Pre-Amp Problem Opinions Please

I own an audio research LS3-B line stage that bought brand new in 1996 i believe it was. it has very few hours on it,and it was sitting on my rack for all this time,really!
I was using my conrad johnson intergrated . I just bought some used digital gear from audiogon and decided to re-arrange my system and hook the LS3-B in. after all hook ups and everything I sat down for some listening and to my disbelief I noticed that volume control is acting up big time.
At 7:00pm position is off(which is normal) at 9:00pm position you get barely sound ,at 11:00pm is the loudest it will get(but still very low volume level) and at 12:00pm sound goes down again and at 1:00am there is no sound(normally it should get louder there).
Also I notice pops every time I touch the volume control,and sometimes pops heard even if I am not touching or turning volume control at all.
My rest of system if it matters is,,Krell md-1 transport
audio research dac-3,conrad johnson mv-55 power amp,and mission 753 3way speakers.
Any help is greatly apreciated.
best regards
If you havn't used it at all or excersized the controls, it may just need cleaning.
The volume control is just dirty.
If your are not handy with stuff, ask a techi friend to clean the volume control. Radio Shack would have a spray cleaner if yours is suitable for that sort of cleaner.
A long time to sit and get grunge on it.
A faster way to partially clean it is to turn it off, then rotate the control gently from minimum to maximum like two hundred times. That should get rid of the pops, and some of the grung, but it really does need to be cleaned inside.
Also if you NEVER turned it on in all those years, some of your caps may be damaged... Try cleaning the volume control first though.
Even if stuff is not connected and just sitting, it should be powered up at least once a year? to keep the caps in shape.
Are you sure it's hooked up properly? Also check to see if you have a tape/rec button on the pre. When this is depressed you will only get normal volume when you are recording a tape.
Can you tell us what component connect to what? It sounds like ground loop issue too. Volume control rarely goes bad like that. When you have ground loop issue, you can hear clear loud pop when your hand is touching or near the volume control knob (due to static discharge into the ground loop.)
Today I called AUDIO RESEARCH and spoke to guy name LENARD there who says that it sounds like the unit is in auto mute or something like that,and that I should try to get it off that mode by connecting it straight to the wall outlet and not to the power bar with the rest of components like I did.
My power bar is just a plain generic MAX 6 by PANAMAX.
He also mentioned something about electrolytic capacitors might be low,but he wants me to try above remedy first.
He did not encourage me in any way to ship unit in to them for inspection. Dirty volume control pot issue crossed my minf too,Elizabeth, and I happen to have some GAIG contact cleaner ,should I spray a little of that cleaner on my LS3B
controls or is is a bad idea.
My connections are as follows.
Krell md-1 transport feeding an Audio Research dac-3 with toslink optical cable. Then from dac-3 RCA outputs with kimber cable feed ARC LS3B linestage using the direct inputs.
After that I am using audioquest cables from LS3B main RCA outputs to the CONRAD JOHNSON MV55 TUBED power amp inputs.
Everything shares AC with PANAMAX MAX 6 power bar.
Please let me know your comments and advice .

Good God, man, get rid of that Trashlink cable. Quickly!
Auto mute is self created by the equipment as a protection at turn-on. It SHOULD drop off as soon as the equipment is stabilized... maybe it is a relay? and is sticky? (My friends Marantz has such and it IS a mechanical relay in hers)
Definitly would cause low sound problems.
As to using the contact cleaner, You should ask Audio Research if it is safe to use.
Some controls are wire, and some are a film. I do not know about cleaning a film type pot. The wirewound or descrete resistors are fine to clean with a contact cleaner.
The relay is also very likely, as my friends Marantz would make nasty crackling noises till we cleaned the relay contacts.
ELGORDO I had to use a toslink out of necessity ,but I did order and waiting for delivery of Illuminati D-60 1m RCA to RCA DIGITAL cable and a 1.5m of Kimber Hero interconnects
,they should be in anyday now.My optical cable is bad and I am aware of it,it's a SAEC brand.
ELIZABETH I tried Audio Reasearch recommendations but it didn't change a thing. Also I did rotate volume control like around 80 times but nothing.So I called LENARD back at ARC and he now wants me to take it to my dealer so they can take a look at it.They adviced me against any contact sprays.I am kind of pissed off because it broke at the wrong time and by,itself.
thank you all.
I have An LS3, when I first turn on the unit the Mute light is dim lit for about 3 sec then goes bright.Does your unit do that? It sure sounds like your not patched in correctly.It sounds like cross talk within the unit,you know,if your not using the [direct input jacks] and say for instance your were patched into the CD input but had your mode selector switch on AUX, ect.The volume control will acts like you have discribed.
Just a note you can use a regular patch cord from your transport to your DAC, it just won`t have the Bandwith as the Digitl cable.It probably would still sound better than the glass you were using.My first reply to your problem I said [Mode switch] I ment [In put switch].Are you sure you were ported in the Direct in? Had the toggle switch in the dirrect position?
I will describe to you how my LS3B looks front and back.
Front ...Balance control in the middle..Mode in stereo..
Input cd.. power
Back ...using direct inputs..outputs I am using the one set of RCA outputs .
This is how its set and produces the above problems.
Can you see a problem in connections or otherwise. I will probably take it for service on coming friday. But I sure feel bad ,and somewhat changed my opinion on ARC gear.
I mean I own older less known , least expensive equipment that never failed,even after long time of not being used and all that.
I have a PROTON FM-AM table radio that bought in 1987 and use every blue moon(like once in two years)and the other day I listened to it,and it fired up like a rocket.
As good as the first day out of the box.Any ideas are welcome.

Thanks guys and gals
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