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    Exotic coupling caps

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    Tube Nube

    Posts : 642
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    Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:39 pm

    Does anyone have experience with such fancy pants caps as Mundorf silver/gold versus V-caps, versus ClarityCaps MR series?

    I've read high praise for the Clarity caps MR, but they cost about the same as Mundorf Silver oil caps. Mundorf siver/gold oil are about twice as much, and then V caps come in around Mundorf sgo price arena.


    Kentley

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Kentley on Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:19 pm

    I've had these in my SP-14 for a month. They are sublime - and this is a really good price: http://www.ebay.com/itm/190891186398?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
    I've nothing to compare them to other than the Russian PIOs. They are a real step up IF your system is well-tuned.
    The comparable V Caps are almost $200 APIECE. Yikes.

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:40 pm

    Hi Kentley,

    Thanks -- hey that's a good price for those.

    Thanks for offering your observations.

    $200 for the equivalent (valued) V-Cap is a big jump. I was reading an interesting discussion of various coupling caps by a fellow who went to a lot of trouble, by the sounds of it.

    Here's a link to part 1 of the 3 part article series:

    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/diy/0708/capacitor1.htm

    You'll see that he appears to very much like the caps you've just chosen. As I read it, I think he would say it is, if not the best, among the list of the very best.

    The V Caps, which he praises highly, are not to everyone's tastes. Maybe too analytical sounding. Something like that. Clarity at the expense of sterility, I think was his suggestion.

    Kentley

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Kentley on Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:51 am

    That's a worthwhile article, and as objective as is possible considering the difficulty of descibing sound. The author makes an important point: results vary tremendously depending on tube sets.
    Which brings us back to delineating the proper focus of our quest for improvement in our tube-based systems. Three elements seem to have the most electronic influence on our results - the gain stage tubes in our preamp, the coupling capacitors in the pre, and the gain driver tube(s) of our power amp. Which isn't to say that every other element of the setup has no impact. But it seems to be consistently agreed that these are the keys. At the same time, I would argue that a commonly - overlooked element like speaker placement is yet more fundamental to sonic results than anything one might accomplish electronically.
    Priorities........

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:46 am

    While we're on the topic . . . do you have a preferred method of speaker placement? There are quite a few theories / models.

    At the moment, I'm working with the equilateral triangle notion, with speakers (baffles) about 3 1/2' into the room, far enough from side walls to delay early reflections beyond . . . however milliseconds are needed to avoid "smearing", and listening position about 3' from the back wall for the same reason. It seems to work ok. Sound stage and imaging are decent, but I wouldn't say there's a "dramatic" impact of carefully placing them this way.


    Kentley

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Kentley on Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:18 pm

    That is a good starting point. Placement is dependent on the room itself and the relative "hardness" of the environment, which brings us to the next debatable element - room treatments. A whole other ball game.
    Depending on speaker, toe-in (facing tweeters more-or-less directly at you) is often advisable. If you are NOT hearing differences with movement of speakers closer/farther apart or closer/farther to walls (and I'm talking inches here!) that is a sign that your room may benefit from absorbing/diffusing materials. I have a small space (10'X13'X8') and surface treatment is crucial, as is some mid-bass absorption material. Here is a hint - you need spend $0 on treatment - rugs, wall hangings, blankets, bags stuffed full of newspaper - these can do a lot.
    My general advice tends to the larger speaker/deader room theory. It's harder to make bookshelf speakers sound big by keeping the room more "alive" than it is to start with oversized speaks and alter the environment until you reach satisfaction. And beware of myths such as "you must keep the area behind and between your speakers open". It's almost universally accepted "truth" yet it is completely wrong. Our eyes wish the soundstage to appear empty, but our ears are better at making the illusion of a coherent stage better when the interaction between L and R is at a minimum. I'll stake my tweeters on that.
    It's easy to forget that stereo is an illusion, created more-or-less skillfully by the recording engineer. He, optimally, gives us all the ingredients necessary. We shouldn't attempt to improve on his work. I suppose my next project should be constructing a near-anechoic chamber....but.....

    tubes4hifi
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by tubes4hifi on Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:39 pm

    I tried to post about 5 minutes ago and then it disappeared!
    Tube Nube - out of around 20 people I know who have tried the Mundorf silver-oil PIOs, 100% agree they were well worth the money!
    They are about 25% less than the SGOs, the only difference is 1% gold.
    Also, here is a quote from someone who did some very extensive capacitor listening tests . . .

    I finally did some proper comparisons between these two capacitors, and while they do share the musical Mundorf house sound, their differences are significant enough that one should not automatically think a system synergistic with one will be synergistic with the other. There are some who have concluded silver/gold is "not as good" as silver/oil, but I would not agree with that conclusion. However, they have sufficiently differing presentations and gestalt that yes, one "may" definitely prefer silver/oil in a given setup/preferences.

    One word I would use to describe the main difference is "liquidity." While both are remarkably smooth, silver/oil has more liquidity, not enough to obscure detail but just enough to "massage" recordings that are not perfect. As a result, I am able to enjoy more percentage of my recordings through silver/oil, which liquefies a few percent of the upper-midrange/low-treble spittiness and hardness inherent in many recordings. Because silver/oil makes this range less noticeable, the high treble/air becomes relatively more noticeable, but upon closer analysis, the silver/gold has just as much upper end extension and air.

    So once again, I still think silver/oil is the cap that most likely will have me keep listening to my (non-perfect) music collection instead of tweaking, but if your system is already leaning towards liquidity, silver/gold may be a better choice.

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:25 pm

    Thanks Roy!

    Kentley, My speakers have a rear-facing 12" bass/sub bass driver so that keeps me out from the wall, but maybe I'm too far out -- backs of the speakers about 1.5'. Hmmm.

    Kentley

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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Kentley on Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:57 pm

    Experiment!
    Most "scientific" literature about speaker placement is based on hypothetical data. It's only a place to start. Hopefully, your speaks are not so heavy or bulky that moving them is prohibitive. You'll probably find that it's a long process of compromise. I've been at work on my space for over 15 years, and no end in sight.

    Brap

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    Location : Lisle, Illinois

    Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Brap on Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:05 pm

    While building another amp last year (OTL) is came into some spare change and decided to upgrade my ST-70 with the Mundorf SGO caps. Previously I had the Russian PIO's. That in itself was a real change in what you have termed as liquidity in my vinyl. I was very impressed. I then went a bit further and upgraded my cart to an Ortofon Quintet Bronze and now I am very happy with these changes so much and the detail / soundstage has opened up -- this is without replacement of my speakers or room corrections / tweaks which will be next. Also, I had an older 2A3 Joplin amp I built and went to the SGO's on that with very similar results.

    Tube Nube

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    Join date : 2008-12-06
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:14 pm

    So I've happened onto a phono kit that was incomplete--prettu much all the caps were missing, and all the diodes. I thought I'd risk building it, and so Ive ordered the Mundorff SGO caps. Of course I won't know how it would have sounded stock, but I'm glad to think the SGOs probably werent a bad choice.

    Brap

    Posts : 83
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    Age : 61
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Brap on Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:20 pm

    Good luck and enjoy. Yes, the SGO's are not inexpensive but I figured that if I was going to build something, try the stock first and them let me ears tell me the difference. IMHO, I liked it so much on one amp, I re-capped the other two. These "pieces" will be handed down to my children so I what the heck, maybe they will enjoy the result too. FYI, on the chassis of my amps, I have logged in the build dates and changes with dates in pencil in the event someone takes these apart some day. Give them a roadmap. Found this on a Heathkit W5M my dad built in 1954 which I restored a few years back. Was cool to see his handwriting and notes!

    deepee99

    Posts : 1333
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by deepee99 on Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:08 pm

    Murndorf silver/oils work for me! I have two pairs of pre-outs, one pair using Mundorf Supremes, which are pretty darn good, the other using Mundorf silver/oils. I could live with either, but those silver/oils are magnificent. I don't think the 1% gold is worth the extra price. Gold is a superb conductor but it's about as chemically inert as helium unless you pour acid on it.
    As to speaker placement, here's a link to the Vandersteen 5Ac owners' manual.
    http://vandersteen.com//media/files/Manuals/5amanual.pdf
    Starting at the bottom of page 8 Richard gets quite carried away with the geometries, physics, geophysics, and astrophysics of speaker placement. Get out the old slide rule.
    Or you can just move 'em around until they sound right.
    Room treatment, aye, there's the rub. If one single, no worries. However, if one is a POSSLQ there may be aesthetic issues one must yield to that are not acoustically sound.




    Tube Nube

    Posts : 642
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by Tube Nube on Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:29 pm

    Along time since I saw that tongue twisting acronym, Dave! That's funny. No POSSLQ-WMBO, though she visits and does notice things like speakers and their placement. I swear, one area where small bookshelf speakers certainly punch above their weight class is in causing marital conflict with their conspicuous baiting of unrealistic expectations.

    Thanks for the link to Vandersteen's speaker placement method. That'll take care of my weekend!

    deepee99

    Posts : 1333
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    Re: Exotic coupling caps

    Post by deepee99 on Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:39 pm

    Tube Nube wrote:Along time since I saw that tongue twisting acronym, Dave! That's funny. No POSSLQ-WMBO, though she visits and does notice things like speakers and their placement. I swear, one area where small bookshelf speakers  certainly punch above their weight class is in causing marital conflict with their conspicuous baiting of unrealistic expectations.

    Thanks for the link to Vandersteen's speaker placement method. That'll take care of my weekend!

    My one and only beef with the Vandies is that Richard shoots for the bulls-eye. Set up the way he recommends, you have an effective sweet-spot about 18 inches wide in a room my size. Wander off much from that ideal and you lose the benefits of his design. If you've got a 30x40-foot listening area, well, that's a whole different story.
    What I like about my replacement Tylers is that I can saunter off into the kitchen or another part of the house and still get stereo imaging. They're likely not as good as the Vandies at Ground Zero, but sometimes the dog was sitting there, and he's old and I'm reluctant to kick him out of my chair.
    Being POSSLQ, we have a very bright room (ask Roy or Holger; they've been here) with framed glass pictures, a few windows, and a bloody hardwood floor we discovered under the 1950s carpeting, and no curing it. Lacking tone controls, I must use just the right tubes to tame this wild environment. Were I single I'd just nail up a few egg cartons in strategic places, stuff in some Electro-Harmonix bottles, and QED.
    On the brighter side, when I walked in with one of Jeff Jacobs' Technics RS-1506s several weeks ago she didn't seem to mind.


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