never being able to get a good central image and in fact the way my eatrs constantly changed due to pressure I had difficulty placing my speakers. 3 years ago while listening to music and only hearing sound mostly from thwe left I decided to try and pinch my nose and lightly blow and after 25 or so years of dismay I finally figured it out. All I have to do is when my ears are blocked is equalise them and sometimes this can be done by just opening your ears with Jaw movemnts. That actually works most of the time. Sometimes I'll be listening to music and it will sound good but then I may pinch and lightly blow and the music opens up and becomes louder and clearer and sounds a whole hell of a lot better. It wows me every time I forget and am listening and then realise I should equalise and it blows me away still each time this happens. '
I don't know what the cause of your hearing problem is but it could be simply just a matter of equalising your ears when the center image is off. If you have permanent hearing loss in one ear you should play with speaker placement to get the right imaging. It may not sound right to others but if it sounds good to you that's what matters. If your hearing difference between your ears is constant and it is not an equalisation problem then arrange your speakers to fit your hearing.
Yes, it was a McIntosh preamp.
This particular customer, a surgeon, was well versed on the internal parts used by McIntosh. His eval was that it was a very high quality control. As I listened to it, I agreed that it did track very well for such a device, something not all do well.(Actually not many high end pieces, including my own company's products, even have a balance control).
He bought the Mac preamp and was VERY pleased, as it really solved his problem.
Having visited McIntosh about that same time for McMasters factory training, I too was impressed (still am) with their overall quality contol and parts used.Plus they were, and I am sure, still are very nice folks.
I hope this helps in some small way.
I suggest that you have a audiologic exam.
Each hearing loss is different and an audiogram (which looks just like a frequncey responce chart) will tell you in which ear and at which frequencies you need correction.
In my case, the right ear is down 20db at 3000hz, but near normal at 2000hz and 4500hz. This kind of wipes out the violins on the right side.
The good news is that your brain can adjust. In my case after about a year it is much less noticeable.
I also find that sitting slightly to the right and setting the balance right +1.0 helps.
Have you had your ears tested?
In fact I have, and found out that my left is down only 2-3 dB @2,000 Hz. The audiologist told me she found it incredible that I could even detect that amount. I am, however, convinced that the loss is more than that, as the test did not seem all that advanced/thorough and by the fact that I also have difficulty catching words when people are on my left side. Might have to go to someone else.
Bojack I am glad to learn that your loss is 2-3db.
I took a look at my audiogram and I'm down 35db over a very limited range, in one ear. I describe my loss as annoying, not disabling. I needed the test to really be sure. Having your ears tested again is a good idea, if you are concerned. Get a copy of the report and compare it to the one you have for confirmation. I had several when I first had a problem and annually since, and they are very consistant.
Based only on my own experience, I think you will have to look elsewhere for your imaging problem. Consider yourself lucky.
Here is a link to an online hearing test that is very effective. I was a little depressed to see I have a mild hearing loss in frequencies above 6khz in my right ear(10 - 20 db). I am not sure if it is causing my center image to be off to the right or not.
However it made me feel a little better that there are other people on here with the same problem.
I am down significantly in midband in left ear. With digital or analog volume control, I raise left channel. Without, I shift position and speakers if I have to get stable center image.
I use Frank Sinatra All of Me and Ole' Black Magic from Platinum Collection to set levels. These two tracks have served me well for centering image, and Frank seems to sing Dead Center on both with pieces of the band behind him (esp on All of Me).
I also use noise generators to validate.
It might be useful for us if we can recommend songs with good production values and staging where a powerful male or female vocalist is dead center. In many songs (Even on Platinum Collection with Frank), singer is slightly left or right, not always dead center.