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Capacitor voltage rating vs performance


Carlspeak

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I thought I'd start this topic here in the kitchen because it's contentious subject matter and subsequent debate would most likely put it here eventually anyway.

The attached document is an attempt by me to add a new insight to to ongoing debate on capacitor performance as well as provide a large number of links and references that hopefully pull together much of the scattered information that already exists on the WWW regarding the subject material. Some of the links point back to threads that originated here.

I'm not an industry insider and thus what I've written represents my personal views as an outsider.

I apologize that all the hyperlinks don't work. The ones with spelled out URL's do. PM me and I'll send the orig. MS .doc where they all work.

I deleted the .pdf file attachment because it cannot be downloaded. 

PM me with your email address if you want a copy.

 

 

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I thought I'd start this topic here in the kitchen because it's contentious subject matter and subsequent debate would most likely put it here eventually anyway.

The attached document is an attempt by me to add a new insight to to ongoing debate on capacitor performance as well as provide a large number of links and references that hopefully pull together much of the scattered information that already exists on the WWW regarding the subject material. Some of the links point back to threads that originated here.

I just had time to do a quick skim of this. You couldn't find an objective difference between the $1 cap and the expensive one, but was there a subjective difference?

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I just had time to do a quick skim of this. You couldn't find an objective difference between the $1 cap and the expensive one, but was there a subjective difference?

That study was stsrictly a measurement exercise - not a listening one as evidenced by the test rig shown in the photos on the report.

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That study was stsrictly a measurement exercise - not a listening one as evidenced by the test rig shown in the photos on the report.

I must not have read you correctly. When you mentioned your desire to repeat the test, I thought your conclusions were based on your own testing. Sorry.

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I must not have read you correctly. When you mentioned your desire to repeat the test, I thought your conclusions were based on your own testing. Sorry.

They were, but based solely on the measurements. It was my own testing. Pls. read the referernced report embedded within the current post document to understand completely.

Thanks,

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They were, but based solely on the measurements. It was my own testing. Pls. read the referernced report embedded within the current post document to understand completely.

Thanks,

Well, now I'm really lost. Maybe you should just post the Word doc with the working hyperlinks...

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Well, now I'm really lost. Maybe you should just post the Word doc with the working hyperlinks...

Even if you believed this blather and took it at face value, instead of looking at the stupid line the guy drew but noticed that the highest rated cap had the lowest rated voltage except for one other tested, you would have to come to the concluson that there is no correlation between voltage rating and capacitor quality. If there really is a difference, it would be caused by some other factor(s).

Assuming the test was not deliberately biased such as by being a sighted test, it is flawed for many reasons not the least of which is the fact that more than one variable at a time is changing between one capacitor and the next.

Audiophiles probably don't like to be reminded that many if not most of the vinyl phonogaph records they prize most as the best recordings they have were processed with electronics that used paper and ceramic disc capacitors in their signal circuits exclusively.

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I thought I'd start this topic here in the kitchen because it's contentious subject matter and subsequent debate would most likely put it here eventually anyway.

The attached document is an attempt by me to add a new insight to to ongoing debate on capacitor performance as well as provide a large number of links and references that hopefully pull together much of the scattered information that already exists on the WWW regarding the subject material. Some of the links point back to threads that originated here.

I'm not an industry insider and thus what I've written represents my personal views as an outsider.

I apologize that all the hyperlinks don't work. The ones with spelled out URL's do. PM me and I'll send the orig. MS .doc where they all work.

Collom's writings are at least worth commenting on, as he is a smart and experienced guy. As has been said about a million times since 1985 when the tests were done, regardless of the verbiage and insinuation, his actual listening data showed no statistical significance. This despite his methodology not being "double blind" as the headline stated. It's not even clear he measured the actual value of the caps he was comparing in the listening tests or maintained even "single blind" controls. Further attempts to conduct this experiment again failed to show anything, with larger or smaller samples, with random or trained listeners.

"There are many threads spread across the WWW debating the significance of capacitor’s abilities to affect the sound quality of a loudspeaker."

Not nearly as many as there are threads talking about, "perpetual motion and free energy" or "colon detoxification and healing."

Carl, forgive my bluntness here: This effort was a waste of time in 1985. It most certainly is a waste of time 30+ years later. Bothering with these kinds of fringe issues does not further progress or understanding or fidelity in audio. Just the opposite. They divert attention and dollars away from meaningful improvements and potentially beneficial experiments. Thus, it's worse than a waste of time.... it's harmful. And, it is disrespectful to the people who devote their professional careers to investigating these matters in a careful, unbiased and systematic manner.

I urge you not to add yet more unrigorous, quasi-scientific "data" to the field, no matter how strong your urge to contribute something is.

-k

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywater

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion

From Wikipedia:

"Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions". The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away" —long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so"

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An interesting collection of them here: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/museum/unwork.htm

Fun stuff. There's obviously a conspiracy to suppress this information about Free Energy. Big Oil and Big Science knows that if this gets out, they are history.

Likewise, Sose and Bony are pulling their puppeteer strings to keep the masses in the dark and keep their wallets fat by using inferior capacitors. Why would Sonapanic want to spend $0.03 extra on a crossover when they can con the unwashed so easily and pocket the difference? Look at the attached graph. Stock market, or bad capacitor?? Coincidence? I think not! It's all so obvious once you get beyond the reality distortion field of the PC Meterosexuals and Ob-("ama")-jectivists.

Wake Up, Sheeple! The High End Is The Real Deal!

-k

post-100178-1267087406.jpg

post-100178-1267087430.jpg

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Carl, forgive my bluntness here: This effort was a waste of time in 1985. It most certainly is a waste of time 30+ years later. Bothering with these kinds of fringe issues does not further progress or understanding or fidelity in audio. Just the opposite. They divert attention and dollars away from meaningful improvements and potentially beneficial experiments. Thus, it's worse than a waste of time.... it's harmful. And, it is disrespectful to the people who devote their professional careers to investigating these matters in a careful, unbiased and systematic manner.

I urge you not to add yet more unrigorous, quasi-scientific "data" to the field, no matter how strong your urge to contribute something is.

-k

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywater

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion

From Wikipedia:

"Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions". The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away" —long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so"

Yes, you're forgiven Ken.

As I wrote, those are my views from my perspective. Did I tell any lies? Yes, the road to hell is sometimes paved with good intentions (or pathological science in this case), but I had no agenda to publish as HF accused Mssrs. Colloms and Harley of in an earlier post. Most of what's written in my document are observations of other's work which I have every right to comment on. I didn't advance the science for sure. But what I did do was consolidate a considerable amount of information on the subject of capacitors and their evaluations that is freely available to both the washed and unwashed to digest for themselves. And, I thought I presented a reasonable balanced view on the science vs pseudo-science debate.

I believe at least some of the 7 referenced cap evaluations on pg. 3 are from independent sources whom, I would suspect didn't have an agenda either. Then, can anyone answer the question I posed at the bottom of that page?

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Well, now I'm really lost. Maybe you should just post the Word doc with the working hyperlinks...

Here's a link to my earlier, referenced cap study where I tested the $1 NPE against a Hoveland.

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Boar...p;%23entry64027

You shouldn't take that work to seriously though. It's most likely more pathological science.

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Here's a link to my earlier, referenced cap study where I tested the $1 NPE against a Hoveland.

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Boar...p;%23entry64027

You shouldn't take that work to seriously though. It's most likely more pathological science.

Ok, now I remember this. I'm not an audio expert of any kind, but I have done a fair amount of work with instrumentation. If you feel your testing rig wasn't of sufficient accuracy, so be it, but the methodology seems sound enough.

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I believe at least some of the 7 referenced cap evaluations on pg. 3 are from independent sources whom, I would suspect didn't have an agenda either. Then, can anyone answer the question I posed at the bottom of that page?

In any conflict between peoples' subjective perceptions and the results of double-blind testing, I'd say the odds favor the perceptions being imagined.

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In any conflict between peoples' subjective perceptions and the results of double-blind testing, I'd say the odds favor the perceptions being imagined.

Perhaps there should be some discussion of what the voltage rating means. A capacitor is formed by two metal conducting plates with an insulator between them. The plates could be copper or aluminum foil and the capacitor can be rolled up to conserve space. The insulator called the dielectric has two important properties, its dielectric constant and its dielectric strength. The value of the capacitor is proportional to the area of the plates, the dielectric constant of the insulator, and inversely proportional to the distance beteen them which is the thickness of the insultor. The dielectric strength is the electric field stength needed to break the material down and cause it to become conductive, in otherwords to become a short circuit. Usually this could be a failure which results in an internal arc and consquent heating which might destroy the capacitor. This value is given in units like volts per milimeter. A capacitor rated at 100 volt mean that you can put 100 volts between the plates and expect that the dielectric will not break down. To increase the voltage rating of a capacitor, you can make the insulator thicker but if you do that you will have to make the area larger to compensate for the greater distance between the plates. Another alternative is to use an insulating material that has a higher dielectric constant and higher dielectric strength. This explains the variation in the physical sizes for the same ratings.

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<<"Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions". The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away" —long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so">>

Sounds like the definition of 'Man-caused Global Warming.'

(Sorry--couldn't resist. Not looking to start a political argument, just looking to introduce a little humor.)

Steve F.

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Perhaps there should be some discussion of what the voltage rating means. A capacitor is formed by two metal conducting plates with an insulator between them. The plates could be copper or aluminum foil and the capacitor can be rolled up to conserve space. The insulator called the dielectric has two important properties, its dielectric constant and its dielectric strength. The value of the capacitor is proportional to the area of the plates, the dielectric constant of the insulator, and inversely proportional to the distance beteen them which is the thickness of the insultor. The dielectric strength is the electric field stength needed to break the material down and cause it to become conductive, in otherwords to become a short circuit. Usually this could be a failure which results in an internal arc and consquent heating which might destroy the capacitor. This value is given in units like volts per milimeter. A capacitor rated at 100 volt mean that you can put 100 volts between the plates and expect that the dielectric will not break down. To increase the voltage rating of a capacitor, you can make the insulator thicker but if you do that you will have to make the area larger to compensate for the greater distance between the plates. Another alternative is to use an insulating material that has a higher dielectric constant and higher dielectric strength. This explains the variation in the physical sizes for the same ratings.

Here's something I didn't know. Capacitance value can depend on voltage and frequency of the signal. To my knowledge, nobody talking audio has done any meaurements which doesn't mean that they haven't been done, I just don't know about them. They may be insignificant in capacitors for audio use. Something tells me if they mattered, we'd see it in the advertisng literature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitance

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Something I'd not considered before and it may be of no consequence. A Capacitors charge/discharge (RC time constant) is only considered linear to 80% charged/discharged if I remember correctly. Properly, none of the RC cycle is actually linear, just close. Is it possible or reasonable what some people claim to hear is actually due to a more linear response when using caps with a higher voltage rating? A small enough section of a curve can be calculated as a straight line.

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Here's something I didn't know. Capacitance value can depend on voltage and frequency of the signal. To my knowledge, nobody talking audio has done any meaurements which doesn't mean that they haven't been done, I just don't know about them. They may be insignificant in capacitors for audio use. Something tells me if they mattered, we'd see it in the advertisng literature.

If for some reason I decided that a speaker needed to be recapped, if the original cap is rated at 250V I would use 250V replacements. Did the original designers pick the original volt ratings because it made a difference in sound, or are they just what's needed to ensure that things won't explode? I don't know, but I'm not taking any chances...

I do have one possibly amusing anecdote. Many years ago, an EE I worked with used 100V caps in all his prototypes even though it was probably 20X the expected load. When I asked him about it, his reply was, "have you ever tried to hand solder 50 of those little 5V caps?"

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Yes, you're forgiven Ken.

As I wrote, those are my views from my perspective. Did I tell any lies? Yes, the road to hell is sometimes paved with good intentions (or pathological science in this case), but I had no agenda to publish as HF accused Mssrs. Colloms and Harley of in an earlier post. Most of what's written in my document are observations of other's work which I have every right to comment on. I didn't advance the science for sure. But what I did do was consolidate a considerable amount of information on the subject of capacitors and their evaluations that is freely available to both the washed and unwashed to digest for themselves. And, I thought I presented a reasonable balanced view on the science vs pseudo-science debate.

I believe at least some of the 7 referenced cap evaluations on pg. 3 are from independent sources whom, I would suspect didn't have an agenda either. Then, can anyone answer the question I posed at the bottom of that page?

I think you are doing a bad thing, that is wrong on many levels.

- You are citing an old, failed study in the guise of an appeal to authority.

- You are editorializing in a biased way, when claiming to "show both sides."

- You are cherry-picking the data, and have not met very high standards for researching the body of available literature.

- You are attempting to raise the profile of some buddies, people at the fringe of the fringe, clueless. self-promoting and sloppy experimenters, by including them in a list along side real names.

- You are stirring up a substantially dead issue so that a novice reader might think it is an important one, like one might do by publishing hundreds of "Letters to the Editor" from the 1940's and 50's about how Einstein was wrong, adding in a few new YouTube wackos to make it seem relevant.

- You break or ignore important protocols for assuring data integrity and you dismiss this knowingly and causally.

This is bad, bad stuff. I continue to urge you to discard or fix your paper. I like you personally, and would be happy to help you get it into better form, regardless of your final conclusion. But, what you have now is not good. Not justifiable. Not helpful. Maybe good for your rep in a small circle, but that's no excuse to damage the hobby.

-k

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Something I'd not considered before and it may be of no consequence. A Capacitors charge/discharge (RC time constant) is only considered linear to 80% charged/discharged if I remember correctly. Properly, none of the RC cycle is actually linear, just close. Is it possible or reasonable what some people claim to hear is actually due to a more linear response when using caps with a higher voltage rating? A small enough section of a curve can be calculated as a straight line.

I don't think so. For a 100 volts cap that would be 80 volts. The power delivered to an 8 ohm load would be 800 watts peak or 560 watts RMS. It would be double that for a 4 ohm load. The only capacitor that could conceivably see that kind of voltage in a home audio system is the shunt capacitor across a woofer. Therefore 100 volts is plenty. I've never seen even a 50 volt NPE fail from overvoltage in actual use. I have no reservation about using 100volt NPEs myself. That's what I used to recap my AR9s and I am very pleased with the results. I did not recap the woofer section however, I left the original cans alone. I didn't notice their voltage rating when I had the opportunity to look at them.

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I don't think so. For a 100 volts cap that would be 80 volts. The power delivered to an 8 ohm load would be 800 watts peak or 560 watts RMS. It would be double that for a 4 ohm load. The only capacitor that could conceivably see that kind of voltage in a home audio system is the shunt capacitor across a woofer. Therefore 100 volts is plenty. I've never seen even a 50 volt NPE fail from overvoltage in actual use. I have no reservation about using 100volt NPEs myself. That's what I used to recap my AR9s and I am very pleased with the results. I did not recap the woofer section however, I left the original cans alone. I didn't notice their voltage rating when I had the opportunity to look at them.

As I was thinking. I wanted to broach the idea and let someone with an EE shoot it down.

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<<"Pathological science is the process in science in which "people are tricked into false results ... by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions". The term was first used by Irving Langmuir, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, during a 1953 colloquium at the Knolls Research Laboratory. Langmuir said a pathological science is an area of research that simply will not "go away" —long after it was given up on as 'false' by the majority of scientists in the field. He called pathological science "the science of things that aren't so">>

Sounds like the definition of 'Man-caused Global Warming.'

(Sorry--couldn't resist. Not looking to start a political argument, just looking to introduce a little humor.)

Steve F.

Joke or not, it wasn't a very good example. I don't think one could find a subject with a clearer and more overwhelming scientific consensus than the issue of anthropogenic forcing.

http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/

Of course, there is a broad spectrum of opinion about the details. But, out of thousands of researchers, only three or four seem to disagree over the main issues. Lately, even these folks are reconsidering some of their positions, given the very compelling statistical work that has been presented during 2009.

People aren't the only cause of climate change, but that have become the primary cause, it would seem.

-k

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