Some hum - how much is normal?

I am hearing a “small” amount of hum with no inputs selected. By small I mean you cannot hear it if your ear is 2 to 3 feet away from the speakers. Is this meant to be “acceptable” or should there be zero hum.

There is a very small hum with just the DAC connected and no power to any phono component. If I add power to phono components hum slightly increases.

Components are:

BHK Signature Preamp
BHK Stereo 250 Power amp
Power Plant 12
Directstream DAC

Sutherland 2020 phono preamp
Dr. Feickert woodpecker turntable
Kiseki purpleheart cartridge

Do you mean electrical hum or tubes hiss? What are the speakers in this rig? What gain setting do you have the Sutherland set on.

Welcome @mossman

No hum is good hum.

I would start with disconnecting everything but for the amp to the speakers. Than reconnect each component listening for the culprit. Take a look at the how to <–link for addressing hum.

Does the level of the hum adjust with the volume of the BHK pre?

If he’s running XLR between the fully balanced BHK pieces and SE from the Sutherland he may try lifting the ground on the the two preamps one at a time.

I don’t think I know exactly what tube hum is, my sound is a king of buzzing. Previously I had what I thought was a pretty bad “electrical” hum. I have a pretty long run (8 feet) between my preamp and amp. When I changed the amp power cable to a high end shielded cable that hum went away.

The current buzzing does not change when I change the preamp volume.

My setup does have the amp, phono amp and turntable about 8 feet away from the rest of the equipment - no choice with my space issues. I am not using XLR cables between preamp and phono – Sutherland does not have XLR outputs.

Gain on Sutherland is 58, although buzz is still there (although a little less) even with phono amp and turntable plug pulled - so just the DAC, pre and power amp left.

Speakers are Boenicke W8 (not that well known).

Do you still hear it if you only have the speakers hook up to the amp? No other inputs hooked up to the amp?

Here is a long reply

1). Only amp and speakers - “small” amount of hiss – out of highest tweeter, disappears at about 18" from speaker. This is with room totally quiet, so even original hiss with ear right up to speaker is pretty low. All my measurements will be based on this standard.

2). Amp plus pre with XLR cables, but with no power to pre amp, and no inputs to pre – no hiss (weird).

3). Amp plus pre on (volume 40), no inputs to pre - hiss audible to about 30-36" away from speakers. Zero afterword. Now top and mid tweeter.

4). Amp, pre and DAC - hiss to about 44".

5). Amp, pre and Sutherland phono amp, preamp set to phono input. Hiss to 60’-72".

6). Same as above with turntable motor on. Hiss to about 72" to 84".

In all of these cases I have to listen very hard to hear hiss - but it is there at distances below the thresholds mentioned above.

I don’t know if I am being paranoid.

Thanks for your help.

Is it all hiss/white noise? That is, no hum?

Do you know what kind of hours you have on the tubes in both the pre and the amp?

I think it is more like white noise/hiss vs 60 cycle hum.

All the PS Audio equipment is only about a year old. Not a huge amount of playing during that time.

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This helps a good deal.

I first suspect the tubes in the preamp and would try a replacement set, but the fact you get more hiss with adding components makes me think your cables or something else are picking up noise.

I agree with Elk. Even with the gear being about a year old, it’s likely time to try our some new tubes in both the pre and amp.

I changed the tubes in both the pre and the amp. Changing the tubes in the amp made no difference that I could sense. Changing the tubes in the pre did help a little. For example, previously I could stop hearing the hiss at about 5 to 6 feet, now it is down to about 4 to 5 feet.

I guess all that is left are the cables - likely the 8 foot run between pre and amp.

Also, I made an error in an earlier post. When the volume of the pre is turned up, especially to very high levels, the hiss increases.

What amount of hiss is normal for equipment like this - a little, none?

Tape hiss of some level is normal but how much you hear and where depends on the sensitivity of you speakers.

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You and I have very similar systems. My speakers are about 89dB efficient. I do hear a bit of hiss from 4 feet(?) away. I’ve never thought twice about it because I can’t hear it from my listening position, and once I have music playing, even at VERY low levels (volume 5 on the pre) I can’t hear it at all.

Thanks for the comparison to your system. Sometimes you just want to find out that “I am normal”. I guess I will stop being paranoid and just enjoy the system.


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I am far from this, so maybe I’m not the best reference. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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Hmmmm…sorry I couldn’t resist.