Balance controls

Hello everyone. I have accreted over the years a bunch of Naim pre-amps + an integrated. Some have balance controls (32-5, 42-5, 82, 92). Some don’t have balance control (112, Nait 5i).
What is going on here? I’d expect a balance control on any pre/integrated amp. The manufacturer has no idea about eg where the speakers will be placed in a room, whether an older user might have better hearing in one ear than the other etc
And it can’t be because a balance control would somehow ‘degrade’ the signal. The NAC 112 has no external balance control, but accidentally pressing the wrong buttons on the handset will certainly shift the balance. So if there’s already balance adjustment inside the amp, why on earth not provide easy access by adding an external control?
Is this just Naim buying into the “the fewer controls the harder to use, and the harder to use the better it sounds” folk legend? Kind of similar to their ignoring L and R in favour of Channel 1 and Channel 2 on their earlier pre-amps?
love and hugs to all, Stevie xx

What does anyone think? I can’t see any benefit in refusing to cater to people with different hearing patterns, other than a sort of minimalist arrogance!

You might find this recent thread makes interesting reading:

1 Like

Thank you xx

Stevie, I think that there’s no doubt that Naim like to do things their own way, although they are probably more ‘mainstream’ now than they were in their Salt Lane days when Julian Vereker had just started the company.

I think that I’m right in saying that the earliest Naim control (or pre) amps (eg NAC12) didn’t have a balance control. That was serious, bare-chested stuff in those days. I fear that they’re going soft these days.

PS I’m totally wrong. I’ve looked at photos, of the NAC12S, and the balance control knob is there, as clear as the nose on one’s face! (What a prat I am sometimes.)

Many thanks xx

A post in the other thread prompts a thought: do they have balance controls internally, operated by the remote, rather than having an external knob? Some Naim preamps apparently do that, which doesn’t seem unreasonable given that in most cases the balance control is only infrequently operated, unlike the volume control.

1 Like

Thinking about it, all my amps, of different makes, have balance controls operated by the control app and/or remote. As you say, this seems a very sensible arrangement.


1 Like

Both my old 112X and my current 202 have no physical balance knob but the balance can be adjusted perfectly well via the remote.

Given that one usually wants to be sat in one’s listening position when adjusting the balance, this strikes me as, arguably, more useful than having a whacking great knob on the front.


(You’ll all have to form an orderly queue to make your own puerile responses to my final sentence)

1 Like

The only time I have ever used the balance knob is to put back in the centre after someone else has nudged it, usually when dusting :wink:

1 Like

I have it centered when I am at the listening point but when I move to the work table, which is on one side, it boosts the farthest speaker. I use it daily :slight_smile:

1 Like

But doesn’t that make it even more puzzling? If the obviously sensible thing to do is have an internal balance control operated from the handset, then why include an external balance control on eg the NACs 32-5, 42-5, 82, 92? The 32-5 and 42-5 must be pretty early stages of Naim’s thinking about the design of pre-amps. Why change? xx

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.