It comes with a balance knob?!?! I'll take it!

...said no one ever! I've been researching new gear and it hit me. Why, just why, do pieces have a balance knob? The only time in my life I can remember using said knob was to mess with the music and irritate my friends. You know, because it was cool to make every song sound like that classic Led Zep track. I think it was the 80's and on my Sanyo "boom box".

What is the point? To look retro? Do people actually use it and why?

Thought this might be fun to discuss and learn something new.


Summarising, balance adjustment is useful to correct

*hearing deficiencies

*room deficiencies

*small output differences in phone cartridges

*speaker placement issues

*tube/valve output differences

*adjusting position of sweet spot

*channel verification


Balance control need not degrade sound any more than a volume pot if the amp is configured dual mono with a knob for each channel.


Story ends.


Well, I, and I imagine others have said the inverse of the OP's statement:. "There's no balance control?  I'll pass.". Many recordings are not made with perfect L-R balance ( poor mastering, faulty studio monitoring equipment, etc.).  I find my balance control, on my remote, to be indispensable.  An off-center center stage is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.  One reason I sold my CJ PV-11 was the limited range of balance adjustment.  Of course, separate left and right volume pots also work, but not having any means of adjusting channel balance rules out a preamp for me.  One major rag reviewer refers to the balance control as his soundstage control.  Horses for courses.

What an education so far!

  • Never purchase concert seats where one of my ears face the speaker stack
  • Never setup my system in an awkwardly shaped space
  • Avoid tube solutions
  • Avoid poorly recorded tracks with off-center imaging
  • Make sure my pre or integrated remote has balance control in case any of the above happen!

Balance on a remote is something I've never seen but probably the best thing I've learned from this post because I have run into tracks where the vocalist is off center and am now curious if a balance adjustment does "fix" this without killing the overall presentation?

Over the past 3 years i’ve been doing a bunch of research and then design on a new method for remote-driven volume. Since its inherently dual mono, balance is there.


Unless you have a dedicated listening room with one chair, the combination is a revelation. I have real music room. But i also spend 70% of y listening time and much of the social listening in my living/great/common room, where there is no center seat. Seated in an off-center chair, reading or whatever, its awesome to move the balance db by db and suddenly have the image lock in.


Just sayin’ Maybe no one asks, but they know not what they are missing. Caveat - if you have to get up, move sit down, rinse and repeat, the magic is lost.


Oh, and with modern methods, there is no noise/distortion penalty to having balance (with traditional series designs there is)