Thursday, August 9, 2012

Can you say poly-sty-rene?

As many of you know, I am a hard core tinkerer constantly performing surgery on my gear - all of it. In a pair of speakers I built decades ago, I used polystyrene capacitors on the crossover network for the tweeters with very good results. However, the source of these capacitors dried up and I settled for Clarity SA on the tweeters of my current system. While sounding superb in the midrange and bass, the SAs - how shall I say this - lacked the speed and inner detailing that a really high quality capacitor reveals.

Searching eBay, I found a few large value polystyrenes, 150 volt, so I bought enough of them to add up to the required 1.7uF. It was a moment to remember.

In a bit of background, I recently changed out the failed potentiometer of my preamp (aka volume knob) and its top octave came alive. I was thrilled to hear all of the nuances I recalled from the finest ribbon tweeters now delivered through my present home system. But using the Clarity SA capacitors in the crossover network made that part of the chain a weak link.  What I heard before the swap was a mild sibilance at the crossover point, not annoying but definitely present.

After the swap, the problem all but disappeared and other interesting things happened. There was a more coherent sound stage and the far left and right corners were amazingly detailed.  Top to bottom balance improved and instrument continuity tightened up, especially the stringed instruments.  Drums had an improved attack where you can now hear the reverberations of the skins trail off into the echos.

Overall, this is one of the cheapest and best improvements to the sound of my system I have done to date ($20 US including shipping). If you are a tweaker, you may want to look into this.

Now, back to some really great listening...

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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