Thread: Capacitors
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Old 4th December 2006, 12:34 PM
david david is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: London
Posts: 360
Default Re: Capacitors

I'm afraid I'm going to disagree with Peter on this one.

Originally Posted by petercom
every capacitor sounds slightly different due to its construction and the type of dielectric used. So there will be some that really like brand A and some brand B. And they will never agree. Black Gates have a sound that some like, others don't. What annoys me is that they seem to provide a 'character' to the sound, whereas what I am looking for is a lack of character, or neutrality in other words.

A lot of people consider that Black Gates have the least coloured sound of any electrolytic and consider them a class apart. To underline this, they have also been shown to measure differently. WAD amps of the same model have been group tested and those present at WADFests have preferred the ones with Black gate mods. Of course, other mods may well have been present too....

I don't want a 'warm' capacitor, I want one that sounds as though it isn't there. The closest I can get to that is polypropylene with careful control over the manufacturing process. That's why we specify Soniqs PP coupling caps in the WD88VA XL kit. In the areas where the capacitance is too high to use PP then I like the RIFA electrolytics. They are consistently transparent.

Polyprops can sound very good and I havn't heard Soniqs PPs. However, in overall comparison to a Black Gate I and others have found PPs to be leaner and BGs more accurate harmonically.

In my opinion and those of others the RIFas are good caps, which don't do a lot wrong. However, in comparisons, there has been agreement that Black Gate WKZ in the ps adds dynamics, transparency and resolution-particularly to bass and treble.

Of course you are free to use your own preferences in place of the components we supply. It's the same with valves. We prefer the ones we use in our kits because, again, they are the closest to a neutral performance.

In essence if we deliver a kit which is neutral in character and transparent in nature then the owner will hear through the product into the music. That's they way to greater owner satisfaction from a wide variety of customers.

In terms of voicing, that is a design policy that sense. However, price is also a key part of the equaltion and for example there would not be scope to use NOS Mullards in place of Edicrons etc. Clearly, different types of valves have very different sonic signatures eg between EL34s, 6550s, and 300bs.

Of course you can dress up the choice of materials used in the construction of your caps in order to make a case for the 'character' of the performance. Sometimes this sort of BS becomes fashionable as most people are trying to recommend a solution to everyone else's problems. At the end of the day the BGs are electrolytics and hence have the same foibles as other electrolytics.

BGs are electrolytics but use completely different technology. They measure very differently and therfore do no have the same foibles as other electrolytics.

If you prefer the sound character they have then fine, no problem, but I can't say that they 'improve' the WD88VA over the RIFA types we use in the XL kit.

We are close to completing, in conjunction with ICW, a white paper which will give some clue as to why capacitors sound different. This should be available in the new year and I'll post it on the forum when it is published. We expect this to lead to a new series of PP caps with even greater transparency than the Soniqs SAX we currently use.
That should be very interesting and anything that helps understanding is a step forward. Quite a few papers have been written over the years about Black Gates. Some have concentrated on their measurements, others have concentrated on their sound. It is more than interesting that the other capacitors commonly deemed to be improvements-in the right application-also use different technology: Sanyo OSCONS, Elna Cerafines etc.

At the end of the day, Black Gates are expensive and you might prefer to build a 300b kit rather than spend several hundred pounds upgrading your psu caps.
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