Tube amp crackle noise with pre-amp volume at zero.


I changed out some stock EL 34s with a brand x on my prima luna Dialogue HP amp. Within seconds of powering up the amp with the pre-amp volume all the way down, I herd a crackle like noise from the speaker.  It was somewhat intermittent and random between the two speakers.  I shut it down, checked all connections, and started again with the same results.

I returned the stock tubes and everything is normal.  What happened?  I didn't have the guts to increase the pre-amp output! Tube microphonics? (spelling?) 
billtro
Most likely noisy small tubes, inherently noisy. Could be power tubes but usually this is not the case. FWIW the volume control usually appears in the circuit before the tube amplification and only attenuates the signal from the source. Next tubes you get should be 'low noise' tubes especially if you are buying NOS tubes which are costly.

You might just try shifting the small tubes - left channel to right channel, etc. Some times the issue is not the tubes so much as the pin contact in the sockets.
Try cleaning the pins with denatured alcohol or 99% isopropyl and carefully clean sockets with a non bristle pipe cleaner and a tiny amount of alcohol.... then when everything sounds great , sitting down with some of your favorite alcohol is in order.
These weren't the 12AU7s, but the power tubes.  GE EL 34 Fat Boys.
billtro -I also own a PrimaLuna (DiaLogue Premium Integrated). This amp has the "Bad Tube Indicator* feature that puts the unit into protective mode when a power tube goes bad and tells you which tube is the culprit.

This feature has proven its worth twice.  The first time was a little over a year and a half ago when the #1 KT88 failed. The second time was a couple of days ago when the amp shut down and the BTI showed a bad KT88 in the #4 slot.  

I did notice some sporadic crackling/small pops before each failure.  So, if your PL has this feature, you can rest a bit easier knowing that the BTI circuit will kick in a shut down the amp before any damage is done.

I've ordered a new set of Gold Lion KT88's which should arrive on Monday.  
yes bti red led will light up on the power tubes if one operates outside of what the primaluna amp bias range allows

coughing tubes usually small signal tubes... try fresh set, or move tubes side to side to isolate

primaluna supplies sino shuguang tubes labelled primaluna... primaluna gets them with more quality control but the qc is far from perfect, and the modern tubes often wear out get noisy faster than old stock ones due to poor materials poor manufacturing of the tubes 
Thanks for the reply's.  I'll try cleaning the tubes and see what happens.  Next time I'll look for the red indicating lights.  In the end, lesson learned on audio tube suppliers!  Thanks for the leads guys, very helpful.
Many tubes have a small amount of gas or material inside, forget what they call it but its to facilitate electron transfer. This material can condense in different places when the tube is cold. Then as the tube warms up as the little bits turn back into gas or fly off in little pieces they of course go from electrode to anode and upon hitting the anode create a little voltage surge which we hear as a pop or click or static. 

Eventually this all settles down. Usually. We hope. Welcome to the wonderful world of valve amplification.
Thanks millercarbon.  I've been also told that I may just be hearing some noise from the new tubes warming up for the first time and they'll settle in over the next 100 hours.  We'll see and thanks for the welcome. I'll report back in a couple of days.

Gold Lion KT88's

Tried em, return them, 
Went with Sve 6550,  nicee upgrade over GL. read  somewhere  on the INet another audiophile same reaction,,but hey, maybe your system is dif, 
,,back to OP, yes 1 power tube is going bad. 
Sve's 6550's built like tanks to last. 
These are musical power tubes. 
primaluna supplies sino shuguang tubes labelled primaluna

Well this bit of testimony sure helps, 
IMHO, chinese tubes  are not as reliable as russian ,, sure Psvane hates to hear this, but its true. 
Russia makes superior quality.  and of all russian power tubes Svets 6550 are my favorite , EH's are my 2nd choice. 

Well Mozartfan, that was pretty prophetic.  I reinstalled the fat boys and the noise stopped after 2 minutes.  Ran the amp overnight and found one PL red light on.  So yep, a tube was going south fast.

 
Anytime you change something and a problem shows up, its a good bet that the thing you changed has something to do with it.