Can a static discharge when touching a component do any harm?


#1

I noticed there was a small static discharge in form of a small spark when I touched the outer cabinet of my Directstream DAC the other day. The DAC was turned on, but not the power amplifier it is connected to.

Can such a static discharge do any harm to the electronic components on the inside, resulting in any kind of sonic degration? The DAC is performing perfectly normal, but I just wondered anyway. All my equipment is connected to a powerplant P10 with AC12 power cables, but the P10 is not connected to ground.


#2

Shouldn’t be a problem once all the electronics are in the chassis. You should be fine.


#3

Why not? It should be grounded so that everything connected to it is grounded. Don’t risk your house/life for a ground loop, find the source of the problem and fix it.


#4

Ok, I didn’t think so either. But from putting together pc’s in the past, I now that electronic components are very sensitive to static electricity. But I guess that is more related to direct contact with the components themselves.


#5

I’m not a fan of the static discharge. I use a humidifier in my audio room. I also have carpet, and spray StaticGaurd along the carpet in front of my gear. Maybe once a week during the super dry winter months. It’s cheap insurance and way less annoying.


#6

I once had a static discharge fry a heavy metal remote.


#7

Keep in mind however that with the P10 ungrounded there is no place for the charge to go but into your components. If the system is grounded, the charge will typically stay on the chassis and then travel directly to ground. As you system is configured, the charge may go inside the chassis and do damage.

As already recommended, fix the groundloop and properly ground the P10.


#8

This also happened once or twice with my old DAC, and I could never detect any kind of inferior performance. So I guess Pauls advice is correct in saying that the components inside are protected with the outer case. But as a diehard audiophile I’m always at the brink of nervous breakdown when imagine all the bad things that could happen with the hifi. Thankfully the DC can be fully operated with the remote.

P.S. I will see if I can get the system properly grounded.


#9

I touched my dac once in the winter when the humidity was very low. The static discharge was significant enough to fry the main board in a very expensive dac. I am glad that all of my equipment now powers on and off with remotes so that I do not have to touch my components.


#10

Well, the DS DAC seems to be operating normally. I guess the remaining question is if the components inside the DS are isolated from the outer chassis, so that a static discharge won’t reach them.


#11

I have an extremelly scary story about this. Long story short, a pair of 300WPC Class A mono blocks. They draw massive amount of current at idle (800w @ 120VAC) . Just get them back from updates and plug one in and no problem. Plug the other in and BOOM, the loudest bang I’ve heard I actually felt it. During the shipping, they were hit so hard that the mains was destroyed by the massive transformer. Thanks goodness they were grounded otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this.

Moral of the story, that ground is there for safety, use it!


#12

Well I designed and simulated all of the circuitry with the standard (however many joule) shock from being touched by a very charged human and made sure no component was stressed beyond it’s typical specs. Also units are hi-cap tested which is a rude amount of arcing shocks to the case. None of that means that nothing can go wrong, but I don’t think the DS is the weakest point in most systems.


#13

Well, that’s at least reassuring to hear, especially from the designer himself. The powerplant is in fact plugged into this wall outlet from Furutech that has grounding connections. It’s just that the grounding wire isn’t connected inside. I don’t know if it might nevertheless provide some kind of grounding. The reason why I haven’t grounded it, is that all the outlets in the room should then be replaced with grounded outlets, and strictly that should be done by an electrician. The fact that a lot of people on Hifi forums also talk about grounding as a way to introduce noise into the system, have also made me reluctant. But perhaps that reluctance should be ignored.


#14

Dreamer seeker,
I have an electrician coming in 2 weeks to install a dedicated 20 amp circuit for my PSA babies. I am very anxious to see replies to your thoughts about grounded outlets.

If all power connections are 3 prong and I am using balanced XLR inter connects, should I be safe first, and less noisy, second, my current (pun) priority? Also, static shock is a winter problem for me. Lighting the rest of the year, so I have started thinking about a P15 or P20. Does anyone know about the relative effectiveness among the Regenerators.

i don’t anything about Faraday cages, but I will ask out of ignorance, do PSA shells act as such and offer some benefit.

Chas


#15

Bare boards are most susceptible but as Paul mentioned, the chassis itself acts to help mitigate any damage as an assembly. Ted touched on this to and I’m glad he did because design has a lot to do with it. I grabbed a Peachtree 150 when it first came out. A couple days later I went to plug in my headphones. Blue arc, “POP” and that was the end of that amp. No issues with PSA gear or any gear since then.


#16

A few days ago I had an electrician installing a dedicated 15 amp circuit for my Hifi. In the meantime I’ve upgraded the old P10 to a new P15. In that sense I’ve had 3 changes to how power is supplied to the Hifi. It’s now both a dedicated line that’s also grounded, and finally the P15 takes care of the last stage of power delivery.

The P15 was an obvious upgrade from the P10, and having a dedicated grounded line also brings benefits although they might not be that obvious as moving from the old P10 to P15. And it’s also comforting to know that the Hifi is finally connected the way it’s meant to be.


#17

I have a P10 and P5. Along with providing a pure sine wave, clean power, and power resavoir to support dynamics, they are an ultimate surge protector.