Why can't my components just get along?

Ok, I've been reading these forums fairly dilligently for about six months now, and my system recently came up with a new one (bless its dark little soul). I am fairly consistently getting distortion (static and a general fizzle) on certain high range frequencies. Both channels, sometimes more pronounced in one than the other, and arratic. Last night, determined to track it down, my first thought was to turn on the headphone amp (run out of the tape loop on the preamp) and see if it came through the headphones as well. It didn't, so, I figure, a couple of possible sources down. Then I take off the headphones, and it's no longer coming out of the speakers, either. Hummm. After repating the procedure about 7 or 8 times just to be sure I wan't crazy, I confirmed that certain frequencies distort from the speakers when the headphone amp if off, but not when it's on. (I then threw up my hands in disgust, left the amp on, and listened to some music). My question is, what gives? Am I going to have to buy some fancy power conditioner? Is that what I need? The full rundown, if it helps in the diagnostics, is: Ah!Tjoep CDP, VTL 2.5 pre, Bryston 4b-st amp, Headroom for the cans, and a synergistic/monster/dimarzio/kimber mix for the other bits. Its all plugged into a rinky-dink little power strip-surge protector (sigh)--the culprit? The transformer on the pre also appears to be complaining a bit, another symptom of bad power? I know, a long and rambling question, but any guidance would be much appreciated.
NEVER EVER use a power strip. The better the system the less musical it will sound if you use such things. They create both a bottleneck for current and are a magnet for noise. A good system will choke on it and reveal the noise in all its painful splendour. I learnt this long ago but was reminded of it when I was having some work done on my dedicated mains, and temporarily plugged my system into another circuit using a distribution box. The sound was completely unlistenable.
Sigh, once again, I cannot deny the wisdom of your words. Looks like I've got an excuse to shell out some more duckets. Tice has been running a deal on old-model Power Block IIIB's ever since they retooled a "C" version, maybe I'll suck it up and do it right. Other suggestions? Typical, though, the more you buy, the more you realize you need.... This really is a nasty habit. (That said, I just got a full compliment of NOS tubes in the mail and I can't wait to go home and get them all in there....). It's probably cheaper than crack, in the long run.
I really don't think power conditioning will solve the problem you are describing. I wonder, does the VTL preamp have a "record" selector in addition to "listen" selector? If so, maybe try it with the record selector pointing to something other than the source you are "listening" to. The other possibility is tubes in the preamp. Perhaps the headphone amp being ON stabilizes the tube circuit in some manner, perhaps by dropping the impedence on the tape output of the preamp, which may then tie in to main output of the preamp.... sounds like a tricky one. Best of luck. Anyone else have any ideas?
Redkiwi is right on getting rid of the strip!!! How power gets into yor gear has a lot to do on what you hear no matter the equipment combination. In your particular case as Audiolover says you´ll have to play a little to get the right setup. Suggest you try (test to writeout the strip) OUT the power strip by plugging the amp directly to wall, they need whatever power you might provide them. The same for the pre and cdplayer if physically possible in another nearby wall plate. You might find much better performance although not the best (with this test) which really point you into improving the blood supply that keeps your gear alive:electrical power. Give it a try and tell us how it goes.
Static and fizzle at a specific frequency sounds like a tube resonating to me. Let's hope the new glass does the trick.
Sorry. You guys are right that there is probably something wrong other than the power strip. I limited my post just to the topic of the power strip which will be killing the sound - but probably not causing the distortion.
Well, I went and consulted one of the local stereomongers and I think we've got it licked. Agreed, the power strip was not good, but it was not the cause of the distortion (but it did get a proper upgrade, while I was at it). After polling the resident savants, we finally decided that the headphone amp was simply presenting too much of a load on the tape loop out, and that this was resulting in the distortion. The verdict was, while not exactly common, far from unheard of. Solution, since it's fine when you leave it on, leave it on (and why do you bother to turn it off in the first place...?). This had been my solution (by default) but it's a whole lot more satisfying to know why it makes some sense. With the addition of proper power conditioning and a full new (old) set of tubes on Saturday, I logged a good 15 hours on Sunday and was quite pleased with the results. (Ok, I was working and only paying half attention (most of the time), but it made me quite happy, nonetheless). Thanks again.
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