Capacitor Snakeoil: Can you hear a difference?

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by 22Frets, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. MiniB

    MiniB Senior Member

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    No I got your point, I don't think you're getting mine that the conditions/applications that we're judging by aren't identical to those that have deemed them identical mathematically/scientifically. We're not playing 1kHz sine waves or sweeps through scopes or what have you...there's the change. I would say we need to do that as consistently as possible to truly know if there are noticeable and measurable differences between a change in materials of the same capacitance values in that usage, not the conditions already tested.
     
  2. GBLEV

    GBLEV Senior Member

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    This is the biggest crap explanation ever given on this forum. First, your eyes and ears work nothing alike. That's like saying your fingers and toes function the same because they are extremities with nerve endings. What it sounds like to me, is that your are trying to say that the price someone pays for something determines the outcome of what they believe, or percieve. This may be true of an ugly pink shirt some dude paid a lot of money for to impress his girlfriend, but in the matter of human ears, and how we precieve sound, it doesn't work like that. Your ears are not coerced by your wallet.
    When it comes to a waveform, like the one that is created from the vibrations of strings once they are plucked, or strummed, and then converted into an electrical signal, via the pickups, every little componet that signal touches or goes through adds, or takes away something from that original signal. Whether it be by the material which the componet is made from, or the value of capacitance, or resistance that is met along it's path to becoming a molecule (which is the end result of the signal after it is pushed through the speaker of your amp, then that molecule starts hitting other molecules and by way of compression and rarefaction your audible sound is created.) All of this has a dramatic effect and input on what we percieve as the final sound. So when elements like air pressure, and humidity, which are intangible things that can't be seen, can completely change the sound you hear, your going to believe that a componet, which is in the signal chain, made up of different materials can't be heard? For all of you nay-sayers out there try telling that to a Mastering engineer who can decipher the difference of a 1/2 dB in total loudness of a waveform. Or uses a certain compressor over another because of it's sound it has like no other. I will admit, that not everyone has ears like a Mastering engineer, but with something as simple as these little EQ's known as capacitors, you don't need to. Human hearing frequency range is from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but that doesn't mean everbody can hear all of those frequencies the same. Some people just have better hearing than others do. So instead of trying to explain away something you don't understand, because you haven't had the opportunity to experience it, or maybe you just haven't been equipped to percieve it, don't assume everone is like you. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or isn't true.

    And if you think the only difference in sound is only in the value of the cap, I would guess your experiences are somewhat limited with PIOs'. My experiences with PIO's aren't vast, but diverse enough to come up with an experienced viewpoint of understanding there is a difference in sound between the caps I have had a chance to experience. Such as some real vintage Sprague Bee's (which I got off ebay for $20), the Russian K40-Y9 (the grey ones) and the Jensens, and some vintage Sprague Orange Pacers (not PIO). A diverse enough group of caps I have from the 50's, 80's and CP to see how different they do sound.

    I would say the Jensens are closest to the vintage Bee's in tone from my experience. For those who want to know what caps sound close to vintage Bee's. The Jensens and Bee's sound very similar, with the Jensens sounding a little smoother, and a little brighter. In fact, I like the Jensen's better in the neck pup. They are a little creamier sounding than the vintage Bee's in the neck position. I've tried both .022 and .015 values with the Jensens, and K40-Y9 in the neck, and .022 for the Bee's. But for my taste in the neck, I like the Jensen and liked them a little better.than the vintage Bee. I didn't care too much for the K40-Y9 in the neck. The K40-Y9 is just too dark sounding, both the .015 (compared to the other .015 value), and the.022 (compared to the other .022's).

    As for the bridge, I preferred the vintage Bee. It has this nice thick mid-range punch, that was a little more gritty sounding, that sounded just right for me. The Jensen was a little too smooth for my tast in the bridge, however, it was a little more open sounding and it also had a nice mid-range sound, but not a punchy as the Bee. The K40-Y9 was very honky and dirty sounding in the bridge, not as clear as the other two, and a little darker, and not much punch to it at all. If I didn't have the vintage Bee's, I would definately go with the Jensens. The Russian K40-Y9 are a little darker and more mid rangy and not as vibrant. They just don't sound as good as the other two did in my LP. Don't get me wrong, I did like them, but not as well as the other two PIO's I am comparing here. I do like them better than the Orange Pacers, which I will describe next. I didn't add them to this comparison, because they were not PIO's.

    I also tried some some vintage .022 Sprague Orange Pacers from the 80's (I think) that I have, and I'm not exactly sure what they are made of, but I know they are not PIO, and they were very transparent sounding when I tried them out. They didn't have that vintage sound, the mid range punch you get with the PIO's, and were pretty clear, bright, and open sounding. but kind of bland.

    As far as loudness goes, there wasn't much difference in any of the caps I talked about. They all tapered real smooth when rolling down both, the volume and tone controls. Also, when rolling back the tone control, they were all pretty comparable volume wise, and as far as tone wise, the same characterlistics as above would apply to their rolled back quality. Still with Russian beings the darkest, the Jensens being the smoothest and had the best woman tone, IMHO.and the vintage Bee's were pretty good, just not as smooth as the Jensens, and the Pacers being the most bland.

    If there are some of you who haven't experimented with changing caps, I strongly urge you to and see for yourselves. It's the probably one of the least expensive mods you can do to your guitar that is 100% reversable. Then you can judge for yourself the actual differences in the sound instead of trying to rely on your sound card, and some crappy youtube video to determine differences in sound of capacitors. Then you won't have to believe in snake oil or ear wax theories, or whatever else you have come to trust other than the truth.
     
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  3. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Wow, you start off with a pretty bold statement and then offer up absolutely nothing in terms of evidence, only your opinions. The eyes work very much like the ears in that we ultimately see and hear with our mind (eyes and ears are just transducers) and our mind might very well mighty be coerced by our wallet or a million other things. This stuff has been documented too many times for you to claim it ain't so.
    And that 1/2 dB you speak of doesn't require golden ears to be detected, despite what wikipedia says.:cool:
     
  4. MiniB

    MiniB Senior Member

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    You can tell the difference dropping them on the table.


    Or is that pickup rings?
     
  5. p90fool

    p90fool Senior Member

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    I think even the most cynical pragmatists on here would admit in their weaker moments that ears and wallets can, shall we say, have a certain interdependence.

    :D
     
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  6. NovaSDF

    NovaSDF Senior Member

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    I hate being rude before I've had my coffee - but allow me to address the ignorance of your argument.

    The ears and eyes do not function alike, in the sense that one is about sight and the other about hearing. However, what you are totally disregarding in your petty little rant is that they are both "senses" which are connected to a highly subjective mind. All of the senses; hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touch; can be routinely fooled by the mind, whether you choose to admit that or not.

    This is why good science must disregard anything that is not measurable or which can be verified by observations that are repeatable in a double-blind experiment. None of that has been put forth here.

    What we have here is a bunch of passionate people who have invested their time/money into something that they believe will make their guitar sound better. Nobody likes to be a fool, so it's difficult to admit that something you have believed in for years may be incorrect - that's simply human nature.

    The fact that, to put it simply, you believe that people are not "subjective" by nature may well be one of the most moronic statements I've read in quite some time. Sad, really.

    You then disregard legitimate electronics physics (which make a compelling argument that there is no difference in a guitar based on how the capacitors function in that circuit - and the fact that all the signal that flows through them goes to ground) and instead offer me up another argument that "my ears aren't good enough to hear the difference." Again, you want me to disregard science and accept faith as an argument.

    Even the most experienced of engineers with the most talented ears is still working with a subjective brain. They will often hear what they perceive they hear. To them, it is undoubtedly real because they "hear" it. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it real, only real to them.

    The rest of your post is simply a subjective assessment of what you think you hear in different caps.

    So in the end, nothing new and nothing that advances the search for truth.

    Oh well.
     
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  7. MiniB

    MiniB Senior Member

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    I'm not sure, but I think studies have concluded that smell is the most 'reliable' of our senses.





    And some of this is starting to stink. ;)
     
  8. MiniB

    MiniB Senior Member

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    I'd mentioned this before, see if you think there's any merit (even hypothetically) to this thought...

    Preface by saying that I agree, in that the scientific testing and data we have so far is reliable, consistent, and conclusive in and of itself. However, I'm not sure it's directly correlative to the conditions and usage with which we are trying to judge. I.e...in a guitar and through amplifiers with interactivity and response to player dynamics, as opposed to sine waves and sweeps. So as sound and accurate as the science is so far, it's not necessarily 'universal' in conclusiveness yet, so to speak.

    Thus, we'd probably have to expand testing to match these conditions, and somehow have it be consistent from test to test. Maybe some sort of mechanical guitar-playing machine or what have you. I think that it is at least scientifically responsible to open the possibility that there's more to be discovered, and not dismiss it based on the comparatively narrow set of conditions we've tested so far. There just might be something in there that so far hasn't been tested/measured under the same conditions. Now, obviously we might do it, and it might turn up exactly the same....but we can't know for sure until we've actually done it.
     
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  9. GBLEV

    GBLEV Senior Member

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    If were only that simple, my opinion, no. Years of studying, yes. Besides there is plenty of clips up on the internet, and this forum, where you can clearly hear a difference. But then again, like I stated earlier, not everyone can hear the same thing no matter what they believe. Because not everyone has the same strength of hearing.

    The only real eveidence that you need, is to go and do it for yourself. Audible test are better experienced than talked about.

    How about a person who is far sighted? Does that mean the person also has trouble with determining the depth and location of a direct sound source?

    We don't see and hear with our minds, you got it backwards. The mind can only interpert what the ears and eyes tell it. I guess your forgetting about the muscles in the inner, the Tympani and Stapes that pick up vibrations, and air pressure then converts this information into a signal that the brain can understand and then rationalize it. Same with the eyes, only a completely different system. So no, they don't work alike, and your brain doesn't react to the information it recieves from the eyes and ears the same.

    Are you familure with psychoacoustics? And do you understand what center image is in a L & R stereo image? If so, then you would understand that these things often trick the brain, causing it to believe something is where it isn't. It is a concept that has been used on every record since the first days of recording.

    Where is there any documentation on this? There is no emperical evidence that the "cost" of something has ever tricked the brain into believing what it has percieved to be real is different than what it really is. That's more along the lines of denial, someone in complete and utter denial that they spent too much money on something they know they shouldn't have. There is nothing in this world that can measure this kind of stupidy in that way. If so, a lot more people would be going to school to be a psychologist, and cash in on such a new invention.

    You go to Best Buy and buy a certain bands CD for $19.99, and I go to Wal-mart and buy the exact same CD of the same band for $12.99, does that mean your CD sounds better than mine? Does it have more clarity and bass than mine because you paid more? Do you think you brain believes that? Could your ears be tricked and your brain convinced that the two were recorded differently and yours is better because you paid more? Really?

    You may read wikipedia, but it isn't a credible source and not recognized by Colleges and Universities alike. The reality of it is a 1/2 db isn't much, and your right, it doesn't take golden ears to decipher it, but the average person would have a hard time determining the difference of a 1/2 dB of gain in a waveform audibly. A 1/2 dB is nothing for a Mastering Engineer, and I used it loosly. It is known in the industry that there are some Mastering Engineers who have been able to tell the difference of .10 dB, which is astonishing. But a 1/2 dB, all of them can with no problem.

    Clearly you missed my point.
     
  10. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Let's just talk about the hearing with our mind thing for now.
    I recently got a phonecall. Not knowing who it was and no caller ID display I answered the phone and the voice on the other end said :Hey, it's me, wow, we haven't spoken in decades, how've you been? Are you coming to the class reunion?
    I replied "Who is this?" since I did not recognize the voice. Telephone signals are very bandlimited and datacompressed and speech is reduced to what most engineers deem acceptable when it comes to "recognizable speech".
    The caller was perplexed and responded "It's me, Norbert, we were in the same grade in Highschool and used to hang out ALL THE TIME!!!."
    As he mentioned his name I immediately recognized the voice. What happened? After learning the name of the caller and having a reference my brain immediately proceeded to reconstruct the missing detail of audio based on the 'Memory" on file. This is just one example of how our mind processes the incoming sensory input by comparison and "knowing about the source" will directly influence our minds' analysis of the event. Google "McGurk effect" and see how the visual sensory input can override the auditory one. It's really fascinating how easily our senses can be fooled by expectations.

    http://youtu.be/G-lN8vWm3m0


    If the wine connoisseur "knows" that he's drinking a $70.00 bottle he'll state that it tastes good, once it's revealed that he was actually drinking 2-Buck-Chuck he's no longer sure what to think. That stuff has been demonstrated and tested over and over again, always with the same results. If he expects red wine but is drinking colored white wine then he'll describe the taste in terms reserved for red wine, and so on.....
     
  11. GBLEV

    GBLEV Senior Member

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    Dude, whose post was you reading?

    See pevious post

    This is why your "wallet is right" thoery would never stand up in an emperical science study.

    Never said that, nor implied that.

    Again, nothing I've implied or stated. You are taking what I said out of context, and rearranging it to fit an argument.

    Where do you live, space? Sound is the result of molecules hitting molecules in the form of compression and rarefaction (aka, a soundwave) and hearing is how we percieve those vibrations. Because these soundwaves create vibrations, vibrations that can actually shake (low frequencies) and break windows (high frequencies) this makes them very real. And, real to everyone else who listens their finished product.

    The Truth has been told and it is all around you, open your eyes, and tune in your ears, and believe what they are telling you is the truth, not what you think best fits your situation, or what you want to believe even when you eyes and ears are telling you different.
     
  12. GBLEV

    GBLEV Senior Member

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    Again, this is how the mind rationalizes and interprets the information the ears has sent it. This is more associated with percieved thoughts, than what is actually herd. Was it a deep voice, or high pitched voice? Was it loud or soft? Up front or far away? Distorted or clear? This is the information you get from a sound, not Who did that sound like. You understand the difference?

    You ears only tell the brain information about the sound. Your brain interperets what the sound is. You can't think with your ears, nor can you hear with your brain (phsyically).You can metaphysically hear with your mind, and it doesn't need the ears to do so. Because it is not a phsyical sound the brain is hearing.

    This is getting far off topic of capacitor snake oil. Sorry OP!
     
  13. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I'm not following what you're saying. The issue is whether the process of hearing is influenced by factors other than what the ear picks up and delivers to the brain, namely temporary changes in air pressure. Those factors can be other sensory input or preconceived notions and expectations or something as simple as snobbery. Agree or disagree?
     
  14. Armitage

    Armitage Senior Member

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    There's nothing funnier then hundreds of guys arguing if something sounds different, using all kinds of duff homemade theories, without actually spending the 5 minutes to try it out for themselves.

    With a simple mini-switch (you don't have to drill/mount it or anything) and two caps you too can have a valid opinion based on your gear and your ears instead of a guess.
     
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  15. GBLEV

    GBLEV Senior Member

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    You said it, preconcieved notions are thoughts not sounds.

    Do you think that you can listen to a squeeling high pitch and believe so hard that it is a rumbling low frequency, that shortly there after that sound will become a low rumble?

    You may choose to lie to yourself afterwards and tell yourself that a low rumble is what you heard, but you will only be fooling yourself, and you will know it. If you say you can do this, then you got bigger problems than your hearing.

    So maybe you believe you have selective hearing, this also is a thinking problem and not an ear problem. Because you are only remembering what you want to remeber about the sound you heard.

    Your hearing itself is not influced by thought. Your ears aren't going to react differently becuase you think differently. The thinking process comes in after the ears have done their job. The communication between the brain and ears is so fast, that maybe you "think" your influencing what you hear, but it is phsyically impossible. You ears are designed to work a certian way, only very loud sounds, air pressures, certain frequency ranges, and age will alter how they work over a period of time (excluding things like being underwater, in space, ect...) But not how you think.

    Now granted there are people who are tone deaf, and their ears don't work ike they should in hearing the complete human frequency range. Just like people who are colored blind, struggle to see a difference in red and greens.
     
  16. MiniB

    MiniB Senior Member

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    There is now. ;)


    :p
     
  17. David Collins

    David Collins Senior Member

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    Wow.




    ...
     
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  18. River

    River Senior Member

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    Yeah, it is.

    High-pitched squeal vs. low rumble? Give me a break. That's unnecessarily and irrelevantly extreme.

    Ears without a brain ("thought") don't hear at all. They just pick up signals that are utterly meaningless. The brain hears.
     
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  19. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    You make it sound like our ears are some kind of precision test equipment given to us so we can "hear" uncolored, pure sound or something. leave it to our corrupt brain to muck it up with "stuff".
    Nothing could be further from the truth. We have ears connected to our brain that are very sensitive to directional shifts ( that's why we have two of them and that's why they're shaped the way they are) because localization is important, it'll tell us where the predator is coming from before our eyes can see it (ears, eyes and all other senses have ONE purpose, survival). Phase shifts on the other hand are ignored because they don't tell us anything we need to know to survive. Our ears are only as good as we need them to be to give the mind/ brain useful info regarding survival issues, the brain/ mind will take the data and turn it into something beneficial for survival, being deceived by notions about superior PIO caps isn't going to get us killed so there's no evolutionary need to correct this "problem". It makes no difference in evolutionary terms whether we're being deceived by the price tag on that bottle of wine, so nature passes over that stuff.
     
  20. QReuCk

    QReuCk Senior Member

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    Well, sorry for interrupting this very interesting discussion about human hearing and other survival stuff but I will be back on topic.
    On a crappy earset I definitely can hear a difference in the video posted page 1. But:
    - for the first exemple, tone is definitely too bassy for the preamp. The earing is disturbed by all this bass hitting the front end and clipping. So the more pleasing stuff is stuff with less bass, things that should have more to do with striking the strings a bit easier than with any kind of capacitor.
    - second exemple is even more interesting in that when the lowest string of the chord isn't stroke (or is stroke really lighter than other strings), it sounds good, when this lower string is stroke too strong, it just sounds bad.
    - third exemple is pure mediums and trebbles, differences are still there but far less prominent.

    I said I did ear some differences. In this clip, sequences recorded with the mallory are more pleasing to my ears generally, but for some parts, one or another cap can stand out more. Actually, I can think of some imperfections in caps (residual inductance or DCR) that could help easing the bass a bit.
    On average, the tropical fish which should be a stronger difference due to higher cap value isn't "that" different.

    As a whole, I'm still not decided on wether or not there is an impact from cap material on tone as the differences I do ear might very well be explained by a slight difference in the playing and actually I do think slightly EQing out some of the frequencies up to 200Hz (which actually is a well known trick for helping a SS amp sound better in that near-break-up range) would probably go a lot longer way in improving that tone than fiddling with caps material.

    So is there a différence I can hear in this vid? Yes
    Do I attribute it to the caps? Still undecided
    Supposing I attribute the difference to caps, do I think playing with cap is the way to go? No, because when I hear this clip, it screams "please, ease off the bass!" and nothing in a cap spec tells me it will do so. It's even considered wrong by the manufacturer that the cap has this pleasing effect.
     

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