Need help fixing audio channel imbalance
Oct 24, 2015 at 2:35 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

NoxNoctum

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Ok so for the past few weeks I've noticed that on my main speaker amp (that I use for headphones) the right channel was slightly louder and was actually about to send it to be repaired when I started to notice it on my Schiit Lyr as well. I think I may have noticed it on the speaker amp first just because it's significantly more detailed than the Lyr.
 
I've switched out DACs, HPs, RCA and USB cables all to no avail. I double checked that the audio channels were even as well on the PC itself and they are. At this point I would think my ears are the problem but there is no issue with my MP3 player. Any ideas? I'm on Windows 8. My standard chain when using my speaker amp is:
 
PC > Schiit Wyrd (I tried taking this out of the chain to go direct from PC to DAC and it did not change anything) > Schiit Gungnir (or Audio-gd NFB-7) > Lightspeed attenuator > F1J/Lyr >LCD-2/3/HE-6. With the Lyr I take the pre-amp out of the loop of course.
 
Oct 25, 2015 at 6:07 AM Post #2 of 6

WraithApe

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Sounds weird - the fact you've tried all these different combos, including DAP, might point to the soundcard / driver. Does it have any configurable settings on top of standard Windows settings? Don't suppose you've tried re-installing the driver or switching out the soundcard?
 
Oct 25, 2015 at 12:28 PM Post #3 of 6

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoxNoctum /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Ok so for the past few weeks I've noticed that on my main speaker amp (that I use for headphones) the right channel was slightly louder and was actually about to send it to be repaired when I started to notice it on my Schiit Lyr as well. I think I may have noticed it on the speaker amp first just because it's significantly more detailed than the Lyr.
 
I've switched out DACs, HPs, RCA and USB cables all to no avail. I double checked that the audio channels were even as well on the PC itself and they are. At this point I would think my ears are the problem but there is no issue with my MP3 player. Any ideas? I'm on Windows 8. My standard chain when using my speaker amp is:
 
PC > Schiit Wyrd (I tried taking this out of the chain to go direct from PC to DAC and it did not change anything) > Schiit Gungnir (or Audio-gd NFB-7) > Lightspeed attenuator > F1J/Lyr >LCD-2/3/HE-6. With the Lyr I take the pre-amp out of the loop of course.

 
When you say there's no issue with the MP3 player, are you using it hooked up to the same amps? If not, how far on the volume knobs do you get on each, on any headphone? With the power output on those if you're not getting to 9:00 on the dial there's a chance it might have more to do with the inherent issue on analog pots (although in some cases very high gain is the real culprit).
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 2:21 AM Post #4 of 6

NoxNoctum

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No mp3 player is entirely separate, it's a Fiio X3 FWIW. 
 
Can you expand on the analog pots a bit? I have nearly no technical knowledge about this stuff. That sounds intriguing though because with the Audeze cans I barely move the pots at all on the pre-amp when connected to the F1J (with about half the music I don't move them even the slightest as it is loud enough without touching the volume). Definitely not to the 9 oclock position regardless. Lyr is a bit more but not much. 
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 2:22 AM Post #5 of 6

NoxNoctum

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  Sounds weird - the fact you've tried all these different combos, including DAP, might point to the soundcard / driver. Does it have any configurable settings on top of standard Windows settings? Don't suppose you've tried re-installing the driver or switching out the soundcard?

I will fiddle with this and report back.
 
Oct 27, 2015 at 12:17 PM Post #6 of 6

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoxNoctum /img/forum/go_quote.gif
No mp3 player is entirely separate, it's a Fiio X3 FWIW. 

 
The thing with portable players is that they use digital potentiometers. Even the A&K's that have a volume knob just use that instead of buttons but it's still digital.
 
In any case I'd try the X3's line out with the Lyr first and see if there's any issue still.
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoxNoctum /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
Can you expand on the analog pots a bit? I have nearly no technical knowledge about this stuff. That sounds intriguing though because with the Audeze cans I barely move the pots at all on the pre-amp when connected to the F1J (with about half the music I don't move them even the slightest as it is loud enough without touching the volume). Definitely not to the 9 oclock position regardless. Lyr is a bit more but not much. 

 
Here's a lot of details on that: http://www.head-fi.org/t/528261/channel-imbalance-in-your-volume-pot-some-thoughts
 
Also, here's Meier's solution: http://www.meier-audio.homepage.t-online.de/jazz.htm
The volume control is technically very sophisticated. The position of the potentiometer is measured with the use of an AD-converter. The output of this converter is then used to set the proper volume level with a number of electronic switches. There are a total of 32 levels which allows for sufficient small stepsizes and a very analog feeling. The advantages of this concept are strongly reduced channel-imbalances and a much cleaner and more detailed sound. The use of a conventional stereo-potentiometer does add its own sonic signature which is now prevented.
 
8:00 is fine for really good analogue potentiometers, but still imbalanced at just past no sound. Cheaper pots would usually need to get up to 9:00.
 

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