Its a very good idea to leave them on, from my experience after 8+ hours of being on SS amps start sounding there best. Let's face it not many can plan there listening session's 8 hours in advance. Compound that by the potential damage from cold/hot cycles and it only makes sense to leave them on.
Depends a lot on the design of the amp. With some I would do it, but no way I would leave older klass A monsters on all the time. The power bill would simply be a killer.. Even non klass A amps that dont get that warm can draw a lot of power in iddle mode. So my advice would be to check how much they use - and judge if you think its worth it..
I would like to "third" the recommendation to leave your solid state gear on all the time. Two of my components are by Simaudio and that is their recommendation for all their products. A Sim dealer once told me that my I-5 integrated would need 300 hours (!) on to reach its best performance and some audiophile friends have reported improving sound well beyond the 100 hour mark.
Generally speaking, it's not heat per se that hurts components, but rather the hot/cold cycles that occur when they are turned on and off. Everything expands or contracts in response to heat or cold, and the repeated expansion/contraction that occurs when components are turned on and off wears down components over time.
Thus, not only do components sound better when left on 24/7, they are much less likely to break (it's counterintuitive, but true).
Turn it off. They do make some heat, and heat is ultimately the enemy of longevity. Tubes take a long time to settle in, so keeping them on makes some sense; for SS, just turn it on a few minutes before you start listening.
Also, daytime is generally peak electricity demand, so you are contributing in your own small way to both global warming and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Some things are more important than audio.
I couldn't disagree more with Pabelson turning the component on and off will wear it out faster then by leaving it on due to the hot/cold cycles I mentioned(as did Raquel).
It is true that the earths temperture is rising at a faster rate in the last 10 years than ever before which is concering. Apparently we are almost as hot as the 1500's. Obviously there were no cars or internal combustion then. Apparently the cows were very, very gassy back then.
Barring Global warming and "gassy cows" It is great to leave SS on all the time. I leave my Cd player and did leave my SS amp 24/7 and they do sound better. I can't believe that something that simple makes a difference, but it does. I use tubes now so that idea is out, but the CD player stays on just the same.
Maybe a more honest answer is that neither the heat from leaving it on all the time nor the effects of cycling it on and off are likely to have a significant effect on the longevity of SS gear. As to its impact on sound quality, speculate away.
To Tireguy: You confuse cycles and trends (and ignore the bulk of inconvenient evidence). But your attitude doesn't surprise me.
I too am forced to respectfully disagree with Pabelson. Turning an SS amp on and off daily is -the- action that shortens its life more than anything else (given the presence of adequate ventilation, of course).
Also in response to Pabelson, SS amps pull differing amounts of current depending on their design. Many pull very, very little, especially when idle. While I agree with you about our obligation to confront global warming and the dependence on Middle Eastern oil, I don't think it should be made into an issue here.
I tried running my amp 24/7 on cow farts. Sounded great, but the damn cow took up most of my listening room. Smelled pretty vile too. I'm going back to the more simple weasel dung conversion system (WDCS patent pending). Much easier to live with. Butt steak anyone?
It'd neither a good idea nor a bad idea. An amp will sound its best when warmed up and ready to go and every second thereafter will not improve things one bit. If the amp requires many hours before being warmed up, then, yes, I'd go for 24/7. If it only takes 20 minutes, what's the point?
There's no problem with leaving the amp on all the time. There's also no problem with turning it on and off as needed. Whether one way or the other results in a shorter life span has, to my knowlege, never been proven. Who knows - the "stress" effect of cycling and the thermal effects of 24/7 operation may be a wash.
If you leave the amp powered on all the time you have to guard against surges. Being away with a thunderstorm in progress and an amp powered on at home is very trying to say the least.
I agree with Gs5556 on all points. I might add that I think that on/off cycles may affect tube gear, but not SS. It's no coincidence that light bulbs typically burn out just when they're turned on, not when they've already been on for a while. I would expect tube filaments to behave similarly for the most part. It might be good to check with the manufacturer of your component. My favourite manufacturer states that leaving its gear on all the time causes no harm other than using electricity. However, they also advise that if you're not around for any length of time, you should not just turn it off, but also unplug the mains. A lightning bolt that can arc a mile through the air isn't going to have any trouble with the gap at an on/off switch. I've personally had a surge suppresor die in the line of duty protecting my gear from a power surge during an electrical storm. Now when I hear thunder, everything gets unplugged.
I also must disagree with Pabelson's take on a couple of points:
"Tubes take a long time to settle in, so keeping them on makes some sense; for SS, just turn it on a few minutes before you start listening."
A) Tube gear requires less, not more, warm up time than solid-state to sound its best. The fact that tubes need a minute at the start and transistors don't is a red herring that I believe you're confusing with the more important aspect of how a piece of gear will sound over, say, a typical 2 hour listening session if started from cold. Tubes will be most of the way to their best after 15-20 minutes, but transistors will need at least that whole 2 hours, and preferably a whole day to really come into their own. Saying that you can flick on SS gear a couple of minutes before you listen and hear everything you paid for is naive, although if the piece of gear in question has a semi-powered standby state the difference may not be nearly as great.
B) In most cases it makes much less sense from a practical standpoint to leave tube gear always-on - you'll wear out your tubes several times quicker. And if we're comparing class-A/B power amps, then regarding energy usage ethics, the tube gear will draw much more power at idle than the SS.
Well said Zaikes....Pabel's advice was the opposite I've learned and heard over the years...my NOS tubes aren't cheap and I leave my SS power amp always on and the tube pre and cdp I ignite about 1 hour before listening and turn off when I'm done.
My experience leads me to believe that leaving my SS gear on all the time is crucial for best performance. Anecdotal evidence: coming back from a 4 day weekend w/ my gear powered off, it took at least 4 days to sound good again. That convinced me to leave them on 24/7.
However, in the February "Stereophile" review of my amp, the reviewer stated that the amp sounded good after 20 - 30 minutes and didn't improve after that. Oh well.
Also, longevity doesn't seem to be an issue for SS gear w/ literally thousands of on/off cycles. My old Hafler and NAD SS gear were always turned on and off. They're both still going strong at 25 years and counting.
Leave your equipment burning if you want to replace it. Your local retailer will love you. I have spoken to at least ten manufacturers and not one of them advocates keeping your equipment powered up if not in use. I repeat, NOT ONE! If you are sitting down for an extended listening session with other audiophiles, power your equipment up about 1 hour in advance and you will have all of the sound you are going to have.
Elinor: I work on electronics for a living. The gear that gets cycled off and on the most and / or isn't used for extended periods of time is the gear that comes in for the most repairs. Both of those problems are related to in-rush current, higher than average current consumption and massive thermal swing. This is what damages componentry the most. That is, unless the product runs phenomenally hot and isn't built to dissipate that much consistent heat. It is easiest to avoid these problems by not powering the device down. The device maintains a more consistent operating temperature, there's no in-rush current involved and current is only drawn as needed.
Gear that doesn't take very long to thermally stabilize and makes use of "soft-start" circuitry is fine to cycle up and down. Obviously, tubes and lasers have finite lifespans, so one should take care of how they use these. This is not to say that turning off a laser based audio device is beneficial ( it typically isn't in terms of sonics and thermal stability ), but that the lifespan of the laser may be reduced if it isn't. Replacing a laser on most of these devices is not hard though and should be done after a period of time anyhow, as output levels and calibration fall off due to use one way or the other. Sean >
So here's one. Say you have a SS amp and a tube linestage and/or phono stage, etc. Rule of thumb is amp last on - first off. So, if one wanted to leave the SS amp on "all the time", but wanted to turn off the tube component to conserve tube life, does one turn off the SS amp briefly before powering down the tube component then off again before powering up? Seems odd.
When I drive my car, I don't turn it off at every red light and back on when it turns green. But if there's a major traffic delay and I'm just going to sit there awhile, I'll turn it off. Same with my electronics. There was an article in one of the Mags a while back where the author hooked up some monitoring device to his house electricity and recorded 100's of short duration spikes each day. Nothing that killed anything but could shorten their life over time. I'd say, if you're worried about it, look at your lifestyle and turn it on/off during the times you don't listen that much like during the week and leave it on when you do like the weekends. Ah, the comprimise
One issue that does'nt seem to be discussed is fire risk. I am told that one of the commonest causes for house fires is TV's left on standby and not turned off at night. Has anyone heard of fires started by Hi Fi gear left on. I would be worried by my Pass Labs Aleph 3 which of course runs pretty hot in standby, nevermind the 250 watts of idle power consumption. As others have mentioned, we do have to consider global warming and finite fossil fuels. Another point occured to me, if you do reduce your amps life expectency slightly by turning it off, how would that compare with years of higher electricity bills?
The only time i've ever seen or heard of gear catching fire was with tubed gear. The higher voltages found in this gear can tend to arc, igniting other components in the path of the arc. SS gear tends to pull higher levels of continuous current when something goes haywire, which tends to blow the fuses.
If i was going out of town for more than a few days, i would shut down my systems. Same goes for leaving the house with very violent electrical storms on the way. Otherwise, i've got 12 SS amplifiers on at all times, along with the systems that they are connected to. Two amps are very efficient and idle cool as a cucumber. Two other amps are also quite efficient, but idle slightly warmer. The other eight are all high bias designs and idle at high temperature. Two of them are Class A up to 50 wpc, two are Class A up to 30 wpc and the other four are Class A up to appr 10 wpc.
The only system that used to get powered up and shut down regularly was my vintage tubed system. This system is currently "down for the count" as i sold my Marantz 8 a while back and am still contemplating which way i want to go with this system. I think i'm going to end up building my own tube amp, but that will have to wait a bit. Sean >
Well designed electronics are not "stressed" by turnon and turnoff. Fifty years ago my tube power amp had a "soft start" circuit. Actually it was just a wirewound resistor with a bimetalic strip with switch contacts on it. The resistor was in the AC power line, so that initial turnon was at reduced voltages, but when the resistor got hot the contacts on the bimetalic strip closed and shorted out the resistor so that full voltage was applied. Must have cost about 25 cents. Nowadays a "soft start" circuit is probably more sophisticated, but there is no excuse for the designer to completely ignore the turnon requirement.
My digital power amps have a turnon sequence which they execute, and it even includes diagnostic checks in the process.
As a member of the baby boom generation, having been brought up by parents who went through the Great Depression, I guess I have this knee-jerk reaction - I can't leave a room without turning off the lights, unless I'm going to be right back, I close the refrigerator door ASAP, and I can't leave my audio equipment on when it's not in use. I turn off my computer when I'm not using it, too. I'm also very concerned about our natural resources and the environment. I guess I pretend this is saving Mama Earth in some very small way. As I said, it's second nature for me, and I can't escape years of behavior modification; audio nirvana is forced to take a back seat. :-D
El: Obviously, "well designed" has different meanings to different designers / engineers / end users. There are those that feel that the addition of ANY unnecessary parts / circuitry is a poor design. Then again, there are those that think that a unit without every form of circuit protection known to mankind is a poor design. Personally, i prefer that the units be built like tanks with only the bare essentials in terms of circuit protection. To each their own... Sean >
I personally spoke to Pass Labs about this issue. If anyone should know, they should, especially being under the tutelage of Nelson Pass. The answer? Basically a toss-up, as heat ages things, especially capacitors. I think those who believe 24/7 is not stressful are remiss here Capacitors that are kept in a fully charged state most of the time (listening sessions being far shorter than 24/7) only shortens their life span and 'dries' them out sooner.
As others have stated here, well-designed gear has circuitry that prevents an initial unrush of current upon turnon. Such as my Halo amps.
Sean...Of course "Well designed" applies to the protective circuitry also. Protective circuitry should be designed so that it does not affect performance. If this is a stated requirement it can be done. This rule applies not only to performance, but also reliability. Any protective circuit, if it fails, should not affect operation, thereby degrading reliability...false alarms should be recognized as such and disregarded. (Come back and fix them later).
There are two schools of thought regarding the merits of "Continuous Operation" of missile guidance systems. Some are kept "spun up" and ready to go all the time. Some are kept in a temperature-controlled "dormant" condition, and only spun up within minutes of launch (if I said how many I would have to kill you). Of course there have been intensive studies regarding the effect on accuracy and reliability of the frequent spinups and shutdowns of the dormant systems, and the bottom line is that, if the system is designed to be operated this way it is more reliable than continuous opearation. This is contrary to what people tend to believe from their everyday experience with light bulbs, which always die with a flash on turnon.
You are right that additional circuitry will TEND to degrade reliability, and can affect performance UNLESS the designer addresses these issues.
Let's see Missiles and tollerance. Then we have Millitary communications and crypto gear. Why did we (I haven't been in for a quite a while) always leave our gear on. Some of the finest gear in the world from a design stand point. Also why were taught that the on/off switch is harder on SS equipment than almost any other factor.
Capacitors, Transistors, Inductors, Resistors. Components A dried out cap or a stressed piece of silicon in a transistor = noise. If memory serves me correctly caps rarely went bad. It is usually a transistor.
In high end audio as with any SS electronic equipment any time you turn on the equipment current begins to flow through the circuit as long as there is a load at the other end soft start or not. Therefore you go from cold to hot. (Missile Temperature Controled Environment) increasing the wear on any silicon device.
For those of you that know this I apologize. As for the manufactures that want you to turn your equipment on and off to induce wear on the transistors and therefore generate noise it's your money.
Artizen65...Slight correction. The money saved by improved reliability through use of dormant mode, rather than continuous operation, is TAXPAYER money, not mine.
Continuous Operation was proposed several times over the years while I was involved, sometimes by the customer. In every case, upon objective study, it was determined that people's "gut feeling" that reliability would be improved was wrong. Of course, it is relevant that the equipment was designed expressly to be operated in this manner. I suggest that all equipment should have at least simple provisions to avoid adverse effects from power application/removal.
EVERYTHING is stressful for the certain piece of equipment more or less...turning it on and off and leaving it on all times...but...devices will work more stable/less neurotic if leaved on all the time...hell...thats what they are build for...you guyz sometimes talking like the equipment will wear off in a 2 weeks if leaved on...most of folks out here dont have 300 bucks receivers but serious and expensive pieces that must work by the specs for at least 15-20 years, especially newer designs with better parts today available...in that time most will change amps 6 times...so dont get what is to worry about...i leave my SS A/B class amp turned all the time, also SS phono and SS d/a...if i had SS class A or anything of the tubes i would turn them off for more practical reasons...
I would never leave my amp on all day, solid sate should not take to long to warm up as it is solid sate. I have a pair of channel island mono blocks they have no power switch just on or stand by so its stand by until its time to listen but they never run hot. Tube amps or pre amps usually need about 20 to 30 minutes to get to where they sound good. I had an old HK Citation 16s for 18 years never left it on and it finally needed service after all that time. Leaving your solid sate amp on for 4 or 5 hours continuously should be ok but I would turn it off after you are finished with it.
It's been 11 years since this thread was started, so it would be
interesting to hear how each side of the debate made out.
Like stringreen, my system goes into standby mode when powered off (but main power switch in back still on) to keep it warm (Audia Flight). Perhaps that is a strategy incorporated by manufacturers which straddles the argument for which is best?