My Capacitor comparisons: Mundorfs, VCap, Sonicap Platinum, Auricap, etc

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Joey B

Sorry Ray , the question was for Jon :oops: I ordered some k40y's from Rutube but they have not arrived  :cry:. It's been over 2 weeks now , I hate waiting for stuff like that to arrive .  I am going to burn them in for two weeks and then try them as couplers on my nos DAC  8). I'm now running Mundorf silv/oil in both my DAC and Pre-amp . On well recorded music the sound is very liquid and layered nicely . If a CD is on the bright side(i.e. Herbie Hancock , The Joni Letters) music seems to be slightly ( I mean just slightly , not unlistenable )tipped up in the upper mids/low treble . I've read where the K40's are warm and transparent , so the two may be a good mix . :drool: or not  :duh:. My earlier question about Jupiters was not a troll , but a sincere question about which one you are using and if they are an updated model ?
 :wink:

TIA

Joey B.

Jon L

I ordered some k40y's from Rutube but they have not arrived  :cry:.

Looks like an AC member is sending me some K40y's this week :) 
The word on all these Russian caps is forthcoming, but you'd be surprised to know the Russian teflons have the sound signature you are looking for in upper-mid/low-treble.

Joey B

I know a guy in Des Moines that does a few mods for guys . I have heard the Russian Teflons in an amp/pre-amp  . While the Mids/highs were as good as I've ever heard , bass was MIA . The mods were to Tubed Anthem gear , playing on Paradigm sig's (2 way bookshelf) I will say this , I have no Idea what size cap he used , wheather it was undersized for the task or not. Maybe a K40y bypassed with a .1 or .01 Russian teflon would really be the ticket .

Your capacitor shootout is a great service to all us DIY'ers , we really appreciate your commitment and willingness to share .

Thanks Again
Joey B.

BobM

I've tried those Russian teflons, but only in a .1uF bypass to larger caps. They work really, really well in that capacity in both my phono stage and in my speaker's tweeter crossover. Nice sense of space and extension without any harshness. Of course, the larger cap is handling the bass portion of the signal, not these physically large Russian teflons.

I strongly suggest breaking them in for 200 hours before putting them into anything, just like any other teflon.

Enjoy,
Bob

Jon L

Russian FT3 Teflon Capacitor



I must first thank an Audio Circle member Gary (“GBB”) for loaning me the FT3 and K72 caps.  Otherwise, I would have had to buy on eBay and wait a month for delivery.  The FT3 is a great cap sonically, but its sheer size and weight can present a challenge in cramped spaces.  Its lack of traditional leadouts also forces one to make his own; I had to solder some leftover leads as seen in the photo above. 

This cap is exceedingly smooth, smooth, yet resolved like only teflon caps are.  This evenness and lack of glare, grain, or bite can be disadvantageous for FT3, especially in quick cap-rolling A-B comparisons, where a cap with a more insistent personality will attract more attention and spotlight.  However, after living with this cap for a long time, one has to marvel at its consistently musically-revealing nature and tonality.  It doesn’t wear its detail resolution on its sleeve, yet when one chooses to listen for it, the extension in both directions are impressive as well as actual detail.  Its trick is having equal resolution from top-to-bottom, so the whole is well, wholesome.  It conveys music in a flowing, suave tonality and is the crooner of the cap crowd. 
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Russian K72 Teflon Capacitor



Probably the most hyped AND maligned cap out there.  Some praise it while others despise it and write it off completely.  It is my understanding that FT3 and K72 caps are internally the same.  Here is an internal picture of K72, courtesy of the internet.



FT3 uses aluminum casing and thin tabs as leadouts while K72 uses thicker steel casing with solid poles as leadouts.  FT3 is glass-encapsulated while K72 is hermetically sealed, and due to the thick steel case, K72 is even heavier than FT3. 

One huge caveat to comparing K72 and FT3 is that the largest value of K72 available seems to be 0.056uF, while FT3 is predominantly available in 0.1 and 0.22uF.  My loaned K72 was the customary 0.056uF and FT3 0.22uF, and yes, the larger cap is “supposed” to be more bassy.  Lo and behold, FT3 does seem to be a little richer in the bass region; however, it was not a huge difference, and there is no way to tell how much of this is due to the uF difference or just the way these caps sound.  This cannot be answered today b/c K72 does not come in 0.1 or 0.22uF and FT3 does not come in 0.056uF. 

These caps do sound similar, but after doing A-B-A-B comparisons using music with and without bass, I can say they do have differences.  K72 adds a pinch of spice and “kick” to the proceedings.  Middle midrange to somewhere in upper midrange seems to sound bit more obviously “detailed” with K72; this leads to a little more tension in the listener’s shoulders when playing poorly-recorded material, i.e. the vast majority of today’s compressed and hotly EQ’d modern fare.  Some may even call it extra grain, glaze, or hardness compared to FT3’s relative softer rendering.  However, with clean recordings, I can see some people even preferring K72 for its more assertive, forward stance.  Combining that little highlighting with a bit tighter control, K72 comes across as hair more dynamic and fun.  Which Teflon cap should you purchase?  Well, both are cheap enough that I think you should try both, but do consider if you wish for a little more smoothness vs. forwardness from current setup.

P.S.  When you tap the stiff steel case of K72, you can hear and feel a hollow “ping” resonance.  I tried applying a strip of EAR Isodamp material, covering about 1/3 of the surface area, which attenuated the sparkle and “detail” just a tad.  I’m not saying one is better than the other, but depending on your tastes, a bit of damping may have a role.   
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Are You a Contender?

So, are these Russian teflon caps as “good” as the V Caps, Sonicap Teflons?  Well, I know some say no, but I don’t know how to answer that. 

In direct comparisons, VCap teflon does come across as having the highest highs and the most linear response across the range.  It paints the sonic scape with the finer brush, and its sonic signature reminds me of my beloved Sylvania 5751 triple mica black plate tubes for you tube people.  On the other hand, the FT3 and especially K72 have a more forward, bolder midrange presentation, albeit with a bit less refinement and a bit bolder lower midrange/upper bass range.  I enjoy listening to deep male vocals a bit more through the Russian caps while VCaps absolutely rule with high-pitched female vocals and instruments that live in the same range and above, resolving them with the finest of the surgical scalpel yet without any harshness. 

I really don’t feel all these caps should be given concrete rankings, like number 1, 2, 3, etc.  Let’s just say music can sound glorious with most good caps mentioned in this article, often coming down to tweaking tubes, interconnects, power cords, etc.
« Last Edit: 27 May 2008, 12:22 am by Jon L »

Jon L

Some Vishay 1839 caps and Russian K40 oil caps coming up soon.

Jon L

The Russian K40y paper-in-oil caps are up next.  Just for size comparisons, the following caps are of the same value, starting from top:  Russian FT3 Teflon, Russian K40y PIO, Mundorf Silver/Oil.


Bill O'Connell

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I guess size does matter especially going into tight places :lol:

 You've put together a great cap comparison, If I may speak for all here, Thank you

serengetiplains

Hi Jon, great work!  Just a note about K72 and FT3 differences.  K72 caps use extended foil lead connections, FT3s use two pressed aluminum tabs, each pressed to one part of the plate (I've seen a fingerprint on one such pressing surface!).  K72 leads are, in toto: capacitor plate --> zinc or god knows what kind of solder/spray --> silver wire --> silver coated steel or some other magnetic god knows what.  FT3 lead connections are, similarly: plate --> tab --> silver or silver-coated round bar pressed onto --> silver or silver coated outer tab, all non-magnetic.  K72s are hermetically sealed, FT3s are not. 

On the whole, these Russkie caps look well made.

FWIW, I've injected some K72s with Fluorinert (liquid teflon), with interesting results.  I'd call the injection experiment a success.  The resulting cap is a sibilance killer.  If you want to test a few, I'll send you a pair (low value).  I can also send you a pair of porous teflon in Fluorinert capacitors I had wound for me.  Far out holophonic beasts!

Jon L

FWIW, I've injected some K72s with Fluorinert (liquid teflon), with interesting results.  I'd call the injection experiment a success.  The resulting cap is a sibilance killer.  If you want to test a few, I'll send you a pair (low value).  I can also send you a pair of porous teflon in Fluorinert capacitors I had wound for me.  Far out holophonic beasts!

By God, we must be crazy.  But heck, why not, I'll try some of that craziness  :thumb:

Jon L

Russian K40y Paper-In-Oil Capacitor



I must thank “Bob B” and “Les Lemmars” for kindly loaning me these K40y caps.  After the usual rocky burn-in ritual, this PIO cap settled into a confident, natural sounding device.  There are some audiophiles who rank these PIO caps as the best of the Russian military caps, including the FT-3 and K72 teflon caps.  I may agree with this sentiment when it comes to utter naturalness and ease of presentation as well as the lack of a subtle “plastic” sound, which of course all plastic (film) caps have. 

Gladly, this PIO cap did not have an overly dark, laid-back sound some people may expect of PIO caps.  The important midrange energy was quite forceful and engaging as well as richly harmonic.  The rendering of textures was most reminiscent of a good vinyl setup, which is a good thing; and detail resolution was not lacking, either, but the extreme “air” on top was not as beautifully alive as with VCap teflons.  Speaking of teflons, the only real reservation I have about K40y is in the bass.  The VCap Teflon, K72, FT3, Sonicap Platinum all seem to have a tighter control over basslines with sharper leading edges and snappier decay.  K40y’s bass is more woody, richer, but just shy of the vise-grip crunch, so if you’re a death-metal or electronica fan, K40y may not get you to the promised land.

Overall, I really enjoyed the K40y.  Its raison d’tere falls squarely in the critical midrange, where tons of texture, bloom, and natural detail anchor the music without that subtle synthetic feel of many other caps.  Although the voices aren’t brightly spotlit, there is a magical highlighting and intensification without turning bright. 

Dare I dream of oil-impregnated foamed-teflon silver-foil capacitor…?
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Vishay Roederstein MKP-1839 Metalized Polypropylene Capacitor



Audio Circle member “slbender” was kind enough to send me some less-than-exotic caps to evaluate, including the Vishay MKP-1839.  His view is that most caps of similar construction, e.g. metallized poly, should sound very similar, no matter the brand or price.  This was a good exercise for me because it helped with the “Big Question” that must be lurking in the minds of many audiophiles:  are these expensive, exotic capacitors worth it?   

Vishay MKP-1839 is the axial version of the more famous Vishay Roederstein MKP1837 (a.k.a. ERO MKP1830), which is touted as a good bypass cap, and represents a well-made, inexpensive metallized poly cap.  And as it turns out, it also sounds good as a coupling cap.  Upon casual listening from a casual house guest, for example, it is unlikely he will jump up and down and scream, “Put back that other capacitor X ASAP!”

MKP-1839 sounds pretty well-balanced, without obvious peaks or valleys, and pleasant; it is less hard-sounding than, say Solens.  In fact, one can only wish manufacturers would use caps like MKP-1839 in their cheaper, generic audio gear.  So, why should you pay more for your cap?

The most important difference between MKP and some of the better caps is the weight behind the notes.  I’m not talking about bass weight or warmth but the fully fleshed-out, 3-dimensional harmonic energy behind each note, be it in treble, mid, or bass.  Lacking this, soprano, chime, flute can sound just 2-dimentional and thin, failing to fully make you believe. 

The other significant difference is in dynamics.  The MKP doesn’t sound too lacking until you compare to the better caps.  A “pop” or “thwack” via MKP sounds like a fighter who is punching to save his neighbor’s life whereas via a better cap, he sounds like he’s punching to save his own life.  Similar difference in microdynamics as well; better caps simply let the small nuances and subtleties to bubble to the surface with easier effervescence and life. 

I still don’t believe any of this truly answers the question whether exotic caps are worth it because the answer will depend on one’s gear, tastes, resolution level of the system, musical choice, pocketbook status, and simply how crazy you are.  Time to enjoy the music, either way, any way…

serengetiplains

Jon, I also have some Penta Labs (Custom Electronics) teflon caps I could send you ... 1uF 600V jobs.  Let me know.

McLanz

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Hi, I'm just perform a change in my EL 84 SE Triode amp. I change signal caps from wimas (MKP10 & 4)to FT3 equal value(0,1µ)

I can only agree with Jon L findings.
As I did several tests with mundorf silver/gold in Oil, Jensens, CDE, Russian PIOs, (in all positions Amp, LS or OutputSTAGES) --I'm pleased to see that other people achieve equal results, --although mundorf isn't my "absolut" winner but is a very very good cap.

First: The russian teflons really made a interesting developing while break in process. In the beginning they were very "slippery" :wink:  sounding. Not really precise - it felt like it was "over" open - a current "flow" of signal glided through my amp without any barriers.  But it was very artificial, it had a space sound signature... :lol:
MAybe somehow harmonic dist. or something else?!

Then they were quiet unspectacular - no glare, no detail - I nearly soldered them out...

I chose to play loud, that helped after around 1day -24h of playing they were finally ready to compare against that old sound of my wimas. (MKP 4 and MKP10).

Well, I aspected benefits and of course the wimas are not as half as good as those teflons!
In comparison: The wimas add a big harshness: orchestras are "hard and edgy" HiHats are very distorted.
Paradox - It lets you think it's "dynamic" but it's only a kind of impulse distortion. They miss the real tone and it's staging position.

The teflon is overall smooth and relaxed. Let everything just pass through without markeable glare, and as Jon said "from the bottom to the top" absolutly detailed. 

Staging differs from wimas: It's much wider and deeper, but it's not like a typical "audiophile" cap. There's  no hype in highs of a "forward" player - no adding of glare like the big mundorfs. It's simple "there" . Sometimes I wonder if I'm thinking or dreaming of the music or listening to it. It's signature is so undetectable (Subjective) that I just let the music come to me without questioning it.

Dynamics are bit taken back, I don't have my old feeling of power"filled" music when listening to famous tracks like "walking on the moon" from Yori Honing Trio. It's between abolutly souvereign overview of all instruments and a bit laid back, smooth playing.

Although I like that natural way a lot I also agree that I sometimes would like to have a bit more dynamic feeling. Also the highs are a bit taken back, maybe thats the point?! But I wouldn't sign whats the "true" sound. With all my test like resistors: I only achieved less "ting & ping" dynamic stress, and got more relaxed and totaly catching moments of music. More tone and clean harmonics, without primariely focusing the dynamic parts.

I just got jensen copper PIOs today! I'm very exited how they will play?

But my last word is: This caps is most catching and fascinating caps ever (For now) :wink:. There's  something totally different how they behave that "open" sound is great...I really respecting these caps.

BTW I would like to take off the aluminium body, as they are glass sealed. Did anybody tried this with FT3s??

so far --greets: from the continent Jochen

doug s.

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has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Ray Bronk

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has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Now we're talking more mainstream.

Ray

doug s.

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has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Now we're talking more mainstream.

Ray
mundorfs, vcaps, sonicaps are also mainstream, afaik...  as my almarro a205a mkll came w/hovland caps, i am curious about how they stack up...

doug s.

BobM

has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Now we're talking more mainstream.

Ray
mundorfs, vcaps, sonicaps are also mainstream, afaik...  as my almarro a205a mkll came w/hovland caps, i am curious about how they stack up...

doug s.

If they came stock then they must be crap. Go out IMMEDIATELY and shell out hundreds for teflons.  :lol:

All kidding aside, the teflons just have something that the others don't give you. I would suggest that if you don't want to replace a full 1.0uF cap with a very expensive teflon, then get some of these Russian .1uF teflons, if they will fit, and install a bypass over the old caps. You will get 95% of the cure for a lot less money.

Enjoy,
Bob

Ray Bronk

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has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Now we're talking more mainstream.

Ray
mundorfs, vcaps, sonicaps are also mainstream, afaik...  as my almarro a205a mkll came w/hovland caps, i am curious about how they stack up...

doug s.

You're right Doug F, but several posts back, people were offering to send him caps I've never heard of before. I'd like to hear John L's word on the Sonicap Gen I. The gen II, is from what I read a bit thin sounding. The Gen I is reasonably cheap.

Ray

Jon L

has anyone here ever had experience w/hovland musicaps?

thanks,

doug s.

Now we're talking more mainstream.

Ray
mundorfs, vcaps, sonicaps are also mainstream, afaik...  as my almarro a205a mkll came w/hovland caps, i am curious about how they stack up...

doug s.

You're right Doug F, but several posts back, people were offering to send him caps I've never heard of before. I'd like to hear John L's word on the Sonicap Gen I. The gen II, is from what I read a bit thin sounding. The Gen I is reasonably cheap.

Ray

Hmm.  No one has offered to send any non-teflon Sonicaps yet.  I do use them in my speaker crossover, but no, I won't be deconstructing my speaker crossover. 

I didn't include Hovlands in direct comparisons, but I have used them.  BTW, Almarro doesn't "come with" Hovlands as stock; somebody must have modded them.  The stock cap is a grey-colored, unknown Japanese polyester cap, which is not bad actually. 

Without going into detail, Hovlands tend to have a strong personality with lots of "apparent" detail, a cap you can't ignore, for better or worse  :scratch:

doug s.

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If they came stock then they must be crap. Go out IMMEDIATELY and shell out hundreds for teflons.  :lol:

All kidding aside, the teflons just have something that the others don't give you. I would suggest that if you don't want to replace a full 1.0uF cap with a very expensive teflon, then get some of these Russian .1uF teflons, if they will fit, and install a bypass over the old caps. You will get 95% of the cure for a lot less money.

Enjoy,
Bob
the hovland caps are not the stock caps that come in almarro amps; they were upgrades that came in the used amp i bought.  not super expensive, but not chicken feed, at ~$14 each for 0.047uf walues...

http://www.hovlandcompany.com/products/musicap/default.html

doug s.