Is preamp remote volume a deal breaker for you?

I've been looking for a quality active tube preamp with remote volume control. Most high quality tube preamps that are reasonably priced (ie, under $4000) do not come with remote volume. Those that do use the cheap motorized Alps pot (I've had bad experience with Alps), probably because it's cheap and widely available. I've seen some very expensive preamps us this pot, unfortunately. The two very high quality preamps I've read about are the SAS Labs 11A, Don Allens preamp, and Atma-sphere M3, but the designers refuses to implement remote because they believe the sound will suffer. Atma-sphere uses a huge hand assembled remote volume only for there expensive MP1. A preamp without remote is a deal breaker for me. How about you?
Why don't you just buy a BAT VK31SE?
There's one listed today for $2600.00.
This piece is quite a value, used.....
Only if it is stepped.
Remote? no. I do not care about a remote for the preamp due to my rack location directly at hand to my left.
Actually two of the three preamps I own have remotes, but i do not use them.
I used to have my stuff further away, and then a remote was nice. Now, I wonder why i did not think off this before.
I can adjust it perfectly with a slight lean over to twirl the knob. I can also reload the Cd changers from the listening position. Very easy, lasy as can be and great all around.
Look at the VAC Renaissance that is presently available here for sale. I am not sure which volume pot Kevin Hayes choose to use but it will be top quality. This unit may fit what you are looking for.
As an amputee, yes. As an audiophile, no.
I owned Aesthetix Io and Callisto for nearly a decade before Jim perfected the remote. I was happy the whole time, you get accustomed to it either way.

I suggest you concentrate on sound quality and if the preamp has remote, that's great.
I use the MP3 and do not miss the remote at all.
The volume control stays at one spot most of the time.
$4,000 will get you a nicely optioned second hand MP3.
Maybe an early MP1 if you can spend a little bit more. ( That's my next move )
I am with you on a desire for a remote, due to the dog-on-lap factor.

IIRC, I think I saw somewhere that Ralph at Atma is working on a remote for his less expensive pre. Might want to give him a call and ask. Or maybe he will pop in here.
A remote control is a nice convenience no doubt.The maker of my linestage believes that to reach the very highest level of sound quality you should avoid them(I don`t really know). To his credit this unit`s sound is stunning and oh so pure. I`m getting along without a remote just fine.
For many years I was completely a purist, which meant definitely no remote. Now I can't do without one in my main system, mostly because it doubles as a 2-channel quasi-home theater. In fact, I've slid all the way down the slippery slope and demand remote input switching! How I've fallen! But we all make compromises in our systems and that's one I can live with. BTW, the Aesthetic Calypso Signature is excellent with a full-feature remote (with inputs!) and can be had for around your price.
A remote was a deal-killer for me when I was on the hunt for a pre-amp. I had to have one. My listening sessions are 2-3 hours long and I am behind a laptop for the duration. I don't want to get up constantly to adjust volume and change CDs.
I also was not anywhere near the price point of the above mentioned units. In my range (below $1400), I think most pre-amps have remotes.
I have a friend that runs GAS gear and he really misses having a remote. He connects to the variable outputs of his Sony ES changer because of this. For more critical listening, he goes through the GAS pre-amp. He's told me his next pre-amp will have a remote.
Yes it is a deal breaker, I would never own a pre without a remote.
Looks like about half of you have to have a remote. I'm like Realreno, all my music is now on computer server, so you can switch between CDs on the fly. Problem is the recording levels between CDs can be drastic. It's too distracting for me to change the volume level between songs from different CDs and sometimes within the same song when dynamic swings can be very large. Speaking to designers, the volume attenuator seems to be one of the most important components of a preamp, and there just ain't any good commercially available remote volume controls. That's why some designer build their own remotes, but at a significant cost increase. I believe the remote control option on the Atma-sphere MP1 is close to $1000.
While a remote is indeed a nice convenience, I would not sacrafice sound quality for it. I auditioned a lot of preamps and the ones I really liked were the ones by Shindo. All come without a remote and I'm okay with my choice. So no, it's not a deal breaker for me. For 2 channel I'm after the absolute best fidelity I can get so the price I have to pay is getting up to flip records and adjust volume. I'm also getting to be an old fart (45+)so getting off my lazy ass as much as possible is probably better for me anyway as well.
Definitely. Aesthetix & VTL have remotes.
I agree the Alps is crap. I had it on a $10k preamp and it just made the whole thing suck. The DACT on my TEAD sounds great. I actually like setting volume then leaving it alone for a given listening circumstance. If I want quiet I just pause or stop my source with its remote. I owned an MP3 with caddock resistors and the VC was very nice there too. The Bent guy has made some motor drives for remote volume on Goldpoint and DACT that you might retrofit if you had room. I see Audio Horizons is now offering a discrete resistor (no remote) volume control as an option on the 2.3. Lamm L2 Reference uses 2 TDK's.
Sibelius - 45 is not old!!!
I used to feel that a preamp had to have a remote if only for the convenience. Then I heard my first Shindo preamp and now could not care less about the lack of a remote.
No remote, no preamp. Must have a remote, I don't like getting up frequently to adjust the volume as I change the volume depending on the song. On exception would be if I could bring the preamp next to my listening chair but that is not possible so a remote is a must. Thor TA1000 MkII, Joule LA100 MKIII and BAT 5i.
No remote. Don't care. Another solution is to use long interconnects and put the pre next to your chair...
deHavilland has a remote stepped attenuator for their pre-amps. I've been using their products for years and am extremely happy with them.

Feel free to send me an e mail and I can tell you more about it.
Deal breaker.
For me it is a deal breaker. When I found the linestage I liked, I got the designer to add a resistor ladder type volume control that is switched by relay (components can be bought and added by a designer who knows what he is doing).

A well implemented remotely controlled volume/balance setup can be just as good sonically as manual volume control. The designer/builder has to be committed to so doing.
deal breaker. i'd have to have a remote. i change volume often based on what song is playing.
After 10 years of static, yes. I have a c-j PF2 (Alps pot) that doesn't have a remote. I couldn't afford the best model with one at the time. I didn't have a remote before, so how could I miss something I never had. That was fine for years until I realized that static electricity sent loud pops through my system when the humidity was low in winter. I'd have to ground myself by touching the equipment rack before adjusting the volume/inputs on the preamp.

After that, when I upgraded, I didn't look at preamps without remotes. Fortunately, I had the budget to get a preamp with remote and fully appreciate the volume/mute/phono cartridge loading benefits (McIntosh C500T). I won't go back.

conrad-johnson uses resistor ladder attenuators with relays (not pots and motors) on their tube preamps. You might look at their premier 17LS or newer units as a option, especially the used market.

Relax, have a Central Waters Illumination IPA and listen to some Dire Straits...
Deal-breaker. My last three line stages have had remotes (CJ Premier 14, Premier 17LS2, and now Aesthetix Calypso), and I wouldn't be without one. I strongly recommend the Calypso.
Nope. Best audio quality was my goal when shopping. If that included a remote, then great. If not, then I didn't care. Ended up with one which does not have a remote control and I've adjusted to it just fine. Have had it for years. I spin CDs, one at a time, so I need to get up to swap in a new CD anyway. And quickly was able to judge how loud standing at system was proper volume at seat. Usually get it right so no problem.
If best audio quality is the goal, then a remote is very helpful. The remote should be capable of making very small adjustments in left/right channel balance. These small adjustments can snap the soundstage into better focus and can only be judged from the listening position. Very few remotes have this function. It is probably very costly to properly implement.
Cary SLP05 is the ticket
Check out Cayin, most of their tube amps have a remote. I have the 100 and I am very pleased.
I hope designers who don't have a remote in their current preamp consider spending the extra time designing or implementing a remote that works to their satisfaction -- but no motorized Alps pot please! I didn't realize such for a large percent of audiophiles a remote was a deal breaker. Manufacturers may be losing more than half their business because a lack of a remote.
sure is. no deal!
Count me in as lazy. No remote, no pre-amp. Take a look at the ARC LS26 I see them listed here all the time for less than 4K. If you want a more tube sound look at the ModWright stuff a friend of mine just got his second one and he loves them. But again no get out of my chair??
Absolutely. A remote mute button is essential.
Yes, it is a deal breaker for me too.
I REALLY want a remote, (if only for volume and muting).
I too was concerned about the sonic affect to the sound when I went shopping for my last preamp.
That was a major reason I bought the Ayre K-1xe, as the remote was designed to have no affect on the sound.

My two cents worth anyway.
absoultely a deal breaker. I have a laptop as my source and I can switch cds/songs very easily. Becuase different recordings have different volume levels, I need to adjust often. I also have my 2 channel set up hooked into tv so I need input select too. For example, I may be watching a football game but have music on. If I feel the need to here the comentary or something, I need to change inputs. Remotes are great, and I do not believe it has to compromise sound quality. I think there is plenty of preamps that sound great with remotes.
best audio quality doesn't equate with "not having a remote"

with the advent of the music server and using playlists--remote is critical logistically imo. if you play vinyl only, you probably don't care one bit.
Preamp remote and source remote are two different things.

Not only do I eschew remotes, my sources and preamps (both are single input/output so on occasion I'm switching cables) are in a totally separate room than my amp and speakers. Getting up is not a bother. I tend to listen to my CDs/LPs all the way through. Ultimately I'm going to have to get up and flip an LP, reload a tape, or change a CD at some point. I know my media and room well enough that I can set the volume instantly.

In general volume control switches and implementing remote controls are two of the weakest points in preamp design. Designers have to make critical decisions to meet certain price points. The volume switch and how the remote function are designed/implemented are a couple of them. Good switches cost money (heck even bad ones do these days). The work involved in designing/implementing a remote function that doesn't negatively impact the sound, and all but the very best (translated = most expensive) do, involves time and money (even if you are using some off the shelf product like Bent) bumping costs up even more. Some designers cannot justify those costs.

It becomes a trade off for most consumers too. What features/functions do we prioritize in a preamp design? What are we willing to give up to get something we want.
Here's my preamp history:
Onkyo P304
Adcom GFP 565
Melos SHA 1
Rowland Consonance
Adcom GFP 750
Pass Aleph P w/remote
Pass X1
Pass XP-10

Starting with the Rowland, I've had a remote.
Since then, I don't audition anything without a remote.
Why would I? The XP-10 sounds better than anything I've had in my system, ever.
I said the same thing about my X1, until I heard the XP-10.
My preamp is once again the premier component in my system.
If I didn't have a remote I'd hear even less of what people (i.e. girlfriend) attempt to say to me when I'm listening to my stereo. I've been to the Alps, and I'm staying.
I'm with Albert Porter. Sound quality first, convenience second.
I think having remote control is almost essential for sound quality reasons. The ideal volume setting changes from recording to recording, and even from track to track, and often lies in a surprisingly tight range. Finding that volume is next to impossible without remote volume control. The ideal channel balance is easier to find without a remote, but, even that task is easier with remote. I frequently make small channel balance adjustments, which are very easy to do with a remote.

I also don't like ANY control that don't allow for small incremental change. For setting balance, one really needs steps as small as .5 db or smaller. One cannot reliably hear .5 db as a change in absolute volume, but that small a change in one channel can easily be heard as a change in balance.
Can't answer the question without hearing the unit with vs the unit without. Once you hear you will know and the rest of these opinions really won't matter. If in fact a remote controlled unit sounds as good as the best non-remote based unit, then buy the one with remote.

For me, my non-remote unit is so vastly superior to any pre around $4000 that I simply cannot live without the music it makes.I so want a remote, but the music I hear engages me so much I really don't care anymore. If you were to ask me this deal breaker question before owning my current non-remote unit, I would quickly claim- deal breaker! After my experience I can no longer say deal breaker. Life experiences change opinions and this question is no exception. If a sound system that totally engages you is the goal, then you're bound to change your mind based on experience.
Remotes have never been a deal breaker for me.... until I found a few different nice sounding pre's with a remote...
Deal has been broken
07-25-11: Peterayer
I'm with Albert Porter. Sound quality first, convenience second.
No kidding. You are not going to buy a preamp if it sounds like crap with or without a remote. if a remote is important to you, probably have to fork out more $$ but I BELIEVE you can find one that meets your standards.

I don't understand if the remote is designed outside of the signal path ... basically a motor turning the volume knob, how is it inferior to an unit without a remote?
No pre remote so I use CDP remote PAUSE in place of remote pre mute button. I don't want the music to proceed without hearing it anyway. So PAUSE works better for me than a mute button.
In a word...yes
Remote is a big plus but not quite a deal breaker for me. For the last 20 years, my stero has never been without remote (Krell KRC2 pre, Krell integrated, ARC Ref3, ASR integrated) but recently I switched to all Lamm system with Lamm 2L Reference. I suppose I miss remote control quite a bit but not that badly. The improvement in sound over what I had last certainly was well worth the annoyance. If I come across a remote pre that at least sounds as good as Lamm pre in an all Lamm system, I certainly would be tempted to switch if my budget would allow but I certainly would not accept a remote pre that has inferior sound.
I have a well designed preamp with remote that sounds great...someday I'll replace it with a VERY expensive preamp and at that time I also plan to pay somebody to sit next to it turning it up and down for me at my whim, thus creating a "win win".
My preamp is 3 feet from my listening chair. It can run really long cables (I have 30 feet) without any problem so even though I have a remote in the preamp (it uses a custom built switch for the volume control, which is driven by a motor) I never use it. Compromising the sound on account of a remote feature has never struck me as a good idea- the function of the stereo, IMO, is to sound as close to real music as possible and promote the enjoyment of music on that account.

Its my opinion that the ability to drive long cables is far more convenient than a remote- the entire front end of the system- turntable, CDP and tuner is 3 feet from my chair. I can see if it was all set up between the speakers it would be a pain in the rear. But with the ability to drive long cables also came the ability to obviate the artifact of the cable itself- so the length and cost of the cable has no bearing on the sound of the system. That's a pretty big plus!