Tube DAC Conundrum


I have the Blacknote DAC30 which has 4 tubes in it. I read that digital stuff should be left on for everyday listening, but won't that use up the tube life a lot quicker? I am willing to change the tubes every year if leaving them on all the time will get me that far, but I don't know.
koestner
i have owned several tube dacs, tube amps and rube preamps.

after a listening session, i turn off all tube components.

tube life may be a factor, but also the possibility that if a tube ceases to function, it may damage other parts of the component.
I agree with Mrtennis. I have owned lots and lots of tube gear and always turn them off after a listening session. My solid state gear is left on.
Audio Note recommends 24/7 operation for their tube linestages, phono preamps, and D/A converters.

Dealer disclaimer
I follow the same practice as the above 2 posters
I am no expert but I think the performance issues are related to getting the tube gear(or any gear) to an optimal operating temperature. I find most tube gears get there relatively quickly.
Now for some reason (unknown to me) I find that unplugging digital gear will then require a longer time to get back to optimal sound once plugged back in so I do try and keep my digital plugged in.
Leave it on 24/7 and change the tubes every year. It's perfectly safe assuming proper ventilation and decent equipment design. The issue with digital equipment is that the clocks need to be at thermal equilibrium for optimal performance. Effectively, that means leaving them on 24/7.

If you're interested you could conduct a test. Leave the D/A powered for a week and listen, then turn it off for 48 hours. Power it up and figure out whether you can hear a difference.
Yes Onhwy61,

A test does seem the logical thing to do. I will do just that. Thanks all.
I have a tube dac and pre-amp. Can't practically leave tube gear on. Too risky! So I don't. SS amps, DACs, etc. I often do.
You should never turn your tube gears on as it is too risky and a tube failure could take down other componants. Make sense? of course not. Tubes in dacs are most likely small signal tubes and should last far longer then a year, so leave it on and minimise the thermal cycle of the other componants. And may powdered sugar fall upon your ears tonight!
Never turn off your tubes, just like you never turn out the lights in your house when you leave.

Oh, wait, that advice was meant for another planet. On this one, if it's a bulb, turn it off when you don't use it.

Honestly, of all the stupid advice you get on audiogon, this thread seems to be the current winner...
The audiophile in me says: "leave 'em on".

The rest of me which is where most of my rationale behavior emanates from, says: "turn 'em off when you're not using them, dummy"!

My rational side can be harsh. It also usually ends up winning these battles ( I hope).
What are the tubes? Have you researched the average or expected life of these particular tubes? Some small tubes are good for 10,000-15,000 hours.
it seems to me that from the comments so far , there is an implied trade-off infavor of optimizing the sonics at the expense of the electricity bill.

in the interet of ecology one should never leave on any component, even though the sound of myour stereo system may not be ideal when you turn it on again, or you will have to wait an hour or two until you realize the best your stereo system can offer.

i think one should be a responsible citizen and save the planet's execessive use of fossil fuels even if it degrades the sound of your stereo system.
Could someone please explain the "risk" involved with leaving small signal tubes on 24/7.

Mrtennis, couldn't agree more with the environmental impact, but it just ain't gonna' happen. Actually the largest negative environmental impact is due to the dedicated listening room. To have a dedicated room usually means you have a large free standing house. Imagine if every family in China and India lived in free standing houses averaging 3,000+ sf? There wouldn't be a single tree still growing anywhere on the planet. Reality sucks when it intrudes upon our sybaritic pursuit.
"The issue with digital equipment is that the clocks need to be at thermal equilibrium for optimal performance."
I would hope that modern DACs would not be bothered by this too much, if they're designed right. When a DAC starts processing information, it will start warming more. A CD is constantly changing speed from its beginning, to its end. The data stream is always changing. With all of these variables happening, I'll trust the engineers, hoping they made these things right. The DAC may even change temperature with the different parts of a song being played. I enjoy the music while it warms up.
I'm sure glad that's settled!
To answer those questions, the tubes are 6N1P from Russia. They're not expensive to get more (the Blacknote DAC30 comes from Italy). I usually turn it on in the afternoon and off just before bedtime. I think I will stick with that process as it then runs only 33% as much as 24/7.
""The issue with digital equipment is that the clocks need to be at thermal equilibrium for optimal performance."

I would hope that modern DACs would not be bothered by this too much, if they're designed right."

WTF? You must not understand the clocks then. They do need to reach equilibrium- period. It is how they are made. There is a reason why crystal ovens exist. It has nothing to do with signal(data) passing either.
There is no right or wrong. There are ups and downs no matter what you chose, so just listen and enjoy and do whatever works for you. Be prepared to replace tubes more frequently if you leave it on. An nobody expects an accident. That is why they are called accidents. Those are the things that can really cost you when they happen. So be forewarned.
As I asked yesterday, could someone please explain the danger or risk of leaving small signal tubes on 24/7?
"As I asked yesterday, could someone please explain the danger or risk of leaving small signal tubes on 24/7?"

I don't know. That's why its a risky proposition to me.

For example, I've seen our cleaning lady dislodge teh tube in my tube dac when cleaning. Not so much as to cause a problem, but perhaps just a matter of degree. What if a child sees the bright glowy tube and pulls it out when on?

Dunno. But those are the kinds of unexpected things worth considering. If teh sound is that much better with the tube left on, maybe teh benefits outweigh the risks. Or not? Who's to say.

if someone explains the risks, hope that they are both right about what they say and also that they are not overlooking something.
WTF? You must not understand the clocks then. They do need to reach equilibrium- period. It is how they are made. There is a reason why crystal ovens exist. It has nothing to do with signal(data) passing either.
4est (System | Answers | This Thread)

All in the same box. Everything will warm up more.

Jitter reduction.

I don't worry about it.

Worry all you want.

Again, I'll enjoy my music.