Request for support from SN3 owners

I would like to ask all SN3 owners to carry out a little experiment on their amps.
Please turn the volume control off so the system is silent and then increase the volume by single increments at a time and advise which channel gives sound first.
How many increments does it take until the sound is balanced left to right?
Many thanks in advance.

I’m away at moment,back home on Monday,will try it then and report back .

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I hesitate a bit to answer your question as I do not have a SN3 but do you really listen to music at levels this low? I own a Nait2 and it’s well known that this amplifier has a balance problem at v e r y low volume but in 33 years it never bothered me because if I have to listen at this mind-numbing volume it tells me that it’s time to go to bed! :wink:

I have read and have been told over many years that it is a characteristic of the ALPS pot, they all do it to some degree. Also it can reveal a imbalance in the system with any connection issues that maybe present, as such I would make sure the system is firmly connected first before pointing a finger at the amplifier.


The imbalance at low level is common to Naim preamps using the alps pot. They used to have a resistor ladder volume control on the Nait 5 and 112 pre, you could even adjust the individual input sensitivities. It was dropped in preference to the alps on sound quality grounds. I had a Nait 5, it was my first Naim! It didn’t stay more than a month.
I can imagine it might be a problem if you’re using a Chord DAC fixed output and very sensitive speakers but even at early morning volume I’ve never noticed the imbalance. There is always the balance control.

Also bear in mind that the volume and balance control work together as a team. The balance has no central “detent” position - this is always best done by ear - and it also helps compensate for any very low level imbalance in the volume control.

I leave the balance slightly off centre. Though that is more due to a Motörhead concert when I was young.


Ha ha, yes I do sometimes listen at quite low levels and it is a pain having to adjust the balance control. You are right though, that problably should mean bed time! :grinning:

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Hi @Stephen_Tate, yes I considered this and physically swapped my speakers over and then back again with my first SN3. This did not make a difference.
However, if there was some imbalance that I missed it wouldn’t explain why the new SN3 is now biased to the left!

Hi @Yeti, No external DACs, I use the NDX2 and my Neat Motive SX1 speakers have a sensitivity of 86db.

Hi @Richard.Dane, thank you, You kindly reported the same to me when I reported the problem on my first SN3 which was biased towards the right.
To balance at low levels the balance control has to be very far over to the right. This then biases the playback to the right as the volume is increased.
With my first SN3 set by ear to be central at a normal listening level, the balance would would shift at very high volumes. I found that I was constantly messing with the balance control at nearly all volumes.
I will run this in for a few days then try it loud to see how it behaves.

Another something new I learned! Thanks Richard.

Funny I thought the same and still hear it on the forum but last year I had a similar problem with balance at low volumes and had to resort to my dealer coming round, he in turn called Naim support and spoke to a trusted member of the Naim team whilst on the call I asked him to ask the Naim guru about the problem with the volume pots i.e. the ALPS and the Naim guy said there was no such issue.

Now we still hear people talk about the ALPS pots at low volumes so is this a archaic issue that was resolved long ago or another myth as Naim don’t seem to think it’s a problem. It left me puzzled but I did resolve the issue of balance when I changed my hi-line interconnect and speaker cable to super lumina.

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Yup. It doesn’t just have to be the speaker cables or the speakers, it can be anything in the chain as you know, but to be sure before blaming the amplifier? Now that will take some working out. I’ve been there myself, hence my post above…

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I eliminated the possibility of it being anything else in the chain so my dealer sent it back to Naim who have changed the amp. This means that they accept the problem.
Unfortunately the new one behaves the same so will also go back.
Before sending it back I will have an extensive listen via my Oppo 105 connected via RCA.

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Yes I tore my hair out for 18 months running with the balance control on my NAC 252 at 10 o’clock to compensate then the cable change resolved everything. The balance control now sitting bang on 12 o’clock. I’ve still to check the old cables out but as you say the obvious culprit may not be guilty.

There are other factors that can influence the balance:-
Room size and physical barriers
Skew in balance on some albums - placement of key instruments.
Hearing - ears are not always balanced

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In my case more often than not, it has always been the soldering job with NAC A5 and SA8 plugs. Seriously, it needs to be done right.

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Having access to a headphone output can be a big help too. Your speakers should pretty much match your cans… or is it the other way around?

I have now had a good play around with the amp.
I started by setting the volume to a normal level and setting the balance by ear. I tried this with a number of tracks from my NDX which is connected via snaic then repeated with tracks from my Oppo 105 which is connected by Good quality chord RCA cables. I also tried tv and blu ray from the Oppo.
Once happy with the balance by ear I checked the position of the balance control and it was just after 12 o’clock.
I reduced the volume to zero and increased it slightly until I heard sound from the speakers - it was the left speaker.
It took a further few adjustments until the right channel became audible (ear to the speaker) and the left channel was obviously getting louder.
The volume had to be increased quite a bit before the balance was audibly near enough central. This rules out low level listening for me without requiring hefty adjustment of the volume control to the right. This is not acceptable.
I then disconnected the Snaic and used the chord interconnects to connect NDX2 and then repeated - exact same findings.
I then repeated using the SN3 headphone socket - same results. The next step was to swap the interconnects for the snaic and YSE headphones - same results.
Finally I reconnected the Oppo via the RCA interconnects and checked with headphones. Guess what, same results!
I used the Naim app with cd rips on SSD connected to NDX2 and Tidal plus Roon with SSD connected to core (iMac) with tidal and Quobuz. The Oppo was tested with SSD attached and Oppo app plus blu rays and SACDs.
Every combination resulted with the same heavy bias to the left at low volumes.
My first SN3 was heavily biased to the right, this one heavily to the left. I imagine that it is a lottery but am convinced that there will be some that balance correctly.
In conclusion I will have to return this and try a third one.
These are not cheap products and surely Naim can set them up better?

I think the best thing for you to do here is to explain everything to your dealer, obviously something is a miss. You may of been unlucky but I think working closely with your dealer should solve things. We have all tried to point some things out and offer our experiences, don’t know what else to say. You seem to have tried all the obvious things. It can take time but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t give up!