Free pair PIO Bees, Pick up in Ann Arbor

st.bede

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you should offer a prize for just giving the test a try, a lot of people are busy... also, have a little questionnaire to determine musical training and/or engineering skills... one thing that is certain is training your ears help you to hear differences... however for it to really work you would have to do it randomly, maybe the local university music student population would work, you could use a random table chart to pick which class you ask for volunteers from...

no matter what you do the results will be interesting... :thumb:
 

jimbob137

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Maybe you could simply rig up a controlled recording environment. Record both and then you could get a visual mapping on screen to actually see with your own eyes what the differences are in the sound.

That way you wouldn't need trained human ears. A computer wont lie or be inaccurate.
 

David Collins

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David, what has been your observations with the bees vs the orange drops?

I mean, are you carrying out this survey to prove that bees are colouring the sound or because you yourself have not noticed a difference with them but interested to find out how many people can actually tell the difference?

Largely the latter, but I'm entirely ready and open to accepting the former if controlled blind testing supports this to be true. I've seen many tests and comparisons performed by others where clearly noticeable differences are heard, but have yet to see any I would consider ideally controlled and blind. I've conducted many comparison tests personally, with myself and many other listeners, and have yet to find anyone who can hear any differences once the tests are done blind.

This test is simply a refinement beyond others I've done, with improvements that I feel should offer the best chance possible for the player/listener to positively identify a difference between caps if there is any.

you should offer a prize for just giving the test a try, a lot of people are busy... also, have a little questionnaire to determine musical training and/or engineering skills... one thing that is certain is training your ears help you to hear differences... however for it to really work you would have to do it randomly, maybe the local university music student population would work, you could use a random table chart to pick which class you ask for volunteers from...

I have considered approaching some professors in the music school for a few moments with a class, but have not done so yet. As to offering a participation gift, that's just not in the cards right now. I've already invested countless hours and dollars over the years to research things of personal and professional interest such as this, and simply cannot justify any further costs for these pet projects. As it stands I'm simply hoping enough musicians of like mind and curiosity will volunteer their time for the survey as I have mine.

Maybe you could simply rig up a controlled recording environment. Record both and then you could get a visual mapping on screen to actually see with your own eyes what the differences are in the sound.

That way you wouldn't need trained human ears. A computer wont lie or be inaccurate.

I've seen others run tests such as this before, but they seem to be consistently rejected by many as inconclusive, based on the position that human ears can be sensitive to nuances not easily detected or revealed in computer graphs. The argument (which I do not write off as entirely invalid) is that whether the charts show a change or not, the listener knows with full certainty that they can hear one.

What I'm attempting to offer here is a chance for those listeners who have heard differences between caps to demonstrate this in a blind test, in an environment which I feel offers the the most ideal chance as practical for these differences to be heard.
 

jimbob137

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Maybe the answer then is to make some controlled recordings. That way you have the two for people to compare. But have 1 bee clip and nine other orange drop sound clips.
Post the wma. files up here, and bring the competition online. First to say which recording is bees wins the caps!

Set a date for the competition in this thread, problem solved :thumb:
 

David Collins

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I think I will have to put up some recordings online, though I may have to recruit my nephew for the recording and editing. Of course it can't be a simple 1 in 10, as that leaves a 1 in 10 odds that someone will guess right by pure chance. Rather, I would probably put it in to a youtube video with 16 clips in groups of 4. In each group one cap will be different from the others, and if the difference is clearly audible there should be no problem getting it right each time. If not, the chances of getting the right answer for each group would be 1:256.

Still, the in person test I think allows much greater chances of hearing a difference. No audio compression of course, or questionable playback system quality. More importantly, the player is able to switch back and forth between any positions at will to compare tones they suspect to be different. Video or audio clips may certainly be more convenient and allow for wider participation, but I think may also be less reliable, offer less ideal circumstances for positive identification, and leave the results more debatable however they may come out.
 

David Collins

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For anyone reading who does believe to have heard a difference between cap types - what playing environment / amp settings do you consider to be most revealing?

I've seen several do comparisons through a clean amp, and can understand the reasoning that this may reveal more subtle differences. Personally though, when testing noticeable differences in things like cap value, I've found differences to be clearly noticeable in overdrive and feedback (with the fundamentals faded away, leaving a less cluttered series of feedback overtones remaining) when no changes could be heard clean or at low volumes.

Just curious what situations others may feel most ideal for revealing subtle differences here. What say you, push it hard or keep it clean?
 

blamo

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cool. very interested to see the results.
 

jimbob137

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I think I will have to put up some recordings online, though I may have to recruit my nephew for the recording and editing. Of course it can't be a simple 1 in 10, as that leaves a 1 in 10 odds that someone will guess right by pure chance. Rather, I would probably put it in to a youtube video with 16 clips in groups of 4. In each group one cap will be different from the others, and if the difference is clearly audible there should be no problem getting it right each time. If not, the chances of getting the right answer for each group would be 1:256.

Still, the in person test I think allows much greater chances of hearing a difference. No audio compression of course, or questionable playback system quality. More importantly, the player is able to switch back and forth between any positions at will to compare tones they suspect to be different. Video or audio clips may certainly be more convenient and allow for wider participation, but I think may also be less reliable, offer less ideal circumstances for positive identification, and leave the results more debatable however they may come out.

Well I guess it's better for the statistical purposes of a survey to get enough participation. At least on here the guys are more likely to be knowlegable and have the appropriately trained ear.

So long as you can get high quality recordings there shouldn't Bee a problem ha ha. After all folks claim that the Bee's come through on the old records and such, and surely thats a pretty neccesary part of having them :hmm: What good is a tone that doesn't come through on record?
 

Mookakian

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For anyone reading who does believe to have heard a difference between cap types - what playing environment / amp settings do you consider to be most revealing?

I've seen several do comparisons through a clean amp, and can understand the reasoning that this may reveal more subtle differences. Personally though, when testing noticeable differences in things like cap value, I've found differences to be clearly noticeable in overdrive and feedback (with the fundamentals faded away, leaving a less cluttered series of feedback overtones remaining) when no changes could be heard clean or at low volumes.

Just curious what situations others may feel most ideal for revealing subtle differences here. What say you, push it hard or keep it clean?


I feel this may be a loaded question as some caps can help to make the break up point more pronounced or less pronounced, for the bee i would suggest anything from clean to break up point to crunch, the bass feels a little more reserved and there is a natural warmth so for distortion to me a bee feels almost saggy compared to say a ceramic/polly, which both seem to bring in some bite and clarity to gain. Pickups used come into play too.

Since you are focusing on the bee id recommend clean/blues/jazz or rock through a nice tube amp with a clean/crunch channel. Ultimately it would be great to sample a few set ups and do the high gain bee test as well.

Environment, well providing the room is a good size for the amp, just try to maybe keep the reflective surfaces...less reflective, even a sheet on the wall for example, the big hall sound may be cool in a track, but this is science darn it:thumb:

My 2 cents :)
 

David Collins

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Thanks Mook - just to put you at ease, I am genuinely looking for suggestions, and not trying to setup anyone for a "gotcha moment" if surveys happen to return poor results. One of the most challenging issues with these tests is the infinite variety of applications, from pickups and amps, to settings and playing styles. Testing every scenario would be impossible, so I'm just trying to find some good base points to start from, or a consensus on where changes are most likely to be noticeable.
 

Mookakian

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:thumb: I was a little nervous answering, thanks:D Its a pretty offer generous though, even the time in organizing the event is appreciated. And in the end, knowledge is gained by many :thumb:
 

Jakeislove

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David, if it were PIO bees versus modern mylar I feel most would notice the bees to be warmer. I've been reading here that a lot of Bees past '60 were mylar, maybe no one would really notice in that case.
 

jonesy

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Thanks Mook - just to put you at ease, I am genuinely looking for suggestions, and not trying to setup anyone for a "gotcha moment" if surveys happen to return poor results. One of the most challenging issues with these tests is the infinite variety of applications, from pickups and amps, to settings and playing styles. Testing every scenario would be impossible, so I'm just trying to find some good base points to start from, or a consensus on where changes are most likely to be noticeable.

As you already know David, various types of volume and tone pots (250K vs 500K etc.) with different tapers as well as wiring schemes like 50's vs modern, Strat wiring, Tele wiring, will also impact the ability to be able to discern one type of capacitor from another in a given scenario. And let's face it some people just have a better ear for picking out those types of subtle differences. But still a worthy gesture on your part and I commend you for your efforts.
 

Deguello

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It would be a good test if he wouldn't have thrown in the stipulation about leaving the tone controls locked at 10 during half of the test. If you play with your tone control locked at 10 you are not going to hear a difference, so what's the point?
 

David Collins

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It would be a good test if he wouldn't have thrown in the stipulation about leaving the tone controls locked at 10 during half of the test. If you play with your tone control locked at 10 you are not going to hear a difference, so what's the point?

I've heard many who do indeed claim to hear a difference with the tone control on 10, though of this I am especially skeptical. You may have missed however, that this test takes it a step further, and in the "tone on 10" session I will not be testing caps against caps, but caps against a straight wire.

Really it should be considered two independent and isolated surveys, but if I have the listener in the room I would like to take the opportunity to test this point as well. The issue being tested here is whether even the value of the capacitor has any influence whatsoever with the tone on 10, or if the resistance at the cap to the high frequencies affected by the pot is so little that even it's value does not become a limiting factor. Cap vs solid wire at 10.
 

Deguello

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I've heard many who do indeed claim to hear a difference with the tone control on 10, though of this I am especially skeptical. You may have missed however, that this test takes it a step further, and in the "tone on 10" session I will not be testing caps against caps, but caps against a straight wire.

Really it should be considered two independent and isolated surveys, but if I have the listener in the room I would like to take the opportunity to test this point as well. The issue being tested here is whether even the value of the capacitor has any influence whatsoever with the tone on 10, or if the resistance at the cap to the high frequencies affected by the pot is so little that even it's value does not become a limiting factor. Cap vs solid wire at 10.


I would be skeptical of that too...


I didn't miss the straight wire part, With my tone on 10 you could put chicken wire in there and I wouldn't know

Best of luck with the experiment, should be interesting
 

David Collins

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I didn't miss the straight wire part, With my tone on 10 you could put chicken wire in there and I wouldn't know

Thank you for clarifying that, as it is quite common for people to report an audible difference when changing cap values even with the tone on 10. My previous testing and experience has led me to the same conclusions as yours thus far.

You're right though, that maybe this should not be a deciding factor in the "free bees" test. Perhaps just four out of four in the bee v ceramic should qualify to take home the caps, even if none of the wire v cap tests are correctly identified.
 

jimbob137

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As you already know David, various types of volume and tone pots (250K vs 500K etc.) with different tapers as well as wiring schemes like 50's vs modern, Strat wiring, Tele wiring, will also impact the ability to be able to discern one type of capacitor from another in a given scenario. And let's face it some people just have a better ear for picking out those types of subtle differences. But still a worthy gesture on your part and I commend you for your efforts.

I think this is spot on! and even room acoustics are different. When you hear any sound within a room, you hear the room acoustics.

A controlled recording does mean that you loose some sound, and for all parties concerned to be satisfied that controls are strict etc. But the controlled recordings are the only way to get the best level of accuracy of control for the test. Only with controlled recordings can you make Bees vs Ceramics nearly the only difference, while keeping everything else at a constant. Playback audio equipment even matters and the room acoustics in the room where the recordings are being played back for the test. This should be headphones I think.

And ofcourse you will need to find a way to play the guitar at a constant aswell. Maybe build a $100,000 robot that can play with the same accuracy each and every time. The minute you use one other different piece of gear, or even stand in a different position to the amp the test just becomes invalid.
 

David Collins

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Point well taken. I'll see if I can recruit my nephew for some help recording. He got his degree in sound engineering through UofM, and I believe he still has access to their recording facilities, and has worked for a few other studios he may still be able to use. It may not be until after the holidays, but hopefully he can help me get in and lay down some reliable tracks.

And ofcourse you will need to find a way to play the guitar at a constant aswell. Maybe build a $100,000 robot that can play with the same accuracy each and every time. The minute you use one other different piece of gear, or even stand in a different position to the amp the test just becomes invalid.

Consistency of the player is indeed huge, and indeed one of my criticisms of tests in which a player has to stop playing and switch caps with alligator clips, or remove and resolder a new one, or any lag time where the player has to remove their hands from the strings for even a few seconds, much less set the guitar down come back later.

In this arrangement a player can keep going nonstop, running through the same lick time after time while an assistant can move the switch to change caps in real time without missing a beat. There may of course still be slight nuances affected by the player from one run to the next, but if the cap type has a definite effect on tone I don't think you could ask for a better chance at identifying it.

Edit: I have to add however that thought consistent recordings may offer a better control in some respects, it can also lessen the control in others. I'm quite sure that results would be met with great resistance if they do not return in support of noticeable effect. With no control or observation over the listening environment, some could (perhaps rightfully) argue that many participants may have been listening through their laptop speakers or on their iPhone, and tainted the results. Or if they can't identify a difference personally, it could be argued that the samples weren't recorded through an ideal rig or played with the right style or settings where the differences can most likely be heard.

There's no way to please everyone of course, and if results happen to disagree with someone's beliefs or predispositions on either side, there will inevitably scores of scapegoats for either to turn to. Obviously you're right though, in that I'll have to move these tests on to the web, as drawing the number of players interested in such tests in my immediate area may be too small a sampling pool to draw from.
 

jimbob137

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I think to be honest. If there is any legitimate difference between Bee's vs Ceramics, the differences should be able to be made to come through a tube amp in a recording. If this can't be done under pretty strict controlled conditions then I think that we can see the end of this argument.
Ofcourse it will be somewhat down to the guitar player to play in a particular way in order to reveal the hidden buzz about Bee's. But that shouldn't Bee too hard if it's possible at all to do so lol

If we do manage to bust a myth here, the demand on bees can go back down to more sustainable levels to iron out the market, and help keep Bee's for restoring like for like in Vintage guitars:thumb:

Now I only have one other test to compare to, which could possibly well just be a biased invalid test. But I did hear a difference in that test, although due to the quality of playback I couldn't be 100% convinced. It does however seem logical that a PIO cap would sound different to ceramics. They may do the same job from a mathmatical viewpoint, but it would seem that by the nature of a PIO caps construction, the caps themselves go through greater physical changes / or slightly different reactions going on inside the cap, and those changes logically could have an effect on the sound.
 

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