To turn off or not to turn off

That is the question. I have always left my components on, because I heard that they would pay me back with greater reliability. The theory goes that electric/electronic hardware takes a big hit every time it is turned on.

However, I don't listen to the equipment through the night. And the equipment is using electricity and converting it to heat while idling. Besides the waste, would it be better for the equimpent to be turned off when not in use?

What do you think?

Dan C.
Dan: You've summarized the standard debate very well. I have also been one to leave my power amp on, although I turn the preamp off at night. So far, I've only had one amp failure in 16 years, and that was due to a power surge during an electrical storm. The main issue here, I think, is what kind of equipment you own: tube or solid state. I personally believe that solid state equipment benefits from being left on (except during storms), while tube gear needs to be turned off when not in use.
You should see if it sounds better to you. My Onkyo receiver absolutely had to stay on all the time to sound right. My Adcom amp definitely likes to be on for a few hours before use and my Rotel preamp doesn't sound noticably different either way. Hope this helps. leo.
It would be great if more amps had a standby mode like Levinson and Pass. I leave my amp on but hate wasting electricty.
I want to leave my stuff on, I really do. I know it would be better for my three solid state amps if I did, but the power bill would be way to high. I use to leave my 100-watt amp on 24/7. My current 300-watt amp gets turned off when not in use except sometimes on the weekends. Everything else gets switched into standby when not in use. Maybe if the price of power comes down I'll leave my power hungry stuff on, but for now I choose to conserve on energy. That's my opinion for the second or possibly the third time on this subject:~)
Your call. I wouldn't worry about failure, but some companies find that thier products prefer to stay on. Except for warm up time, I don't think it matters much.
I agree with sdcampbell. I leave my solid state (HT) system on all the time and turn my tube (music) system off when not in use (out of necessity). I am a big believer in surge protection.
Thanks for the responses.

FYI, my equipment is:
B&K 202 plus amp - silky and clear, but runs hot
Adcom 535 amp for subwoofer- not bad, until you compare it to better equipment.
Adcom GTP-400 preamp - reliable, but would replace it if I could find a better tuner/preamp for $300.
Denon DCM-30 CD changer - includes Avanced multilevel noise shaping
Dahlquist M905 - suprisingly good still. Thought they imaged poorly ... until I got the B&K. Now, it's a different story.
A general rule of thumb about SS amps is that the hotter that they run in normal use, the greater the sound variance when going from off to normal operating temperature. In other words, don't expect the same sound out of a high bias amp when it is stone cold or warming up. It may take several hours of consecutive operaton to come up to operating temperature and fully stabilize.

Amps that run cool i.e. Sunfire, Bel Canto or other "digital" or "switching amps" will not be as noticeable when going from cold to hot. Since they stay relatively cool even when "throttling" them, they don't need as much "warm up" or "operating time" to stabilize. Then again, these amps are so efficient that you can leave them on and they pull less power than a normal light bulb. For the record, the Sunfire 2 ch amps idle at about 40 watts of consumption. The B & K will idle at QUITE a bit more power than that and runs WAY hotter, even at idle.

Like anything else, it all boils down to personal choice. As for me, my house looks like an audio showroom due to all of the lights and displays being lit up all the time. Sean
What worries me about leaving my equipment on all the time is the possibility of surge damage, as sdcampbell has experienced. I am thinking to buy a PS Audio Ultimate Outlet primarily for surge protection purpose. Could it offer enough protection ? Please comment.
What about digital? I've just started leaving the cd player on all the time, except when I'm away. I do prefer leaving it on as I think I hear a difference from stone cold. More I fooling myself here? Just my 2cents...cheers, Bluenose
Leave the solid state stuff on and no worries.
For the last two months I've owned the Blue Circle BC21 and BC22 preamp and amp combo. During this time I have always left both pieces continuously powered on. I can definitely notice a sonic benefit. However, I became concerned with safety, cost and the actual necessity of this. I contacted Blue Circle and this was their response:

"We don't recommend to keep the components turn "on" all the time. It will shorten the tube life and some other circutry will not like to be kept on all the time. Not to mention if you are not listening and not at home, if there is a lighting hit, the very first thing will get hit is the power amp. Since the surge usually goes to where the power is being drawn the most.

Usually, we have found turn the components about 15 mins before doing any listen is good enough. Eventhough, it will get better if it's been kept on for longer, the disadvantage is not enough to take over by the risk."

But I still leave my transport on. I hope this helps.
I read somewhere that all electronics can benefit from being left on. The article (cant remember where but it was about 8 years ago) said that amplifiers will warm up quicker than a cd player so they recommended leaving the cd player on also. They went on to comment that the power consumption of a cd player & other components when idling is far less than that of the amplifier. Other than hooking up new interconnects, speaker wire or moving, my lowly NAD 7225pe has been turned off since less than 10 times since 1987.
High powered solid state amps pull lots of power even idling, so I turn my amps off. Tube gear takes a long time to warm up. I have a CJ PV12 preamp and it takes about 2 days for the tubes to truly warm up sonically. I used to leave it on all the time, but the tubes burned out quickly. I used to have to replace them every 4 months. I've moved to solid state, and most of those preamps have a standby mode to keep the transistors up. I think even my CD player keeps the electronics warm in its standby mode. Leaving everything on all the time, yes, I feel that your electric bill will show it. Some Class A amps might work as good space-heaters during the winter, but I feel that extended use of a product will shorten its lifespan.
I have a Forte 1a (fifty watts a side class A) and I have never been able to really tell that much difference between cold and hot running. It did sound lousy when I first bought it until it broke in, however.
Good posts ... interesting subject. I leave my equipment (amp, CD, DAC) on all of the time. The DAC has no power switch, the amp's switch is hidden around the back (hint hint) and the CD player has such low idle power consumption I don't worry. I think it sounds better, and I think that the lack of thermal cycling will help extend its life. I have also heard that electrolytic caps like to be left powered.

During an electrical storm I not only switch off I also unplug the equipment from the outlets, since a little on-off switch may not protect against the sort of surge a lightning strike can deliver. If any storms are in the forecast then I leave the equipment this way and revert to the portable CD player. If you have an FM tuner and an outdoor antenna I would also unplug the antenna during a storm ... even if it's not struck it can still reach high voltages and damage the tuner due to the electrical potential differences in the atmosphere. Paranoid ? Perhaps, but I have lost a TV to lightning, and I'm a lot more attached to my hifi than my TV.
My electricity bills had just increased by very vast amount since I've started to live my VTL Deluxe 100 always on along with the rest of my equipment. I'm thinking about just living them on for the weekend since this is the only listening time I have.
This is a good qustion,I have a NAD C-370 and turn it off everytime i am done listening, this may be on and off again 3-4 times a day. is it true that turning it on and off will shorted the lifespan?. it does have standby mode, But nad says in the manual to completely turn it off when not going to be used for more than 2 days. Also i am not home most of the day. What do you guys think i should do??

Whether or not you find it "audible", most digital circuitry and / or items using crystals require several hours of warm up time to stabilize. You might want to think about at least leaving your CD Player / transport & DAC on. I would also suggest using some type of "good" PLC, etc... Sean
I think the longer you leave your equipment on the better it sounds. I use to leave my equipment on all the time but not only did my electric bill go through the roof but my room heats up to much from my amps.
I leave my equipment on knowing i'm going to listen throughout the day,otherwise I leave it in standby.You can't get optimum sound unless your amp,pre,etc...has been on for a long period of time.It's all in the ear of the beholder.
My brother has a working Marantz receiver which he bought new in the late 1960's. He leaves it on and estimates that it's been turned off maybe a dozen times in these 30+ years (several times due to NYC power blackouts). The negative is that the receiver is the one component he refuses to upgrade.
Seems to me that electronics (newer) are modern and advanced enough to be turned on and off as needed.
If you have tube equipment, don't even think of leaving it on all the time. Contrary to what some audiophiles say on this site, even leaving a tube preamp in standby mode is using up valueable tube life. Audio Research states, "2000 hours of tube life will pass by in 84 days".

Solid state is another question. However, I think it is logical that there are components that will age faster from being powered continuously.

Solution? Put equipment on several hours before a listening session.
Couldn't agree more. Some people have strange ideas. Sure enough your gear needs to warm up but leaving it on all the time is a recipe for frequent and expensive re-tubing or worse.
1. Turn system on and take dog for a walk so you don't have to listen to cold system.
2. Wear ear plugs for first 20 minutes.
3. Play your least favourite LP or CD 'cause it always sounds crap anyhow.
Some people worry about their electric bill go high. In reality it is not that high at all. When amp/preamp idle, it is like having a 60W bulb on all the time. Couple bucks a month.

With a tube gear it is NO-NO since they may overheat and tubes life will be very short.

Dan, it is up to you if you will turn them of or not. If you have never done it, try it for a couple of weeks. The big plus on doing this? Many modern SS equipment take several days or even more then a week staying "on" to get to the best sound, even if they have "stand-by" mode or fully broken in. If you hear no sonic improvement, start turning them off. I never do.
My blue circle dac did not come with an on/off switch. If it is plugged in it is on.
I have a Hafler 220 that I built from a kit in 1979.About 6 months after I built it, the power switch quit working,leaving it in a power on condition. I got a new switch from Hafler but have never installed it.The amp has been on continuously ever since and it sounds great.
I would say that this supports the theory that (for ss amps) keeping temperature more constant makes for more reliable electronics.
My Audio Alchemy DLC preamp has been on since 1993.

That is to be correct and I even more verified that SS equipment idles at very low power and need not to be turned off unless there's threats from power surges. Tube equipment is the best to turn off since the worm-up time is much faster than with transistors.
On my VTLs tube life drammatically increased since I started to turn them off. I would turn off the power especially when I leave or to the degree that I would only run them on when I play music. When something's happening I would immediately hear and take actions on time. Despite the figures stating that tube life won't be different if tube equipment is always on, the life of DC capacitors will be and the ones that go bad or off the normal operation scale will shorten the tube life so quick that it's enough to realize that buying more and more tubes becomes an issue. I'm speaking from my own experience with my tube amps that I analytically examined with open PCB what's realy happening and why my tubes blow so fast... As I mentioned above, DC caps in some tubes drained the voltage too low outside of bias adjustment tolerance or too high and after some time of idling biasing was not possible. In the result I recapped the units and NO MORE I keep them on without listening.
You can get a Kill-a-watt and see how much energy your equipment draws. It may be illuminating. As for the cost of leaving equipment on, you can compute the draw from your rate schedule, usually published in your utility bill. 60W x 24 hours x 30 days = 43200 watt/hours or 43.2 kW/hours. Here in southern California, the summer rate at worst case (301%+ of baseline) adds up to about 42 cents per kW/h. That is over $18. My Gryphon amps used to draw 500W each at idle; my Lamms drew 300 x 2. My bill was scary plus I was probably using up a lot of water (if a coal plant) which is bad news as we have a water problem as it is.

I have no idea what my carbon footprint is but I imagine it is not good, which is why I try to keep things off, use energy saving light bulbs, turn off lights in rooms I am not in (which is what I learned as a kid).

I have even tried LED bulbs - they work okay but now that two have died before 100,000 hours (or since I have 5, stochastically, 20,000 hours, which is not, however 4 months) at $30 a pop, they are a no go.

All of which is to say that stereo gear can easily cost $50/month or more just on idle. The Lamm pair of amps alone would cost $180 to leave on all day (600W constant).

I do leave my current setup on standby and can stand the $30 or so it costs me for the privilege.
"SS equipment idles at very low power and need not to be turned off unless there's threats from power surges." UNLESS that SS gear happens to run in Class A.