Friday, March 7, 2014

Mundorf Supreme Capacitor Review - Part 1

I have been S L O W L Y redesigning the crossover network in by Bozak B-302A rebuild project. I started out with Dayton Audio (read inexpensive) capacitors to keep down my investment knowing that all I was looking for was a solution to a problem. After months of testing, measuring, redesigning, retesting and re-measuring, the BW3 design surfaced as the best model for crossing the mid to the tweet.

I had a lot of luck with Clarity SA capacitors in the past so I naturally migrated toward these. Adding shunts to them (Vishay 0.01uF/200V MKP - the blue ones) made a huge jump in sonic improvement over the mediocre Daytons. But when moving to a planar tweeter, I could not get the sound "right."

Believe me, I tried a lot of approaches and even notch filters but nothing worked. Regardless of the design philosophy, everything made this fine driver sound like a cheaply-designed horn. One day, I dug around in my parts box and found some old Mundorf Supremes. The values were close - close enough to demonstrate to me IF the capacitors were the culprits, so I replaced a few of them. This was a VERY good thing to do.

The sound was immediately improved with another layer of the onion peeled back to the sonic truth. AND this was just one side of the BW3 that I changed. Saving up money, I replaced the other (smaller) side leaving one 10uF Clarity SA in the larger value side. Every time I eliminated the Clarity SA from the network, another level of sonic improvement followed.

Today, I received the last capacitor in the tweeter network, a 15uF Mundorf Supreme. Now this is NOT a cheap capacitor and needless to say I was hoping for the best but not really expecting to hear much of a difference at all. I was wrong - again. I flipped on the switch to the rig and listened to one track just as we were about to leave for dinner and what I heard was breathtaking. Nuances I never new existed leapt out from the tweeter. It is hard to describe the full impact until they break in so what I will do is just let you know I now feel I did not make a huge financial mistake.

So until they break in (I suspect a week or so should do it) know that I am happier than ever before with the sound of my humble rig. It is another step closer to the real thing and IMHO something you should consider doing once you get tired of swapping out your gear in the "amplifier of the month" frenzy.

Stay tuned for more...

Related articles:
The Vishay 1837 Review and Modification
Bypass Capacitors
Mundorf Supreme Capacitor Review - Part 1
Mundorf Supreme Capacitor Review - Part 2
Capacitors: All Things are NOT Created Equal - Part 0
Capacitors: All Things are NOT Created Equal - Part 1
Capacitors: All Things are NOT Created Equal - Part 2
Capacitors: All Things are NOT Created Equal - Part 3

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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I received an email from an individual requesting to post a comment about this article. Below is the unedited contents of that email.

Hi Philip,

I like to reply to your "Mundorf Supreme Capacitor Review - Part 1" from March 7, 2014.

You wrote that you had good results with Clarity SA caps but with a planar tweeter you couldn't get them to sound "right". Then you applied Mundorf Supremes and you had succes.

I am not as good as you on x/o enginering, all I know is you can change caps and hopefully improve on sound.

I am listening to a pair of Apogee Centaur hybrids: ribbon mid/high with conventional woofer. I was recommended Clarity ESA bypasses to better the stock x/o. This worked out very well. I got the taste of it and I wanted more. I decided to change a few caps with ESA's for a start. That just did not work, just as you experienced.

Considering the stock caps as old I wanted to replace them and was offered a batch of Clarity PX's. I consider them better then the stock caps. I tried the ESA bypasses on them, this again would not work. Also I tried changing just one cap in the high filter for an ESA. No luck either. Changing the PX for an ESA only works on the cap connecting the high filter to the actual ribbon with very good results, it's makes the speakers sing.
I honestly like the ESA for what is does to e.g. cymbals. But for whatever reason they don't mix with the PX's, it seems to me the positive properties get boosted beyond reasonable levels and it's very apparent and dominating, and narrows down the sound stage.

I wanted to investigate further and got me a pair of Mundorf Supreme bypasses, put them on the high-bank and they work miracles! I feel placing and seperation of tones and voices is crucial, and the Mundorf -as the PX does- provides it. The cymbals were not quiet up to ESA but the Supremes aren't broken in yet.

I think I will put more Mundorfs in my x/o, maybe replace a PX for an EVO and use the Supreme as bypass. The TinFoil Mundorf seem to be very good also and less expensive. Like you, my financials are limited.

You probably found it yourself, there's an interesting article about Mundorf here:
Seems they're mostly hand-made what explains the price tag.

With regards,
Rick Vansloneker

Thank you Rick for your comments and subjective confirmation on a similar experiences to my own. I have only one Clarity ESA capacitor (an 8.2uF) and have found it to be somewhat sterile sounding compared to the Clarity SA and the Mundorf Supreme. However, your Apogees - a seriously fine loudspeaker - has a very different tweeter and may benefit from this capacitor. As you so properly stated, it is the final sound that makes the choice correct. If you like what you hear, then you have made the proper choice; if you are still unsettled, then continue your search for that "right combination."

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