Blackgate Caps

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Greg
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#1 Blackgate Caps

Post by Greg »

This may have been covered before but if so I’m not aware of it.

This is a subjective question and I anticipate a variety of answers, maybe even questioning the use of Blackgates in the first place. I also appreciate there were different Blackgates for different applications. Please be application specific if you prefer.

In a circuit where one would originally have upgraded using a Blackgate Electrolytic capacitor and as these are now unobtainium, what is your preferred alternative?
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Paul Barker
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#2 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Paul Barker »

I can speak for wkz’s only. Theyre good, but they’re noticeable, i.e. not invisible and fully allowing unaltered sound pass through. They’re best left on 24/7 and take a week at least to get back to that level if interrupted.

They’re still electrolytic caps though.
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Paul Barker
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#3 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Paul Barker »

Other power supply caps to use instead of Black Gates (no. one capacitor choice)

I havent built with any other electrolytics since I bought WKZ’s.

I like polyprops. But they alter the sound quite a lot, however the ressult is pleasant sounding.

I far prefer to polyprops the old pio caps of low values. Some accidentally sound truly wonderful, you couldn’t expect it from anything about them, yet the phenomenon is their in my memory banks. The very best sounding capacitor power supply was with paper in oils : Darren’s first visit to my house I built in front of him and his son; built a 6em7 SE plank of wood amp from scratch in my conservatory. We carried it into the dining room and powered up. It was a superlative sound. I gave him the caps to use when he built his own 6em7 amp. Which he duly did and always loved. I’ve never since found a pio cap to replace that sound. C’est La Vis.

Safest bet in all this are WKZ’s. They especially lift a SE 300b amp a feature sorley needed. But with same cap sv811-10 transes 300b in my interpretation of sound how I like it. sV 811-10 lifts you away from the over creamy 300b, as you suddenly realise the full music was held back by the use of a valve with a strong version of the sound of its own.

I however prefer the sound without power supply caps. its night and day. Even a wkz is a cap, you know when you remove the last one.
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#4 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by IslandPink »

This is a good question Greg. I don't know what the answer is right now. I am still hoarding and using the few that I have.
One option that I have used in limited fashion, and Nick has endorsed to some extent, is the Nichinon ES 'Muse'.
Anectodal evidence suggests that using a pair to make up the value, with the long/short leads reversed in the pair, is a good option for transparency.
I haven't tested this enough to be sure, but I have a pair of 1uF on each channel of my chip-amp.
https://www.hificollective.co.uk/compon ... on_es.html
These are only available up to 50V, though you could use 4-off to make up a 300B cathode cap in this way.
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#5 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Paul Barker »

impressive cost.
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#6 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Greg »

Thanks Paul and Mark. To be honest I’m a bit surprised that others have not chipped in. Maybe it is because ardent DIYers don’t give a monkeys about boutique capacitors. If that is the case, it would be good to hear about that as well.

Obviously Paul and Mark reveal there is a sound value using Blackgates. I confer. That’s why I’m interested in alternatives. Nichicon Muse is a good start. What else do you suggest?
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#7 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Nick »

The problem is that its many years since I use a WKZ, I am not sure if I can say what it did. Since then I have tended to use more active regulation, so less reliant on caps. I did use some AN Kaisei in the 300b amp that Garry had and now Colin. They seemed good, but cant say by comparison. I have a couple of WKZ on the shelf, one day I will get around to building the 2a3 amp I want to build and use some there.
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#8 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by JohnG »

I have prior to the lock down been listening to Nelson Pass Korg B1 Pre Amp Builds.
Within the local HiFi Group there are now Five Builds of which I have heard four, one which is now loaned to me.
The Build version that I thought was totally to my preference was built using Blackgates.

The loaned model I am using is very impressive and is using a bypass arrangement, that I have been assured is nipping at the heels of the Blackgates in relation to SQ.
I have not had the opportunity to hear this as a A/B vs the Blackgate model, as I have had with a few of the other builds.
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#9 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by simon »

I have 2 WKZs in my 2A3 amp. TBH I've never thought wow these are great. But I'd have to replace them with something else of the same capacitance to know if they do sound better/different. Not very helpful I appreciate.
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#10 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by izzy wizzy »

A common criticism of the BGs is that they're not good for ages if you turn them off. Not saying that isn't true but it's not something I've been aware of and the phono uses only BGs in the HT. Certainly be nice to know of an alternative. The only thing I ever compared them to was ansar pp 22u for HT use. Maybe as I've not left it on for a week, never heard them at their best?
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#11 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by steve s »

I put a few black gates in my last px4 amp, I didn't think it made any difference compared to the other amps I've made.
A good amp needs all the parts to be good, then the power supply has to be wired so it works..

For me using amorphous core output transformers makes so much more difference than any capacitor, I tried quite a few of my transformers on recent amps (Inc ae, sowter etc) I could not listen to them, I've ordered a couple more pairs from tribute since.
Same with picking decent valves to use.

For power supply I generally use what I have, I have a box of maplins motor run caps up to 40 uf, I also use small film caps and a electrolytic, all by passed, I try and have the film cap on the shortest wires. To me those maplins motor runs are great for audio, I remember when I first started using them in speakers crossovers I could not tell they were there when I added them to full range speakers.
Im sure black gates make a difference in the right circumstances, but all my amps sound better once they have been on a while with or without them.
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#12 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by izzy wizzy »

steve s wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:41 am Im sure black gates make a difference in the right circumstances, but all my amps sound better once they have been on a while with or without them.
Right circumstances is important. I had one place where I couldn't tell the difference reliably between a Wkz and a BHC electro. Certainly wouldn't pay the price these days for admittance. And again, yes, things do seem improve when everything warms up for a while and the power amps don't have them.
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#13 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by Nick »

I've ordered a couple more pairs from tribute since
AFAIK, Pieter stopped DIY winding in 2014 unless you have a secret handshake?

Have you tried AE amorphous as I agree the core makes a big difference.
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#14 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by ed »

I wish I could get excited about this stuff, I really do.

Back around 2005 or so there was all this talk of golden ears and spending loads of money on boutique parts because some people said these parts removed the errors in the reproduction(don't even mention the word better).

well, I put my head above the parapet and said, quite honestly, that I couldn't tell the difference most of the time. There were exceptions, of course, such as better iron.

At the time Greg said to me that if I get more practice at listening I will get an idea of the differences and maybe develop ' golden ears'.

Since then nothings has changed for me.

I am only prompted to post because I've been listening to Scala radio recently(not a lot though) and the sound is not one I like. I realised that it sounds exactly like a post-production process that I use in the studio called an exciter. It then occurred to me that the end user(listener, hifi officianado or whatever) has no idea what the engineer has done to the recording to make it sound like it does.

Take that one stage further and apply it to the expert that states this bit of kit makes the cello sound real or the guitar sound authentic or when you change this bit to a boutique component then the whole thing sounds much better.

Yes, I know we're all different and do this diy thing for different reasons but I thought I'd get on my soap box and light the controversy bonfire again.

It's fine to listen to the equipment, It's just that I prefer the music......the line to join the firing squad starts over here!
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#15 Re: Blackgate Caps

Post by steve s »

Nick wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:25 am
I've ordered a couple more pairs from tribute since
AFAIK, Pieter stopped DIY winding in 2014 unless you have a secret handshake?

Have you tried AE amorphous as I agree the core makes a big difference.
It appears I have a secret hand shake... I emailed him months ago then out the blue I got a reply, could not resist ordering.
Ordered a pair of 10ks and heavy duty interstages.

not tried AE amorphous, but I'd say they are very similar to pieters, I have those ae c cores I bought from you, and a couple of pairs of sowters .
The tube manual is quite like a telephone book. The number of it perfect. It is useful to make it possible to speak with a girl. But we can't see her beautiful face from the telephone number
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