So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

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So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby Deny » 19 Jun 2012, 14:37

The (NOS) tone capacitor thing has never made a lot of sense to me, so a while ago I decided to give it a try and replaced my Les Paul's capacitors with oil ones. Yes, I could hear the difference - it was noticeably warmer - but I still wasn't convinced, call me skeptic. So what I did next was measure the capacitors I just removed from the guitar and they were all within tolerance, some were dead on. Now here's the kicker: every single one of the oil capacitors measured way above their specified value. Interesting huh? So after doing the aforementioned measurements I think "tone capacitors" are nothing but a (very profitable) myth. Has anyone had a similar experience, what are your opinions on this?

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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby mictester » 19 Jun 2012, 15:29

Deny wrote:The (NOS) tone capacitor thing has never made a lot of sense to me, so a while ago I decided to give it a try and replaced my Les Paul's capacitors with oil ones. Yes, I could hear the difference - it was noticeably warmer - but I still wasn't convinced, call me skeptic. So what I did next was measure the capacitors I just removed from the guitar and they were all within tolerance, some were dead on. Now here's the kicker: every single one of the oil capacitors measured way above their specified value. Interesting huh? So after doing the aforementioned measurements I think "tone capacitors" are nothing but a (very profitable) myth. Has anyone had a similar experience, what are your opinions on this?


At last!!! Some sanity!

However, we still have the clueless who complain that you can't measure "mojo"!!
"Why is it humming?" "Because it doesn't know the words!"
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby culturejam » 19 Jun 2012, 15:52

:popcorn:

There is a bazillion-page thread titled "The Sound of Capacitors", with lots of arguing and gnashing of teeth. It's a funny read. :lol:


But your observation about the high-spec values on the oil caps is very interesting. :thumbsup
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby sinner » 19 Jun 2012, 15:54

What's that this whole capasidor you guys talking about all over? :mrgreen:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby FiveseveN » 19 Jun 2012, 16:16

Isn't this the third cap-mojo-related thread this week? Must be the heat.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. (Charles Darwin)
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby CHEEZOR » 19 Jun 2012, 16:22

Usually everyone is in agreement that the most expensive / rarest cap is the best, bar none. This same theory can be applied to all other electronic components as well. :lol:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby IvIark » 19 Jun 2012, 16:46

I've got maybe 15 different paper in oil values and they have similar accuracy to poly caps. None of them measure more than a few percent over the rated value. Truth or myth is a matter for your ears to decide, but generallly whatever mictester says, the opposite is true :mrgreen:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby Deny » 19 Jun 2012, 17:05

Hey I don't mind paying a bit more for better quality parts and/or gear, but it seems to me that there are a few people out there making false claims about NOS parts all over the internet for the sole purpose of profiting on naive musicians, who in turn perpetuate that misinformation to the point that it becomes myth. Still talking about capacitors, I suspect the "harshness" associated with ceramic capacitors might be just as false as the paper oil's "warmth". I wonder if someone conducted a blind test with different types of capacitors but which measured the exact same value, what the outcome would be :wink:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby ik6gpy » 19 Jun 2012, 17:37

Capacitors generate distortion when they are actually implementing a time-constant. In other words, when there is a signal voltage across them. The normal coupling or DC-blocking capacitors have no significant signal voltage across them, as they are intended to pass all the information through, not to filter it or define the system bandwidth. Capacitors with no signal across them do not generally produce distortion at small-signal current levels. However, electrolytic types may do so at power amplifier levels where the current through them is considerable, such as in the output coupling capacitor of a power amplifier.

This is what i studied long time ago. So unless you're building a Power Amp or a Crossover filter for your super-mega Hi-Fi speakers, don't waste your money! :wink:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby culturejam » 19 Jun 2012, 18:15

ik6gpy wrote:Capacitors generate distortion when they are actually implementing a time-constant.

You mean like in a typical passive R/C filter?
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby ik6gpy » 19 Jun 2012, 18:40

Exactly. But as i wrote in the last post, caps distortion is a strong function of level, roughly tripling as the input level doubles.
For example a Polyester dielectric 220nF 100V box capacitor generates (in an RC passive filter with R=1K) third harmonic distortion that peaks around 300-400Hz for an input voltage of 10Vrms. We're talking about 0.00128% THD...
@20Vrms is almost 0.003%.
Box Polypropylene caps from Vishay or Wima proved to generate no measurable distortion @10Vrms and @20Vrms (0.0002%-0.0003% THD)

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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby mictester » 20 Jun 2012, 19:30

IvIark wrote:I've got maybe 15 different paper in oil values and they have similar accuracy to poly caps. None of them measure more than a few percent over the rated value. Truth or myth is a matter for your ears to decide, but generallly whatever mictester says, the opposite is true :mrgreen:


Believe that if you like....

Believe in "mojo" components.....

Believe that Freekish Blues pedals are built in an American basement.....

All the above amply demonstrate the stupidity of most "deeply held" beliefs.

Simple, provable electronic FACT - equal value passive components pass audio in exactly the same way. If you can't MEASURE a difference, there isn't any difference.
There are no "magic" capacitors, and carbon composition resistors only "sound different" because they usually have radically different values to what their markings claim....

If you want to waste money on "genuine" components, prepare to be very disappointed. You will eventually realise that the "mojo" theories of the clueless are just marketing bullshit!
"Why is it humming?" "Because it doesn't know the words!"
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby IvIark » 20 Jun 2012, 20:05

Image
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby mictester » 20 Jun 2012, 21:42

Sometimes!
:D
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby DrNomis » 20 Jun 2012, 23:57

I see that this "Capacitor Debate" is still raging.... :lol:

My response is....."It's a passive electronic component that stores energy in an electronic circuit, it blocks DC and passes AC, in an AC circuit it behaves like a frequency dependent resistor, it does what it does...QED".... :thumbsup
Genius is not all about 99% perspiration, and 1% inspiration - sometimes the solution is staring you right in the face.-Frequencycentral.
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby MoonWatcher » 21 Jun 2012, 00:27

It's easier to stand dumbfounded looking at a few pretty trees than it is to see the deeper beauty of all the entire forest.

Point being that there are typically a ton of other caps in the signal chain - in other pedals, in the amp itself, and they are rarely all super premium stuff.

I've been testing pedals thru a little Vox Valvetronix that sounds remarkably good. I pulled the chassis from the cab a few months back, and the thing is littered with the cheapest greenies, reds, whatever...not a pricey metalized film, PIO, or even anything with less than a 10% tolerance to be found...

In the (impossible) case that some caps do sound better, I now simply mix up all different sorts of caps - whatever I grab and it has a decent lead spacing - that is what ends up in the pedal. It might be electro, ceramic, cheap mylar, EPCOS/Wima/Panasonic/Vishay/etc...

I actually like the little multilayer ceramic caps. Small "footprint," all sorts of common sizes, nice and cheap, and 5mm spacing for most sizes from 100pF up to 1uF. But I really don't care about cap mojo. Too many other things to concentrate on, like the actual circuit itself. I got about 200 470 nF and 220 nF electros for next to nothing because they are considered "general application." If they sound "inferior," then I am glad that I am suffering from some percentage of deafness...
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby culturejam » 21 Jun 2012, 01:12

MoonWatcher wrote:I actually like the little multilayer ceramic caps. Small "footprint," all sorts of common sizes, nice and cheap, and 5mm spacing for most sizes from 100pF up to 1uF.

Amen! :thumbsup

I also like SMD ceramics for larger values. I got some 10uF in the 1206 size (same size as any other small-value SMD and non-polarized to boot). It's insane how small they are! :shock:

MoonWatcher wrote:But I really don't care about cap mojo.

Like you, I pick based on lead spacing. But second factor is how cool it looks (color, shape, etc). I like Wima caps because they are red, and everybody knows that red caps go faster. :lol:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby Deny » 21 Jun 2012, 01:23

MoonWatcher wrote:(...) I actually like the little multilayer ceramic caps. Small "footprint," all sorts of common sizes, nice and cheap, and 5mm spacing for most sizes from 100pF up to 1uF. (...)


+1 on the multilayer ceramics, love those little things :)

In fact I actually find kinda funny that some people go through the trouble of fitting those huge chocolate drop 1uFs inside pedals for the sake of "premium tone" when a multilayer would sound just as good and make the job a whole lot easier :lol:
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby IvIark » 21 Jun 2012, 01:29

Yes I love the multilayer ceramics too. And you can get the axial ones for pennies and they're really handy sometimes when space is getting a bit tight and the cap laying flat like a small resistor can make things much easier.
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Re: So... tone capacitors, truth or myth?

Postby GuitarlCarl » 21 Jun 2012, 04:11

Deny wrote:Hey I don't mind paying a bit more for better quality parts and/or gear, but it seems to me that there are a few people out there making false claims about NOS parts all over the internet for the sole purpose of profiting on naive musicians, who in turn perpetuate that misinformation to the point that it becomes myth. Still talking about capacitors, I suspect the "harshness" associated with ceramic capacitors might be just as false as the paper oil's "warmth". I wonder if someone conducted a blind test with different types of capacitors but which measured the exact same value, what the outcome would be :wink:


That's why the internet is so interesting and sick and fun and fucked up all at the same time.... Every monkey with a keyboard can spew their opinions all over any topic and some even sound like they know what they're talking about... On yer OP I read... Yeah they sounded warmer but I'm still not convinced.... Hmm. Didn't you want them to be warmer? Now I like to play with mojo and pull peoples tails too. But are you mad there's stories out there you almost believed, or that they did sound different but the actual values were different? Folks on the web try to get you to believe all kinds of bull, here eat these yer pecker will get bigger, whatever man, I have pia's in one of my tele's and it sounds fine. I don't even care if it's out of tolerance, cuz I like how it sounds. Some of my guitars have Spragues, and they sound nice too. Guess what. I have one Rock hard axe with no capacitor at all, and it sounds fine too. It ain't about the mojo, or the claims, its about your ears...
I want it to sound like bees buzzing around in a 55 gallon drum...
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