Capacitor Musings Part 2
These have such feathery, extended highs that almost make Mundorf gold/silver seem a bit less open up top. Not bad for a $5 capacitor, so what's the caveat? Unfortunately for the SSG-3, I've been listening to some of the best Teflon capacitors of late, and compared to the good Teflons, the silver mica's don't quite have the stop-dead-in-your tracks resolution and definition, especially in the midrange. Compared to Teflons, SSG-3 is a tad more laid-back and softer in the midrange, and the bass, while impactful, is not quite bounce-rain-off-the-drumskin tight. Still, I can see a lot of people being quite happy with these silver mica's, especially if used in equipment that leans in opposite sonic directions or if your tastes cotton to the open, airy, feathery, smooth sound.
What about Auricaps? This is a tough one. One's preferences will have a large part in this choice. Auricaps have a fuller low-midrange to upper-bass presentation compared to Dynamicaps, which makes music richer and more propulsive; they also emulate some of that midrange texturing of Mundorfs. Dynamicaps counter with subjectively more ruler-flat neutrality with less bloom and thickness, sounding cleaner and clearer. I would say consider the way your system sounds now and which direction you want to go before choosing one over the other.
No, the music doesn't suddenly sound broken or anything, but compared to Auricaps, the EC cap seems less rich, less dynamic, less lively, less clear, less involving, and flatter. Music that I know to be breathy, dynamic, and sparkling lose the magic touch. Compared to a clear cap like Dynamicap, EC cap sounds veiled as if a thin hazy layer is covering the music. Many components of reasonable cost use many caps similar to these, which is understandable given the retail pricing structure, but it would be definitely worth it to spend a few more bucks to upgrade at least the critical signal-path caps to something a bit better. For example, the well-priced Russian FT-3 Teflons really kicked it up a few notches compared to EC caps in terms of resolution, clarity, and liveliness.
Compared to Russian K40y PIO, Jensen is simultaneously finer-grained yet smidge less dark, presenting music with seemingly more tonal purity and light. The Jensen difference is not huge, akin to a soufflé made with eggs beaten a little fluffier and lighter, but both taste like soufflé. On the other hand, K40y does come across a little more dynamic and denser in tone, so once again, we have choices.
So the oilers are great, but I am surrounded by mountains of capacitors from all around the world. Compared directly to some stupendous Teflons, while not "overly" rolled-off or slow, Jensens *are* a wee bit less extended and slower, relatively speaking. The leading edges are perhaps not as sharp as a new razor, but it's not far off. Bass definition also is not nose-to-nose with Teflons or polystyrenes, but I think it's good enough for me, especially for acoustic music. Jensens do serve up a tasty, warm, refined midrange, and if that's one's preference, one may even say Jensens are a better capacitor than Teflons or other film caps.
This does not completely change the sound, and the effects are subtle, but some may find them useful. The extreme treble does open up some, and triangles and chimes gain a little more definition. I don't mean to imply the Jensens suddenly turn into Russian Teflons, as they still sound mainly like Jensens. In my experience, better treble definition tends to lead to subjectively tighter bass signature, and the Jensens' bass did firm up a trifle.
So have we created the perfect capacitor here? Not really. The original signature charm of Jensens does diminish by a measure, so if you loved Jensens for their billowing, grand, bloomy richness, perhaps you should leave them alone. If you are still curious, it's always worth an experiment since these small Russian Teflon capacitors are quite cheap.
There is a bit of "buzz" about Jantzen capacitors out there, and they certainly did not disappoint. Superior Z-Cap rather reminds me of Dynamicap E, which is one of my favorite polypropylene capacitors. They share a sense of evenness, balance, and coherence, which means nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb to distract you from the music. Superior-Z possesses a very smooth, flowing, mid-hall type of personality with no sense of congealing, bloat, raggedness, or bite, yet it is not lacking in detail resolution, especially when compared to something like Claritycap SA. One of its greatest attributes is the fact it's difficult to point out things it specifically does "wrong" because it pulls off a great balancing act that serves the music.
Once again, it's not fair to compare most polypropylene caps to expensive Teflons, but the best of both breeds are more than capable of delivering the music. Since cost is always an issue, a top-grade polypropylene is certainly a viable way to go in my opinion.