Shindo Monbrison balance issue?


anyone experienced this with their Monbrison (or other Shindo preamps)?

When playing at low volume, the sound is biased towards one side but once the volume is turned up, the level seems to balance itself...... i discovered this when I was burning in my set at low volume and when vocals are played - the voice will "shift" from one side to center as the volume is increased!

I have swapped the interconnects (left -right) going into and then out of the Monbrison to check if source or power amp could be the problem but the results seem to confirm that it is the Monbrison.

Another issue that I encountered accidentally was when playing cd and switching the input selector to other inputs, I can hear the music albeit at very low levels throught the speakers!! is this normal?

aside from these two worrying discoveries, the Monbrison sounds great!

thanking you in advance for your feedback.

best regards
I have both the exact same experiences with my Vosne Romanee. The owners manual suggests you set the volume levels on your amp at the preamps 8:00 volume position. I don't have a shindo amp and there is no volume setting on my amp. But I don't listen at that low a volume setting so it's a non issue for me but I did inquire about it just like you. I do get very, very low volume cross talk from my tuner only I think. I belive it's just a characteristic of it's simple but extremely well executed circuitry. Again a non issue for me. I've shopped, owned and listened to a lot of preamps over the years. I wasn't looking for one when I first heard a Shindo. I've yet to hear anything better. My VR is a keeper for life unless I could ever afford to move up the Shindo preamp lineup.
thanks Jhardy for your feedback.

it's bothers me a bit as I do play at that low level occasionally when i leave it on for background music....

yes, I did set the vol dial at 8 o'clock and adjusted my amp's vol level to my normal listening level. did notice that the Monbrison's vol dial is quite sensitive and i hardly play above 9 o'clock but thats not an issue for me :)

anyone else with similar experience? thanks.
I had a Monbrison paired with several differnet amps and never had your described problem.

Did you buy your Monbrison new or used and from an individual or dealer? Someday I would like to get another Shindo pre but am concerned about how to go about getting a non-dealer unit serviced or retubed.
Almost all carbon-based volume potentiometers have problems in the very
low volume setting (7-8 o'clock). Ideally you want to have regular listening
volume in the 10-11 position, loud volume in the 2 o'clock position. If it is an
issue for you really should be talking to your dealer.

My Monbrison is pretty close but I had problems with several previous
preamps (Fi Y which has extreme gain and forced you to listen at 8-9). Also
most potentiometers I measured have severe channel imbalance at low
volumes. Here is a thread I started on Asylum about the Fi channel imbalance:

Channel imbalance and attenuators

There is a reason why so may manufactures use dual volume controls for
carbon based pots or use a resistor based ladder. The problem is I don't quite
like both of those approaches either; a dual volume would be a deal breaker
for me (e.g. Lamm preamps, Verdier preamp, several others).
Fudgeo you don't mention what type of amp you have? I have a Shindo amp as well and my dealer told me to have the amp's volume at the 12 O'clock position. As a result I have no issues with my Shindo Auriege's volume control.
I'm missing something here, why don't you ask your dealer?
Also, to Lokie, why couldn't you get a preamp serviced or retubed if you bought it second hand, I'm assuming that's what you meant by non-dealer?
I agree with Chashas1: ask your dealer, and if necessary pursue it with the distributor. It sounds most likely to be a volume pot issue, i.e. channel tracking issue. There shouldn't be more than a few tenths of a dB difference throughout the volume range, hopefully less, but if you can readily hear the difference it may be an order of magnitude higher, which is unacceptable. If you can measure the output voltage on each channel at various volume levels it may help your case.
thank you for all your responses. I wanted to find out from fellow owners first if this was peculiar to the Monbrison and will no doubt be pursuing this with my dealer.

i suspect that this "imbalance" at low level does occur in some systems and for most people it is not an issue but as I've mentioned earlier, it bothers me at i do periodically leave my system on at that level for background music. btw, i'm using an Airtight ATM300B and have tried playing with the attenuators at various positions without avail.

thanks again for your comments.
"why couldn't you get a preamp serviced or retubed if you bought it second hand, I'm assuming that's what you meant by non-dealer?"

I understand that the various tubes and parts in Shindo gear are rare and vintage. I get the impression (conjecture with no facts) that Tone Imports doesn't want to work with end users and if you don't have a dealer to work through, what would you do?
True, NOS tubes are used in Shindo. Yet tubes and service are available. Contact Tone Imports, and you'll find your impression incorrect.
Jonathan Halpern at Tone Imports has always been accessible and helpful to me. Call him.
Hope that sets your mind at ease, Lokie....did you have your eye on something to buy?
"did you have your eye on something to buy?"

Not anytime soon. Waiting on the economy to stabilize and am really happy with my current amp and pre right now. Just doing some tweaking with sources, cables, room etc..

Fudego: The Monbrison/ Air Tight combo seems like a great combo with allot of bang for the buck.Curious as to your current speakers?
Hi Lokie
I'm driving WLM La Scala floorstanders at the moment in a medium size room. sounds great even though still running the pre & amp :) i was also considering the Cortese but decided to go for a 300B amp as it gives me more opportunity to roll the tubes.....
I've heard lots of good things about the Cortese, but I like the transformers and power supplies on the Air Tight amps.

Interesting speaker company- the cabinets on one of their models looks exactly like a pair of Living Voice I used to own and imagine they are of the same ilk.
I have a Monbrison with Corton Charlemagne 80's. I too notice the balance to one side at low levels that disappears when the volume is raised. The cross talk is also there. I make sure there is only one source playing at a time. Small price to pay for the sound.
I have a Monbrison with Corton Charlemagne 80's. I too notice the balance to one side at low levels that disappears when the volume is raised. The cross talk is also there. I make sure there is only one source playing at a time. Small price to pay for the sound.
Hi Dbjain

yes, apparently this imbalance at low volume seems to be an inherent characteristic of Shindo preamps... i've learned to live with it. thankfully the problem disappears once you turn up the volume.... i was told that this is due to the type of vol pot that is used.....

With regards to the cross-talk, I've solved the problem by inserting shorting plugs into the unused rca sockets - i used Acoustic Revive's SIP 8F Short Plug and that eliminated the crosstalk completely - its now totally silent!
I just have to say, you guys are so lucky....I'd love to live with a Shindo for a while...must be glorious...
This effect is common on many volume pots, but it does not occur on the Masseto which uses a different pot. It is even between channels even at low volumes. There is also no cross talk between inputs.
I strictly would use a power amp with input volume potentiometers on a Shindo preamp. Since Shindo preamps usually have a very high output, combinations with power amps without volume potentiometers can be a mismatch since you don't come up in the range where the preamp potentiometer works in it's optimal range. Therefore all Shindo power amps have a input potentiometer, separately for each channel. You should set them that the preamp potentiometer is between 10-12 o´clock position.

The mentioned behaviour is not a Shindo specialty it's common on a lot of preamps which use old shool carbon potentiometers. The only thing is that most preamps have a lower output which might be less critical when pairing them with power amps without input controls.
Is there a preferred method if you have the option of adjusting both the source (dac) output and the power amp output? i read somewhere that the power amp output should be close to its max to get the best out of the power amp.....
thanks again for your feedback.
best regards
"i read somewhere that the power amp output should be close to its max to get the best out of the power amp....."

This is the method suggested to me by my Shindo dealer.
I have Shindo amps, and the Monbrison. The only imbalance
I experienced is due to an opening from my listening room
in to my dining room. This has been an issue long before the Monbrison, but some room adjustments/treatments have basically solved this issue. I run both my Corton monos wide open on their V. controls. If I still had my room issue, perhaps I would slightly lower one channel to correct it. I run the Monbrison between 9:00-10:00 for
most all listening. Hope this helps.
I recently bought a Vosne-Romanee whitch had the same balance problem so bad that I called my dealer and he is replacing the Pot for me. This problem did not exist in the Masseto. My question is why can't the pre amp design take into consideration this issue and set the gain where this would not be a problem at all. I would think that having a volume control on the amp is just one more device in the signal path that you don't want. I'm sure the shindo amps sound great but wouldn't they be better without the volume pot? Don't get me wrong I love my preamp but I like listening at low levels too.
The potentiometers Shindo uses are most likely one puzzle piece which contribute to the "Shindo sound". Also the well known ALPS Pots can have some imbalance in their lower range, one more one less...+/- 10 or 20 % tolerance are not untypical for an carbon pot.

Another pot in signal path is a rather academic "problem" resulting from the audiophiles paranoia that there is "more" in the signal path. Having a pot on the power amp is one part of the Shindo product philosophy, thats why an amp with input controls would is strongly recommended and thats why an channel imbalance in the lower volume region of the preamp pot is not a problem.

best regards

I guess you could be right on the Shindo sound being the sum of it's parts, I sure can't complain about the sound.

Anyone tried swapping their original pots with with a TKD pot? i know that most dont recommend altering their Shindo preamps (even tube rolling) as it has been carefully voiced with its specified components.... just wondering whether changing the pot will cause any noticable change in the Shindo sound.... I'm not trying to improve the sound but this volume imbalance issue is becoming more noticable and beginning to irritate.... I'm going to send the preamp back to the dealer but am wondering whether to ask him to change it to a TKD...
many thanks.
The Shindo potentiometers are specified at around 0.8dB (10%). The TDK are specified at 0.5dB (5%) in the high attenuation range. Alps Blue Velvet would be around 1.0-2dB (12-25%).

You may gain a little more in accuracy, but you may still be able to tell if you run the volume in the high attenuation range. I bought 3 Alps Blue Velvet for a replacement in my Fi and none would have been much better than what I already have. All resulted in mistracking at low levels. Reducing gain in the chain fixed things...
Hi, I am using the Shindo Monbrison preamplifier (the older version designed by Ken Shindo)

I remove the tubes to clean preamplifier and now I cannot remember the position of the 2 pieces of 12AU7 and  2 pieces of 12AT7. Please help me. Viewing the amplifier from the front on the right hand side there are two tubes one top and one bottom. Is the top tube 12AU7 and bottom tube 12AT7? Moving to the back (right hand side of the preamp) there are also two tubes one on left and one on right. Is the left tube 12AU7 and right tube 12AT7??

Can anyone out there help me.


KW Chai
I had the same problem when I owned a Monbrison years back. The distributor got me replacements valves sent from Shindo direct as both the PCL88 ( I think that’s what they were) looked completely different. 

It didn’t help and I ended up selling it and moved. Given the crazy price for Shindo equipment you’d think it wouldn’t happen. 

I had a Leben CS600 prior that used the same volume pot and had no problems whatsoever. Go figure?
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