static electricity

I have found that when I walk across the room and touch my preamp, sometimes a tiny spark travels from my finger( static electricity) Nothing unusual in static electricty, but it produces a crackle sound in my speakers. The preamp is Audio Experience Mark II (all tube). IF I touch my amp ( Velleman 4040 tube) or CD player ( AMC CD6D TUbe) I never hear any crackle. Is this dangerous to the speakers, tubes or solid state circuits?? Should this happen? Hopefully one of you fellows with some engineering experience can help. All of the equipment has heavy duty, 3 prong, detachable power cords, and are plugged into a surge protector.
It shouldnt, i had a piece of gear i shocked about 5 billion times and it kept working.

if you just want to be careful run a slim strip of magnet wire up the side of your rack and make sure one end of it is connected to a ground source. anything metal should work.
Then just touch it at that should discharge the static build up so when you touch yer gear it wont get zapped
I don't know about tubes, but it is possible (although I don't know how likely) for damage to solid state gear. If you can, it is best to always use a remote control, avoiding the possibility completely.

An easy way to get rid of static: Spray your carpet with a mix of half fabric softener and half water, using an empty Windex bottle or something similar. It gets rid of the static for an entire winter. Be sure to choose fragrance-free softener, or your listening room will have an overwhelming smell of roses/lavender/'ocean mist'!
To answer your question, yes, gear can be damaged by static electricity. This is especially true of digital based gear and / or gear that uses multiple integrated circuits.

In order to minimize the potential for damage, run a wire from the screw on your outlet cover to something located near your rack. Prior to touching any components, touch this piece of metal. This will allow you to discharge any static electricity that you may have picked up along the way without harming the gear. Sean
Just touch the metal of one of your components that doesn't send a large crack sound through your speakers first. Then touch the pre. My ARC pre will sometimes freak out to static discharge. A reset fixes everything in this rare situation. However now I touch the metal on my amp prior to touching the pre just to be safe.
You need a whole house humidifier in your home (for use during the winter months). Relative humidity falls dramatically during the winter, and because of this your house is very dry inside. Hence the sparks.

At an optimum, your home's interior humidity level should be around 40-50%. This will alleviate your problem all together, and concurrenty yield the advantage of better health, especially your sinuses. Ever noticed how many more colds we get in the winter? Greatly contributing to this is the fact that our sinuses are very dry, and in so being, they are very succeptable to viruses.

Add a whole house humidifier to your HVAC system, and watch your sparks go away, as well as your head colds. You also will be more comfortable, as humidified air makes us feel warmer for any given temperature. You will be surprised how inexpensive this addition is, especially compared to some of the gear we own. Other things in your home will like it too, such as wood furniture, hardwood floors, trim, ect...

I have a 2 zone system in my home, and have a humidifier system integrated in the ductwork of each one. The manufacturer of the product I purchased is "Aprilaire", but there are many others. After installing this system, there was a dramatic change in comfort in our home, and no more winter sparks.

Hope this helps.

While I believe any of the suggestions posted here will work, V1rowt8 is dead on the money with his advice to add a humidifier. My second hobby is furniture making and I know all too well the damage that dryness can do to your furniture in the winter. The best thing for your health/static sparks/furniture is a whole house humidifier. I too, have an Aprilaire on my furnace, they are low maintenance and relatively inexpensive to install & operate. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Not to mention the fact that a too-low humidy changes the propagation of the top octaves in the air, resulting in a spectral tilt!
I, too, have noticed UNBELIEVABLE static in my listening room lately. It is about 20 degrees outside and dry as a bone. Last winter, my daughter pulled her blanket across the carpeted floor, and a wave of static electricity traveled across the floor to my system, which shut down. Fortunately, my equipment has protection circuits. Lately, I have to mute my preamp prior to touching anything, especially my tonearm!!
Hey, when you install the humidifier make sure you have a dedicated circuit. Just kidding. Another consideration if you install a humidifier is the quality of the water. If you have extremely hard water you WILL have a humidifier malfunction. Installing a water softener is the fix. Then you can get the dedicated ciruit. ;)
I always get shocked by my car door, but I haven't noticed the spectral tilt.
Thanks for all the info!
Very useful thread, along with other similar "shocking" one here recently. I had a minor intermittent problem recently with CDP and it turns out static electricity seems to have been the culprit during winter months when changing CDs often. (fully carpeted room)

I have now developed the habit of touching shelf or audio rack frame before touching CDP and problem has dissappeared. Other good ideas mentioned above.

Other thread mentions touching "Bounce" fabric softner sheet but this of course is aesthetically uncool. I got some dark grey foam rubber shelf liner that looks like net pattern. Cut small 6" x 6" pad and sprayed with Static Guard spray and put this under CDP, touch this first before CDP.....seems to also work well.