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Old 6th December 2012, 03:24 AM   #21
cotdt is offline cotdt  United States
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this thread isn't about whether capacitors make a difference to the sound (it does) but whether break-in has an effect and how to achieve that break-in if there is an effect. i've never heard a difference in my paper-in-oils after breaking in, but the tube amp does sound different after warming up. i don't know if there would be any measurable difference, and if there is a measurable difference, it may or may not be audible.
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Old 6th December 2012, 03:37 AM   #22
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i can confirm the warm-up to caps sound after break in, imho a myth....
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Old 6th December 2012, 05:07 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by monolith61 View Post
Hi there

Buy a second hand reciever on ebay, do not connect an antenna to the tuner to obtain noise and roll on the volume when there is a speaker in place. Check the level, replace speaker with the cap in series with a 100R 10W resistor. Let it cook for a while ..

grz, //WDC

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Old 6th December 2012, 05:42 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
I would argue that unless you have measurements that show the peaking of the HF response you describe, the root cause of the change in perceived sound could be anything. Including time of day, listener fatigue, "I did something so it must sound different" psychoacoustic effect, etc.
Horse turnips! Spoken like a true Peter Aczel clone. Argue all you want but I was there and know what went down. When I had to turn the playback EQ adjustment all the way down to make the standard tape play within limits I suppose I was imagining this. I don't think so.

A capacitor is a capacitor. A 1 uF electrolytic cap will cause the same frequency response as a 1 uF polypropylene. But they cause different harmonic distortion, hence, different sound.
A capacitor is a capacitor in name only. The human ear is insensitive to harmonic distortion below about two percent. So unless you are telling me that capacitors of different dielectrics will change signals that much, HD has nothing to do with it. And if they really do, then you've made my point for me.

Without braging I must say that I have decades of hands on practical experience in the service industry for both consumer electronics (TV, audio etc) and commercial electronics (test equipment, HV supplies and microwave communication components). I have come to learn that things are not always so cut and dried as we would think them to be. Different styles of capacitors in audio circuits can make a difference in what you hear. This is especially true in frequency sensitive circuits like equalization. Sometimes it's subtle, other times it's greater. And remember, I changed them all. (same values of course)

Perhaps this is something you will have to experience on your own. Find a vintage amplifier that is working good and has all paper coupling and bypass capacitors. Listen to it and become familiar with its sound. Then upgrade every capacitor with modern fast dielectric caps, of the same value, and listen again. Forget the pointy headed measurments and open up your ears. You'll hear it unless you're deaf.
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Old 6th December 2012, 07:13 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Tony View Post
i also have a preference for polypropylene caps.... the generic ones are just as good as expensive branded ones....
Not really.
All of the caps I've tried sounded different. More or less detailed, more or less 3D, darker/brighter, natural/distorted sounding... Some were plain boring, some were excellent.

BUT if you expect to hear such differences, make sure you have a competently designed amp, good sounding tubes and excellent speakers/phones. A bad ampifier will just sound bad, no matter what caps you use.

There are also differences in hearing accuracy: some people can't tell the difference between two musical notes, and even less between caps/tubes/etc. That's a fact.
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Old 6th December 2012, 07:50 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
this thread isn't about whether capacitors make a difference to the sound (it does) but whether break-in has an effect and how to achieve that break-in if there is an effect.
I believe that the "breaking-in" scenario is a psychological assimilation to the the effects that certain capacitor types may or may not impart to the audio signal. Do we necessarily want this? Some do, some don't. The amplifier or preamplifier should not impart an "effect" unless of course what you are looking for is an effects box. The signal chain should remain transparent.
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Old 6th December 2012, 08:12 AM   #27
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I guess the real question may be: How do we know that the signal chain is transparent? Through ideal measurements with ideal test equipment I suppose, which are beyond the means of most.

At the end of the day though, does it sound good to you? (meaning the proverbial you of course) If so, then so be it.
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Old 6th December 2012, 08:22 AM   #28
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I'd be happy to make you a custom mini saddle, then you can 'break in' your capacitors at your leisure
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Old 6th December 2012, 09:10 AM   #29
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Hold on, you two! It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

For most plastic dielectrics (polypropylene, polystyrene, PTFE...), the "break-in" stuff is pure audiophile fantasy. BUT... paper is a different story. Paper is a terrible dielectric for audio applications; it has huge amounts of chemical contaminants and is extremely hygroscopic (it's the Quicker Picker Upper). The oil is supposed to reduce the latter, but only does so to a limited extent. As equipment warms and the cap warms, it loses some of that water and measurably improves in characteristics. It's not really signal that does anything, it's the heat. Maybe it can be heard, maybe not, but the phenomenon is plausible without invoking magic.
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Old 6th December 2012, 09:23 AM   #30
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Originally Posted by Tubehead Johnny
I don't know about caps, but devices like tubes and speakers definitely sound better after a break in period.
There are sound physical reasons for tubes and speakers perhaps needing some break-in.

Originally Posted by HollowState
Different styles of capacitors in audio circuits can make a difference in what you hear. This is especially true in frequency sensitive circuits like equalization.
Any effect due to capacitors is only going to be noticeable in places where they have signal voltage across them. Essentially that means the LF rolloff setter, and any equalisation or tone control caps. Everywhere else they should have a sufficiently large value that only insignificant signal gets developed across them: no signal = no distortion.

I suspect that some of the changes in sound which people report after changing caps is due to a change in stray capacitance to ground or nearby circuit nodes. 'Audiophile' caps tend to be large so will have larger strays. This can increase hum pickup, encourage instability (especially near phase splitters) as well as simply add an HF load to possibly high impedance points.

Originally Posted by SY
Paper is a terrible dielectric for audio applications
These days paper caps tend to be expensive too. That is two reasons why I suppose we should not be too surprised that it is popular in certain audio circles.
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