Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm in Love - again

It is amazing to me that capacitors sound so different. I have been swapping out non-polar electrolytic crossover caps for higher and higher quality kinds for several decades now each time believing that I have found the perfect combination. Moving from NPE to a mylar made the sound smoother but soft. Moving to a metal-film mad the sound crisper but thin. Moving to a wax made the sound clean but back to soft again.

Well folks, we have stumbled again into the realm of the unexplainable: the paper-in-oil capacitor. Musicians who actually listened to their music found that PIO caps made their gear sound much better. Tubes found their way back into guitar amps and keyboards and ever since musicians could access PIO capacitors, substitutions and modifications were made. To them the results were a more pleasing, more melodic, less irritating sound.

High-end gear sometimes uses PIO caps and other times a variety of other esoteric combinations. Rel Caps are favorites of Audio Research and Teflon caps commonly found as shunts for a variety of other metal-film brands. But the lowly PIO has found its way into more and more of my gear after a brief revelation as a shunt in the crossover network of my speakers.

While PIO caps are not the end, IMHO they are pretty close to perfection. But from which manufacturer would YOU choose? Mundorf? Angela? Amp-Ohm? Obbligato? Jensen? Deuland? I suspect that your funds would dictate your choice since the prices of these types of capacitors are extraordinarily high.

Consider the surplus market. For decades, the Russians produced spectacular capacitor products and the PIOs are no different. The series I lean toward is the K40Y-9. When used as tiny shunts (1/100th the value or less) across your existing signal-path capacitors, these little gems completely change the way they sound. And replacing them for a 1:1 value produces striking results.

So, if you want to make a huge change in your gear, try adding the 200V version of the K40Y-9 as a shunt to your crossover network's midrange LPF or your tweeter's HPF. If you are brave, hack into your preamp or amp and do the same for the input/output coupling caps. You just will not believe how spending a few dollars for 0.015uF caps (and waiting 30 days to get them) can transform your listening pleasure.

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 by purchasing one of my eBooks or through a PayPal donation, 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 (like that of the Discovery Channel), it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

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