# Do hi-fi parts really sound better?

#### peranders

##### Member
Paid Member
Shaun Perez said:
Is this just a selling scheme or is an \$11.50 resistor any better sounding?
Tantalum Film Resistors
....

If you had asked me I had said no. If you shall improve the sound quality, look first at the circuit, then at the active devices and last at the passive ones.

But, if you are unsure, make yourself your mind up in testing!

#### Brett

##### Member
Shaun,

<b>I have seen some examples of rip-offs in my opinion the plitron audio transformer that is so called extra quiet is one of them at more than double the cost of a standard transformer for a reduction in sound emitted that is undetectible at normal distances from the equipment, possibly if the equipment where at close distances to some sort of amplification or microphone in a recording studio would it be usefull.</b>

Are you speaking from direct personal expereince about the transformers, or merely theorising?
I've actually seen the mains waveforms, and the "DC" rails of a number of amps on a spec-an and it aint pretty. Remember an amplifier is merely a device that modulates it's power supply. If thats crap, so will be your amplifier.
Note: I haven't specifically used the Plitrons, I have my own EI core mains trans custom made. Torroids are too wide band.
Also don't assume that because it doesn't show up on a simple THD+N test that it's inaudible.

Hyper-accurate tolerances aren't usually important, except for some applications such as RIAA/IEC eq. The construction of different passive components IS audible on a system of sufficient resolution, and they all sound different. My suggestion is, you just build it with standard Dales etc, live with it for a few months, and then play with the passives, a couple at a time to see whether you can hear the difference and/or whether it's important to you. Source/drain load resisitors, inputs, and feedback ones make the most difference IME.

The sound of an amp is determined about 50% topology/actives, 40% PSU including it's passives, and the rest in the passive Rs and Cs in the signal path. This is not fixed, and the reason I mentioned topology first, is that will determine the performance of the rest of the amp.

#### Narcisse91

##### Member
The best quality parts will be the most transparent to the signal, and there are a lot of properties that will affect this. A better question may be "will you hear the difference?", because many people won't. I like to think that a lot of people on this board have discriminating hearing when it comes to these things, but the fact is, spending money on more "the best" parts won't do a thing if you're listening to MP3s or the radio or something, and it won't do a thing if you haven't taken care of your hearing.

I only point this out because I know a lot of people who can't hear the difference between an MP3 and a CD...

#### fdegrove

##### diyAudio Senior Member
COMPONENTS

Hi folk,

Narcisse,

I'm pretty much convinced that almost anyone (bar the unwilling)
actually does hear differences in soundquality.

I only point this out because I know a lot of people who can't hear the difference between an MP3 and a CD...

If people can't hear the difference between those two formats they're very lucky.Now all they have to do is start downloading the stuff.Really?

Where I do agree with you though is that it is probably is not worth to spend big bucks on an MP3 player modding it whith topnotch components.
IME most people do hear differences even subtle ones but when asked if they think either one is better you usually get a numb stare back from them.

A trained person (and I always have been a die hard tweaker of commercial product) can easily distinguish between components,interconnects and LS cable.

Ideally all passive components should be perfectly neutral but in reality they just never are.
From experience I can assure you that a few coupling caps come pretty close to the theoritical no cap sound lately.
That has taken years of development though and resistors may eventually end up that way aswell (I hope).
In the meantime it is matching and mixing whilst aiming for a neutral tonal balance.
To achieve that equilibrium you just have to spend months trying different components.
To give you an example from the time I was doing this crazy stuff:
In tubed gear I invariably found the older Holco's to sound fine as anode and cathode resistors but prefered the Vishay S102 series everywhere else in the signal path.
BTW IMO these old Holco's could sound rather lacklustre and lifeless if you used too many of them.

Now if you want to put your own hearing to the test just go out and buy whatever length of industrial coax that has steel as the central carrier (copper plated or silver whatever,just test it for magnetism),make up your cable and have a listen.

I'll bet you'll find the sound err...steelly!

It may come as a surprise but all materials have their own sonic footprint.
Another example:when you see a TT with a glass platter and play a record directly on that the sound is then often described as glassy.
Once you get the hang of things like that you can often already tell what some gear is going to sound like just by looking at it.
Truly amazing.

\end of rant mode.

Best regards,

#### Peter Daniel

##### Member
Paid Member
Re: COMPONENTS

fdegrove said:

Once you get the hang of things like that you can often already tell what some gear is going to sound like just by looking at it.
Truly amazing.

That is my experience as well.

#### jean-paul

##### diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
Mine too. The risk is however that you can overrate audio gear by looking only at component quality and / or looks, don't you think ?

I have heard gear with standard components that were terribly built and sounded great ( a once in a lifetime experience ? )

#### fdegrove

##### diyAudio Senior Member
Components

Hi Jean-Paul,

Absolutely.
Some manufacturers misuse that as a marketing ploy.
But we are a bit smarter then those aren't we?
I hope nobody is that foolish but experience has shown me differently.
Way back then I was the one to keep on insisting with some of my partners they'd better use good quality (soundwise at least)
components.
That took some convincing,believe me.

Rgds,

#### jean-paul

##### diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
Hello Frank,

That took some convincing,believe me.

I can just see the quarreling in my mind, ha ha ! "No Frank, that Black Gates may sound good but they are way too expensive for us"

I recall a thread on this forum about the use of the red Wima MKP that are used frequently by high end manefacturers because the customers like the colour !

#### fdegrove

##### diyAudio Senior Member
COMPONENTS

Jean-Paul,

You're spot on.
Got my first grey hairs just from that.
The silly thing about it now is that some don't care about designing a decent circuit anymore,they just stuff the damn thing with whatever is trendy and it sells.
Well,I think they just add to the numbers of DIY'ers at the end of the day.
Short term politics,aargh!

Cheers,

#### alphaGeek

##### Member
Once you get the hang of things like that you can often already tell what some gear is going to sound like just by looking at it.

Does that mean if you use Tantalum resistors that the sound will be, 'Tantalizing'?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

#### jean-paul

##### diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
OK Frank, but I think we DIY ers do the same too ! I am sure when an audiofriend shows you his newly built amp you want to take a peek inside and when you see Silmic or the like you will like the amp almost automatically.

Wasn't it H.H. that made all parts unrecognisable because it would give a wrong impression if people saw the partbrands ? I may be wrong that it was H.H.

Best testing is A-B with the gear behind curtains. After listening there will be time for looking at the gear and maybe inside.

#### dice45

##### Member
Brett,
could not agree more.

Jean-Paul and all,

are you manufacturer? No?
Do you have to observe public opinion about your gear's sonics? No?

Then forgetabout A-B-blindtesting. You are just finding out how your mind responds to being under test situation

Solder the junk in and then make long-term observations how sonics changed and influence your emotions and focus *on the long run*. Good or bad on the long run?
If ya wanna listen to music instead to gear, that is the answer you are after.

#### jean-paul

##### diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
Bernhard, do I really have to use junk parts ? They don't look good.

#### Fred Dieckmann

##### diyAudio Retiree
If you got it, flaunt it.

Wasn't it H.H. that made all parts unrecognisable because it would give a wrong impression if people saw the partbrands ? I may be wrong that it was H.H.

In this age of yuppie brandname recognition this an interesting subject. I started playing with Vishay and Rel-Cap both they were household names in it was more fun because "self proclaimed" expert did not look at a piece of equipment and decided it was good or not good by the component brand name. Like Vibram soles, Gortex jackets, and Starbucks coffee, it is just Yuppie Consumerism. Many designers hate this of the record since they have to play this game and pay rediculous prices and wait for specialty parts to become available to schedule equipement builds. It can put you out of business.

Jocko Homo and I call this wire of the week syndrome. It is really quite funny because there are many caps that are good enough that choice of a particular brand is often dependent on the designer final sonic preferences, a process called voicing a circuit.
Many companies brand thier caps to avoid this problem. Companies like Conrad Johnston brand caps to maintain competitive advantages. It is not to your advantage to have your competion knowing all your secrets and audio circuits are pretty easy to reverse engineer. Jocko Homo and I love to find good caps without cult status and sometimes remove the marks fron them. We call these"Mystery Caps" And some companies like Passlabs have the guts to refuse to play the "Consumer Component" game altogether. It is really funny and I actually enjoy building circuits with good qualtity components all through the circuit instead of devoting the parts buget to a handful of "Yuppy" parts.

Back soon after I started the local Vishay cult among the local tweakers, a local Rowland Research salesman and Yuppie Extroidinare had Jeff R. build him a Coherence preamp with Vishays. A list of the values for the resistors was obtained fron Jeff and several hundred dollars worth were purchased and sent to Mr. Rowland for said preamp. I was there when the salesman took the top off the one off preamp. All the resitors were used inside the potted modules and all the external resistors were still
standard issue. Now I know Jeff and he is a strait up guy and I knew the resistors went into the canned modules, but i said to the salesman " How do you even know thet are in there if you can't see them?" Jocko and and still fall down laughing when we tell this story.

Fred