NAD C 326BBE

I just aquired a new for me (circa 2007 based on a component date code) NAD c 326BBE amp. Havent even turned it on eyt, but decided to take a look inside first.

I was a bit surprised to see it populated with King-Sun (KSC) Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors (China).

I looked at some old discriptions of NAD amps and seems they used hire quality compnents like ELNA caps but it was only a single exmaple.

For the switch pwoer supply, i dont think i much care as long as thay are doing what they need to do.

In the audio path though i am considering replacing the electrolytics with Panasonic FC caps and any electrolytics not in the audio path with some high-quality caps as appropriate.

i'm looking for some feedback on this from others, would you change them or leave them.

would you use different caps then i am considering in the audio path?

I'm also kinda curious of the venerable 3020 had noname caps in it as well?
 
I think I'd turn it on and give it a listen first.

Old adage ... If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


well for starters KSC caps have a pretty bad reputation ... check badcaps forum if you wanna know more on them.

kinda like knowing your car is low on oil and running it anyway.

no worries ... she'll be right....
 
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well for starters KSC caps have a pretty bad reputation ... check badcaps forum if you wanna know more on them.

kinda like knowing your car is low on oil and running it anyway.

no worries ... she'll be right....

(Grin) ... More like changing the oil right after it comes back from the dealership for service.

I'm not a big fan of changing parts that are asymptomatic.
 

bullittstang

Member
Paid Member
2013-05-09 2:14 pm
Detroit, MI
I have to agree with Douglas - I would certainly make sure it tests good and give it a good solid listening test, before jumping right to changing parts. I like MAD equipment, have 3 of their amps currently. Not always the highest quality, but never had poor quality either, so i would doubt the KSC's are that bad, but let your ears tell you not a website.
 

zapbuzz

Member
2019-12-05 8:22 am
I dont agree with Douglas

This has been pondered on a few forums and over a few other brands as well as nad... i'll try and summarize. ... sorry this might get long...

The classic older nad 3020's from the 1990's seemed to use Japanese capacitors like Matsushita caps (now called Panasonic)

The OP is right the KSC caps. these are known failure points in TV's in things like tv power supplies and other places. the caps tend to drift greatly in value and become electrically leaky and fail.

in addition, the 2007 manufacturing date falls in the range were a lot of bad caps were produced out of China and Taiwan from about 2001 to 2010. this effected not just audio but computer electronics, with many faulty of capacitors.

The cause of the faulty capacitors was in fact due to poor industrial espionage, a mis-copied electrolyte formula. In 2001, a scientist working in the Rubycon Corporation in Japan stole a mis-copied formula for capacitors' electrolytes. in that same year the scientist's left China, stealing again the mis-copied formula and moving to Taiwan ... needless to say this formula got used by many manufacturers and caused a lot of problems. search "capacitor plague" to learn more.

The particular caps used in NAD gear are SS and NP series 1000 hour and GS and GL series 2000 hour lifespan caps in both the power supply and audio sections. They are the lowest grade electrolytic cap KSC makes . KSC has now removed their specification for these caps off their website however you can see some of the specs here http://www.paullinebarger.net/DS/KSC [King-Sun]/KSC Series Table PARTIAL.pdf

NAD itself has an interesting history, after the success of the 3020 in the 90's they fell on hard times, and were sold twice. it has been speculated that the use of these cheap capacitors was part of cost cutting measures and not a technical choice.

nad has been manufactured in Asia for a long time. i think the 3020 was made in taiwan, and the OP amp was made in china. remember the faculty that manufacturers the item dosn't choose the parts, nad does so you cant blame the use of Chinese caps on the manufacturing facility..

i think most engineer types find it hard to believe another engineer would spec off brand Chinese caps in their design, thats why its belived to been a cost cutting measure.

Some say a cap is a cap and one cant tell the difference between different caps asuming all other parameters are equal... and others say there is a huge difference. obviously ESR and leakage ratings of new caps will have an impact on a giving circuit. i am not going to get into that Frey, however, when capacitors become electrically leaky and/or change value it going to have an impact. So even if it rolls out of the factory sounding pretty close to what it would with high quality caps, over time that will change.

Unfortunately, without comparing the sound your amp against another one, or being able to measure the sonic effects of the caps, its hard to just turn it on and have a listen and tell if there is a problem or if a cap is close to failure.

if your amp is from 2007 and has any significant use on it, the caps are getting close to or past end of life. plenty of tv's using KSC caps of this type have gone "poof" as the caps let go in the power supply and are a lot newer then your amp or experienced other problems where KSC caps have been used.

This problem isn't just KSC but many Chinese off brand caps have bad quality cntrol and/or had issues with the bad electrolyte formula. This is not to say some Chinese caps can not last a long time.. but which ones.. its like playing Russian roulette. It is true that Electrolytics do not last forever, however, Chinese caps have show themselves to be exceedingly unreliable.

if it were me id first change out the caps in the power supply. those will have had the most stress, and, will cause the most problems if they let go. it probably goes without saying if your gonging to bother doing the work, get high quality high life caps with low esr were necessary and high heat at least 105c ... the ps is were the caps are more likely going to be exposed to heat and lifespan is greatly effected by heat, see cap data sheets to get more on that.

as far as the caps in the audio path. those that have changed them out for audio grade caps from Panasonic or nichcon for example, have reported a sonic difference. it is hard to tell if it was from off values, leakage or just the structure of the new caps but i’ve never read a post from someone who said they did not hear a positive difference. Not all caps in the audio section are in the audio path so take that into consideration when selecting caps.

everyone has their "favorite" capacitors .... some say you can somewhat tailor the sonic footprint of the amp by your choice of capacitors. there have been some tests on this, one i can recall is here High End Audio - Electrolytic capacitors though there are others. Note though, some of the results of these tests are more subjective then based on measurements. and obviously are influenced by the circuit they were tested in, and the giving esr and leakage of the cap under test etc.. so your mileage may very.

as far as the renaming caps, the polypropylene and ceramic caps, usual these are just fine and no need to change them out as they have a long lifespan, even the cheap chinesium ones

So, if the question is, should you change out the electrolytic, i think i have given come compelling reasons to do it.

personalty, i am not one to just sit on a ticking time bomb. Especially if its a piece of gear i like. There is no excuse to not do it unless you cant afford the parts or you don't have the skills to do it yourself.

hope that helps.
 

Electoneman

Member
2016-02-27 7:28 pm
My opinion is mixed. I have a lot of NAD equipment. My first piece was a 3240PE integrated amp that I purchased new in 1988 and still own. I decided to re-cap it a few years ago. It was populated with all sorts of 'no-name' Taiwanese caps, but each one I pulled measured fine and I ran that amp HARD in its day.

Having said that, there are a few known bad cap brands that NAD used when manufacturing switched to mainland China. If you own a C270, the white NAD-branded filter caps have been known to fail.

Re-capping can be a fun exercise and rewarding if done correctly, but it can also be completely unnecessary in a lot of cases.
 
"So, if the question is, should you change out the electrolytic, i think i have given come compelling reasons to do it. personalty, i am not one to just sit on a ticking time bomb. Especially if its a piece of gear i like. There is no excuse to not do it unless you cant afford the parts or you don't have the skills to do it yourself."


I will agree with not much of that ... An item will fail at some stage in the future, if it didn't engineers would be out of work but how long a future will it fail.
How long is that piece of string?
Consider the worst scenario; Poor response ... that's about it and probably not for many years.
My experience, as a qualified Electronics Engineer of many years experience in the Service Industry is leave it alone until you hear/see a problem.
You are wasting your time and the Worlds resources otherwise.
 

zapbuzz

Member
2019-12-05 8:22 am
"
I will agree with not much of that ...

I just want to be clear as we are talking about a very specific case here......not cap swapping for the heck of it.

Is your position is that King-sun (KSC) / off-brand Chinese caps from 2007 are reliable enough not to worry about them?
or are you just saying use it till it breaks and worry about it and the corrosive electrolytes and all if they fail?

I'm really not trying to argue your position on capacitor plague era off-bran Chinese caps , or the use it till it breaks position, i do respect the point of view, I just want to understand it for this case.

i'm obviously in the preventative maintenance camp on this one.
personally I've had to fix my share of gear where corrosive electrolyte eroded traces from the pcb from caps of that type and era. That had lead me to the preventative maintenance camp for those type of caps.

It is kinda like finding wax caps in tube gear ... when i see them i pull them.
 
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zapbuzz

Member
2019-12-05 8:22 am
Having said that, there are a few known bad cap brands that NAD used when manufacturing switched to mainland China. If you own a C270, the white NAD-branded filter caps have been known to fail.
The problem years for the plague caps from China and Taiwan was maybe as early as 1999 but defiantly 2001 till about 2007 some say out till 2009, but end of 2007 it was mostly fixed. i think the later dates were some manufacturers using up old stock.

just to show how bad this got, in 2005 alone dell spent 420 million dollars replacing motherboards with bad capacitors due to this issue.

its likely that NAD house brand caps were of chinese or taiwan origin.
if the NAD caps were manufactured in that time frame, then it would explain a lot. Id be curious of there are date codes on the bad NAD branded caps.
 
I dont agree with Douglas

Oh really??? ... LOL.

You do make an excellent argument and I am not totally in disagreement.

Of late, since retiring, I've been messing with the little Chinese class D chip amps and I've had problems with the bulk supply electrolytics in some of them. Even had a couple explode on me. In particular the 25v caps running on 24v supplies are problematic, so I know they're substandard. So now when I bring in a mini-amp I just automatically swap them out, with 35 volt parts and usually going up a couple of standard values in the process.

I am not adverse to re-capping. Lets say that you have a piece of older gear on your bench and you spot a bulgy cap or one with abnormally high AC ripple on it... Sure I'll swap it, and all the others in similar positions as well, particularly in power supplies.

What I find kind of laughable is the guy who gets a brand new amp, opens it up and starts swapping out parts. Now unless there is a known issue --as with the chip amps-- this just strikes me as a horrible waste of time and money. It's asymptomatic repair and it risks causing other problems in a brand new piece of kit.

For the sonic differences along the signal path... look up "Confirmation Bias" ... "they told me this would be better" so when you turn it on you believe it is. Often as not there is absolutely no measurable difference whatsoever when simply replacing non-faulty parts. It's like these guys who try to tune up their systems with patch cords or think that wire lifts will help the sound... it's all a matter of what you expect to hear.

So... we're not entirely on opposite sides here... It's just that I think the "replace everything" philosophy is a bit overdone.
 
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They can't dry out nearly as fast it kept cold. But deterioration of the insulating layer is likely to happen. Careful re-forming might improve longevity after storage (its advised for high voltage electrolytics to avoid high leakage at first use)


They age quickest run hot (inside unventilated boxes, with high ripple currents to heat them up internally) - so off the shelf ought to be better than used, all else being equal.
 

Electoneman

Member
2016-02-27 7:28 pm
I have never been able to hear a difference between capacitor brands / models. Nichicon makes great caps, but boy do they milk the "audio" cap thing. It's like trying to decipher a puzzle with all their models. FW, FG, KW, KZ, KA, KT, etc. Personally I like using PW everywhere unless a low leakage cap is spec'd - in that case, KL. Never had an issue, never noticed a difference.
 
I have never been able to hear a difference between capacitor brands / models. Nichicon makes great caps, but boy do they milk the "audio" cap thing. It's like trying to decipher a puzzle with all their models. FW, FG, KW, KZ, KA, KT, etc. Personally I like using PW everywhere unless a low leakage cap is spec'd - in that case, KL. Never had an issue, never noticed a difference.

Given that audio frequencies are the lowest on the spectrum, the "audio" designation on a capacitor could be a degradation of their normal functionality. But the audiophiles love this stuff, for whatever ill conceived reason.

Like you, I don't hear a difference and I've never been able to measure one either.
 

xykapec

Member
2020-02-24 9:24 am
I have NAD c326bee with production year of 2009. For me it sounds pretty decent now.

If you search in internet you will hardly find any posts mentioning problems with c326bee except false overheat triggering. So I can suggest that KSC caps sitting in c326bee are not that bad. Otherwise we had a lot's of topics like "my capacitors blew into my face!".
What can you say, zapbuzz?
Also why do you say about GS capacitors "they are the lowest grade electrolytic cap KSC makes"? How do you know that?

Thanks
 
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