dead quiet

I read this a lot that one's system is dead quiet..Is this at all possible when playing phono? what does it really mean?
not in my experience. Often I'm satisfied if I can't hear any hum from my listening position (ie when there's no music playing). Some cartridge/arm/pre configs seem to be noisier than others. None are dead quiet.
Don't agree.

With the proper combination of turntable/cartridge/tonearm, phono stage, and software an analog front end can be dead quiet.

I can prove it to anybody who wants to stop by.
It means the system is turned off.
Audiofeil is correct. Dead quiet is possible. It's the only way to fly, in fact.

If you have hum, your work isn't finished.
My first epiphany with the term "dead quiet" as it relates to analog was when I dropped by to visit Albert Porter and heard his system.

Wish I could say the same for mine, although digital is another experience altogether.
Agree with Audiofeil, my system is dead quiet with phono and I'm not surprised Bill has achieved the same result.

I'm confused as to why so many people find this hard to accept. There are half a dozen guys in my local audio group that have dead quite phono playback.

Granted all these systems are different and perform to widely varying qualities, but with each there is no noticeable difference in playback noise between CD and LP, unless it's a bad record with pops or surface noise.

That being said, the number of times in a four or five hour music session where a pop or click can be heard in my system would amount to about one or two per hour average.

A few milliseconds of noise for hours of superior playback is a fair trade. Some people obsess and strain, just waiting to hear the tiniest flaw. I had a visitor about three years ago that was like that.

At first he refused to believe that what he was hearing was my LP, because the CD was playing too. I sometime switch between the two during music sessions.

After repeatedly lifting the tonearm and proving the music was the turntable, he spent the remainder of the night leaning forward, trying to find a flaw. After and two and a half hours, while playing an older Jazz LP, there was a click.

The visitor jumped from his seat and exclaimed "I hear a pop."

I hope his Porsche never gets a bug hit on the windshield. No doubt he would exclaim "Porsche no good, ruined view of road," and sell the car.
Thank you Clio09, your post must have appeared while I was composing my response.

Thank you for the kind words, I could have just let your post stand and not posted mine if I had waited a few minutes :^).
Presuming you have done all your homework , randomly selected digital software will sound quieter than randomly selected LPs. Its all about lazer's 0's &1's. However, LPs will present a "wider-screen" affect to the music with more ambient cues , more hall affect in a more natural presentation than digital. There will always be a selected situation or so where a dealer can demostrate "dead quiet" more effectively than the average audio-head. That is a part of the JOB , no offence should be taken. Dragging a needle over a vinyl trench has inherient noise related issues. Keeping that noise below listening levels separates the lo-fi and hi-fi'ers. For me,its all about comittment to the media and the machines.
Actually any "audio-head" can achieve dead quiet with the proper combination of components I outlined earlier. It's not a selected siutation, magic, or pipe dream.

And certainly not relegated or restricted to dealers. With more experience you'll learn this.

I should add that quality ac power is important as well.
Perhaps for all of you who posted that a dead quiet system is achievable..would you we able to share how it can be achieved..
I do not have a dedicated line and wondering if that is a good start..
I love what I hear from my system except that between playing and while changing record..the speaker has some noise that is volume dependent..
I have eliminated 98% of its hum but as one of you suggested I am not done with my work ..please advise
I can put my ear right against the speaker grill with the preamp in the phono position with the volume control at the normal listening level for lp's and hear absolutely nothing at all. Even if I turn up the volume control, it still remains silent. I have no power conditioner.

Tell us a bit about your cartridge, tonearm, phonostage, etc. There are known combinations that show a few issues, so maybe someone around here will have experience with your particular mix of things.
Ditto, Cleaning up your power is certainly a critical element in the pursuit of "dead quiet". A lot of the noise one hears is from the influence of dirty power to the signal. The noise can come from power out of the wall, power from amplification (pre and/or amp), infuences in the signal path, and of course from the source itself. I believe one must address all of these areas to get there.
Will Mr. Fiel tell us an affordable combination . This is for people like me who can't stop by. It would greatly appreciated.
Mr. Porter I would love to know what you are using could youy explain your analog front end.
I truly wonder if your hearing everything? I mean no insult please don't take it that way. I have heard some incredible systems even lloyd Walker's personal rig. Convince me!
Albert--- Lloyd is a gentleman and hasn't uttered a bad word about your dumping his table.
You're right Mechans, I have a terrible system, no wonder I think LP's are so quiet.

That's great that Lloyd hasn't uttered a bad word about my "dumping" my Walker (your words). I haven't uttered a bad word about Lloyd not buying my Walker.

Matter of fact, why didn't you buy my Walker?
is the solution to noise in the analog system only new/different equipment?

The noise I'm referring to isn't pops and ticks, it's hum, and it's noticeable when standing near the speaker. With the right cartridge/arm and doing my "work" to iron out noise, it's only noticeable with my ear in front of the speaker, but it is indeed more noticeable than the digital sources.

Can you guys advise us on what the keys are in component selection?

PS - just noticed my systems are a little down level - I'm running 2 Pink Triangle tables, 1 with a London Decca Super Gold, on a Roksan Artemis Zi arm into my TAD 150 phono stage. The other with a Benz Glider on a Clearaudio Emotion arm into a Jolida JD9a phono stage > Musical Fidelity Nuvista preamp.
I've had analog gear where I heard that faint hum if I got right up next to either speaker, so I think I understand what you're talking about. I don't have it now, and my system is what most of you would call mid-fi, so I don't think it's a problem money alone can solve.

Without trying to remember the gear that produced the audible hum, I'll tell you what I listen to now: Benz Micro Ace L on vintage ("old") Yamaha YP-D8 DD table with stock arm, into Musical Surroundings Phonomena, into Cayin TA-30 integrated tube amp, into GMA Continuum 1's. Interconnects and speaker wire are BlueJeans Cable.

No hum, no analog noise residue. Of course, surface quality and pressing quality of individual LPs varies mightily. But with clean vinyl the system is quiet and musical as hell.
A hum problem can be very difficult to identify as there are so many factors to consider.

In my experience, as it relates to analog front ends only, I find the preponderance of hum problems are usually found in the (lack of or poor) shielding/grounding somewhere in the turntable, tonearm, and cartridge combination.

Another candidate would be tubed phono stages.

Again, these are the most likely based on what I've owned and serviced. There are certainly other hum inducing causes that are far too numerous to list.
I would like to add that, even with a ZYX a3 with .24mv out and my ASR Basis Exclusive maxed to around 65db...I can turn the volume 3/4 up on my JRG Concerto pre and not hear anything coming out of my JRG 201 monos. Just the slightest bit of "normal" is VERY possible to achieve this. And Im an amature.
BdGregory, Where do you get your AC power for all the gear? Is it coming from more than one wall socket? Is the system AC grounded at more than one socket? If so, the simplest thing to try first is to lift the grounds of all but one component, preamp is best choice to leave grounded with a 3-prong plug, since everything else is connected to the preamp. To lift the grounds of the other components, you may have to resort to "cheater plugs" available at any hardware store. A small difference in AC ground potential between one wall socket and another can result in low level hum. If this strategy does not help, there are more complex rituals that may do so. like lifting the ground wire from the turntable to the preamp, if it is currently attached to the preamp OR attaching the ground wire to the preamp, if it is currently free. As others have intimated, regardless of the cost of your system, you don't have to live with hum.
Bdgregory, I had the hum in the speaker between tracks when I listened close to the speaker. It went away when I replaced the Jolida JD9 with a JLTi phonopre.
One thing that can cause hum is other components, especially digital components, even when they are off. I have to disconnect the power supply on my Squeezebox when I play records to avoid a slight hum. I previously had a Sony DVD-9000ES that produced tremendous hum in my phono, though only when on.
Have you tried turning off, or even unplugging, any digital gear, if you have any?
Albert--what table did you go to? as for dead quiet, it is achievable but as others have stated, very difficult to achieve if your system is not already dead quiet. I still have a little hum that is due to the way i have my equipment set up. I have found that phono wires near electric current feeds will cause hum. That is my recent problem. My phono stepup is also part of my issue. I have used a loaner stepup and eliminated my noise issue but just have not invested in this next step. Christmas is coming :)
Has the issue of speaker sensitivity been considered? There is a HUGE difference in background noise, hiss, pink noise, whatever you want to call it, between a speaker that has a sensitvity of say 86db vs 100db....

Even the very best components present some noise when connected to very sensitive speakers...
Stickman451, excellent point.
to answer some of the questions about my last post . . .
Here's what I've learned, and implemented over the past 2 years in my effort to address hum in my analog stage:
- address ground loops, one ground for the system, one wall socket, ground loop isolator on Cable TV connection. I have TV in my dual-purpose system.
- ensure good clean connections - at headshell and at interconnects (deoxit, and Cardas contact conditioner)
- Keep distance between the preamp and the TT
- Keep distance between digital sources and the TT

To further describe my setup and results:
- I use a power conditioner (Belkin PF60), one wall socket, dedicated circuit.
- I've found that even addressing these issues I get some hum audible when standing near the speakers.
- My speakers are 86dB (Mani-2) and 87db (VR4-III) efficient.
- Depending on the cartridge I use it's more or less audible, and it's always more audible than my CD player. When using the Benz Glider, it's the quietest, and I need to place my ear near the speaker (~12" away) to notice it, when the volume is set at normal listening level. My Decca Super Gold is the most noisy and the fussiest. OTOH, it's my best sounding cartridge. My Grado Ref Sonata is in between. I also have a Signet that's very quiet like the Glider, but rarely use it anymore.
- The Jolida is no more noisy than other pre's I've used, as long as I don't set the gain too high. I will probably be getting a new phono pre w/i the next 3-4 months - I just sold my Lehman Black Cube SE a few months ago.

BTW - I incorrectly stated the model of my second tonearm - it's a Clearaudio Satisfy (not emotion). I've used Rega RB300 mod'ed/cardas rewired, and Linn Ittok LVII before going to the rms I have now. Both of my arms have good shielded interconnects. The Satisfy has an upgraded, integrated IC (one run from cart to RCAs). I'm using an upgraded Roksan Artemiz IC on the Tabriz ZI arm.
Hum is an indicator of a problem when it manifests in a phono setup, regardless of cartridge output. When I encounter it, I try to see what the preamp does if it has no input on the phono at all; you should get hiss but no hum.

If that is not the case then you have find out why. Pick the preamp up and see if moving it changes the hum. If not, I would be very tempted to have the preamp serviced.

If the hum is elsewhere, you have a wiring problem. Sometimes hum is the result of RF intrusion into the system. This can be particularly problematic on straight tracking arms with only 4 wires- often LT arms combine the minus output of the left channel with the tone arm ground (they do this to reduce the number of wires which can cause tracking problems) but the result is a ground loop that can leave the system vulnerable to RF.

RF can be sensitive to the current position of the wiring; if you move it and the hum changes, be suspicious of RF. The preamp can be set up to reject RF so sometimes this is an indication that the manufacturer has not done their homework.

Other hum problems relate to wiring in the arm and cable. Grounding is usually the culprit- confused connections can be an issue, as can broken connections. A through check is advised.
As Atmasphere states, hum is almost always due to wiring/grounding faults. If the preamp hums without any cartridge input it is faulty...often power supply capacitors. Tube preamps that used ac filament excitation sometimes hummed, but that's why we use dc today.

Even relatively inexpensive solid state preamps can be very quiet. "Dead" is subjective. In my experience tube preamps exhibit some hiss, but this is an inherent characteristic of a tube and not under total control of the designer.

But the bottom line is that hiss and hum is almost always below the level of LP surface noise, and even further below even quiet sections of the recording. If you worry about noise that is audible only with your ear against the speaker you are exhibiting irrational audiophile paranoia.
...except that noise, hiss, hum, growling, yodeling, etc. marks its imprint on the total sound. I had a Grado Sonata in a Rega P-25 that hummed ever so slightly - I couldn't hear the hum when the record was playing. When I learned how to get rid of the least lower it, the result was much better in the overall presentation.
Atmasphere and Eldartford, great posts. When I first started dealing with noise issues in a new table rig a few years ago it would have helped me if I could have found these comments. Instead, I had to weed through the archives.

The operative comment though is:
But the bottom line is that hiss and hm is almost always below the level of LP surface noise, and even further below even quiet sections of the recording. If you worry about noise that is audible only with your ear against the speaker you are exhibiting irrational audiophile paranoia.
I've come to agree with this - but do others who have posted that "dead quiet" is possible agree too? Also, I don't think this is the same as "dead quiet".

"dead quiet" IS possible...but the natural limitations of the equipment itself will always generate some sort of a wave / footprint. This is inherent wihin the materials/parts used in electronics. As simple as this sounds...if you increase your vol to around 3/4 max output and not be able to disern "annoying" sounds (hiss, hum, etc..) you are fine. Some of the most romantic tubed gear will do this (granted, on a relatively small scale)..but the music produced on these machines is breathtaking regardless.
Stringreen, FWIW the hum that the Grado exhibits in the Rega is a problem with the wiring of the Rega. It can be corrected by grounding the platter bearing and the motor to the same ground that the arm uses. I have no idea why Rega does not do this themselves but they don't.

Bdgregory, I think that the term 'dead quiet' has a little salt with it. **A lot** depends on the efficiency of your speakers- if they are 89db you will probably have to put your ear to the driver to hear the background noise, but it will be there regardless of the technology of the amp or preamp.

My speakers are 97db but I am not aware of the background hiss from my listening chair, although I can hear it when I stand by the speaker.

So- 'dead quiet' has to be taken in that context. IOW, virtually dead quiet :)
Stringreen....Inaudible signal affects the music signal?? Not likely. But if this is true it is an argument for LOW efficiency speakers, where the inaudible signal is more dB down from the music.

If a very weak 60 Hz signal affects the rest of the spectrum what happens when the music has a strong 60 Hz tone??

Another case of IAP :-)
Atmasphere..Yes I know now, and that's what I was saying. With the slight hum gone(and no one could tell it was humming unless I brought it to their attention) the sound field had greater depth, air, clarity, etc. that we all like.

Eldarford...I don't think efficiency has anything to do with it...that's just an adjustment on the volume control. If there is a 60 cycle wave running through the music, it will lay its' imprint on all frequencies in the music..especially on the over and undertones of 60 cycles.
I hope the OP is getting something from this discussion . . . I certainly am, and appreciate all of the comments.

To be precise, from my listening chair and indeed from 2-3 ft away from my speakers, my analog rig is *dead quiet*. But if I am overcome by "irrational audiophile paranoia" and put my ear to the speakers, my analog usually has more hum/hiss than my cd player depending on the cartridge I'm using. My noisiest cartridge may indeed be audible from 2-3 ft if I crank the volume.
I caught this thread a little late,so I apologize if my point has been mentioned...

From my experience(and I'm sure others)the "dead quietness" issue is "dramatically" affected by the actual room itself!!

This is emphasized whenever I make my trips to Brooklyn,NY where two audio pals live(Sid and Ed).

Both have "dead quiet systems"...BUT... they both have different listening room "quietness levels"!!

Sid lives on a quiet block(like me)and the noise floor of his superb room allows for ALL the detail,and tonality of his "amazing" LP collection to be appreciated!Except for the occassional garbage truck passing by -:)

Ed lives in an apartment building,and although on the 22nd floor,the highway noise below,coupled with a noisey building/neighbors absolutely "devastates" a decent listening session!His magnificent/dynamic/dead quiet componentry is wasted...."during the daytime"!

In truth,from what I observe,he is almost unaware of the problem,because he's lived there for SO long!
At night it is a different story altogether.Then one can appreciate the "almost dead quietness" of his set-up.

I am lucky(big time)to have a purpose built dedicated room,which is basically adjoined to my home,on one side.This means I am not bothering family members with volume,and the closest neighbor is 100 feet away.

My noise floor is SO low,my friends kind of make fun of the situation,but this is definitely useful in getting the best from a good set-up.No extraneous noises,and easy to listen for problematic system voicings.There is a downside here....
There IS a real problem(not kidding,actually)for "this" kind of low room noise floor...

You cannot tolerate "any" additional noise,after living in this type of situation,so something like a "tradeshow" is torture!!One can get a bit too picky quite easily,but it's easy to get used to....Those of you in similar situations know this already -:)

Stringreen...You are correct about the speaker efficiency not being a factor IF you make the test with the volume turned up to equal levels with the two kinds of speakers. I was wrong, (but was led astray by Atmasphere).

But you are wrong to think that a tiny inaudible 60 Hz signal could adversely affect the music signal. IAP.
I have a modded TD125, 309 arm, Grado cart, integrated amp, battery phono stage,various other tweak-ease, and the custom speaks. Dead quiet with the pedal to the metal, most think it's a 50,000.00 sound. I assure them it is not! It only took me 40 years to get hear. Oh yeah, latest upgrade to the amp's power supply coming soon will take us way beyond even the pinnacle it's at now. Boy, the air is getting rare up here. Need oxygen !!Maybe I can get some from Obama, after he is done filling up all those tires with more air. Quiet, yeah we have quiet and beyond,finally!
Eldarttford, why do you keep advertising IAP (Internet Access Point) at the end of each post when you don't have it operational yet?
Albertporter...It's hard to find any combination of letters which is not already an acronym for something. Do you have a better suggestion for when we go over the top?
I still don't know what IAP stands for in your post.

Typed into my search engine, Internet Access Point is the answer I got, so I made a joke hoping you would clarify.
Albertporter - IAP = "Irrational Audiophile Paranoia" . . it was coined by Eldartford in his first post to this thread.
It makes sense now, thank you Bdgregory.
Eldarford... The object of the game here in Audiophilia, is to get the purest signal devoid of any artifacts of any kind. One of the reasons that a 15000 dollar amp is better than a 1500 dollar amp is that the parts are better...that is faster (don't hold on to the signal as long), wider, and smoother bandwidth, etc. A component is said to be good when it passes only the intended replication of (let's say the violin). When the purity of the violin's E-string has a 60 cycle modulating tone along with ain't so pure. One of the things that good stereo systems do is to stop playing...that is - there are silences between the notes. Hum and noise simply fills in those silences and blurs things. A very important spec specified on evalutaion sheets is the hum/noise level below signal. No - I must stand by my statement above.
Stringreen...So, when the tuba plays 60 Hz, the violin is messed up. Not in my system. Maybe in yours.
Actually, Eldarford..yes. When a tuba plays a 60 Hz. tone, it is resonated on the box and in the string of the violin...that's why playing "in tune" is so important when playing in an orchestra... a tone that "rubs" against the harmonic tones of the rest of the players makes people wince. That is also why most violin concertos are in D...because the other strings will resonate and strengthen the open strings...E, A, D, G,. In stereo system, you want NOTHING to detract from the original's not like playing the violin since then you are constructing your own event...the event becomes truth. That's the meaning of high fidelity...truth to the original event. Hum and noise ain't an original event.
While I agree with basically everything you have said on this issue, I have to inject something here. Unless, the performance is TOTALLY played acoustically, ie no amps, PA, etc., hum and noise are part of the original event. 100,000 watt PA systems aren't that quiet.

I used to run sound........
Stringreen...OK. OK...but if your hum is loud as a tuba your system needs repair :-)
Hello all, dead quiet is very possible, at least as it relates to the hardware side of the analog coin. Using a Sonic Euphoria PLC, my system is virtually silent. As Stringreen stated, cartridge set-up is at, or near, the top of the list in achieving quiet playback. I buy mostly used lps, which I steamclean. Even new pressings of ultra premium realeases (Blue Note 45's from Acoustic Sounds), have the occaisonal pop or click. That's vinyl. Gotta relax, and take the good with the bad. It's not a perfect medium, but it ain't digital, either.

Enjoy, Dan
..Eldarford...not if you're a Tibetan monk...