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Amps on at all times?

 

John DI
Unregistered guest
Hello All,
This question might have already been asked but I will ask again if I may.
I have a NAD C160 C270 Combo; a good friend of mine suggested that I never turn them off unless I plan on being out of the house for a long period of time. So, is this recommendable? will these two units be ok being on all the time?

Thank you very much in advance
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4078
Registered: May-04


Yes, if you run the amps 24/7 they will reach thermal equilibrium and have their best performance. To do this you should have the equipment on a very good power line filter and surge protector. These start at about $100 to get a product that does the job effectively. A $10 strip will not do what is needed. If your area is subject to over and/or under voltage conditions you should look for a line conditioner that protects against these situations.




 

John DI
Unregistered guest
Jan,

Thanks a lot for your help. Funny, I got in trouble with my wife cause I purchased a surge protector that cost me $149.00 plus tax (Monster Cable PowerProtect Surge Protector (MPHTS1000MKII)
so now I feel like it was a good little investment after all !
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4080
Registered: May-04


Buy your wife a $150 dress and a bouquet of roses. Dinner and a night out and she should feel better.

Drive past the repair shop on your way home and mention the surge protector kept your equipment from making a visit.




 

Silver Member
Username: Joe_c

Oakwood, Ga

Post Number: 880
Registered: Mar-05
What about tube amps Jan?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4920
Registered: May-04


The same holds true for any piece of electronics. With a tube amp you must consider the tubes have a finite lifespan. The amount of heat the amps generate at idle is best to determine whether the amp should run 24/7 or not. Tubes are very similar to light bulbs in that it is usually the heat and cool cycle that makes the elements inside the tube brittle. Hit that with 120 volts and the element finally shatters from the stress. It is more common for tubes to simply wear out, but tubes will blow out and it isn't that attractive. Some amplifiers have standby circuits which keep the tubes warm and this cuts some of that wear. Some tube amps have "soft start" circuitry that slowly allows voltage to the tube plates and grids. This also allows the tubes to last longer. My McIntosh amps run very conservatively and you can place your hands on the power transformers even when they have been running for hours. Output tubes in the Mac last a reasonably long time (five years average). A Dynaco amp runs very hot and shouldn't probably be left running 24/7. If you do, you'll be replacing tubes in the Dynaco every six months. The amplifier you have will determine the best way to operate the amp. Listen to the amp after it has been running for a few hours. If it sounds better than when cold, you should consider leaving the amp on or at least letting it thoroughly warm up before listening. If the transformers run hot, however, I think I would probably turn the amp off between listening sessions.




 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 1452
Registered: Feb-05
I do most of my listening on the weekend. So I leave my system off during the week unless I am going to listen to it (then I know I'll be listening to it cold). I work a 4x10 schedule with fri-sun off so when I come home on thursday evening I fire up the system and leave it on for the weekend. I would probably do it that way regardless of what I owned. As Jan said there could be some exceptions but I haven't owned one yet.
 

Silver Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 204
Registered: Mar-04
aside from your equipment being in a constant state of thermal equilibrium as mentioned, keeping the power on at all times helps your equipment last longer too as turning it on and off stresses it out as it goes from state to sate.

the only drawback is the cost of the utilities needed to keep it on or heat (especially with tubes) in the summer time.

i remember reading somewhere that it typically takes solid state gear 1/2 hour to stabilize from a cold start at ROOM TEMPERATURE. lol

from what i understand about circuits, parts of them are there to compensate for the thermal fluctuations... again adding strain to your components.

i would think tubes in particular would suffer a greater failure rate from hot/cold induced expansion and contraction due to the much higher temperatures involved.

like i read somewhere else once... the greatest stress to a lightbulb is simply turning it on and off.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 756
Registered: Sep-04
Unless you live in an area prone to lightning strikes I would not use a surge protector. It might protect your amp from surges but it'll also stop your amp from giving you decent dynamic contrast. Generally speaking, adding a surge protector kills the life of the music.

Jan and I like to disagree on this...

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5076
Registered: May-04


But, I live in one of the so called "Tornado Alleys" of the US; and the storms that come through here will take out too much equipment to be left unprotected. It's your choice based on what you know to be the conditions in your area. I did always suggest to my clients that a surge protector will give them a better chance of keeping their equipment out of the repair shop. And, I guaranteed them any piece of hifi they plug into a surge protector sounds better in their home than in my repair shop.




 

Silver Member
Username: Cheapskate

Post Number: 210
Registered: Mar-04
has anyone ever used a rack power conditioner on their gear? i've seen "pro audio" 8 outlet power conditioners selling for as little as $50 while 6 outlet home units start at $100-$150.

i have serious power contamination problems. i think it's a ground loop.

either one of my DVD players create zipper noise on my TV screen when in use. (i'm using an RF modulator) and the new poloroid one (so i can play CD-Rs) causes huge amounts of noise just when fed power even if it's turned off.

seeing that power conditioners (usually $1000 units) get all kinds of raves in mags, i had considered giving a rack unit a try to see if it helps my video performance any.

as to dynamics... i don't care about that. i never turn my 55WPC reciever up more than 2/3.

are cheap pro rack units as effective as "state of the art" units at rejecting noise.

it doesn't help any that almost every manufacturer usess a different system of measuring rejection.
offhand, one uses decibles while another uses percentages.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 766
Registered: Sep-04
budget minded,

If you tend to play your system at relatively low volume, it's even more important that you have good dynamics from the system otherwise you will either not hear the quieter stuff or the music will always sound like it's playing at the same volume which loses a lot of the nuance of music.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5099
Registered: May-04


The market for AC line conditioners shows no sign of price reflecting what you will get in the way of performance. Like an audio system, you have to set your priorities and find what suits them best. Living in a older part of a metroplex I have a priority for first squelching surges and voltage blips; second, priority in dealing with the storms we have come through this area; and, third, lowering the noise floor from the crud and crap that exists on the AC line shared from the transformer on the utility pole forward with all my neighbor's refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners.

As you look at the upper end of the AC conditioners line up, not to be confused with surge protectors alone, you see items like the PS Audio units. While PS Audio's conditioners are somewhat unique to the market, the idea is to smooth and store energy by using large transformers and capacitor banks. Used with high voltage/current requirements from the amplification chain, these units offer a substantial improvement in many applications. However, you pay dearly for this improvement. These are not your average $50-100 AC conditioners.

The Panamax units that I prefer do not have this reservoir of capacitors, but, then, my McIntosh tube amps don't require the sort of current draw that a Mac soild state amp would like to have in front of its power supply.

At $50 it's worth the effort even if the unit ends up smoothing the AC line to your toaster. The toast will taste better without those annoying voltage bumps and the toaster itself will last longer.


 

Silver Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 304
Registered: Feb-05
Leaving an amp on 24/7 is an unecessary waste of electricity. It is true that tube amps take some time to reach optimum operating conditions, usually 30 min. to an hour. Solid state amplifiers on the other hand will stabilize within seconds of being powered on. The importance of good surge protection is undeniable.If an amp is left on 24/7 it will avoid the heating/cooling cycle from running then being powered off but it is designed for this to be cycled on and off many,many times during it's lifetime. In fact I would bet that the average television if left on 24/7 would have half the lifespan of the same television that was cycled on and off regularly.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5453
Registered: May-04


That's a bet I would take, Ramsey. Like a light bulb, most televisions have something that produces a picture and will age with time. If the set is a vacuum tube CRT or RPT, then the picture tube(s) will eventually wear down. But if left running continuously the aging will be slowed as the thermal stability increases. If you count how many hours a light bulb or a TV can run continuously against being cylced on and off, you will normally find it is the shock of turn on that blows out the light bulb and most likely the television if some other minor part doesn't fail before that time.




 

Silver Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 305
Registered: Feb-05
Jan studies by television manufactures have shown that when tv's are run 24/7 their lifespan is decreased. A tv and a light bulb actually, are not really a fair comparison. A light bulb produces light directly from the tungsten element glowing inside it from the flow of current through it. A television on the other hand produces light from the phoshor coating on the screen which glows as electrons strike this coating as they are fired from the electron gun in the back of the tv. This is not a comparable operation. Thermal stability is simply when a device reaches it's operant temperature, which in the case of a ss amp is a matter of mere seconds. It is not necessary to run any device that uses single phase 120V AC current continiously other than an alarm clock or an air purifier or medical device that would need to be in constant operation for the health of a patient.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5457
Registered: May-04


You're correct, the two devices are not simple anologies. But, since both have the basic failure of maintaining a clean vacuum, they have some similarities that are worth considering. I've actually never seen a television tube totally fail as I have a light bulb or vacuum tube. They usually fade away compared to the total blow out of a light bulb. In this respect they operate more like a typical vacuum tube in audio use than a light bulb. I hope you can see why I drew the comparison, however.


I've never seen a study that clarifies the life span of a television tube. Is it the tube or the associated components that eventually wear out? Any links to any such studies? I know the military has conducted tests showing that a mere ten per cent reduction in voltage will extend the life of many components, mostly the life of vacuum tubes and the high voltage components within those circuits, approximately 25-50%. I believe light bulb "working hours" are calculated in terms of constant on, not on off cycles.

Please, read that I did not say it was necessary to operate a piece of equipment 24/7; just that I preferred to do it that way for the reasons I gave. I consider the small amount of voltage and current used at idle to be worth the benefits in terms of sound quality on my McIntosh tube amplification. My Audible Illusions pre amp has a trickle amount of voltage at standby. I have convinced myself the 24/7 route is best for my soild state gear. As I said, there are plenty of thirty year old pieces of equipment that have been turned on and off for that many years. It is, in my opinion, a matter of preference.



 

Silver Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 306
Registered: Feb-05
Ok I respect your choice of leaving your gear on 24/7 if that is your preference, i'm not saying that is inherently wrong, my only point was that solid state integrated devices such as transistors and other types of ic's do not need to remain at a constant temperature to ensure a lengthy lifespan. They can operate for many years within a reasonable but a fairly wide range of temps., both operant and ambient.
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