The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Frequently asked questions on capacitor types, ratings, brands, use and abuse.

Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 13 Sep 2012, 21:37

Read the study, it's all about non-linearity.

I measured several different types of parts, and captured the results (simply by training a camera at the scope). The value of each of the capacitors was constant, 0.1uF. The signal level was held constant at about 70 volts RMS at 600 Hz across the capacitors. (for about 26mA signal current). This is probably more than you would normally expect, and serves to show the results better.


FiveseveN wrote:Yes, yes, but take a close look at the experiment conditions:
The signal level was held constant at about 70 volts RMS at 600 Hz across the capacitors. (for about 26mA signal current)

That's quite a bit more energy than what you'd find in a stompbox, perhaps by two orders of magnitude. Surely nobody denies nonlinearities caused by parasitic properties and idiosyncrasies of the dielectric or construction. But can one hear them? And in what context? And is he really hearing the effects of these nonlinearities or the difference in actual capacitance or the ammount of money they spent or the pretty coloured stripes or whatever some tonesniffer thinks about those particular caps?
Wasn't this made clear some 50 pages ago?

Already said, a lot of people around me can hear differences in tube amps (so, similar conditions) and in guitar tones (obviously low voltage and very very low current)
In my small amps, when i did comparison caps were within 1,5% (already said too) and cheap, no stripes, only military green, aluminum grey, and orange :roll:
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A: Yes. Silver solder keeps werewolves away from your amp.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 13 Sep 2012, 22:11

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. (Charles Darwin)
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 13 Sep 2012, 23:47

Yeah, all evidences are anecdotal for you, of course.
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A: Yes. Silver solder keeps werewolves away from your amp.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 14 Sep 2012, 00:46

Is that supposed to stand in lieu of an argument?
What you've personally offered so far is textbook anecdote. In addition, you've stated that you "can't prove anything, and don't even try to". So why the protest?
You have no argument other than "please take my word for it!". So why does it bother you if I don't and demand a higher standard of evidence?

If this were a more centralized community perhaps it'd be easier to organize a double-blind test and take a big step tward consensus. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising this forum's (or the larger movement's) diversity, that would be silly. But as motivated and united as we can be sometimes, there are many obstacles in the way of a reasonably clear conclusion to this issue (and similar matters like the 'sound' of opamps).

I think that barring a controlled test all we're left with is rhetoric, and I feel we've already covered all the bases on that front.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. (Charles Darwin)
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 14 Sep 2012, 09:36

No, were are left with our ears.
Allesz hear differences (sometimes) between caps, i do (in amps, guitars and some pedals), my son does, my friends do (caps within 1,5% in my amp, within 2,5% in my axes), 5 amp techs from my Internet friends(two of them making a living by selling kits or original amps) do, allt the guitarists i know who tried PIO in their axes do, some other posters here do, even through the comparisons on YT etc.
When someone gives technical measure, you find the voltages and current too high (!)
You just want to believe

I do not need to be able to trace the frequency response of my crappy neon bulbs to see they make a crappy light, i use my eyes for that purpose.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby allesz » 14 Sep 2012, 10:37

This tread will never end because someone can ear differencies and someone don't.
Even if I can't measure a thing I hear, or feel, this does not mean that I don't really feel it.

I read (but don't remember where) Mr. Jack Deville say that he uses a certain brand of caps just for filtering, and not for the signal path, because he don't like them probably; he is a respected builder, maybe not a scientist yes, but why should he use something he does not like just because he can't scientifically prove why he doesn't like it? Just to save 0,05 or 0,5 or even 1 Euro/Dollar?

My (small) point is: if I (or you) think that a cap sounds better use it and you are (or I am) ok. If you don't ear differencies between caps use wichever cap you want and I will be ok too.
I sometime ear diffferencies between caps (and I agree with kleuk that this happens mostly on simple circuits - well, I never build too complicated things actually :lol:). When this happens I follow my feelings (an emotional builder, and very sexy too 8); when I don't feel differencies I go for (in order) a) the right, or better, value available b) the size c) the price (ok, even if your cap sounds gold, I will not pay 10 Euros for it).

What a wonderful tread... :popcorn:

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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 14 Sep 2012, 21:53

People believe all sorts of crazy shit. And they're free to act according to their beliefs as long as it doesn't impose on others. But when they make wild claims like "use OD715 which sounds clean and bright, you want polyester caps, dirtier and giving more mids", they'd better be prepared for ridicule. That is not a subjective claim, my friend. It is verifiable and unless you can prove it, I bite my thumb at you, sir!
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 15 Sep 2012, 04:07

There's in these pages a few technical studies showing that all caps do not behave the same way, you believe that it doesn't lead to any sonic difference, fine, i suppose you believe all bulbs of the same power give the same light, fine :roll:
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 15 Sep 2012, 05:07

What I have is a lack of belief. I did not make outrageous claims so it's not my burden to support them. I'm associated with various skeptical movements, so I've become intimately familiar with people's cognitive biases and fondness for superficial correlations. I also know the sorts of mental gymnastics they go through to reinforce their models. So I've heard it all.

I'm also a lighting technician and photographer. Would you like to know the difference between various "light bulbs"? For one, different phosphors in fluorescent lamps are designed to produce different sensory stimuli (which is clearly measurable). Caps are rarely designed with audio in mind.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 15 Sep 2012, 09:10

I know the differences between different light bulbs (my dad studied Cinema, one of my brother was a camera operator, and i'm an amateur photographer) but the consumer ones are not designed to give a crappy light, they are just poorly built.
Anyway, you did not prove anything about them to me or any poster here unaware of the secret life of photons.
So would you like to prove something about light sources here in the very same way you want people to do for caps ?
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A: Yes. Silver solder keeps werewolves away from your amp.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 15 Sep 2012, 09:33

"Crappy light" is a subjective judgement.
Black-body temperature, CRI, efficiency, luminosity, directionality, etc. are precise, objective qualities.
What would I be trying to prove? I didn't say anything akin to "Xenon arc lamps have richer reds".
I think I'm just gonna stop here, I feel like I'm talking to a child.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby kleuck » 15 Sep 2012, 09:54

Reference is a white similar to the daylight, a non-continuous spectrum with dips and peaks is crappy for a human being, that's an admitted fact and has little to do with subjectivity.
I can explain how neons or the like are working, why some give a natural light and why others are ugly, so i can explain the differences between some, so do you obviously, now PROVE me these differences gives different results in your house to your eyes.
Beware : if you make a vid or images, i will not see anything, and if you provide charts, i will probably found "the voltage or the current too high" :mrgreen:
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A: Yes. Silver solder keeps werewolves away from your amp.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby Shiny_Beast » 13 Nov 2012, 04:54

diagrammatiks wrote:ears are no good. differences are obvious on a scope.

I'd trust science over my ears anyday.

I think guitarists are the only people still convinced that all caps are the same.


I assume you mean unconvinced, but anyway, a "scope" is only capable of telling you what it was designed to tell you. If the difference lies elsewhere you are going to need a different scope, unless you use have magic scopes at your place.

You may be right about the cap thing, but I laugh when you guys think science is on your side when you are attempting to prove a difference doesn't exist, let alone making that claim based on the output of a couple tools.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby Lucifer » 13 Nov 2012, 10:59

If you throw a mica cap and a film cap (or ony other different pair) down the stairs, they sound different. :twisted:
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 13 Nov 2012, 11:46

Shiny_Beast wrote:let alone making that claim based on the output of a couple tools.


What tools should we be using? Wherein lies the difference?
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby Shiny_Beast » 13 Nov 2012, 18:52

we don't necessarily know, I thought it was obvious that was my point
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 13 Nov 2012, 20:54

But you're sure it does exist, right? Why? Does it involve extra dimensions, ghosts, angels, qi or maybe just our "super-accurate" interface with reality (that would be perception)?
Have you read this thread?
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby Shiny_Beast » 13 Nov 2012, 21:48

lol, most of it.

So if you can't measure on your oscilloscope it's supernatural, that's rich man...

no, not talking about ghosts.

My opinion isn't relevant to my point, but I personally think it's more rational to suspect there are sonic differences, so IMO the burden of proof is on you to prove to me they all sound exactly the same and that capacitance is the only thing that matters.

Explain to me how we can be so sure of that? If that's your opinion, fine, that's all it is. Every scientific test I've ever seen seems to support the oposite, whether anyone thinks the test is valid or not. What kills me is how the "all caps sound the same" crowd think they have the higher ground on this one, but I suppose that's typical of skeptical thinking for it's own sake.

Most of the credible posts on the topic I've read in these sort of threads have fallen on the other side of the argument, or at least somewhere in the middle. the "there is no difference" posts are almost always dogmatic, rely on intelleectual intimidation, and attempt to associate the concept of a sonic signature of capacitors to something on the same level as siting the loch nest monster (like your post did) as the main thrust of their argument.

You brought up ghosts, not me.

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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby FiveseveN » 13 Nov 2012, 22:45

Shiny_Beast wrote:You brought up ghosts, not me.

I suspected it would be the "it is intuitive that they should sound different" story.

Every scientific test I've ever seen seems to support the oposite

Which scientific tests?

So if you can't measure on your oscilloscope it's supernatural

That's not what I said, I asked if it can't be measured by the usual "couple of tools" then what other measurements should we take? You don't know where to start, yet you presume the results would be aligned to your worldview. How is that not pure argument from ignorance?!

The electromagnetic field does not care how you think it should behave.
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Re: The 'Sound' of Capacitors..

Postby Shiny_Beast » 14 Nov 2012, 00:06

FiveseveN wrote:
Shiny_Beast wrote:You brought up ghosts, not me.

I suspected it would be the "it is intuitive that they should sound different" story.

as yours is the opposite "story", you been suspecting this all along? I guess you've been doing this a while...

FiveseveN wrote:
Every scientific test I've ever seen seems to support the oposite

Which scientific tests?

Look them up yourself, you're going to want to research why they don't matter anyhow.

FiveseveN wrote:
So if you can't measure on your oscilloscope it's supernatural

That's not what I said, I asked if it can't be measured by the usual "couple of tools" then what other measurements should we take? You don't know where to start, yet you presume the results would be aligned to your worldview. How is that not pure argument from ignorance?!


Ya it is what you said, you mentioned ghosts, angels etc...

I didn''t presume anything, it's my opinion. You are way out of line here and putting words in my mouth, which is typical of someone arguing an unsupportable point, or at lest someone running out of valid arguiments, you have to cast me as something you can contradict cause otherwise you've got no leg to stand on.

I'm not saying they have to sound different because we can't prove they don't, give me a break and don't bother linking to scholarly wiki pages over this.

FiveseveN wrote:The electromagnetic field does not care how you think it should behave.

lol, now you have broken my heart, I really thought the world was going to shape itself to my beliefs. Boy, you even went to the trouble of italicizing the word "should", presunmably to underline that I'm somehow trying to impose my will on reality lol. I find that ironic.

Here's one for you

The electromagnetic field does not care how well you think you know it behaves.

btw, it's ironic you posted that last paragraph after reading my post, I'll let you try and figure out why.
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