SMD capacitor - how to tell the value?

I have a circuit here which has some ceramic SMD caps in a MFB filter stage.
According to the circuit diagrams, the value should be 270pf, and 3n9. I know these are incorrect, as the resistor values are different, and the caps must have been changed to match the new r values, but when I measure them in-circuit, I get wrong values also (of course).

I guess what I'm asking is, can the values be determined without pulling them off the board, and risk damaging them, or should I just re-design the filter stage to remove them and use MKP's or something instead...

hmmm

maybe a silly question, but I thought I'd ask anyway
 

kevinkr

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You've pretty much figured it out.. :D Ceramic SMD caps are almost never marked, and in circuit measurements may result in misleading results. Sometimes if you are very careful removing them you can measure them once they have cooled down. (In some cases removing other identifiable components first will allow you to make an unambiguous measurement without removal.) You'll want to replace those ceramics with something a little more audio friendly anyway. Watch out when you redesign that MFB (multiple feedback - is it really? ) filter, they aren't quite as intuitive as the usual vcvs based filter. ;)
 
The 270pf will almost cetainly be a C0G type of dielectric. These are superior to mica caps, (at audio frequencies), as they do not have the high dielectric absorbtion that mica has.

The 3900pf is likely to be an X7R dielectric. This is worth replacing with a better type.

Avoid Y5V high-K dielectric ceramic capacitors like the plague! They have a VERY non-linear change in capacitance with applied voltage. You can get horrendous low-frequency distortion with these type when used to pass audio.
 
The 220p mica cap will have very little "soakage" detectable at audio frequencies.

"soakage" is an imporatant spec for an audio coupling cap. C0G ceramics have little "soakage". This is true.

The cap in question is most likely used for compensation and not coupling.

mica caps have less dielectric absorption than a lot of ceramics.

Dielectric absorption is frequency dependant.

Anyway, the 220p is a HF compensation cap. Not meant for audible frequencies. It is for keeping the op-amp happy.

Surface mount caps have low lead inductance and are well suited for bypass and compensation purposes.

I use a low pF mica to keep the op-amps happy.