Life without a remote

I am considering a pre-amp that has no remote. As I sit here listening to music, I have adjusted the volume multiple times in just the last few minutes. I adjust so I can pretend I'm listening to my wife when she tries to talk to me. I adjust for different songs. I adjust in the middle of a song. I tweak to get just the right level from my listening spot.

So for those of you that don't have a remote or don't use one - how do you do it? Is there an adjustment period? Is listening more enjoyable because you can't easily play with the volume?
I've got an Ayre K1x preamp which has a remote for power on/off and volume, but not source select. It is annoying even tho it is just once every so often. Not having volume remote would be a non-starter for me.
If you ditch the remote, prepare to be frustrated.

Further, has anyone found a consistent performance superiority with all non-remote preamps or integrateds? i.e. every amplification scheme without a remote has consistently performed better than all with remote?

I have not found that to be the case. Ergo, the remote is not lethal to ultimate acoustic performance or listening enjoyment.

Application: It's back to the classic, "Every piece has it's own benefits, limitations, and unique sound, which if placed into a system will ideally perform in perfect conformity with its capabilities."

OR, my alternate answer:

You won't die; it'll just feel like it. ;)
It can no longer be done. We have evolved too far beyond the caveman days of no remote.
I've never had a remote volume control in my system, so perhaps this is why I don't find this an issue. Then again, I live with vinyl as my primary source, so...
It can no longer be done. We have evolved too far beyond the caveman days of no remote.
Have the rack next to the listening position. All of the pre's that I've had(Yamaha C-2, Sumo Athena, Blue Circle BC3/BC3000 and Hovland HP100)have all been manual. The Blue Circle's are dual-mono with two volume controls to add to "salt-to-the-wound".
You got used to getting older and not "hitting one out the ballpark" every night. You'll adapt.
NO REMOTE? The end of Civilization as we know it!
No remote sounds better if a/b'd in a true state of the art preamp. I thought I could not live without it, bit now realize I can and do. Not an issue at all as my current, non-remote preamp, is heads and shoulders beyond any other pre I have owned and the music is all that matters.
I don't use a remote. I have no problem with not having one.

However, after reading the OP's original post, it does not appear he is a candidate for going without one.
I prefer none - I get too nervous and distracted with a remote in the hand...

It's kind of calming not to have one.
I can't live without a remote.
Bleah, you all are heathen :-P I go to work every day and then come home and read Audiogon all night so that I can improve my system. Getting up to change the volume is a small sacrifice by comparison!

(But yes I am a closet couch potato too)
I trained my dog to adjust the volume. 2 doggie treats for up 1 for dowm.
Faziod, smart dog. Is that why he ate the remote?
You can get over it ! It's just a habit .
I have not had one for a couple of years now .

Good luck .
I've been living without a remote for the past couple of years. A couple of months ago I started using my IPhone to control a Mac server. Who would have guessed the biggest leap in musical enjoyment would come in the form of a phone. I can look at my whole cd collection (including album art), create play list, have play list created for me, buy songs/albums off the internet, research artists at allmusic, AND control volume. I feel like I went from one extreme to another with no downside.

The Iphone also has the capability to control the shock collar on my dog. Now, if I could just get my wife to wear it. Anybody know a creative jeweler?
Rockvirgo, Yup remote and the Cat.
To me, the proper listening level is critical. The most satisfying sound can be a surprisingly small band, so tiny increments of change are helpful. It would take a lot of getting up and down, with a lot of uncertainty because it would be hard to make an A-B comparison. Remote control of volume is VERY helpful. Balance control by remote is also useful.

Properly implemented, there is no reason remote control necessarily degrades sound. There is some cost involved in implementing remote control, so, to the extent it means diverting part of the budget, in that sense, it can degrade the quality of a particular component; I personally don't understand why cost-is-no-object designs would not include remote control.
My Remote consists of a Yard Stick [ 4' ] . From my listening position I am able to adjust the Volume and Balance Knobs on my VTL Ultimate Pre . I find having a Remote promotes constant fiddling and less enjoyment .
I tend to listen to various program material in succession (PC audio), and would not want to go without a remote in that each does need to be adjusted according to content and my preference. Without a remote, why, I'd have to get up each time the song changed. That would me expending precious energy I could be using on my couch potato tan. Why I've become so attached to it that I carry it around everywhere with me now like a security blanket. Occasionally I'll try to adjust the volume of my wife with it, but I guess I haven't got the right code for her. I don't recommend trying that by the way...if you do, be subtle about it..don't point the damn thing at her as that's a dead giveaway. Start out with the remote in your pocket and see if that works. Once I went out and forgot my remote and didn't realize it till I was far from home. Have you seen that Michael Douglas film, "Falling Down"? Well the scenario was not unlike that. Friends don't let friends go remoteless. Oh, and be sure to have a good stock of AA's in your fridge.
My system is a little bit more modern than the rest? Mine is controlled by voice.
"Hey honey would you lower the stereo"
At one point I had remotes for the amp, pre, CDP, curtains, fan & lights, so I could control almost every aspect of the listening sessions. I gained over 300 lbs.

Now there are no remotes & simply turn on the system loud enough so I can hear while I do the dishes.

I too found the great desire to have a remote, too much to avoid in my last round of upgrades a few years ago. (For twenty years I had lived without one with my Counterpoint and ARC preamps.) This is why I went for the Ayre K-1xe, as its remote control is supposedly the best around as it can not affect the sound due to its design, (which is really complicated, and somewhat of a Rube Goldberg design, to be honest).

Hey Schipo, does that remote control unit of yours also get your beer when necessary? Lucky man if so!
Unless you can place the preamp where it can be adjusted from your listening position, you will ultimately become dissatisfied since you are already accustomed to a remote.

My secondary system and my back-up preamp do not have remote control and I can live without it for the short term. I listen to my main system around 2-3 hours per day and enjoy the ability to make volume adjustments. When I use the back-up preamp, I find it distracting to get up to make minor volume adjustments. When I purchased the preamp, the lack of remote wasn't a deal breaker since I liked the sound and build quality for the dollars.

Given the choice between a stepped remote volume control and a continuous non remote volume control, I would choose to forego the remote. I hate stepped volume controls. I always find one step too loud and the next too soft.

Good luck on your quest.
You need to start drinking wine,time it so that when you need to adjust the volume your glass also needs topping up.Works for me.
Bent Audio has a stepped attenuator remote so you can add remote volume capabilities. I have two preamps with his attenuator remotes. Problem solved. Check it out
Thanks for all your responses. As in many cases here on audiogon there are many pro and con opinions and it is difficult to discern to which side to lean. I guess if you believe that the sonic improvement outweighs the get off the couch cost it is worth it. A tough call indeed.
RhIjazz raises a good point about some stepped attenuators (whether remotely controlled or not). I agree that ones with too few steps are not useful because the ideal volume almost always lies between steps. Those with 2 db steps are particularly annoying (one of my objections to transformer passives which necessarily are limited in the number of available steps).

But stepped attenuators, like those in BAT, Boulder, Levinson, VTL, etc. linestages, have enough finely graded steps to avoid these concerns. Some of these have steps that seem unnecessarily small (my Levinson No. 32 has .1 db steps), but, the small steps are more important for setting channel balance than volume. I have found that a .2 db change in channel balance is clearly audible, though a 1 db step in volume when playing music, is hard to hear. That is probably the reason for having such small increments in the better units with stepped volume controls.
For years (until we got our remote system running) I kept the preamp 3 feet from my listening chair. I still do- the interconnects are 30 feet long, but the preamp can drive 100 feet no problem. So I put the preamp where I wanted, unfettered by any dictates of the cables, sonic or otherwise.
I somehow managed to live for 40 years w/o a remote for my 2-channel, however, after using one for the last 8 years I now feel it's a neccessary evil if you will. I also find that I use it quite a bit as I do not have a dedicated listening room. Since family members come in and out, as do phone calls, a volume control and/or mute is very convienient. I'm sure I could just turn the volume down and listen all the time at background music levels, but what's the fun of that?

I also find a remote balance control and phase shift helpful in getting the most out of the music. Since many recordings are recorded out of absolute polarity, I find it easier to hear the difference when switching instantaneously from the listening position.

I did consider buying a preamp w/o remote a few months ago too, but a friend of mine just went through it, and I realized that I would probably be just like him, and tire of no remote and re-sell the preamp in a month or two. I'm starting to lose the desire to buy equipment that I just re-sell again. I'm looking for something that will last for a few years, and for me, that includes a remote.

The fact that you are even asking this question would suggest to me that you are not a candidate as someone who could live long term w/o a remote.

I've lived without a remote for years. Recently trained my cat to work the preamp and the cd....she's having a bit of a problem with the turntable although MUCH better than my wife.Playing records I mean.
Good for the cat! People underestimate these discreet animals. There is much they know and can share if given a chance, even though the lack of thumbs makes them poor hitchhikers.

30 posts on this passionate subject... I don't feel the lack of a remote volume control on either of my systems. I am just learning to use the "Play" button on the CD transport. These two steps in the learning curve may have some influence on my listening habits. For example, I tend to play the whole CD.
No, there is no life without a remote. Best you get an outboard unit made by Chase Technologies. Less then $100 and will be worth the test to see if it degrades the sound without it. The chase unit can adjust balance also, something not found in many components today. Once you find it does not degrade the sound, you will wonder how a $100 unit can sound so good in front of mega bucks of amps. I also have some vintage BSR equalizers that do the same trick. They don't sound as good as the Chase unit. Still have the old, old AR unit, which has an 8 bit processor. Sounds terrible.
After contemplating this topic for hours, I believe life is not worth living without a remote, and a good one at that.
While I would love to have a remote (being disabled has it problems) I dont have one for 2 channel but once you get to know your system its not that big of deal, being in a dedicated space where you can hide out makes it easier too.
My Sonic Frontiers went bad and I am in need of new unit so in time when money gets better....funny right?....I will hopefully find one that fits my needs plus offers a remote but that wont be a deal breaker.
I use and insist on remotes for everything else but for music it seema to fit that you sit and just listen to entire disc without messing with it.
For 20 years I never had a remote but since getting several approx 2 years ago I hardly ever use because I forget I have one. When I do use it I like it. I still get exercise doing 12oz curls though (Hmmm wonder if thats why I forget I have them now?!?!?).
About 14 years ago, I was in a local store listening to some ML gear with Watt3/2 Puppies. The co-owner gave me the remote and left. I inadvertantly hit something that had the volume ramping up quickly. The owner dove for the amp power switch and my heart was laying beside me on the floor. Don't need no remote...except for the TV.
Remotes are for armchair audiophiles.
After some thought, my $.02

Getting the right total system needs no remote.

Some system needs up/down sound. If you get it right, one sound is all you need for most stuff. It sounds 'right'. Need more, turn it up. Most of the time I doubt I move it more than 15-20%.

Best with tubes and analogue source. It's all there. Turning it up with some system doesn't make it better or 'more'. My humble opinion. Soft sound with soul can be really cool.


Well the last couple of days I have been experimenting to find exactly what life would be without a remote. It was more difficult at first as I would automatically turn for the remote much more often than I realized. After I got used to not having a volume control at my side I became much more attentive when setting the sound level when I dropped the needle. Of particular note I found that during quiet passages I wanted to really turn up the volume only to turn it down when the music got loud again. As has been pointed out, I was effectively defeating part of what was being conveyed.

I believe the toughest part would be dealing with outside factors (family members wanting to say something, phone ringing, etc.).

Thanks again for all of the interesting input.
Life without a remote.. akin to leaving home without cellphone nowadays. While you can certainly 'adjust' to live without it, why deprive from the comfort and convenience of having one?
why deprive from the comfort and convenience of having one?
Bvdiman (Answers)
I recently had a highly regarded, world class preamp in my system to compare with my remote-less Lamm preamp. I much preferred the sound of the Lamm to the other preamp that came with a very convenient remote. So, I chose sound over convenience.
I wouldn't let a remote be the deciding factor in choosing a pre-amp, but they are awfully convenient. I listen to a lot of internet radio and there are wild volume differences between every station. If i only listed to vinyl or CD's the remote wouldn't be so important, but still nice to have.
I live without a remote.

Would I live with one? sure, but my integrated doesn't have that option. The sound is more important so I trade off the remote.

I am very skeptical about claims that a remote 'degrades' sound.
Just to be clear, my preference for the sound of the Lamm preamp without remote had nothing to do with the concept remote circuitry degrading the sound of the other preamp. Other factors were at play, IMO.
Well,it's good exercise. Also, it'll give you a good excuse for not listening to your wife when she's not within your line of sight, namely not hearing her in the first place.
There is no life without a good remote. I am trying to write a Marcro right now that will operate my turntable, it could take a while.
Yes, I too would choose sound quality over convenience when cornered. Once did forgo the convenience of my remote controllable REF3 for one without based solely on sound. However, given the choice (in this world full of it), will relentlessly search till I get both.
Once did forgo the convenience of my remote controllable REF3 for one without based solely on sound.
Bvdiman (Answers)
Good to see I wasn't the only one.