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Valve amplifiers: why do I hear a popping sound when switching channels?
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If you are using a valve amplifier, then you may encounter a small popping noise when you switch from channel to channel. This type of noise tends to occur in all valve amps that use feedback loops to attain high levels of gain. The popping noises that you hear are often unavoidable when feedback loops are engaged for high gain channels. Simply, this is the nature of the beast.
Keep in mind that when you use a valve amp, it’s good practise to warm up your valves before playing. Your valves will play at optimal performance in this state. When warmed up, the chances of hearing any popping will decrease. Your valves can take up to a few hours to reach optimal temperature – as is the case with all valve amplifiers. The key takeaway is to keep your amps on before performances and during intervals; your valves will be warm before you begin playing.
Most valve amps feature a ‘standby’ switch. These can be used to silence the amp and keep valves heated when not in use.
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