usually about 45 minutes before everything comes into focus.
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All of the tube amps I've owned needed about 15 minutes to sound good. Is it getting better after that period? Perhaps, but I don't kill myself trying to notice any difference -- I just know it sounds good after 10-15 minutes. Solid state stuff takes a whole lot more time to warm up. I've fooled around with gear that sounds really disappointing until its been on for many hours if it has been off for some length of time. That is usually not a problem because the solid state stuff can be left on continuously.
Hey, I've got a question! I bought a 2 year old tube amp that hadn't been used for almost three months. It took a number of hours to sound it's best but now sounds superb after 10-15 min of being turned on. Wonder what the technical reasons are for it not sounding its best after being 'on the shelf' for 3 months?
A lot of warmup character has to do with the tubes themselves, as well as filter capacitors.
As most of you might know, we don't have any transformers in our amps, and our MP-1 MkIII is entirely regulated, yet the warmup character on any of these is the same as almost any other tube amplifier or preamp, so my belief is that it is 90% the tubes.
Most of the transistor stuff I've had over the years needed to be on for about a week to warm up properly.
As the charge builds on the plates of the capacitor, they actually move a bit in relationship to one another. But, for something sitting around for a few months, that is not the issue.
Still, capacitors take a very long time to come up to song, some types and brands more than others. I know a designer who uses Blackgate brand capacitors, but has put in alternatives for customers who do not want to keep their amps powered up all the time. He told me that his amps sound thin and dry if the Blackgates are not kept charged all the time.
My amp has a lot of Blackgates in them, but I cannot see myself leaving the amp on all the time. For me, it is more a safety concern than life-of-tube issue -- the designer insists that the tubes will last longer being left on all the time rather than being subjected to harsh turn-on conditions.