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mr-mac 20th December 2005 02:42 PM

Da-capo issue (John W?)
John I was wondering if you came to any conclusion about the pink noise from the da-capo DAC from the post on the forum middle of last year.

I also have a Da-Capo which creates the same pink/white noise sound, with a hint of the music behind it, after a period of being powered up (doesn't seem to make a difference if it is in standby or not, just the power being plugged in).

The DAC has the HDCD filter fitted (so isn't the 1307 filter issue that you mentioned).

I have tried re-seating the filter module and moving the Input card to a different slot. Neither have made any difference.

Funnily enough about 4 – 5 months ago a Da-Capo came up for sale that must have been one of your development ones. The serial was no 1 and it had a dedication to your wife actully on the circuit board. If I had seen your name on these forums before now I would have let you know as it sold for silly low money…

Lastly I wondered if by any chance anyone might have a copy of the original Da-Capo instruction manual at all? I would really appreciate a photocopy of it (been trying to get one for ages), I am also looking for a Cardinal instruction manual as well…

Does anyone know the dip switch settings for the HDCD filter (or will I only get intelligible sound if I have used the correct setting)

What transport was the Cardinal based on… Yes I know the drawer etc is some bespoke low vibration material etc… but I guess the laser and motors etc. were taken from a commercially available Transport… It would be of immense help as I could then track down some s/h really cheap units that used the same laser and motors etc for future spares.

John can you remember if the cardinal produced performance figures (jitter etc.) better than most other transports produced, or is it just good figures for it's era?

Lastly is there any other transports that use a compatible clock lock to the Da-Capo DAC? Just wondered because at some point if the cardinal broke and it can’t repaired it would be good to know of any other transports that would work with the clock lock connection on the DAC.

Thanks for any info that can be offered.

John H

PS my Cardinal accepts CD-R’s without any drama (including the cheapest of the cheap CD-R’s), I haven’t tried RW’s but will later tonight.

JohnW 20th December 2005 06:03 PM

John H,

I've just return a Dacapo I repaired for a forum user (after having it on an extended “repair period” – sorry about that Paul). However it did gave my design team and I a chance to have extended listening seasons - and compare against a dual TI DSD1792 based Hi-End DAC, I was genuinely expecting the TI design to be superior to the Dacapo (I designed the Dacapo in 1991) - well to cut a long story short - the Dacapo completely floored the TI based DAC – much to the surprise of all including myself. Without hesitation, the HDCD filter was superior to all filter modules, including the later 24Bit filter (designed after I left PT).

Now for the very bad news, for all my designs at Pink Triangle I used Nippon Chemi-Con LXF Low ESR capacitors, these appear to have a manufacture design fault, as electrolyte leaks outs from the bottom of the Capacitor and “Eats” the Copper PCB tracking – designs that are effected: -

DC (optional Battery supply for Dacapo)
PIP II+ (upgraded PIP 2 pre-amp with new battery pack)
Anniversary turntable (with Battery PSU)

The above products will fail eventually unless ALL the Nippon Chemi-Con parts are replaced – and the PCB clean of the leaked Electrolyte and PCB repaired.

I’m very disappointed with Nippon Chemi-Con as these capacitors where expensive premium parts – and not a 3rd grade manufacturer from China. :worried:

It sounds like the issue you’re having could be caused by the above problem – one of the PSU rails has failed.

After listening to the Dacapo again – I intend to offer “upgrades” at sometime in the not to distant future, as the design is still worthy – I quote from current issues of Hi-Fi World “World Classics” section

“Pink Triangle Dacapo, Exquisite; the warmest and most lyrical 16Bit digital audio we have ever heard. Clever plug-in digital filter modules really worked!”

To proudly blow my own trumpet :blush: , the Cambridge Audio CD4SE and DACMAGIC under the same section are also my designs – not bad, 3 designs rated as “World Classics” on one page!

Contact me via PM if you’re interested in having your unit repaired,

John Westlake

jean-paul 20th December 2005 06:48 PM


Originally posted by JohnW

Now for the very bad news, for all my designs at Pink Triangle I used Nippon Chemi-Con LXF Low ESR capacitors, these appear to have a manufacture design fault, as electrolyte leaks outs from the bottom of the Capacitor and “Eats” the Copper PCB tracking ...snip....

The above products will fail eventually unless ALL the Nippon Chemi-Con parts are replaced – and the PCB clean of the leaked Electrolyte and PCB repaired.

I’m very disappointed with Nippon Chemi-Con as these capacitors where expensive premium parts – and not a 3rd grade manufacturer from China. :worried:

Off topic, sorry but do you have any experience with YXF or other series from that time that have the same failure ???

I am experiencing more and more electrolytic cap failures these days. Not only the cheap chinese **** like Jackcon but this time A brands as well. For instance Nichicon HN and HM series. Where do we go if established brands like United/Nippon Chemi-con and Nichicon also fail ?

JohnW 20th December 2005 07:12 PM

Leaking Cap Link

I'm not saying that this is the problem with the LXF Nippon Chem-Con parts but it appears to be a suspiciously similar issue.

"The story behind this has all the makings of a conspiracy theory Hollywood movie. As reported in IEEE Spectrum Online, apparently a scientist stole an electrolyte formula from his employer in Japan and left the company. Shortly afterwards, this scientist took up with a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer and used the formula there, then went on to sell the formula to other firms. The problem was, the formula was wrong.

Missing were a few crucial elements in the chemical concoction that made up the electrolyte inside the capacitor. Without these additives, according to Dennis Zogbi of Passive Component Industry magazine, the capacitor will emit hydrogen gas and burst after a short operational lifetime. Burst capacitors will leak electrolyte onto the PCB, creating all sorts of electrical and chemical havoc."

Also visit Bad Caps

jean-paul 20th December 2005 07:44 PM

Thanks John, I know about the supposedly illegally copied formula of the P50 and P51 electrolyte of Rubycon ZA/ZL series. The wrongly manufactured caps were made mostly in 2001 and problems occurred in early 2002 ( brands: Jackcon/GSC/OST/ISSI/Lelon and Luxon amongst other "quality" brands ). After the problems were discovered things became better in 2003.After checking I see now that the LXF caps as used by you are much older, I do not have any clue what has caused the problem in LXF series.

The caps I mentioned that fail today are A brands and more recently produced than those cheap caps with a wrongly copied formula. Mostly 2003 to 2004 and even 2005 produced caps.

In the case of Nichicon HN and HM series a disinfectant against SARS as used in their factories was mentioned to have polluted the electrolyte fluid :eek: Also overfilling with electrolyte is mentioned at some technical websites. Dell has made a press anouncement that they will reserve 300 million US $ for replacing motherboards of the Optiplex GX270 series that suffer from these failing Nichicon caps....

My wild theory is that some factors cause these problems:

The A brands have their products produced in China at factories where quality control is less good than at their former japanese factories :xeye: The demand for lower ESR for more power hungry CPUs has driven electrolytic caps to the limits of what is technically possible. 60 Amp on the CPU kernel power rail is not exceptional. Also it seems that using water to lower the ESR in the electrolytic fluid wasn't the best idea.

Sorry for threadjacking but IMO information on this subject can be practical for those that aren't informed on this matter.

Netlist 20th December 2005 08:03 PM

I encountered several Intel mobo's with nearly exploding caps.
Intel is aware of the problem and has set up a long time RMA service. These boards are AFAIK produced at a later time (+2002).


JohnW 21st December 2005 11:01 AM


The Cardinal transport uses a Sanyo PU91 loader & SF-91 head. There’s nothing special about the tray material, only sprayed in gray Nextel to improve appearance.

The Cardinal is designed to be Clock-Locked to the Dacapo - therefore Jitter of the transport is not important (the Dacapo is the Master Clock).

The Cambridge Audio CDT (DiscMagic), CD6 and std. CD4 (non SE version) used the same loader and laser head.

18, 20, 22 Bit & HDCD filters fit jumper 3 only (1 & 2 are not fitted)

1307 filter fit jumpers 1 & 2 – leaving 3 open

24 Bit, fit all jumpers

I will be launching a new CD transport that will allow clock-lock with PT Dacapo and Ordinal, but will require a new DIC (Digital Input Card). The new Clock Lock DIC is dual optical based (as apposed to dual electrical of your current setup).

John Westlake

Jocko Homo 21st December 2005 04:15 PM

Since we are talking about exploding caps on m/b....
I have 2 Soyo m/b with exploding caps. No-name brand called "Wendell". Audio has buzzing noises, weird fuzzies in the video.


mr-mac 22nd December 2005 10:10 AM


Thanks for all that info.... (I emailed you as I couldn't see an option to PM).

CPT Acoustics (UK engineers for Trichord) had made me aware of capacitor issues as they had repaired 3 Cardinal Transports (although they only seemed to be aware of the issue of the caps in the transport as I had contacted them about the Da-Capo but they didn't mention it as an issue for them)....

Looking forward to upgrades... Not sure about everyone else (maybe we could get a consensus of opinion) but apart from the transport, which you already have in mind, my main wants for my da-capo are (and I have been trying to obtain them for some time);

1. a Battery PSU

These are so rare and I am sure everyone who has a da-capo, like me, would be intrested in some sort of battery PSU (esspecially as these are reported to offer a very good improvement over the std PSU).

2. Digital Input Cards....

Every Da-capo I have seen has 1 Digital input card... Now due to the quality of this DAC I would certainly like the option to use it with more items than just my cardinal... Streaming audio from PC, Digital recording device and use a normal transport if my cardinal is out of action... Again as these are hard to come by I would really want a std Co-ax (as opposed to the clock lock one) and an optical input....

Anyway these are just ideas as to things I rekon are near impossible to get that would be of obvious interest to most dacapo owners (and maybe ordinal for the input cards)....

As I said in the email - Thank you for designing one of the best Digital sources ever.



PS If anyone has any Digital Input cards they don't need give me a shout :)

JohnW 22nd December 2005 12:20 PM

John H,

I'm thinking along the lines of a complete Dacapo main board replacement - not so much an upgrade - but a new design, I'm not interested in full production - just to have some fun designing a "Statement Product" and support old customers, without all the hassle of casework & marketing etc – I would sell the boards at cost – customer fit, so an element of DIY!

The new “Super Dacapo” :) would incorporate the 15 years of knowledge I've gain since I designed the original unit :-

Discrete Opamps

Ultra Low Noise Regulators (no need for the Battery "DC")

Digital controlled VCXO + short length FIFO (no need to Clock Lock - based upon a PECL ASIC I've had produced for my coming Digital amplifiers)

PECL based discrete DAC (based upon a PECL ASIC I've had produced for my coming Digital amplifiers)

USB, Optical, 75 Ohm & 110 Ohm Coax inputs

32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 & 192 KHz support + DSD input

And a few other non-disclosed features (at this time)

You would no longer need to worry about buying a second hand battery DC, capacitor replacement, your Cardinals life span, Digital input cards or Clock upgrades etc.

I don't wish to appear to be "selling" in this Forum - so I've sent you an Email with further information.


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