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Analog Line Level Preamplifiers , Passive Pre-amps, Crossovers, etc.

Does anyone actually use their balance control?
Does anyone actually use their balance control?
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Old 8th October 2018, 09:56 AM   #41
Halauhula is offline Halauhula  United States
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These are Clarostat units. If you look at the Series 70 specs, they are +/- 5% linear taper, which would not be particularly suitable for volume control. This applies to each unit, so if you had a particular bad build, you could end up with 10% difference between L and R sections.

All the other Series offer log taper, BUT they are +/- 10%. You could end up with 20% difference between L and R sections.

Yes , you can adjust each one individually, but based upon my experience with the Scott dual concentric controls, it is a pain.

I end up back where I started: recommending the TubeCAD V2 attenuator or the A3 attenuator. With the former, you are getting sealed gold switch contacts, and YOU decide what kind of resistors to use - carbon film, tantalum, metal film, foil... AND the settings are repeatable and very fine.
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Old 8th October 2018, 10:22 AM   #42
KatieandDad is offline KatieandDad  United Kingdom
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I prefer two volume controls rather than a balance control. There will often be occasions when you will want to vary the volume of L - R.


It all depends on how a balance control is implemented.

Last edited by KatieandDad; 8th October 2018 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 8th October 2018, 11:13 AM   #43
Dave Zan is offline Dave Zan  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halauhula View Post
Yes , you can adjust each one individually, but based upon my experience with the Scott dual concentric controls, it is a pain.
...
The TubeCAD attenuator that was linked seems to require the adjustment of three separate switches unless you want to alter the volume by exactly the coarse gain steps (6 dB?).
That seems painful to me, is your Scott worse?
The Pioneer is nice.
Your complaint about the mismatch between the track resistances applies to practically all volume control pots AFAIK. "Audio" tapers are not close tolerances.
The beauty of the dual concentric system is that if the mismatch is audible then it can easily be corrected, otherwise the knobs are a nice fit and turn as one, and no panel clutter.

Best wishes
David
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Old 8th October 2018, 08:14 PM   #44
Halauhula is offline Halauhula  United States
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Yes, my Scott is worse, but let me explain:

My sole audio source for my main stereo system is CD. I listen to folk, jazz, classical, ethnic and 50s to 70s rock. It has been my experience that most CDs in these genres are generally mastered to take advantage of the dynamic range afforded by 16 bits (some are mastered at a lower level and I really need to bring the volume up to make the loudest portions comparable to the loudest portions of most other CDs).

Thus, my volume control generally ends up in generally the same area of perhaps 30-45 degrees, but the tracking between L and right sections of the pot is poor so that final adjustment for each CD requires tweaking each portion of the concentric controls to ensure that the imaging is centered. To do so, I have to hold the rings for both channels at the same time, holding one ring steady while turning the other to adjust balance (the ring to hold steady is the channel with the final desired volume level). It is not an ergonomic approach for me - at least with the Scott dual concentric knobs (YMMV).

As I understand it, with the TubeCAD's attenuator using Grayhill switches, the middle attenuator is set to the applicable 6 db increment and I turn the two side attenuators to the same position to set final level.

If I need balance control, I would move only one of the side attenuators - if it is a permanent imbalance (say, source electronics imbalance, hearing loss in one year; off-center listening position, vagaries of the room) to center the image. This would be a relatively permanent adjustment so I would memorize and maintain the relative offset and maintain whenever I needed to adjust both side attenuators to set final level - e.g., always have the L attenuator 2 positions higher than the R attenuator.

If I need further balance adjustment to account for the the level of the CD, I would adjust the one applicable attenuator to balance the sound for that for that CD. When I've finished with the CD, I would return the attenuator to the relative offset needed.

I recognize that many people have different ergonomic expectations, sound quality expectations, budgets, aesthetics, and front panel space limitations. There is no one perfect solution, only compromises. I tried to lay out what I felt were important considerations that led me to advocate the TubeCAD attenuator if balance control is needed. IMO, the best approach, if balance is needed, is a traditional volume and balance control implemented by a Shallco or Daven 64-step switched ladder attenuator and a switched ladder balance control, but this is beyond my budget for the Shallco/Daven (or even the 47 step Goldpoint), and I'm not sure that a switched ladder balance control is available. Goldpoint stopped making a series switched balance control. It is actually the lack of a high quality switched balance control that led men to the TubeCAD attenuator. Not the best approach for me, but for me an acceptable compromise.
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Old 8th October 2018, 09:42 PM   #45
multisync is offline multisync  Canada
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I use this somewhat inexpensive when compared to other stepped controls, woks well

Valab 23 Stepped Attenuator Potentiometer 10K Linear (B Type) Mono | eBay
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Old 12th October 2018, 02:38 AM   #46
mt490 is offline mt490
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I had a similar question but managed to get a pretty relevant answer, which explained why balance controls aren't really useful from a perceived results perspective.

For reference, I didn't really use balance controls prior either.

Digital balance control - how fine dB steps?
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Old 12th October 2018, 03:09 AM   #47
Halauhula is offline Halauhula  United States
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I do not believe the referenced article is relevant to the issue. The primary discussion deals with the amount of attenuation in the balance control, and they are talking about .25 db per step. I think the article was focusing on the point that most people do not perceive a .25 db step change in volume, much less a change in apparent stereo perspective. I would agree with that, but such a concession in no way addresses whether a balance control in 1 db steps (as is what the TubeCAD attenuator provides) is audible and useful.

Finally, the Haas effect is very cogent in the mixing process, and goes to whether volume changes alone are the key parameter in imaging. However, it is of no relevance in playback where one is trying to restore the original center image because of slight errors in channel playback volume. Certainly, I would NEVER adopt a balance approach that attempts to use delays as a basis for correcting for imbalance in channel playback volume.
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Old 12th October 2018, 12:06 PM   #48
mt490 is offline mt490
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My response was only really for the OP's question.

If you find that you need to correct a system for channel level imbalance, then sure, a level balance control happens to be a viable solution.
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Old 16th October 2018, 08:54 PM   #49
sq225917 is offline sq225917  United Kingdom
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Send a message via MSN to sq225917 Does anyone actually use their balance control?
I don't see the need for one, but everything in my system is trimmed to match and vol pot is a stepped smt unit. If I needed one I would look for a fine control over a couple eBay only.
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