Turntable channel imbalance

Hi there!

I’ve noticed that the left channel is a bit louder than the right when I play vinyl. This is the only source that has this issue. I have 2 carts and both exhibit the issue. With some records it is more noticeable than others tho.

Is there anything I can adjust?


 I have Technics SL-B20D P-mount. TIA


I had this happen to me a while back and found that one of the conductors from the tonearm to the output terminal was failing, making that channel much quieter than the other. I installed a new wire and all was fine. 

Thank you. Is anti-skate adjustment available on a p-mount deck?  I don’t see instructions for it in the manual. Thanks!

I just looked at that table and there is no anti-skate feature. Sorry about that! Do you have a balance control? If you do use it!!

Every single cartridge has a differing channel balance. You can adjust it in the phono pre. 

Or not.

@fuzztone using a Rega Fono MM pre - just on/off. So am I out of luck? Is this the table or the cart?

reverse the rca cables, does the problem switch channels?

are the rca connectors tight on both l and right?

Make sure the table is level. If it isn't, you are introducing a bias in the tonearm that favors one side.

It is most probably the phono preamp. There may be a balance control internally.

If you are fussy about balance and anybody with a system that images correctly will be you will be adjusting balance almost with every record or file. Fine balance is a preference issue plus no system puts out exactly the same level in both channels. If the mixing engineer's system is a dB louder on the left what you hear if your system is exactly neutral would be louder on the right. 

If the OP's system otherwise sounds fine, this is what you have a balance control. for. Use it. Nothing else that has been mentioned will effect balance. Anti-skating will effect tracking not balance, same for level. Tube variability can do it. A bad connection will usually cause distortion and noise but possibly volume. 


I beg to differ!

Anti-skate is so important not just because of this balance in force, but because of the resulting effects it has.

Maintaining channel balance is a key factor. Unchecked, record skate would pull the stylus inwards (towards the center of the record), and would stress the inside wall of the record groove, which would place greater emphasis on the left channel. This would result in an imbalanced sound with too much left channel and not enough right.

Thanks y’all. 

I don’t think it’s the pre. It’s been the case across multiple phono pre amps. (Inbuilt on 2 integrateds + the Rega Fono)

Will triple check the level and RCA inputs. It’s strange to me that it’s more present on certain LPs but not others. 

would love any ideas on unlocking the anti-skate in this particular turntable. 

It is unwise and often very misleading to judge channel balance while listening to stereo LPs. You have no idea what the recording engineer had in mind when he calibrated the recording equipment. Furthermore, the room itself often plays acoustical tricks that make one channel appear to be louder than the other. The easiest thing to do in a home environment is to play a mono LP on your stereo system and listen for the location of the image. If the image is right between the speakers, you probably have no problem.

That’s a great call. In this instance I referenced the digital copy in comparison. Maybe it was the old mix on the vinyl - but it leans Very left. 


@leemaze Your TT has a fixed tracking force of 1.2 grams and the anti-skate is fixed to match the cartridge that came with the TT. The anti-skate is a fixed calibrated spring. It’s a plug and play TT. No adjustments.

Joe Nies

You wrote, "In this instance I referenced the digital copy in comparison."  Do you mean to say that you listened to the CD or streamed version of the same music, and it does not seem out of channel balance?  If so, that is not conclusive evidence you have a real problem in your vinyl system, because creating the digital version involved the imposition of more engineering at the other end.  Try the mono LP experiment anyway.

Thanks @joenies i figured as much. Was hoping there’d be a guide for hacking a p-mount deck. Maybe I should try un-balancing towards the right…

Fair, @lewm. On vacation currently but will reference a Mono LP and report back. I listened to the remastered CD version Of Zenyatta Mondatta in my most recent listening but I’ve noticed the left lean with many other of my records. 

@leemaze How many DB are you talking about? 1, 2 or 3 DB in channel imbalance? Does your balance control correct the imbalance? Hopefully it’s not more than 2 DB.

Please clarify for me, do you get an imbalance playing CD’s ? 
Difficult to analyze your problem from a distance.

Go thru all the suggestions one by one. Good luck, you’ll get there.

Joe Nies

Hi @joenies its very noticeable on some records, maybe more than 3 db. No imbalance with other sources. CDs have perfect centered imaging. I primarily listen to CDs and streaming. Vinyl is fun nostalgia for me. But some records sound so off I just put on the CD!

Your turntable is very old and basic. You only live once. Get a Pioneer PLX500 for $370 or a PLX1000 for $700 and enjoy life. Add an Audio Technica AT95E or VM540ML or Nagaoka MP110.

I do use an AT SS445E/U high-end NOS cart with original Nude 0.3mil elliptical stylus. I feel like I’d have to spend a bit to get better performance, no?





You say it's only present on some LPs.  This suggests it is either in the recording of those LPs or is an artifact of your own experience of listening to them.

But it's simple to check your system piece by piece by channel switching and substitution.

First, are you getting differing volumes on sources other than the record player?  If not then that exonerates everything beyond the phono amp.

So, starting with the cartridge, choose the LP that displays the imbalance characteristic the worst and plug the R phono output into the L phono amp input and vice-versa.  Is the quiet channel now the other one?  Then change the whole phono leads R to L and vice-versa.  If the quiet channel remains the same then this exonerates the cartridge and the phono leads from cartridge to phono amp.  If the quiet channel changes on the first test, then you need to check the cartridge.  If it changes on the second you have a problem with the quiet channel phono lead or its connectors at each end or those sockets.

Then check the phono amp and its leads to the pre-amp in the same way.  If the quiet channel changes then the issue is in the phono amp or its lead or connection out.