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A short history of the term -capacitor sound.

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

It was in the late 70s that the name John Lindsay Hood first came to my attention in the pages of the now defunct mag.-Electronics Today International[ETI].

In a series of articles introducing his new Hi-Fi amp design over a space of a year  John in a lead -up to his 80Watt[RMS] Mosfet power amp he went into great  detail about several issues one being his discovery of the different sounds of capacitors when applied to a music signal.

John listened on his own Hi-Fi set up to hear the difference. He drew up a short list [at that time 1980 exotic capacitors weren't available]

       The list in ascending order from bad to good is.





                                                    Electrolytic[standard type]

John was heavily criticized for this from the UK/US/Europe/Australia/New Zealand by other ADEs this went on for along time along the lines of-How could a man of his standing say this/I don't  believe it/ and worse.

It wasn't until another ADE -Cyril Bateman said enough is enough and set out to prove -one way or the other-if there was any truth in it-Please remember-Subjectivism is "not an allowed expression" in EE circles even though the whole human population listen that way.

In along series of articles circa-2002 in Electronics World he built and designed cutting edge test equipment of extremely low distortion and under conditions where DC is applied      to the capacitors and an AC signal is sent through them he tested all the ones John stated he tested subjectively .

        And guess what??--Of the ones John stated they were ALL in agreement with his results-scientifically tested. He did add "back to back" electrolytics as better than the standard ones and COG ceramic as having very good distortion figures.

            Did any body apologize ???-what do you think?

            Not long after sadly John left us.

            I miss his words in electronic magazines-I built his 80 W amp and other audio and test equipment.

            It all worked exactly as he said.

            For this alone John deserves his place in history. And I hope he gets it.

            In another post I will talk briefly on his ideas on Star-Earthing in SS Equipment of which John was at the head of.

post #2 of 34

well you will get shouted down in any audiophile forum for posting amplifier few ppm THD specs  - "THD is meaningless", "can't measure good sound"...


so it seems a little two-faced to then claim distortion measurements suddenly are meaningful in capacitors - when the same measurement shows beloved SE triode tube amps in a poor light



it also fun to think why there was such a "smorgasbord" of cap types in the first place - were closet audiophiles beavering away in giant companies designing parts for industry, sneaking "the good stuff" into products for the phone company, the military?


or just maybe generations of engineers with technical demands for various performance requirements in application where real $$ could be made drove suppliers to develop dielectrics, construction variants, created markets that could sustain industrial scale production of all the available cap types

post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 

Calm down! I am putting a HISTORICAL point forward

If you read my posts You will see that it doesnt matter how good specs are -its HOW THEY SOUND-

                              WE are biological human beings

                              We listen SUBJECTIVELY.

                              The part about Cyril Bateman proving John was right is meant for people like you who scream and shout -Specs count more than subjective fidelity.

                              Are you disputing the FACTS-I have EW/Wireless   World from 1980- 2006- What quotes do you want Yes I am a subjectivist and PROUD of it ! So what! does that stop me commenting on scientific figures?????

                           Closet Audiophiles????-So you think John Lindsay Hood was a "closet Audiophile

                            An EE with a whole string of university diplomas under his belt 

                            HIGHLY respected in the Audio Engineering field.-WORLDWIDE!!!

                            Stop acting like a kid and grow up!

post #4 of 34

not excited - calmly cynical

post #5 of 34

Nice anecdote of subjective experience guiding scientific experiment.


I wonder though how exactly Bateman's results correlated with Hood's impressions? Did "goodness by ear" correspond monotonically with a single electrical parameter?

post #6 of 34

http://www.amazon.com/Perceptual-Audio-Evaluation-Theory-Application/dp/0470869232 might be a start - although the next audiophile "capacitor sound" "listening test" that uses its methods will be the 1st


David Hadaway was somewhat earlier in print in Audio with high resolution capacitor distortion measurements for his peamps - 1977


I read the Jung, March "Picking Capacitors" series in the shiny newly delivered magazines, Bateman too


and know a little more history from many hours in the uni engineering library stacks


its amazing how much was done so early by the boys a Bell Labs - they wanted 0.01 dB filters, low distortion to make long distance telephone possible


starting with 100s of repeaters, and later increasing line capacity with frequency domain multiplexing


so they did work out a lot on feedback, distortion, distortion audibility and passive devices like capacitor dielectrics principles and properties that some keep putting forth as new insights over 1/2 a century later


and it still amazes that "Audio" is thought to be some magical domain, insights only come from "gurus" - many of whom are clueless about EE technology history, breadth, depth

Edited by jcx - 3/25/13 at 7:36pm
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

You cannot deny history its ALL factual.

 The problem with those that take the D.Self "line" is that the electronic equipment they design isnt for space travel or computers its for HUMAN BEINGS and many wont accept that so they are hypocritical.

                            In the 1970s when the Japanese learned that the West placed great worth on low distortion they manufactured power amps down to distortion levels of-0.002/3% thd-They sounded terrible.

                           A number of years ago a well known Audio Design Engineer wrote into EW when comments like yours appeared and said.

                          His Power Amps sold very well by various manufacturers even all the UK "golden Ears including AG. thought they sounded great.

                          A while later one of the "golden Ears" decided to do a technical test of it -

                          He was surprised to find it had BAD distortion figures in relation to other amps

                         and was "lost for words"-its STILL selling well because it sounds so good.

                          no EE could answer it too.

post #8 of 34

Calm down, Duncan.


Remember what Henry Ford said. 'History is bunk.'


Why not go away and design or build something, this is DIY after all. That'll impress us more than telling us all about the things 'no EE could answer.'


As a musician of 40+ years standing, I think that there's far too much made of the quality of reproduction. 40 years ago here in the UK we were all hanging onto the fading and hissing of Radio Luxembourg AM. We only stopped listening when it faded out completely. That's the thing about music. You don't need perfect reproduction to enjoy it if you love it. Guys that keep on harping on about 'sound quality' just don't love music.


As an engineer, I'm tired of listening to engineer haters. What they love is the sound of their own voices, and the reason they spend their time running down engineers, is that they don't have any designs of their own to talk about, and they're trying to compensate for it. If it wasn't for engineers, you wouldn't have any reproduced music. Do you think these systems were invented subjectively? Do you imagine JLH went away and meditated or prayed to the almighty and amplifier designs were thrust full-blown into his mind by God? If that's your procedure, it's no wonder you don't have anything creative to share with us. Sure, you can tell us about your 'listening impressions' of x, y, z components, but anybody can listen. How about putting them together in a never-before-seen fashion to produce something useful?


Catch yourself on. Jealousy will get you nowhere.

post #9 of 34

Radio Luxembourg AM - I feel old


208 meters if I remember correctly


listening under the blankets as a kid after lights out


getting some geritol now regular_smile%20.gif

post #10 of 34
Originally Posted by Fred_fred2004 View Post

Radio Luxembourg AM - I feel old


208 meters if I remember correctly


listening under the blankets as a kid after lights out


getting some geritol now regular_smile%20.gif

Been there, done that ... well actually, it was Radio Moscow for me on my Halicrafters. wink.gif  I'll also take credit for being an Engineer, but I'm a mechanical type, unfortunately for this forum.


What really bugs me about this thread is referring to "circa-2002" as "history."  Sheesh - talk about feeling old.


P.S. I'll take a good ale over geritol any day.

post #11 of 34

'...208 metres in the medium waveband, this is Radio Luxembourg; your Station of the Stars.' biggrin.gif

post #12 of 34

I can remember Radio Caroline it was only on part time the authorities used to hose it down to stop the transmission :-) 

post #13 of 34
Originally Posted by tomb View Post

  I'll also take credit for being an Engineer, but I'm a mechanical type, unfortunately for this forum.




Us mechs gotta stick together y'know biggrin.gif

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies.But tell me on Head-FI do the vast majority of posters say=

                                                     A-My amp has 0.05 dist. and another poster says AH! but mine has 0.005 dist and sounds better than yours.

                                                    B-my amp sounds "pretty good" how does yours sound-Reply- mine sounds a lot more clearer and detailed than yours.


                                                  B-SUBJECTIVE -comment and answer.

                  Your comments on Radio Luxembourg  bring back memories for me early evening fading  on an old 5 valve radio 

                  And yes I had a Hallicrafters -SX28 for number of years -the RF section had a twisted pair of insulated wires as a feed-back capacitor not many like that now

                  I still have a Murphy B40-ex UK navy-very heavy and a small Hallicrafters SX23.

                   I am NOT trying to "put down EEs.

                   I am just fed up that John hasnt been given his rightful place in history due to -well admit it-Big Egos.

                   I realise in many cases it "goes with the job"

                   But read the exchanges between D.Self and John and you will have to admit Self fairly "lays into" John and John is too much of a gentleman to reply in kind so its "he who shouts the loudest" wins.Not fair.

                   How was John   correct in his subjective comments on the capacitors tested by him because he could Hear a difference .

                   My hearing isnt as good as it once was but I still have no trouble hearing small differences in music replay.

                   And how do you account for somebody like me -and many others including musicians- Who can tell  if the music is "just right" another subjective comment.?

post #15 of 34

Nobody deliberately seeks out poorer reproduction...   ...or do they?

I posted a poll in the 'Sound Science' section, asking the 'Desert Island Disks' question, but with a little wrinkle.
If you were marooned on a desert island would you rather have 10 MP3s @ 320kbps or 25 @ 128kbps? This was just after we'd had a blind test to see how well people could distinguish between 320 & 128 compression.
80% of respondents said they'd take 25 @ 128.
This is the common-sense attitude of the true music lover. When it comes right down to it 'just right' is not where it's at, 'good enough' is.
We're all equipment buffs here, we can't help listening to the equipment some of the time. But when the argument turns from measurement to subjective impression then we have to retain a sense of proportion.
Do you imagine Ohm's Law was developed by a guy testing batteries by touching them with his tongue? Without Ohm's Law we might have recorded music, but it would come from clockwork powered phonographs and 78 rpm disks and would have nothing approaching the fidelity of a $30 Sansa Clip.

I'm with Peter Baxandall on this. He wrote 'I ... confidently maintain that all first-class, competently designed amplifiers, tested under completely fair and carefully controlled conditions, including the avoidance of overloading, sound absolutely indistinguishable on normal programme material no matter how refined the listening tests, or the listeners, may be; and that when an inferior amplifier is compared with a very good one and a subjective quality difference is genuinely and reliably established, it is always possible, by straightforward scientific investigation, to find a rational explanation for this difference.'


While I don't deny that there are audible differences between some audio components, such as microphones, headphones and speakers, I have heard and seen 'subjectivists' claim differences between amplifiers which I consider have no basis in reality.


Subjectivism is a commercial invention.


When amplifiers which were audibly indistinguishable could be produced on a regular basis, reviewers were alarmed. If different amplifiers sound the same, what need is there for reviewers? Consequently the subjective review was invented, in order to justify the continued existence of reviewers. If you have the time you can discover the history of this in Peter Aczel's 'The Audio Critic'


It's not a sin to take what others tell you at face value, but not all of us are cut from the same cloth. Experience having shown us that not everyone is to be trusted we require more proof of the supposed audible differences than the mere assertion that they exist.



Edited by wakibaki - 3/26/13 at 9:03pm
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