Static electricity: Unique to Vinyl Systems?

I have recently replaced a turntable/cartridge and a phono preamp, but on both systems, I get a lot of pooping and clicking noises that occur even when a record is not playing. This does not happen with the digital sources in the same system.
Is this some kind of static electricity that only effects analog? Would something like a zerostat fix this?
your analog system might be telling you that the rooom is to dry..try a humidifier and place some nice greenery in the room such as house plants. Wool rugs will also cause a problem..
Most likely.
Did you also replace tonearm? You'll need to check ground path if there's continuity.

The problem was noticed with my old vinyl rig, which was a Rega P-5 feeding a PS Audio phono pre amp. First I changed turntables (Clearaudio Concept mc, new tone arm), then changed to a Jolida phono preamp.
The reason that I changed was a loud transformer hum in the PS Audio (I decided to change TT because I wanted to move to a mc setup). The hum is fixed but all this other stuff is still there, and for the first time I've noticed it occurring when no records are playing.
I'm realizing the one thing that i haven't changed is the power cord (SHunyata
Hydra). I will change that next, but I'm wondering if it is a static issue or something with the main, although it doesn't affect the digital sources at all.
Sounds like pickup of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) to me. Try turning off all fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescents that fit in incandescent fixtures, as well as all dimmer switches which may be in the house, and anything else that could conceivably be generating significant RFI.

-- Al
I agree with Al (airborne rather than system borne.) In addition to the sources of RFI he mentions, I'd like to add two more: (1.) the power cables on ANY digital equipment, and (2.)the RFI created by static discharge such as people walking across rugs/carpets, clothes tumbling in the dryer, etc.

It is important that power cables used with ANY equipment containing digital processing circuits (even if it's just a digital display) are well shielded. And that the associated outlets (wall or power conditioner) have filters that drain 'digital hash' to ground.
I have heard RFI noise from some Class D switching amps to be continuous and at high frequencies. I would associate "Pops and clicks" more typically with static electricity on vinyl records themselves when discharged through the phono ground periodically during playback rather than prior to playing . Low level phonos are without doubt most susceptible to all these noise sources + EMI as well.
1) I would not trust any aftermaket powercords, but that's just me I guess. My background and current work as live sound tech is what really pulls me off any fancy stuff like that especially when spoken about high gain devices. I would hate to attack anyone who does like aftermarket PCs here because there had been gazillion posts, but regardless, try to use stock power instead and see if it goes away.

2) I'd also try to avoid any MC step ups as there's theoretically none's better than direct to SUT-free phonostage. If you can afford SUT, either you can afford better and higher out MC or MM cartridge and you get your sound set up substantially better and who knows maybe your SUT a-bit 'unhappy' where it is where could be numerous reasons and impedance mismatch isn't the first or last.

3) Power ground isolation. I've seen many home wireing where newtral is instead of ground or ground isn't connected at all
Thanks for all the help, there are many useful suggestions here.
I'm still at work and won't have time to try any of these for a while.
However, I'm wondering why I only hear the problem with my analog source, and not with any of the digital sources. As I said earlier, I heard it just as clearly with a different TT and Phono amp, so (unless it's the power cord) I'm wondering if analog is more susceptible to RFI, or static electricity, or whatever the heck is going on.
analogue domain has the highest gain and therefore more susceptible to RFI or static electricity. Also forgot to mention to check tubes if you have them.
how often is your pops? i get them once in blue moon. most of the time i keep my preamp on mute and only engage phonostage when i play records which may be another tip for avoiding those lousy pops.
Yes, as Marakanetz indicated since the voltage levels provided by phono cartridges are vastly lower than those provided by digital sources, and are therefore amplified by vastly greater amounts, vinyl sources are much more susceptible to the effects of RFI, EMI, static, etc.

There have been more than a few threads here in the past in which people were even faced with the problem of hearing radio stations through their system when listening to phono sources.

-- Al
Is there carpet under your system? Is the heat in your dwelling extremely dry? Is your system powered by multiple AC circuits?
Vic Damone--yes, yes, and yes.
I only had a few minutes to play with it yesterday . I disconnected the 2 digital sources that were poweredby wall warts. (squeeze box touch and a cheap Project headphone amp). Made no difference. The other higher end digital sources ( Dac, 2 disc spinners) have high end power cords and are turned off when playing vinyl.
If I have to shut off every light in the house and disconnect all digital sources every time I want to spin a record, then I'm done playing vinyl.
I will focus efforts on humidifying the room and eliminating dust in the upcoming week, but I fear the rfi answer maybe the case here.
If I have to shut off every light in the house and disconnect all digital sources every time I want to spin a record, then I'm done playing vinyl.
Hopefully it is only one of those things that is causing the problem. After turning everything off, if the problem disappears you would then incrementally turn things back on until you determine which of them is the cause.

The quickest way to do that is by means of what is referred to as a "binary search pattern." You would turn half of the lights and other things back on. If the problem returns you would know it is being caused by something in that group. If it doesn't return you would know it is being caused by something in the other group. Then you would turn on half of the things in the suspect group, which would allow you to isolate the cause to 1/4 of the number of things that were originally turned off. You would continue that process until you isolate the specific cause.

I have experienced some instances where compact fluorescent lights that were in marginal condition, toward the end of their useful life, emitted large amounts of RFI, while the same model bulbs in new condition did not.

-- Al
I have room conditions similar to the OP and have an old Radio Shack anti-static carbon fiber record brush I use on each record prior to playing. THat seems to help remove static electricity accumulated on vinyl prior to playing. Been doing this with success for a long time. I take it for granted somewhat these days but would not want to be without it. IT was a $10 or so item at Radio Shack back when vinyl was still king. Not sure if still available or who might sell a similar device these days but willing to bet they are still out there somewhere.
Something like This
I have this problem occasionally in winter-- sometimes culminating in a rather loud discharge pop. The solution is to occasionally discharge the record spindle to ground with a patch wire. YMMV depending on whether your turntable's spindle bearing well is grounded or not.

Also, if you hear those sounds when the needle is off the record, try powering the phono stage off and on and see if that resolves the problem.
Alas, I've tried all the recommendations offered, and the problem continues unabated. I guess this will forever limit my vinyl listening.
Thanks anyways, everyone
At a show I once observed a demonstration of an all digital rig apparently get fried, from a CD with static electricity. The demonstrator laid out all his demo CD's on the carpeted floor in front of the rig. After picking up one of these CD's from the carpeted floor, inserting the CD in the drive, and hitting play, some rather ugly noises and flashing lights briefly appeared before everything appeared to die. Fortunately for the demonstrator he had a couple of more similar rigs already set up, and he just continued on. A friend I was with just walked out, thinking the demonstrator/designer/engineer so foolish that he couldn't possibly offer anything worthwhile. I later returned to enjoy a rather interesting demonstration that still haunts me (in a good way) to this day.
Richard, am I correct in thinking that the phono stage is the Jolida JD9? And if so, to what values have you set the input resistance, input capacitance, and gain?

In particular, if you presently have input resistance set to a high setting, especially 47K, try changing it to the minimum possible value (100 ohms). If the problem is being caused by RFI, resulting from static or anything else, that may help. If it does, you could then increase the value one step at a time to determine a setting that is optimal sonically but does not result in the popping and clicking.

Also, I'm thinking that since the noises apparently occurred with the prior phono stage only while a record was playing (per your second post in the thread), that symptom and the new symptom of noises occurring while no record is playing may have two different causes. The original symptom perhaps being static-related, and perhaps requiring either just destaticizing your records, or experimenting further with turntable grounding. And the new problem perhaps resulting from the Jolida either somehow being more sensitive to RFI, or being defective and generating the noises itself.

Are you sure that the noises you presently hear when a record is not being played sound similar to what you heard during record playback with the previous equipment?

Hope that helps. Regards,
-- Al
Presumably you have tried a zerostat -- or similar static electricity "cleaner"?

BTW, Al's suggestion above is actually a very dependable way of optimising the phono input impedance for yr cartridge!
Al, I'm not certain if the prior phono stage didn't make the same sounds when it wasn't playing a record. It certainly did while playing a record, but it has a loud transformer hum (not present in the Jolida) that is really noticeable when no music plays, to the point where I would immediately shut off the phono or the power amp when an lp would stop, due to fear of frying my speakers. I'd have to reinsert it answer that question. I can also try playing with the impedance of the Jolida (it is indeed set to 47K, per their suggestion to match the cart).
i didn't buy the zerostat because I'm not convinced this is a static issue. maybe I'll spend another $100. I've been hydrating the room and the tt to eliminate static, but no results.
There's probably no need to reinsert the old equipment. I think you are saying that the popping and clicking sounds you heard with that equipment while playing a record were very similar to what you hear now with the new equipment when no record is playing. Which answers my question.

But given that you've been using a 47K load impedance, and I assume you were also using that impedance with your prior cartridge which I take it was a moving magnet, I would definitely make the 100 ohm experiment the next order of business. There are multiple reasons why that might help.

-- Al
A noticeable hum in the phono when not playing could be eletromagnetic interference (EMI) caused by nearby power transformers. I had this problem recently caused by nearby outside air conditioning/heating units and other nearby electric devices with power transformers. Proximity of phono/pre-amp to power amp transformers is a common scenario for this. The solution is to add distance from phono gear to any nearby power consuming electric devices. Pops/clicks could be related to this, but not sure. The hum itself is a clear problem to address and see what happens.

In my case, I was able to eliminate the hum completely by placing my low level phono step up pre-amp inside rolled up mu metal foil and adjusting the location somewhat. Mu metal foil is inexpensive and designed for this purpose.

In any case, look for nearby devices with power transformers and try adding distance between your phono section and that device and see if hum level decreases or changes with location. That would at least help identify the source of teh problem. How to resolve from there would depend. If the phono pre-amp is integrated into the same box as other amp componenets, it could be an inherent problem or design flaw that would be tougher to resolve. I do not recall if you use an outboard phono pre-amp or a phono pre-amp built into a pre-amp or integrated or receiver perhaps?
Here in Minnesota, it can get pretty dry in the winter. But I never have pops from the turntable- ever.

To me it sounds like a bad ground so let's try a few things and see if I am right.

First, disconnect the tone arm cable from the preamp. Do you still get the ticking/popping?

If yes => problem with preamp. Bad tubes, bad ground or bad cable.

If no => the first thing to do is investigate how the 'table and arm are grounded. If the arm and 'table are not grounded together then you have your first place to look.

Let us know how things go.

Sorry I just realized reading that the hum is no longer an issue. EMI is likely not the concern currently then.

Tube issues in the phono pre would seem a likely suspect. Tube tolerance in a phono section can be problematic and only the highest quality, quietest tube or tubes are needed for best results.

If the phon pre-amp output can be run into a different line level input on the pre-amp or whatever device the phon pre is feeding, that would be an easy and worthwhile test.

Also, be sure that the phono pre-amp putput level is properly matched to teh pre-amp input. You would not for example want to run a line level output from a phono pre-amp into a lower level (than line) phono input on a pre-amp, for example.
Al, the previous mm cartridge was used with a different phono stage, not with the Jolida. It was used with PS Audio phono, which doesn't offer as many choices as the Jolida for cart settings, basically a mm and an mc setting. The PS Audio and the Rega P5 with a mm cart worked well for a while, but the phono developed the hum after it was off warranty and the manufacturer hasn't been helpful (basically telling me not to send it in for a repair).
In the meantime this other noise developed, well after the hum developed (I was tolerating the hum for a couple of years, most of my listening is digital anyway). Ultimately I decided to uograde my vinyl and first added the Clearaudio
mc Emotion cart and tt. The increase in low level detail pushed me over the edge for tolerating noise from the phono, and I was interested in a tubed phono stage. I've had a tubed linestage preamp in the past, so I know what the background sound of tubes is, but this noise, which was present on the old phono stage, is clearly different.
I live in Chicago, about 4 miles from the Music Direct Outlet. I picked up the Musical Surroundings Nova Phono stage earlier today. This is solid state but battery operated. The battery is charging at home now. I'm hoping that it is less prone to RFI. If not, it goes right back. If it is quieter, then the Jolida, goes back.
Mapman, I'll try running the Jolida into an AVR in my surround sound system, just to see what background noise is produced. The AVR is in a different level ofthe house, so that could be a different RFI zone, which is another variable...
Problem solved.
The Musical Surroundings Nova completely almost eliminates the sound. If I stick my ears against the woofers, I can detect it, barely, but not while listening to the same records that were plagued before.
I think I liked the basic sound of the Jolida more, but the rfi was driving me cuckoo.
I live in a suburb called Oak Park (think Frank Loyd Wright). My home theater installer told me we have a problem with rfi. I think it may be because we are are equidistant and close to both major airports.
I'm curious to know how Sim Audio and Parasound (John Curl) phono amps would fare here, as both are supposed to be quiet designs that attempt to minimize rfi, but I won't be investing the funds to find out.
Good to hear.

So was it external RFI or some internal issue or issues with the phono pre-amps I wonder?
Good to hear. RFI is only increasing. I ended up shielding my AC power from my dwellings service entry to the audio systems power cables. An under 1K upgrade that provided a substantial improvement.
RFI generally does not make clicking sounds. It really sounded like it was a preamp problem, and you seem to have confirmed that. I think you had bad luck with two preamps that both had problems. RFI is often accompanied by hum and buzzing sounds that come and go....
Definitely it's not RFI, but static charges that haven't been filtered or choked. Poor caps or weak caps, poor circuit engineering is the cause.
I get them once in a while becouse I need to recap my full function preamp.
I'm a happy camper now because I plan to spend the next several months listening to as much vinyl as possible.
I fail to see how I solved a static problem with a new preamp.
If the previous preamp employed a poor grounding scheme that is all it would take.