Got Static?


All:

I am completely vexed and need some suggestions....

The problem: I am hearing occasional "ticks" which I believe are associated with static buildup in my system. The "ticks" occur randomly, roughly one to three times during the playback of a CD. I hear them during vinyl playback as well but it is sometimes hard to distinguish them from surface tics or pops. These "ticks" can sometimes be heard when the system is idling with the mute button disengaged--when the mute is "on" they cannot be heard. The frequency of the "ticks" appears to increase as the humidity level drops--the colder and dryer it is the more of them I hear. Thus, the problem is less of an issue in the summer (unless running the AC) and is pretty darn annoying in the winter. Sometimes, when I touch my gear I receive a small shock which is translated by the speakers. I have tried to ground my rack but this has not helped. Believing it may be a grounding issue I have also tried cheater plugs on my CD player and/or linestage--no change. The funny thing is I have been at this for 25+ years (with many different system configurations) and this issue has never been a problem until the last year or so--can't figure out why it has become one now.

Any ideas about WHAT is causing this and HOW to stop it? Anyone else have this issue?
dodgealum
Have you tried using a humidifier? Since you mentioned the problem is related to humidity...
You don't say what flooring material you have, so I will assume carpet and suggest that you mix a small amount of fabric softerner with water, put it in a spray bottle and occasionally spray the carpet around the rack. Use sparingly; a little goes a long way.
Yes, I agree with Viridian that if you have a carpet in the room that could be the culprit.

So you might try getting your cables up off the floor with cable bridges or whatever nonconductive supports you choose 2" to 4" should work well.

Out here in AZ it's quite dry and I have carpet in my listening rooms. I also grounded the rack as you tried. If you have the components isolated from the rack then you can ground the rack and touch the grounded metal part of the rack with your finger prior to changing the volume or touching the components.

When things are dry and humidity is low I also try to go barefoot when I'm using the system as shuffling around in my socks also builds a static charge.

Good Luck!
I agree with Viridian to a point. If you spray that mixture on carpet it will attract dirt (like anything else). I would suggest that mixture sprayed on a rag then wipe down all your cables (not equipment). I use Nordost Eco 3X which is pretty expensive and very close to the fabric softener and water combo. You may even want to add 1 drop of dish soap to the mix.
Perhaps your heating system had humidifier that recently stopped working. You could just spray clean water on the carpet to wet it and humidify the room, but it would be better to buy cheap humidifier and place it next to your system. I would get one that boils water (not ultrasonic).

Grounding protect your gear by providing better discharge path to ground - a very good thing. Without it discharge current might travel thru circuitry. It does nothing for the static levels.

Be careful not to touch signal wires (input or output) and always touch grounded unpainted metal box first.
Have you changed any cables recently? If so, perhaps you have introduced a cable not as well shielded as what you had previously. I have experienced this with a cable that was picking up ticks from light switches turning on. That little bit of arcing at the switch creates an RF emission that can picked up by a cable (think antenna). Another source of RF ticks might be motors switching on--like your heater blower, etc.
I had a problem with static as well. I bought a 4" X 2" rectangular static discharge mat which I keep in the top of my rack. It grounds to the screw on the wall outlet. Before I touch the system, I tough the mat and it discharges the static. I get no static through my system now and I did before I started using the mat to discharge myself first.

If you think about it, when you build up the charge and just touch the system and get zapped, that discharge seems to do something to the system and you can get those annoying static sounds.

I bought it on-line a couple of years ago for like under 20.00. I find it indispensable. Don't remember the site, but just Google static discharge mats.
I started a thread about this last year (maybe the year before, not sure). I too have crazy static problems here in Colorado. I couldn't figure out how to battle it. I tried everything. I'd get audible pops sometimes just walking across the room. All my cables were off the ground, I tried fabric softener, I tried humidifiers, I checked my ground, I lit candles and danced around the room and offered sacrifices to the static gods... Nothing worked.

Soooo, I put a coin next to the light switch and hold it in my hand whenever I ground myself on a screw under the light switch.

By brother lost two preamps last winter due to static in his home. The summer before his house got struck by lightning and he lost his whole stereo in addition to his stove and many other electrical items.

Static is a drag...
Thanks for your contributions! The room features hardwood floors with a large area rug--you can see some photos of the room if you click on my virtual system. This comment by Stereo5 has me wondering...

"If you think about it, when you build up the charge and just touch the system and get zapped, that discharge seems to do something to the system and you can get those annoying static sounds".

whether the "ticks" are a result of static that is building up in the system components without encouragement or whether I am introducing the static by touching the system thereby transferring it to the components which then reproduce the "ticking" sound. If the latter were to be true it would have to be lying there dormant somehow until enough of a charge builds up to release a "tick". Is this even possible? And why has this become a problem only in the last year or so when I have had the system set up exactly the same way in the room for five years and did not experience the static problem until just a year ago? I have changed components over the past five years--could one of the newer ones be more "susceptible" to static discharge than the others? Thanks for your help!
Get a whole-house humidifier unit and have it inserted in-path with all your Heating/Cooling ducts (Aprilaire and other manufacturers make them) to keep the humidity level in your home balanced and in a reasonable range. Experiment with what is both comfortable and good for your system. I know this seems counter-intuitive in the months where your air conditioning (or heat pump if you live where they are used for both heating and cooling) is running however it sounds like you have a combination of abnormally low humidity coupled with materials in area rugs, the shoe/sneaker soles and/or socks that you might be wearing when you move across the room. Use of AC or a heat pump for heating or cooling when you are already low in humidity in the home only serves to pull down the levels even further. You can still humidify while these devices are running to achieve a balance in the home.

One thing is certain though; you cannot transfer static to your system from across the room so if you are hearing the results of build-up even when you are sitting across the room using the remote, you have an abnormally low humidity condition in the house in general. All the other feedback is good above but you probably have something that requires a bit more work to resolve. My 2 cents....
A suggestion that came with a Sears room humidifier: place it near the furnace intake so that the furnace gets more-humid air to play with. I just tried this yesterday, so I have no idea yet whether it makes a difference.

There's already a humidifier attached to the furnace, but it doesn't even come on unless it's much colder outdoors than it usually gets around here (Maryland).
Humidifiers attached to furnace usually have control - a humidistat that you can set to desired humidity. Also it requires some maintenance - changing screens or filter every year. If it is Aprilair style with air going thru screen, like mine, you need to change screen every year or they will stop working.
2 things: You need to increase your room's humidity, probably via a humidifier. And you can eliminate static shocks by simply placing a Bounce dryer sheet near your electronics and just touch it before touching your equipment.

If you do these 2 things your static problems should disappear...

-RW-
Get Venta humidifier large one use static guard spray and Nordost EC3 spray for all cables and power cords.
Well since this tread started I have been getting a lot of shocks around the house (outside temp has been highs in the single digits and lows well below zero). Also I got a nasty cold. I broke down and bought a humidifier. Took 2 days to get the humidity up to 25% but no more shocks and I feel a bit better too. I still use Nordost Eco 3X for all my cables.