XS3: only right channel at low volume

It’s getting frustrating. After a short stay with a Nova, I have decided to make the absolutely right sonic move to the ND5XS2/XS3 combo. After being completely thrilled here, I notice that at low volumes (e.g. background music) the balance moves almost completely to the right. Changing the speaker cables and the speakers clearly shows that it is the right channel of the amplifier. I already had this impression for a short time after the first tones from the amplifier. To test the new possibilities in depth with all kinds of familiar tracks, one tends to listen at higher volumes. Here, if you pay attention, the effect is only slightly noticeable. The volume knob does not go beyond the 08.00-08.30 position!

It cannot and must not be the case that these high-priced devices (of course, I am still in the lower regions of the upwardly open investment scale) are not suitable for quiet music listening. I’m talking about an XS3 here and not the almost twice as expensive SN3 mentioned in similar SN3 threads.
What to do? I will definitely confront the dealer and insist on a unit with volume independent balance. Are there any other experiences here? Is this perhaps an effect of “fresh” devices that runs its course with increasing break-in time?

I would be grateful for any help.

Exactly that.

It is a characteristic of many high quality analogue potentiometers but it should not happen to the point of being annoyed by it, even at low volume listening.


It’s in principle a known thing on classic amps, the Alps volume pot that Naim chooses because it sounds best has this imbalance at low volume.

As always, there is variability between individual pots, but if it is in a range you would use and it bothers you, talk to your dealer. My new 252 had poor balance nearly up to 8 and it was quickly fixed.

You can find some older discussions and examples of what is generally considered OK and what is not in these older threads:


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Had the same issue last year with a fresh out of the box Nait XS3. it was returned to our local service centre for volume pot replacement, i’ve been told by our tech it was fine after that but i eventually swapped it for another '14 Nait XS.

Hello everyone,

I need your help again, or rather opinions, expertise, intelligence, …
I had worked around the balance problem with the digital volume option until 1 week ago. To do this, I had configured the variable volume in the ND5XS2 and thus pushed up the volume range of the XS3.

At Mike-B 's suggestion, I got a PBJ E-type cable with -22db attenuation from Russ Andrews, set the fixed volume on the ND5XS2 again and that works great too. I imagine the sound is a little better now without the digital influence.

In the meantime Naim Germany has also contacted me and offered to exchange the XS3 for a new unit with a tested ALPS pot. In addition, Naim would attenuate the unit by -6db at the factory. According to Naim, more is not possible without loss of quality. The Russ Andrews cable is also said to be not optimal.

What is your opinion on this?

I am currently satisfied with the unit as it is wired and works now. But the quality of the potentiometer is still worth replacing. Should I be indifferent to this, as it works with a wider volume control range?
Or would it be better to reconnect the replacement unit with at least -6db attenuation using the original DIN cable and go back to the margins of the pot’s controllability? After all, the pots are not supposed to function optimally in the marginal ranges.
Or trade in the unit without damping but with a functioning potentiometer and still use the Russ Andrews PBJ cable for a good control range? That would certainly be the most sensible alternative in the event of a resale, wouldn’t it?

I am very undecided whether I should have the now satisfactory constellation known to me exchanged for a “better” solution.Maybe this unit has other diseases.

What is your experience or knowledge about potentiometers, control ranges, damping, …?

Very interesting with the attenuation. As mentioned previously, I had the problem with my new 252 being really badly unbalanced up to 8, in November and also in Germany. MusicLine also offered to return it and replace the pot with a selected one from the ones they had available. Which I did, and it came back sufficiently better and does not bother me usually, although I would still prefer it if was balanced to a slightly lower level (for deep night listening occasionally). With Naim’s famed quality control, I don’t really know how these things can happen, TBH.

In my case, they did not offer the attenuation but maybe it is simply not an option on the 252.

My dealer offered to give me their demo instead, which was also nearly new and has a pot that is perfectly balanced down to 0. It would have involved another trip to the dealer and at the time I could no be bothered anymore, so kept what I had. I am super happy with the system in general, so whatever. (but yeah, would be nice to have a larger range. As it is, it is unbalanced until approx 7:30 and too loud at 9:30. My speakers have 89 dB sensitivity and the room is quite large)


Today I got the new XS3 with tested potentiometer and -6db attenuation. Everything is fine. I can turn it down to 0 without losing the stereo effect. So I can only highly recommend the solution and must really emphasise the willingness of mucic-line (Naim Germany). Flawless service and they never give up on satisfying the customer.


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