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What temperatures are "safe"?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Skel, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hey guys, I sometimes wonder when I leave a speaker cab in my van, or garage. I usually will always find the energy to bring a head in. I live in Denver and can get cold for a few days of the year - I know others live in Phoenix - hot, etc.

    Is it safe to leave a speaker cab out in the freezing cold all night? How about a head? I realize it would be "better" not to do this, I just want to know for the times that I do.

    Thanks - Skel
  2. Cold isn't necessarily the trouble-maker; humidity is. Damp places make metal parts rust and in time die. Extreme cold is something else though. Just my two cents...
  3. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Solid state electronics can generally tolerate cold pretty well; I don't know about tubes but perhaps someone more knowledgeable could add to this.

    Mechanical things, like pots used in gain and tone controls, fans, etc., may be sluggish or even stuck in extreme cold conditions.

    As Phyrexian said, moisture is a real killer.
  4. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I wouldn't think cold would be an issue unless you don't let it get to room temp before using it.

    They ship this stuff, even in extreme cold weather and it sits in unheated warehouses and UPS and FedEx trucks for days, so I'm assuming it won't be a problem if you let it warm up to room temps before playing through it.

    I left a cab out in my garage for almost a year...and I'm having issues with it...but I think it's a corrosion issue...not cold related.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Most all kinds of materials are more brittle when they are cold. I would not recommend dragging a cabinet in from prolonged exposure to subfreezing temperatures and immediately slamming it with full power.

    If it sits for a bit and acclimates to the room temperature, I would think that all would be well.
  6. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    My band leaves ALL of our PA (and some personal amps and cabs) in the band trailer...and I live in northcentral, bitter-freaking-cold Wisconsin.

    By the time we get our gear set up for shows, it's warmed up enough to play through without worry.
  7. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    Just about all SS electronic devices are made with standard commercial temp range parts, which means 0C (32 degF) to about 70C (160F) operating temperature range. Much higher temps are acceptable for power devices, like mosfets, etc they are usually rated for at least 150 deg C inside the case in the "works".

    Tubes have no really distinct temp range, although at some "stupidly cold" temp the difference between the expansion rate of "kovar" leads and glass might become important, might cause leaks.

    If you are willing to stand there and play, and anyone is willing to hang around when you do, probably you are OK, unless your gig is outdoors at the St Paul (MN) Winter Carnival.

    The worst problem may be condensation when the stuff from the truck (at -12 F) comes into a bar full of people (75 deg F, and more humid). That can at least cause odd noises and so forth until the condensation evaporates.

    If your stuff gets more or less to room temp before you turn it on, and you don't see condensation, you should be fine.

    I'd be a little concerned about speakers, if used cold. The surround may get damaged, since it's probably stiff from cold. The good news is that speaker cones warm up fast. They should be ready when you are.
  8. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Skel - I live just north of you and, while I agree with the points already made here, I always bring my head in after a gig. It never stays out in the car overnight. Why? OCD, i guess.

    I do, however, leave my cabs in the car overnight and I've never had a problem.
  9. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Thanks to all who commented. Jerrold, you make me glad I'm an Ampeg fanatic.

  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    SS components typically have a wider "storage" temperature range than their "operating" range. Outside of the operating range, parts are not guaranteed to operate within their specs. This could cause problems such as DC offsets and bias problems in power amps. But I have kept my gear outside in the cold, in Wisconsin winters, with no problems.

    I would be more concerned about high temps.

    For my day job, I designed a preamp where the critical components are at liquid nitrogen temperature (-196 C). The parts are off-the-shelf, and we had to qualify their specs at low temperature ourselves.
  11. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    My bands mixing desk decided to stop working one night after being left out in the cold for a while. I think there was condensation on it. That really scared the hell out of us because its an expensive piece of kit and very essential to us. I think bring it from hot to cold is the worst part of temperature variation.I wouldnt be too worried about speaker cabinets being cold since there isnt a whole lot to them compared to amp electronics. But as the others have said allowing equipment to acclimatise is the main thing