Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

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matty007
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Joined: 26 Sep 2019 22:17

Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by matty007 » 05 Nov 2019 22:27

Hi everyone,

So I am currently using a SL1200 mk2 and a AT540ML cartridge, along with a project phono box DS. This goes through to a NAD 7125 aux input for listening to headphones (I am solely a headphone user).

The cartridge and detail is tremendous, however I am having an issue with channel imbalance that is driving me insane. I don’t have a way to test the level of the imbalance, but I would hazard a guess at about 5db, but it is probably a lot more.

I have aligned the cartridge perfectly, and set the azimuth to dead straight. I have also set the anti skate spot on with a blank record. I have also checked the RCA cables are okay, testing with another source, and they are fine. The table is perfectly level and checked with two spirit levels. I have also tried different headphones. All are less apparent than my daily driver DT 880’s, but that’s only because the soundstage is much narrower on the other headphones. But I can tell an imbalance is still there

The right channel is noticeably hotter than the left. Vocals sound annoyingly panned to the right, and certain instruments. I do get bass and other instruments on the left channel, but the vocals etc on the right clearly overpower them. I find channel
imbalance intolerable and it’s so frustrating, it honestly puts me off my music.

Now, I have another turntable, a Pioneer PLX 1000. The problem is also the same on that table. I have even tried my other cartridges. The MP-110 and a Ortofon 2m Blue. All the same issue, with subtle differences in severity.

I have even tried going into a headphone amp instead of the Nad Reciever, same issue. I have also swapped phono preamps, same issue.

I’m sure if you’ve read this far you are thinking there is nothing else to eliminate, I agree. It’s driving me bananas.

The ONLY way I can get the channels balanced is to change the azimuth greatly so it is leaning heavily to the outer grooves. I mean it’s not even close to straight, it has to be heavily skewed. Almost so the side of the cartridge facing the outer grooves is clipping the vinyl. If I do this, it is nicely balanced, if I hone it in at least. If I go too far it ends up too hot on the left channel, but it is certainly a heavy skew. This is obviously not right and shows something is wrong, I am just completely lost as to what it may be.

And before you suspect my ears, I have tested the same tracks in digital form, and the balance is perfect. So a hearing issue is not the problem.

Obviously I can just use the balance control on my nad receiver to ‘fix’ it, but it’s never quite right, and I don’t like sticky plaster fixes. I would rather solve the actual problem itself. I have to set the Nad balance dial to 3 o’clock to get it virtually balanced.

I have experimented with anti skate, but it seems to make little to no difference regardless of how far I apply it, or not apply it.

And yes, I have tried different headshells with good wires

Please please can somebody shed some light on what this may be, it is driving me totally mad. I have a very good setup in my opinion and the quality and detail is superb, but the channel imbalance is totally depressing me and it’s the only thing I can focus on. On some LP’s it’s much less severe and pretty much balanced, but it never seems 100%. On most of my favourite LP’s that I know like the back of my hand, like Michael Jackson’s Bad, the balance is so clearly and obviously favouring the right.

Please help

Thanks 😊

62vauxhall
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by 62vauxhall » 05 Nov 2019 23:13

Try switching sides of the leads going into the preamp?
Try switching sides of the leads going to NAD?

Hot channel from the same earpiece or the other one.

If you’ve done everything else, the common denominator is the headphones.

Got another set to try or a pair of speakers?

Bluesnote
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by Bluesnote » 05 Nov 2019 23:33

I was using an aftermarket headshell on a DP47F and had the same issue - swapped in the original Denon headshell and problem solved. Given you've tried different TTs this won't be your problem but I can sympathise - a real irritation. . .

Take the pre-amp out of the equation (not used when testing digital source, which you say is balanced), try the 'phono in' on your amp if you have one? If not 'aux/tuner/etc.' just to test balance at a low volume?

Good luck

Chris

Erin1
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by Erin1 » 06 Nov 2019 00:10

matty007 wrote:
05 Nov 2019 22:27
Hi everyone,

So I am currently using a SL1200 mk2 and a AT540ML cartridge, along with a project phono box DS. This goes through to a NAD 7125 aux input for listening to headphones (I am solely a headphone user).

The cartridge and detail is tremendous, however I am having an issue with channel imbalance that is driving me insane. I don’t have a way to test the level of the imbalance, but I would hazard a guess at about 5db, but it is probably a lot more.

I have aligned the cartridge perfectly, and set the azimuth to dead straight. I have also set the anti skate spot on with a blank record. I have also checked the RCA cables are okay, testing with another source, and they are fine. The table is perfectly level and checked with two spirit levels. I have also tried different headphones. All are less apparent than my daily driver DT 880’s, but that’s only because the soundstage is much narrower on the other headphones. But I can tell an imbalance is still there

The right channel is noticeably hotter than the left. Vocals sound annoyingly panned to the right, and certain instruments. I do get bass and other instruments on the left channel, but the vocals etc on the right clearly overpower them. I find channel
imbalance intolerable and it’s so frustrating, it honestly puts me off my music.

Now, I have another turntable, a Pioneer PLX 1000. The problem is also the same on that table. I have even tried my other cartridges. The MP-110 and a Ortofon 2m Blue. All the same issue, with subtle differences in severity.

I have even tried going into a headphone amp instead of the Nad Reciever, same issue. I have also swapped phono preamps, same issue.

I’m sure if you’ve read this far you are thinking there is nothing else to eliminate, I agree. It’s driving me bananas.

The ONLY way I can get the channels balanced is to change the azimuth greatly so it is leaning heavily to the outer grooves. I mean it’s not even close to straight, it has to be heavily skewed. Almost so the side of the cartridge facing the outer grooves is clipping the vinyl. If I do this, it is nicely balanced, if I hone it in at least. If I go too far it ends up too hot on the left channel, but it is certainly a heavy skew. This is obviously not right and shows something is wrong, I am just completely lost as to what it may be.

And before you suspect my ears, I have tested the same tracks in digital form, and the balance is perfect. So a hearing issue is not the problem.

Obviously I can just use the balance control on my nad receiver to ‘fix’ it, but it’s never quite right, and I don’t like sticky plaster fixes. I would rather solve the actual problem itself. I have to set the Nad balance dial to 3 o’clock to get it virtually balanced.

I have experimented with anti skate, but it seems to make little to no difference regardless of how far I apply it, or not apply it.

And yes, I have tried different headshells with good wires

Please please can somebody shed some light on what this may be, it is driving me totally mad. I have a very good setup in my opinion and the quality and detail is superb, but the channel imbalance is totally depressing me and it’s the only thing I can focus on. On some LP’s it’s much less severe and pretty much balanced, but it never seems 100%. On most of my favourite LP’s that I know like the back of my hand, like Michael Jackson’s Bad, the balance is so clearly and obviously favouring the right.

Please help

Thanks 😊

Did you measure the resistance of each coil of the cartridge?

Did you remove the stylus and inspect the location of the magnets?

Can you return it for an exchange?
Perhaps a defective cartridge?

Have you tried another cartridge to confirm it's this cartridge causing the imbalance?

MetalT75
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by MetalT75 » 06 Nov 2019 11:51

I've noticed that some albums have channel imbalance with vocals, mostly new pressings, and always to the right. It's the worst with overall bad quality pressings. The old 70s, 80s and early 90s pressings are usually well balanced and I very seldom notice any imbalance. Carts can also have imbalance but I think it should not be audible when it's inside the tolerance. You have tried other cartridges so probability that they all are defective is very small but imbalance to the right (within tolerances) added to the record imbalance can make an audible difference.

Might be a stupid question (most likely is) but is the platter level? The turntable plinth might be level but the platter might not be. On the other hand you have experienced the same thing with 2 TTs.... Is there a component in your system which you haven't changed yet?

jackie
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by jackie » 06 Nov 2019 14:19

Could it be one of your ears? One of mine hears more treble than the other. Have you tried ear wax remover.

kmp14
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by kmp14 » 06 Nov 2019 21:14

I see you are getting questions that you clearly already answered in your post. Sorry for that! I know you tried different tables, carts, preamps, etc, but sometimes I find that in the heat of a frustrating troubleshooting session, I think I may have tried something but lost my place and really didn't, or didn't accurately keep track of where I was in the troubleshooting process. That being said, I DID fully read your post, but still have some thoughts for troubleshooting.

First make sure to get your cart re-aligned, anti-skate, VTF, etc back to spec. Now, starting at the cartridge, reverse the left and right leads. If the left channel becomes hotter, then the problem is in the cartridge. If not, set them back to correct left and right. Next reverse the left and right leads from output of the turntable into the preamp. If the right channel is still the hotter channel after this test, then put them back to correct left-right, and now reverse left and right leads from the preamp to the amp. Again, if the left channel now becomes hotter, then the problem is the preamp, leads from the preamp to amp, or something in the amp. You see where I am going here.

You sound like someone that knows how to troubleshoot, so you may have already tried these steps, but I know from painful experience that sometimes I am SURE I tested soemthing, just to go back and try it again and it works.

Good luck and please let us know if you find the "ghost in the machine"!

Bluesnote
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by Bluesnote » 06 Nov 2019 21:18

You know, the more I think about this the more convinced I am that the system is not at fault.

CDs play fine and balanced through headphones - headphones and associated connections good
Problem persists with different TTs
Problem persists with different headshells
Problem can be corrected by skewing cart
Problem less noticeable on some albums

Seems to point to some albums, more prevalent on favourite albums that have probably had more play time.
May need to get second copies of those albums and see if there is an improvement

Chris

MetalT75
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by MetalT75 » 07 Nov 2019 09:03

^That is what I thought also that the albums are to blame or combination of cart and album imbalance. Sometimes there is a huge difference even when listening with speakers. Most of my albums are balanced dead center but some are more or less balanced to the right, never left.

When I got my first TT after a looong time I noticed channel imbalance to the right with the albums I was laying at that time (mostly new pressings). Basically everything (TT, cartridge, pre-amp etc.) but the amp has been changed since then and the imbalance is still there BUT, like said, it only concerns some albums not all. There might be and most likely also is some imbalance in the cart (Rega Exact, known of sometimes having some imbalance to the right) and room acoustics which matter but I've taken care of that by adjusting the balance from the amp with a record I know has a perfect balance. Still, some albums tend to sound louder from the right channel, mainly vocals, so it's not the equipment.

nat
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by nat » 11 Nov 2019 23:49

Sometimes a balance control can soothe the savage breast, even if it is only addressing the symptoms.

rewfew
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by rewfew » 12 Nov 2019 15:10

I've had similar experience. Try moving the unbalanced speaker closer to the listening position a little bit. Only took a couple inches for me to make a big difference. It could be the room itself.

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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by Sterling1 » 12 Nov 2019 22:51

matty007 wrote:
05 Nov 2019 22:27
Hi everyone,

So I am currently using a SL1200 mk2 and a AT540ML cartridge, along with a project phono box DS. This goes through to a NAD 7125 aux input for listening to headphones (I am solely a headphone user).

The cartridge and detail is tremendous, however I am having an issue with channel imbalance that is driving me insane. I don’t have a way to test the level of the imbalance, but I would hazard a guess at about 5db, but it is probably a lot more.

I have aligned the cartridge perfectly, and set the azimuth to dead straight. I have also set the anti skate spot on with a blank record. I have also checked the RCA cables are okay, testing with another source, and they are fine. The table is perfectly level and checked with two spirit levels. I have also tried different headphones. All are less apparent than my daily driver DT 880’s, but that’s only because the soundstage is much narrower on the other headphones. But I can tell an imbalance is still there

The right channel is noticeably hotter than the left. Vocals sound annoyingly panned to the right, and certain instruments. I do get bass and other instruments on the left channel, but the vocals etc on the right clearly overpower them. I find channel
imbalance intolerable and it’s so frustrating, it honestly puts me off my music.

Now, I have another turntable, a Pioneer PLX 1000. The problem is also the same on that table. I have even tried my other cartridges. The MP-110 and a Ortofon 2m Blue. All the same issue, with subtle differences in severity.

I have even tried going into a headphone amp instead of the Nad Reciever, same issue. I have also swapped phono preamps, same issue.

I’m sure if you’ve read this far you are thinking there is nothing else to eliminate, I agree. It’s driving me bananas.

The ONLY way I can get the channels balanced is to change the azimuth greatly so it is leaning heavily to the outer grooves. I mean it’s not even close to straight, it has to be heavily skewed. Almost so the side of the cartridge facing the outer grooves is clipping the vinyl. If I do this, it is nicely balanced, if I hone it in at least. If I go too far it ends up too hot on the left channel, but it is certainly a heavy skew. This is obviously not right and shows something is wrong, I am just completely lost as to what it may be.

And before you suspect my ears, I have tested the same tracks in digital form, and the balance is perfect. So a hearing issue is not the problem.

Obviously I can just use the balance control on my nad receiver to ‘fix’ it, but it’s never quite right, and I don’t like sticky plaster fixes. I would rather solve the actual problem itself. I have to set the Nad balance dial to 3 o’clock to get it virtually balanced.

I have experimented with anti skate, but it seems to make little to no difference regardless of how far I apply it, or not apply it.

And yes, I have tried different headshells with good wires

Please please can somebody shed some light on what this may be, it is driving me totally mad. I have a very good setup in my opinion and the quality and detail is superb, but the channel imbalance is totally depressing me and it’s the only thing I can focus on. On some LP’s it’s much less severe and pretty much balanced, but it never seems 100%. On most of my favourite LP’s that I know like the back of my hand, like Michael Jackson’s Bad, the balance is so clearly and obviously favouring the right.

Please help

Thanks 😊
Visit a ear, nose, and throat Doctor.

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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by mjwraw » 14 Nov 2019 19:28

Yes to all those people suggesting it's the records themselves. I have ripped almost my entire collection (1700 LPs) and have noticed on a disappointingly large number of them that the right channel is 'louder' than the left. Sometimes it's very subtle, and only really visible on the channel monitors in Audacity, but on others it's so bad it's audible. But for all the others balance is spot on. The one proviso I'd add is that most of the records where imbalance is noticeably bad are ones I've got 2nd hand, which leads me to wonder if, for whatever reason, poorly set up turntables have a tendency to wear the left channel more than the right?

kmp14
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Re: Stubborn Channel Imbalance Driving Me Mad

Post by kmp14 » 14 Nov 2019 20:34

It appears that the OP has left the building.

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