Sound of Capacitors


2001-05-12 11:28 am
Hi all,

In the June issue of Electronics World & Wireless World, the first of a set of articles appears about the distortion in capacitors.

In this first article, the design of an oscillator of very low distortion is described -better than 0.0001%- and, in the following one, the design of a notch filter is described that, together with the oscillator, it forms to measure system with characteristic equivalent to instruments how the Audio Precision.

The advantage is that it is made with components that one can buy in a Electronic store, and to build it in the garage.

In the following articles the measures will be published, on capacitors of all types.

I believe that has never been published a study how this, and that will become a classic in the topic of the capacitors.

Get your copies of EW&WW. You are warned!

Happy days,

Raúl Couto


2002-06-07 3:17 pm
Caps are the bane of audio. I have an artical about passive components called "The Last Pass" that describes the down falls and your "best bets" in passives. Tantilum, mylar, polyester and electrolytics going from worse to better. Teflon, polycarbonet, polystyrene being your best caps. Within an hour of getting home with a new piece of gear, the cover is off and my garbage can is full of these junk caps, and other crap that I can get rid of. Of course, this is not for the faint of heart. The fewer caps in your audio path, the better. Direct coupling between stages, preamp, pwr amp will eliminate a lot of caps, but this leads to another can of worms.
Yes, Capacitors ARE very interesting. I have been studying, testing and applying these devices for 39 years in relation to audio applications. There is a very great misconception about their usage and application. In regard to 'Audio' many are MISused and MISapplied as a result of inaccurate advice by many "so called" Audiophiles. It seems as thout just anybody can write up something and have it endorsed by a Golden Ear for the right price.

I hope that somebody can come up with the truth someday.

I tried to view the Links as follows:

Page cannot be found:whazzat:
Didn't want to start a new thread about capacitor "sound" so I dropped into this old one. This thread was originally prompted by an article in the UK magazine "Electronics World and Wireless World" (which I think is now simply called "Electronics World"). In the most recent edition which I saw in the local library yesterday there is a small article (3 pages) that might interest people. It seeks to address why caps might colour sound. It is a preliminary report on a project that seems to be a mixture of commercial intrests, Gov't funding and tertiary academia. (Which is no good if you dislike all three!) They looked at mechanical influences. These were not external vibrations on the body of the cap' but the internal stresses encounted when passing a signal and causing the distance between the adjacent films to vary. They quote both objective measurements (graphs) and listening tests to indicate that the less vibration that can be achieved seems to be both noticeable and produce a better result.
If you want to follow it up I think it is the June edition (08) poss. May.
Yes I've seen that. I am no 100% sure but I believe the work of Cyril Bateman that you list was the subject of the article that raul_77 was refering to when he kicked off this thread some years ago in the first post. Bateman's work quoted a lot of figures refering to percentage of distortion but I was intrigued that people were suggesting mechanisms that caused problems and not just percentages or subjective reactions.


2005-03-26 2:31 pm
I am trying to look at it from two point of view.

1. How can differences be measured so that one can select components with predictable results.

2. How can we determine design and manufacturing aspects that are causing certain sonic characteristics and appropriately reduce such effects.

Clarity cap seemed to have addressed internal stress related issues as well. This seems in line with what I am finding so far. The result isadditional harmonics in the lower frequencies that actually effect transient part of music reproduction.
soongcs. I think Clarity caps may be the people writing up this research in the article I saw.....are they based in the UK? The Uni concerned was something like Shalford. Reputed to have a good audio research centre.
The other thing is "memory" or the fact that people speak of signals being 'smeared' while passing through components. I am trying to track down an anecdotal reference in a local Australian magazine where a man was using very large polyester caps in an industrial application and found a residual charge many minutes/hours after they thought they had completely discharged it. It is 20 years old and not easy to find.

KGK: like the quote similar, to another I saw many years ago. "He who moves in the opposite direction appears to run away."
I am trying to track down an anecdotal reference in a local Australian magazine where a man was using very large polyester caps in an industrial application and found a residual charge many minutes/hours after they thought they had completely discharged it. It is 20 years old and not easy to find.

Dielectric absorbtion,Most all caps do this.

Charge up a big cap on your bench,and discharge it,short the terminals even remove the short,and watch the voltage slowly climb back up. In a few minutes it may go as high as half of it's original voltage!
I remember when I was younger,I was fascinated by this.


2007-03-01 8:36 pm
Spraque Extralytic

Hi guys,

I plan to build Le Monstre and Mini Aleph. I find this SPRAQUE EXTRALYTIC 180000uf 30 VDC. Is this genuine or fake?

Thank you Gentlemen,

Best Regard,



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2004-09-08 7:17 am
Varies with manufacturer.

I have 450V Epcos here rated (and tested by me) at 530V surge. Try that with a cheap brand and you'll be thanking the gods you used eye protection ;)

Per-Anders has a thread here on the lameness of some caps, even within spec.

(if you use the forums search feature, all of you will find this topic beat to death already ;) )



Disabled Account
2007-12-27 3:04 am
Clarity caps: Preferred orientation?

I've read many places where that film caps have a preferred orientaion- inner vs outer foil towards high impedance connection or towards ground gives better shielding (or "sounds" better)-

Anyone have info on this regarding Clarity Caps?
(mine have leads which are the same color on both ends; I guess the direction of the printed Name/Logo is the only way to tell which end is which...?