Balance at Low Volume left only.... how to find issue

I have an incoming 552 so let’s see if there is the same issue. Seems there will be but some here said it’s better.

Having this issue on a few products (various brands) that use proper analogue volume pots (my preference to the mass market ‘norm’), it isn’t a major issue for the majority , but just those on the fringe of a happy listening volume right where the imbalance is… (lowest point on volume pot)

Most musical equipment runs better a little higher up on the dial anyway… so a consideration (and solution I have used a few times) is to change (lower) the volume of the source/inputs signals… this means you will HAVE to turn the volume up a little more to get equal sound pressure level as present.

An easy example is my present DAC that has a high and low gain mode that will alter where the volume pot needs be set on the Naim amp… (both gain modes being fine to use in my case)…

a few solutions to try,… with headphone amps some used inline dongles that lowered the output volume effectively… allowing them to TURN THE AMP UP (and get to its’ happy listening zone)…

I found with my present Naim integrated ‘baby’ amplifier that the volume at the point of extiction (/‘low point’) was actually quite listenable, and so I also had a volume imbalance at super low level… (not having a balance control I simply moved the left speaker to match volumes- not ideal for all,… but ‘many solutions’ , one may be practical…)

I am listening to my 252 now, with phono input. I can get to really low volume and the balance seems spot on all the way through. As I go down in volume the soundstage and balance seem completely consistent.

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@Innocent_Bystander You are 100% correct. I had this discussion a while back. Most folks don’t understand that a Volume Pot when turned all the way off or counter clockwise is actually fully On. As you turn the knob clockwise you are reducing the attenuation . I wonder why Naim keeps using the Alps pots. I believe the Penny & Giles pots are superior. And off course switched Resistors are better still.

@whitedragem sometimes I think the balance leans slightly left. Other times I think it is fine with my SN3. It seems to be to some extent to depend on recording. Sometimes the imbalance is more consistent.

The confounding thing for me is the living room which opens on the right into a dining area. This means that the right wall shorter than the left by almost 10 feet. I am not sure how the unequal walls contribute to the imbalance but they must in some way.

sounds logical; frequency ‘build up’ (ie second harmonics) being stronger on one side- likely quite frequency (music) dependent then…

(higher frequencies are more locatable, probably accentuate the issue)

Sometimes the imbalance at a very low volume can be enhanced by both speaker cables not being terminated exactly the same. You can have one channel slightly more dynamic (open) than the other and this will really show itself at very low volumes, but is much harder to detect at a higher volume. Needless to say it’s not always the pot’s fault.


Good point. I’ll add that to my list:

  • Alps pots
  • Room dynamics
  • speaker cable terminations
  • some recordings having left or right bias
  • your ears are not calibrated the same.

The volume pot being out at low volumes is so obvious it’s not even worth debating it really.
Just turn it up a bit more and it all comes good once again.
It’s nothing else it’s the pot, its how the pot is and nothing else.
It’s not helped or should i say made worse by the fact being most off the volume control is in the first 50% off it’s travel. If this was move even then you probably wouldn’t notice it at all, as you would have to turn it up more just for the same volume you get now for less rotation of the pot.


This is a pot issue, one which Naim have had more or less since the year dot.

As suggested above, you could try 20 or so rapid tuns fully clock then anticlock (power amp off, obviously)

Switch cleaner on the pot

Use an attenuator on the input.

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I can confirm that my new 552 behaving exactly the same although much more rapid improvement as I turn it up. So thanks for the input and clarity.

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I believe I have read previously on here, that Naim measure their Alps pots and allocate the best matched ones to the ‘higher’ units in the range…?

My 102 was certainly rather poor at low volume - but my 82 is much better.

@Richard.Dane - Is there any truth in this - do you know…?

Yes, IIRC pots were graded for very low level channel balance with best going into 252 and 552. Not sure what happens these days. I would guess the same but best get Naim’s confirmation or otherwise here.

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I had this problem with my 282, more so after switching from a cdx2 to an ndx. The higher output from the ndx meant i had to turn down the pot further to achieve the same low listening levels. I found this unacceptable for my use, so i sent it back explaining the issue and it came back with a replaced pot and the problem resolved.

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Could this also be the stereo effect?
If there is a problem, is it also prominent when switched to mono?

It is the same. The right speaker is litterally off for the first little part of turning the volume. I only discovered it 10 years in as I rarely have it at very low levels.

OK - with mono you can better detect as everything must be in the middle = same volume left and right

If it’s any consolation my 552, at very very low volumes, does exactly the same thing except my left channel goes dead. However, it’s never caused me a problem and I don’t feel the need to do anything about it especially when I took it to my dealers and he dem’d it against the shops 552. We didn’t bother removing the locking bolts for the suspension as it was a quick factory reset and check. It still blew the shops 552 away, so definitely not doing anything about it. I find the stereo at reasonable volumes utterly sublime.