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Tube DIY Asylum: Peter's comments at the CES by Lynn Olson

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Peter's comments at the CES

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As the first American reviewer of the Ongaku (about ten years ago in Positive Feedback magazine), I was struck just how different the Kondo amplifier was from anything I'd heard before - with speakers I knew very well, having designed them myself.

A couple of years later I had the pleasure of meeting Kondo-san and Peter at the Winter CES, and was curious how an Ongaku would sound if made from more mundane components - no ultra-exotic silver OPT, no handmade silver-oil coupling cap. Both Kondo and Peter made it clear that a cheapskate version would sound very different indeed; the extensive use of silver, along with minimizing the capacitor count, is an essential design aspect of the Kondo sound.

This conversation played a role in thinking about the sonics of coupling caps in general; if cap quality had to raised to the level of $2000 handmade silver-foil caps to get the highest level of transparency and musical realism, that does call into question using caps at all. By that time I'd tried a lot of different caps in my speaker crossovers, and basically liked none of them. In a speaker, you can conceal the sound of cap - to a degree - by re-equalizing the speaker itself (in the range of a 1/3 to 1/2dB correction in the upper midrange). In an amplifier, though, the option of equalization is not really available, leaving the sound of coupling cap exposed - more so than a speaker, since coupling cap covers the whole audible range.

Direct coupling is an option, but I find multiple stacked power supplies unappealing - besides, the caps re-appear in the power supply bypass caps, which are usually lower quality than coupling caps.

My guess is that some people can hear caps, others can't. In a way, the second group are lucky, since they'll be satisified with most of the electronics on the market.

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Topic - Re:"The Amity, Raven, and Aurora" by Lynn Olson - cheap-Jack 13:41:35 09/15/03 ( 33)