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Old 24th March 2016, 02:36 AM   #1
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Default cheap vs expensive potentiometer

Hey guys, so i'm building a classic NE5532 headphone amp, and i need help with potentiometer selection. i have cheap dual gang potentiometers laying around, but i was wondering if it is really worth it to spend money on an expensive one. What is the noise difference on expensive vs cheap ones?
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Old 24th March 2016, 03:57 AM   #2
rayma is offline rayma  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joesphanlu View Post
i was wondering if it is really worth it to spend money on an expensive one. W
Tracking is one big difference. Give your pot a try, you can always replace it with a better one.
Make sure that your pot is intended for use as a volume control, with an audio taper.
Alps makes good cheap ones. RadioShack sells 100k Alps volume controls for $4. https://www.radioshack.com/products/...ant=5717293381
These are good: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/1720252...&ul_noapp=true
Switched precision resistor controls are very good.
http://glass-ware.stores.yahoo.net/atandsise.html
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/stepped-attenuator

Last edited by rayma; 24th March 2016 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 24th March 2016, 04:04 AM   #3
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A Bournes 91 series Dual is what you need. cheap pots are OK for 6 mths or so, but
invariably become noisy as time moves on, and are more likely to be headed for failure
as each day progresses.

Cheers / Chris
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Old 24th March 2016, 04:53 AM   #4
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thanks for the replies guys

Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
Tracking is one big difference. Give your pot a try, you can always replace it with a better one.
Make sure that your pot is intended for use as a volume control, with an audio taper.
Alps makes good cheap ones. RadioShack sells 100k Alps volume controls for $4. https://www.radioshack.com/products/...ant=5717293381
These are good: 100 Original Japan Alps 27 Type Blue Volume Potentiometer 2 x 10K | eBay
Switched precision resistor controls are very good.
Attenuators and Signal Selecters
Stepped Attenuator | eBay
How many K pot should i use? how many ks will get me the least noise, but at the same time have good audio clarity and detail? Also how much difference will the expensive ones make?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Daly View Post
A Bournes 91 series Dual is what you need. cheap pots are OK for 6 mths or so, but
invariably become noisy as time moves on, and are more likely to be headed for failure
as each day progresses.

Cheers / Chris
I will give the cheap ones i have a shot, as most of my source equipment have volume controls there, i might just stick on the ones i have, and keep it in one position. Is there any way that i can improve the reliability? (lubrication, cleaning etc.)
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Old 24th March 2016, 05:01 AM   #5
tomchr is offline tomchr  Canada
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Get one where the track is made from resistive polymer rather than a carbon composite or carbon film pot. The ALPS RK271-series is available from Mouser. Nice pots. Not terribly expensive.

Tom
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Old 24th March 2016, 05:03 AM   #6
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How many kohms pot should i use, also how much of a difference does a expensive pot make considering if they are both new?
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Old 24th March 2016, 03:48 PM   #7
rayma is offline rayma  United States
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Originally Posted by joesphanlu View Post
How many kohms pot should i use
If the pot has a buffer after it, 10k is fine. If not, it would have to be much lower.
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Old 24th March 2016, 04:31 PM   #8
JMFahey is offline JMFahey  Argentina
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Just don't fall in the trap that they should/will sound different, or "better" .

Better made ones, which of course will be somewhat more expensive than plain vanilla ones (we are talking a few bucks instead of less than a dollar) will be better constructed, track better, be closer to rated value, maybe sealed or having scratch resistant tracks for longer life, all of which is good, of course.
That does not affect sound.

Now going to real expensive "exotic" ones, may or may not be electrically/mechanically better , but that will still not change sound.
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Old 24th March 2016, 07:47 PM   #9
tomchr is offline tomchr  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
If the pot has a buffer after it, 10k is fine. If not, it would have to be much lower.
Yeah, but if gets too much lower, the source won't be able to drive it. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs.

OPA1611 buffer -> 2 kΩ pot -> OPA1611 buffer would be my suggestion.

Tom
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Old 25th March 2016, 12:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rayma View Post
If the pot has a buffer after it, 10k is fine. If not, it would have to be much lower.
what should be a good buffer capacitor size? i have some post 2013 3.3uf, 22uf, 100uf and 47uf lelons laying around. i apologize for my noobness, as i don't have much experience with building amplifiers. but i'm sure others will find this helpful.
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