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Old 25th June 2002, 09:51 PM   #1
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Default Capacitor Sound Quality

I have been somewhat astonished by the difference between a 2200pf polystyrene (unknown brand, but not cheap nowadays) and a Wima FKP1 pp film caps used in an output first order RC filter.

The filter sits between the secondary of a Sowter transformer with 2.4k secondary that I was experimenting with following the I/V stage of a Sony SCDXB940 SACD player, the idea being to remove two opamps elements and a coupling cap from the signal path, and reduce digital hash.

I was originally using a 100kHz filter with an FKP1 and the sound was quite satisfying except it was a touch sharp in the treble. So I reduced the freq to 50kHz with the polystyrene cap. The sound deteriorated very considerably, with a dry treble and narrower sound stage. I then replaced this with an FKP1 of the same value. Lo and behold, the sound became warmer and an improvement over the original 100kHz filter.

Now my polysyrene caps measured well and experience tells me that they shouldn't have sounded that bad. Any comment or similar experience?
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Old 25th June 2002, 10:56 PM   #2
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Questions like these I go to myself: I am maybe capable to tell a difference ONLY if I can switch fast between the alternatives. The ears forget very fast unless there is a huge difference.

When I tested my DAC vs. the built-in in my DENON DCD-1520 I wanted very very very much that my DAC would sound better and yes it does under very special circumstances. I can't tell the difference if I can't compare fast enough. The mind is powerfull when we want to believe. When I tested the DAC I could switch fast between the signals because I used a preamp with many inputs.

But I realize also the same people have gifts. Some people can tell if a tone is off key simply by hearing this particular tone.

fmak, no offence, can you comfirm your statements in a blindtest?

My point of view in this matter is that capacitors adds very little to the sound in most applications if they are proberly chosen. My designs rules are to avoid caps in the signalpath but this is more of technical reasons. It's a challenge to make amps with few caps.

Since we must be nice here, everyone is entitled to an opion and my is as I have written above.

Since we are (I, at least) about believing, I like polyprobulene the most. Styrene is OK but they are hard to get and have also no-good shape for industrial use. 63V polyester aren't either so bad, rather good actually. There are new materials for SMD caps poly???etylen??falat?? which I have no experience of.
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Old 25th June 2002, 11:55 PM   #3
JoeBob is offline JoeBob  Canada
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Well, I always stuck with polypropylene since you can't really go wrong. But a little while back I tried experimenting with different polystyrene caps, and cheap ones sound bad, expensive ones sound really good. That's my conclusion. Maybe a different brand (better) polystyrene would sound even better. But since they're hard to come by, and a pain to find good ones, I just stick to polypropylene. I didn't even try to get some teflons to try out..
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Old 26th June 2002, 12:35 AM   #4
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I find that polycarbonates go best with white wines,
such as a good Chardonnay, whereas polystyrenes
require sweetening with some trokenbierenauslese.

My real preference is a good Bordeaux; it really improves
those electrolytics, but you need to get a head start.
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Old 26th June 2002, 02:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Questions like these I go to myself: I am maybe capable to tell a difference ONLY if I can switch fast between the alternatives. The ears forget very fast unless there is a huge difference.
Absolutly this confirms my own experience!
I always wonder how folks can describe differences in sound from single parts as capacitors or whatever so easily.
To make valided comparisons would require a huge effort of the test procedure. For example telling about the difference in sound of different capacitors in a circuit would require to switch every single capacitor to another. As this switching activity might introduce more difference itself than the DUT this is impractical in many (if not most) cases and an otherwise identical circuit for a true comparison has to be build.
I doubt that many DIY`ers are going so far when making their comparisons and therefore always I find it somewhat curious hearing others telling about sonic differencies without mention HOW they did the comparison setup actually.

A note to blind tests:
Confirmation of sonic differences is valid only if it can be verified to at least 80-90%.
This means one has to identify the DUT at least 8 to 9 times from 10 comparisons and wether or not some white wines or trokenbierenauslese is involved or one stood up early in the morning or did it after a hard working day.
Remember: a result of only 50% is just a hit by chance.

Quote:
whereas polystyrenes require sweetening with some trokenbierenauslese
How much trokenbierenauslese is necessary for sweetening a 47nF polystyrene??
I wonder if I can stand to equalize the 8x 47nF in my active crossover
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Old 26th June 2002, 02:06 AM   #6
rljones is offline rljones  United States
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fmak,

I'm interested in what you are doing, and have a few questions.

Which DAC and which Sowter transformer are you using? Do you know the resistance of the primary? Also, are you doing anything about the DC offset on the primary side, or are you running the output of the DAC directly into the transformer?

Thanks,

Robert
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Old 26th June 2002, 02:25 AM   #7
JoeBob is offline JoeBob  Canada
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cocolino, well just to let you know, I didn't change components. I built a second with an identical pcb, just used different caps. I had to build a preamp for my father so I built mine and his with different caps to see the difference. Sure the difference of sound could be atributed to any other subtle change in the construction. But the caps were the only change I meant to do.
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Old 26th June 2002, 02:41 AM   #8
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Default Trockenbeerenauslese

Nelson, I adore Trockenbeerenauslese. My dad and I shared a bottle from 1976, it was truly Nectar of the Gods. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Fmak, I'm surprised the polystyrene caps were so lame, perhaps they were defective or poorly made.
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Old 26th June 2002, 07:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by rljones
fmak,

I'm interested in what you are doing, and have a few questions.

Which DAC and which Sowter transformer are you using? Do you know the resistance of the primary? Also, are you doing anything about the DC offset on the primary side, or are you running the output of the DAC directly into the transformer?

Thanks,

Robert
----------------------------------------------------------------

Its the Sony balanced current pulse CX??? and Sowter 9360, modified 8540. See dddac.de 777 tweak 1. Primary 600R.

The output goes from I/V opamp output. Lead dressing is important in this noisy environmrnt.
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Old 26th June 2002, 08:46 AM   #10
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[
fmak, no offence, can you comfirm your statements in a blindtest?

My point of view in this matter is that capacitors adds very little to the sound in most applications if they are proberly chosen. My designs rules are to avoid caps in the signalpath but this is more of technical reasons. It's a challenge to make amps with few caps.

---------------------------------------------------------
There is no need to go blind if the difference is so pronounced as I have found. There is plenty of evidence since the Jung article years ago that capacitor sound IS THERE. See also Colloms on the latest HFN.

If you can't hear differences, why bother to improve designs? What is the yardstick other than theoretical advantages or no measurable difference??

Just to show I am not a nut, I am professionally qualified in acoustics and control and instrumentation. However, I do trust my ears, having done the mesurements.
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