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Old 28th March 2012, 09:11 PM   #4091
dvv is offline dvv  Serbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
I find this discussion of capacitor differences, disturbing.
First of all, we had 'generic' aluminum caps from the beginning of time, just about, and the only REAL improvements, for many years was with the Japanese. This culminated with Black Gate, that is a PATENTED real breakthrough in capacitor design and construction. The PROBLEM with these capacitors is that they were expensive, and HAD to be BROKEN-IN! The tech sheet said so. I met the inventor of the Black Gate capacitor, in Tokyo in 1986. He seemed an OK guy to me.
I personally tried to remove ANY electrolytic caps from critical audio circuits, so I was able to avoid them, for the most part, especially the Black Gates, because they were just too darn expensive to buy.
Now, for years, many people have been openly annoyed at the VERY IDEA that ANY electrolytic caps could sound different from each other, including the majority of people posting here. NOW, you European guys tell us that the European caps are distinctly better than the PREMIUM Japanese caps. How can this be, and what is the reason?
Is it just bias? Is it superior technology?
A small point John - not "them Europeans", just "that European", because as far as I can see, I am the only one dissatisfied with the sound of Japan's premium capacitors.

To begin with, a small disclaimer - I have absolutely no vested interests in ANY manufacturer from anywhere.

Now, I remind you of your own advice given me here on several occasions - trust in your own ears only. I did, and that's what they told me.

For years now, I can quite easily hear the difference between Elna's large filter caps, where "large" generally applies to two values I use the most, 10,000 and 22,000 uF. I have not made any other comparisons using other values, except for low values, i.e. 470 uF and lower, mostly 100 and 220 uF. because I use these a lot.

Those comparisons were made by myself and a few of my closest associates for the sole reason of choosing what we thought would be the best for our own products, and for overhauling of some vintage gear, by Marantz, Sansui and Harman Kardon.

We never measured a thing - we made several models of everything, each being equipped with products from this or that company. We used capacitors from Elna, Black Gates, F&T, Siemens, Panasonic and A/V (of Italy) not by any particular choice or order, but by the fact that these were available to us and could be obtained for production relatively easily. For the heck of it, we also included Jamicon cvaps, which we assumed were originally of Chinese manufacture (at least, judging from their local price).

To cut a long story short, we ended up with the opinion that for 470 uF and less, Elna was just as good a choice as any other and often better; the only other type we found to be similar (though not quite the same) were Roe from Roederstein/Vishay. Even so, we though Elna had the edge.

Regardiing 10,000 and 22,000 uF values, we found Italy's A/V caps to be an insult to the good name of caps - that bad. Absolute junk. Panasonic made some good music, and I wouldn't refuse them by any means. In the 10,000 uF group, the best overall results we got from F & T, which was deadlocked with Siemens (which surprised me for one, I expected Siemens to be better, but also more expensive - it was neither). Elna had a clean and clear sound, but definitely lacked bass oomph, it appeared to be having problems when larger currents were demanded, or perhaps it lacked speed regarding its current slew rate, I don't know and frankly don't care. To us, it was way overpriced for what it offered. Black gates were never really in the picture because of their outstanding price - we may not have prepped them according to some procedure, but we got no notification of any such procedure with them.

In the 22,000 uF groupd, BC Components had the edge - that's why they are now sitting in my vintage Marantz units, all of them. F&T was marginally behind, and Elna was quite simply left behind. Same comment - clean and clear, but a distinctive lack of oomph.

All capacitors we tested, including the small 'uns, were charged at 15V for 15 minutes, then discharged with power resitors, The same procedure was repeated for 15 and 30V, all caps were nominally 63V except the Panasonic units, which were rated for 50V.

Let's be clear about this - this is no Greater Truth carved in stone freshly in from the Heavens, this is a subjective assement which makes no pretensions whatsoever at being anything but what it is - a subjective view. So, please, spare me the megabytes of science and theory, if I ever decide to make a public assement of capacitors, I'll consult with you in advance, not post factum.

John, excuse my frankness but I was always the one to speak my mind - I think you have been influenced by marketing too muc. No matter how hard you try not to be, being surrounded by it for 40 years simply cannot leave you unscathed.

We can mince words now no end, but at the end of the day, it'll come down a simple statement - trust your own ears only, if you are perplexed, well, resolve it once and for all by trying them out.

The US market has always been totally dominated by the Japanese manifacturers, and while they have produced some awesome products over the years, I submit that they practiced as much, if not more marketing than technology. This turned the North American market into a relatively insular market. Look at your own reaction - why is it so strange a notion that the Europeans have been developing their technology as much as the Japanese?

There is a reason why I, and others as well (for example, take a look at Milan Karan's site, Karan Acoustics | Manufacturer of High-End Audio ) the man makes strictly High End audio gear, among it a 1,200 Watt amplifier - now, make a guess whose capacitors are the only ones found in all of his products? Fisher & Tausche, even if he had them make and label them with his own brand name, which cost huim a pretty penny.

I know that Siemens caps are sold in the USA, I did some some ads, but never noted them, I buy my Siemens producrs from Germany. I don't know if F&T are sold in the US, but just in case they are not, I will gladly send you a pair of 10,000 uF and 2,200 uF units for your pleasure only. In pristine condition, literally as I got them, so you have a level playing field.
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Old 28th March 2012, 09:21 PM   #4092
dvv is offline dvv  Serbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
Break-in for BG consists of running an AUDIO SIGNAL through the cap for many hours.
Fine, whatever you choose, John.

BTW, I was (I think obviously) referring to power supply capacitors. I wouldn't know anything about decoupling caps since I do everything with a servo, because - I freely admit it - I just plain hate capacitors altogether and will spare no effort to avoid using them whenever I can.

Of course, sometimes I can't, but in most such cases, I'm down to 1 uF or below values, in which case it will be a Wima, period. Alternatives Siemens or Plessey (British made).

In the very rare occasion when a decoupling capacitor is an absolute must, I always try an old Japanese tweaker's trick from 1971 or 1972, I think, which is to use three capacitors in parallel - each using a different material and trying hard to make one of them be made from polycarbonate, which is said to be the fastest commercially available capacitor material on the planet (I read that somewhere, don't know if it's true or not).

Oh yes, before I forget - whenever possible, I tend to use Siemens tantalum capacitors for power supply decoupling, but that is limited by the relatively low voltage/size combinations available and the rapidly increasing prices.

Last edited by dvv; 28th March 2012 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 28th March 2012, 09:58 PM   #4093
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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ELNA makes about 30 series of caps. Same from Panasonic, Wima, Kemet CD, AVX, Nichicon
How about some series types?
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Old 28th March 2012, 10:04 PM   #4094
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Of course there are folks like V-cap. It's just that $600 for a single cap in not quite relevant.
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Old 29th March 2012, 03:37 AM   #4095
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by a.wayne View Post
So T, are you saying this was one of those rare moments when HD matched sonics ...
Not really. But Electrolytic Capacitors are peculiar beasts. I know what they measure for THD because we messed with this ages ago. Generally, we found that smaller a cap for a given value and voltage the worst the measured and subjective performance.

Most electrolytic caps (including BG's - I slaughtered some) use etched Alu Foils (in german we call this type "rauh" - rough) to increase capacitance. The best ones use plain Alu Foil (in german we call this type "glatt" smooth) and all the original German Audio Grade types are "Glatt" and long discontinued.

The electrolyte formulation also has an impact, as has the precise isolator (Paper) used. It is a complex subject.

Among modern Capacitors I find some types that live up to the relative Hype that surrounds them.

Elna's "for Audio" ranges (of which Silmic is the Top) are my favourite "for Audio", over some Nichicon Types and others I have tried (I have not tried everything under the Sun).

For some other applications I find that the Sanyo Os-Con (and NOT the cheap copies some others sell as solid electrolyte) do very well.

Generic "not super miniature size" Nichicon often work well for "generic" application (many other "Japanese" Cap's are now MIC with predictable effects on quality).

Quote:
Originally Posted by a.wayne View Post
Any word on Kendeil caps ..?
Nope, did not try them particulary.

Ciao T
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Old 29th March 2012, 03:38 AM   #4096
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
So what do you use in place of the elna? Nichicon Muse?
Elna. I use Elna. Nichicon Muse are not so horrorshow.

Ciao T
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Old 29th March 2012, 03:49 AM   #4097
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
Did you BREAK IN the BG's T?
Yes. I even did break some...

Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
This culminated with Black Gate, that is a PATENTED real breakthrough in capacitor design and construction. The PROBLEM with these capacitors is that they were expensive, and HAD to be BROKEN-IN! The tech sheet said so. I met the inventor of the Black Gate capacitor, in Tokyo in 1986. He seemed an OK guy to me.
The key to both Black Gate and Elna Audio Grade Cap's is the paper. However, BG attempted to minimise size as well, which means agressive etching of the foil and do not put anti-microphonic damping layers inside the can. Elna are the opposite, less agressive foil etching and all bigger caps have a damping layer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
I personally tried to remove ANY electrolytic caps from critical audio circuits, so I was able to avoid them, for the most part
I use the same philosophy. But in the end you still need many...

What shocked me most was the comparison between notionally identical capacitors from different makers BEFORE a regulated Powersupply powering the output stages of an Amp that in addition is "BTL".

Quote:
Originally Posted by john curl View Post
Now, for years, many people have been openly annoyed at the VERY IDEA that ANY electrolytic caps could sound different from each other, including the majority of people posting here. NOW, you European guys tell us that the European caps are distinctly better than the PREMIUM Japanese caps. How can this be, and what is the reason?
Is it just bias? Is it superior technology?
I'm not the super expert. What I do know is that one part is mechanical resonances. Depending on the paper formulation that is soaked with the electrolyte there is very different damping available.

Another factor is the condition of the foils, for some reason it seems measures to increase capacitance per weight/volume negatively impact performance.

The electrolyte itself is another issue. Electrolytic Capacitors operate more like a battery, with conversions between domains (electrons - ions), which are absent in Film Capacitors and even in these horrible low grade ceramics.

Making Electrolytic Capacitors is very much akin to Alchemy, unless all you care are minimum parameters (which the case for m ost these days).

I am surprised that these simple facts are not common knowledge. I learned about the different kinds of electrolytic capacitors in University, our Prof's certainly seemed to think it mattered for us to know...

Ciao T

Last edited by ThorstenL; 29th March 2012 at 04:10 AM.
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Old 29th March 2012, 04:05 AM   #4098
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek View Post
ELNA makes about 30 series of caps. Same from Panasonic, Wima, Kemet CD, AVX, Nichicon
How about some series types?
Elna has a number of Series made specifically for Audio. Often they are only available to OEM's in lathe volume. the Hierarchy goes:

Silmic II - best, only small values

Silmic - very good, only small values

Cerafine - good in some applications, not in others, Large Values (including PSU Cap's) available, need to be tried, I do not like them much

Starget - okay, nothing to write home about, parallels many other "Audio Grade" ones, only small values

For Audio - Best big PSU Supply Cap's I have tried, notably up on generics, not far off Nichicon Muse KG (which you prefer is matter of taste), small ones generally are not worth bothering with, unless your budget does not even go Starget...

All Elna Audio grade cap's are physically quite large for the value/voltage. The 3,300uF/50V Elna Silmic II Cap's I use for the PSU in my Gainclone are the size that most manufacturers fit a 10,000uF/63V "long life" type into!

The 18,000uF/71V ones I bought for my Amp Project are bigger than 47,000uF/80V generics...

Ciao T
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Old 29th March 2012, 06:32 AM   #4099
dvv is offline dvv  Serbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek View Post
ELNA makes about 30 series of caps. Same from Panasonic, Wima, Kemet CD, AVX, Nichicon
How about some series types?
That was about two years ago, so I don't remember off hand, but as soon as I'm back from a job I have to do right now, I'll look it up in the log, I know have it somewhere.
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Old 29th March 2012, 07:04 AM   #4100
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
H,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThorstenL View Post
the Hierarchy goes:
For ordering Series Codes:

Small sizes (miniature, radial):

Silmic II = RFS
Silmic = ROS
Cerafine = ROA
Starget = ROD
Tonerex = ROB

Big Sizes (snap in, radial):

Tonerex = LPO
For Audio = LPOII

These should be current.

I have data-sheets for all these, though they are not useful for any more than values/voltages and physical sizes and they can be found on the Elna site with some effort.

Ciao T
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