Preamp with two volume controls?


Anyone familiar with a preamp that has 2 volume controls. Currently I use 2 Mcintosh C50 preamps in my system. One is for the 2 MC252 amps and 1 used as a volume control for my 3 SVS subs and an Anthem STR amp. The extreme differences in how bass is recorded in new verses old recordings and the wide range in low frequency mastering in the many styles of music I listen to has led me to look for different ways to rectify these issues. What I am doing works pretty well, but I would love to have a more direct method. Thanks in advance.


yes. based in Florida now and been around for many years.

Extreme value. Name eludes me.

Thanks for the nugget jeffseight. I did some sleuthing but could not nail anything down in Florida. The search is half the fun, so I will continue on. 

The Audioprism Mantissa had two volume controls, one for each channel. I believe it was a true dual mono design. Mark Levinson bought the rights to the preamp and amp designs and marketed them under his Red Rose brand. I owned and used one for twenty years. With an outboard power supply with a heavy duty umbilical and four tubes it was a very sweet preamp. It lacked a remote and it did not do spatial relationships the way my ARC Ref 6 does but it was still a very good preamp at the price-point. Incredibly quiet and reliable. Tubes lasted at least 2000 hours, even 3000. 

You might think about how this 21 band equalizer, separate L and R could help you.

It is also a line level source selector if that is any benefit, sometimes placement location makes that useful even if it duplicates existing line selector


I believe Pass Labs made a totally dual mono preamp (XP-30) to the point where each channel has its own head unit which shares a common power supply (3 boxes in all).

Could the Hi-Fi maker in FLA be VAC?

I'm confused or you're confused. 2 preamps give you 2 x 2 channels. A preamp with 2 volume controls gives you 1 x 2 channels but with separate left and right control. 

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JL Audio CR1 crossover has a sub/satellite balance control.


btw, The lamm L1 has three volume controls!  

You're really using two McIntosh C50 preamps in a stereo setup?  Your description and reasoning makes no sense.

Thank you for all the help and I am looking into all the suggestions with some success. My description may make no sense, but my reasoning is solid for what I want out of my system. My room is very large and I have built a left and right speaker array using Klipsch Heritage speakers. A set of Khorns, LaScalas, and Heresy lll speakers. I have modified the big boys to have the same speakers and crossovers and left the Heresy speakers stock. Hence the 2 Mac 252 amps and the Anther STR for the Heresys. First C50 gets a balanced output from my Marantz SACD11S the second C50 gets the rca output. The subs are sprinkled throughout the room and yes, they do have volume control through their  app, but that is not as helpful as you would think with 3 subs. The gain on the subs are adjusted to integrate with the heresy speakers which are powered by the Anthem. C50 number 2 runs the subs and small speakers. This gives me full control over how much bottom end I am hearing in my room. Once all the phase issues were worked out this experiment really worked out. The preamp I am looking for would have different volume controls not for different channels but for different outputs. Preferably a control for sub output. Once again thanks for everybody's input.

You shouldn’t change the subs’ gain once matched.

I used to do it remotely with a MCM 50-8394 before I wised up. You really just need RC EQ so you can change it for each track. Or a simple RC gain control as above.. Or just keep overspending and convincing yourself it’s the best way. I don’t think you will find what you are looking for as it has no reason to exist.



First Sound preamps are quality units with left and right volume controls it that's what you're looking for.

Audible Illusions is based in Daytona, FL. and their tube preamps are well regarded. Also, their preamp has two "balance control" knobs (one for each channel), in addition to the master volume control.

The owners manual describes the balance controls as follows: "The amount of signal voltage applied to the line stage for each channel is regulated by separate stepped attenuator controls. The relative signal of the CHANNEL BALANCE is set with these controls. Setting both of these controls at 12 o'clock is a good starting point."


Left and right separate volume on my AI Modulus M3B version. Don’t think it would work as main volume and subwoofer volume. It’s up for sale on the other site if interested 

The Pass Labs Aleph P has separate left and right gain controls. as well as a a master gain control to govern both channels.

My canary  pre amp as two chassis  both spilt into channels so a volume control  for each channel and a power supply for each channel. There top of the line had two complete sets for each channel not divided  in two boxes they had four boxes. Griffin  had a preamp with two volume controls as well.



This is the inside look of the power supply. The above post is the faceplate and the two volume  control s

I think VAC made a preamp with two volume controls. Maybe Melos also.  Having two volume controls really has no benefit especially with the quality of the preamps mentioned above.  Usually just ALPS.

Audible Illusions is in Ormond Beach and I’m not sure they’re still operating. I emailed them with no response. I live in Daytona. 

As many of the replies so far indicate, the general purpose of equipping a preamp with two volume controls is to negate the requirement for a balance control and not to provide control over two different outputs.

To achieve the latter, assuming the preamp is not purely passive, would require duplication of a large portion of the preamp's circuitry - which would not make commercial or sonic sense.

As regards the original post, the complexity of the speaker arrangement suggests the possibility that there may be frequency response issues that cause some recordings to have too much bass and others not enough.

The Jadis JP 80 MC and some Croft Preamps also have/had independent volume controls - again for balance adjustment purposes rather than to control discrete outputs.

On the high end side, both Lamm (LL 2.1, L2.1) and Jadis (JP 80MC, JPS 2, JP 200MC) have separate volume controls for each channel.  In addition, since both the Jadis and Lamm preamps have tape-out outputs, you could run two outputs for each channel, one with fixed volume for your powered speakers (i.e., subs), one variable running through the volume pots.  The Lamms also have two variable outputs (one XLR, on the L2 series) that go through the volume controls.  Pricey, though.  

Ormond Beach/Daytona (whatever)

Phone: (386) 676 - 2004


The Supratek Cabernet Dual does exactly what you are describing.  I used one for a couple years in my Horn + Sub system for the same reason.  There are two volume controls that control different outputs.  There are two configurations you can select between via a toggle switch on the back. 1) two separate volume controls one each for different outputs A and B or 2) master slave configuration where one volume controls the gain for output B (slave) and the other volume control controls both A and B keeping the proportion of A & B while raising the volume of both.

My Don Sachs Model 2 preamp has 3 identical looking volume knobs:

One motorized, stepped main attenuator and stepped gain volume knobs for left channel and right channels.

What's also nice is that my Tannoys have tweeter level selectors. Removing and reinserting a gold threaded peg offers subtle differences in speaker presentation.



A big thanks to tinear123 and everyone else for some great suggestions. The Supratek Cabernet Dual has really sparked my fancy. Sounds like a piece that could do exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks, and enjoy the music.

Try a room correction system--toss your analog Pre~ Lyngdorf's discontinued DPA-1 or TDAI 2170 or their current TDAI-3400 are your solution. Use whatever amps your want--the 2170 and 3400 offer internal 170 and 200wpc amps.

+1 for First Sound tube preamps with dual mono loudness controls and dual external power supplies 

a bit ‘old school’ if you will ( no remote, RCA only ) but as far as SQ is concerned, tough to beat