Cheaper, good quality potentiometers

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I'm tired of having to pay outrageous prices through only certain suppliers for volume pots. I would like to find something cheaper that is "almost as good".
Any recommendations on something other than Alps or the other expensive brand (the name escapes me at the moment).
How about Bourns or Panasonic conductive plastic?
<a href="">Farnell (Aust)</a> has the Alps RK27111220k 20k dual listed for Aust$50.93, about half that in US$.
Farnell Part Number 642-990

The Noble conductive plastic on Polystyrene base is US$27.00 at The Parts Connection.

A few years ago an English parts supplier was recommending the Sfernice PA11 Conductive Plastic pots, saying it made Bourns, Spectrols etc. sound like they were mumbling into their beards. The PA11 looks like a typical square modular type pot (Bourns 91 Series) and was made for mixing consoles and other audio applications.

Never found the PA11 in Australia so can't comfirm or deny the claims of others. If you do find and try one please report back as to the sound.
<a href="">PA11/PDF</a>


If you are thinking of the same English parts supplier as I am, the recommendation was for the Sfernice P11, not the PA11, i.e. the cermet track device as opposed to the plastic film.

I have used a P11 for several years and agree that it is a significant improvement over the cheaper plastic film pots I have tried. I have not however compared it against the likes of a Panasonic EWC PA, since I consider the price of these devices to be somewhat excessive.

Conductive plastic pots is very much OK in my experience.
If you can find a Bourns retailer ( I only use Bourns! )in your area, they should retail at appx. USD 8 each for singles, USD 13-15 for stereo.....At least that's what I pay here in Europe. Available both in lin and log, in the most usual values.
Thanks for all your comments. The Brigar prices sound too good to be true...I'd be buying 10 if I didn't have to bring them into Canada.
I'm probably looking for a major manufacturer that has a dealer here, it can be pricey getting stuff across our border. Digi-key has a great system, I don't know about others.
I may try a Bourns, and I really should try Panasonic, I work for them and probably owe some brand loyalty. Just wondering what people had tried.
Geoff your most likely right, I think remembered the Hype properly though?
Could it have been Russ Andress (RATA) that recomended them ?

Farnell list both P11 and PA11 as Vishay, the PA11 is only available in 10k log dual ganged for Aust$43.76
P11 lin dual are A$16.24 5k and 10k
P11 single Lin are A$10.01 100R, 500R, 1K, 5K, 10K, 50K, 100K, 500K, 1M
P11 single Log are A$11.89 1k, 5k, 10k, 50k

Now how do they compare with the expensive Panasonic/Alps/Noble/Cosmos Pots?
<hr width="95%" align=center>
For the ultimate I just found this 58 position switch
<a href=""><img src="" alt=""></a>
<pre>SD-45/56/62/75 SG Series
1. Dimention : 45 to 75mm diameter type
2. Durability : 50000 times
3. Step:
SD-45 enable to change 2 to 28 step.
SD-56 enable change 2 to 34 step.
SD-62 enable change 2 to 46 step.
SD-75 enable change 2 to 58 step.
4. 3 point support
5. Made in Japan</pre>
Its also made of Copper and weighs 1.5 kg

<center><font face="comic sans MS">Regards

[Edited by tvi on 08-28-2001 at 12:17 PM]

You are right about the source (Russ Andrews) and nearly correct with the hype. The full text was as follows:

"After a great deal of comparative testing we have finally found a superb metal film (cermet) potentiometer; the Sfernice P11. Available in a good range of values, single or ganged for stereo, this pot is sweet and smooth in the treble, detailed in the mid-band and very tight and clean in the bass. It makes conductive plastic types like Alps, Bourns, Noble and Penny & Giles sound as if they are mumbling along to the music."

As far as value for money is concerned, last time I priced the P11 here in the UK, it was a little under twice the price of an Alps 'Blue Velvet' and half the price of a Panasonic EWC PA. The situation could have changed now with the weak Euro (the P11 should be more competitive) and with Vishay's takeover (is there any specialist resistor manufacturer that they haven't acquired?)

Panasonic EWC and EVJ

I can't find any mention of EWC pots on the Panasonic web site. Could somebody enlighten me as to where I might find info on them?
I can only see the EVJs, which might be what I want (cheap, pretty good?). Digi-Key has them. Anyone tried the EVJs?

Like you, I have been unable to find any details of the Panasonic potentiometer on the web. I've tried three Panasonic sites (UK US and Japan) but none list it. My catalogues are a couple of years out of date so it may be discontinued now (but it isn't included in Panasonic's discontinued list).

There are (were) two UK suppliers that I am aware of, one does not have a website and the other does not list the item so may no longer stock it. The potentiometer was described as either a 'Panasonic for Audio' or a 'Panasonic Series EWC PA'. It was only available in dual log 10k or 100k. It had multiple contact wipers, silver internal contacts, gold plated leadouts, vibration isolating construction and laser trimming. The case was metal alloy (21mm x 23mm x 22mm) and channel separation was improved by the use of a ground plate. Channel accuracy was guaranteed to <2dB or <0.5dB (depending on which catalogue one looks at) and it was widely acknowledged as being one of the best audio pots available. The price in the UK a couple of years ago was about 4 times that for an Alps 'Blue'.


The Vishay-Sfernice P11 pots stocked by Farnell, RS etc. are not the same as the ones sold by RATA and other 'Audiophile' suppliers (they are about 15% of the price for a start!). The P11s are available in several grades. The Farnell variety is the basic grade with 10% tolerance and standard channel balance. The RATA etc. variety is a higher grade (J119 - available to special order) with 5% tolerance and channel balance/accuracy to 0.42dB (or <0.3dB or <0.8dB, it depends which catalogue you read).

The advantage with the Sfernice over the Alps, Panasonic etc is its size (12.5mm x 12.5mm x 16mm) so it will fit as a replacement in more situations. If close channel matching is not a primary requirement, the P11s from Farnell should be a very good buy. They will sound similar to the higher grade version (which I have used for several years and found to be very good), but without the inflated price and with better availability.

dshortt9 said:
Check this link:
They have nice 50k or 100k Alps pots for 1.95 and motorized Alps for 5.95. Buy a lifetime supply at these prices. I'm not sure of the taper, possibly someone can enlighten us from the product numbers.

Did you notice the 2KVA toroidal transformer they sell for $60! 84 VAC, CT at 20 amps, what a steal, I pay more than that for a 750 VA transformer.

Yes, I posted these in another thread. These also have a 12V winding for the hybrid fans. I bought 4 and they are very beefy! They also have 30,000 and 15,000 ufd 63V Caps made for Mcintosh with a 95 datecode for cheap. They appear to be high quality low esr types.
dshortt9 said:
They also have 30,000 and 15,000 ufd 63V Caps made for Mcintosh with a 95 datecode for cheap. They appear to be high quality low esr types. [/B]

I guess I've replaced too many dried out electrolytic caps to feel very good about buying anything made 6 years ago. Did they work out alright for you? The problem with electrolytics is that the capacitance continually decreases the older they get(elevated temperature and high ripple current accelerate this process). Even if these are cheap, what's the point of putting in big caps if they only have half their nominal capacitance. Much as I love to save money when I can, I don't usually buy surplus electrolytics.

A quick note on those transformers Brigar's selling...
I don't think that they're 2kVA, more like 1kVA, judging from the mass. There are no specs on the transformer, itself.
I made a quick check trying to find a phone number for the manufacturer, but was unable to find anything; they may be out of business. I also had a helluva time getting a color code out of Brigar for the wires on the transformer.
Caveat emptor.

They could be fibbing, but 84 V x 20 A is 1680 VA. Add in the 12 V winding and you're pretty close to 2KVA.

I have a hard time judging something like that by eye or feel. The best way I've found to take the true measure of a transformer is to see how well it regulates under a load. If someone claims 1000 VA then if I see much more than a 10% voltage droop when I pull that much power out of it I start getting suspicious. The larger Plinton units are rated for 4% regulation at full power and that's pretty close to what I measured from the 750 VA size.

Sfernice PA11 against P11


I am somewhat confused:
Should that mean that the P11 is better than the more than three times more expensive PA11 ?
Here in Austria these items are available via RS Components, the PA11 only as 2 x 10k log Audio Pot for 22.24 Euro, the P11 as a linear double pot (2 x 100k lin would need law faking resistors, log is only available single) for only 7 Euro.

I am just about ordering some parts from RS, so any experiences or advices are greatly appreciated.

best whishes
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