I've never been able to use a balance control satisfactorily and wish high end equipment would omit them. If you room's wrong, you should fix it, and if the recording's wrong, it's been my experience that you can't fix it. These controls put more solder joints and more switch contacts in the signal path, which can't be good. If you're building your own preamp, active or passive, you get all the benefits (?) of a balance control, and no signal path complications, by having dual mono volume controls. But in explicit answer to your question, a balance control can hardly not degrade.
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