Author Topic: does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?  (Read 3235 times)

add4

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does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?
« on: November 20, 2011, 12:17:30 AM »
i read the description of several boutique effects and i sometimes read: 'codes mponent are top quality' or variations of that.
What are the key components that should be choosed high quality to have that boutique sound ?
i've read a lot about the film/elec/tant caps debate, but i guess theres more than that to it.

a few questions to get the discussion started:
- is it better to use higher voltage caps? i've read that from time to time. if thhe max voltage is 9v, does it improve the sound to go from a 16v cap to the came cap, 100v?
- high quality jacks vs low quality jacks: is there a difference?
- what about the quality of the box film (mica) caps, is that good? IF there is any difference between two caps of course
- is there such thing as a better quality IC? i mean into the same model RC4558 > LM4558 , ... ?
- metal film resistors vs carbon ones?
- does the quality of the pot only relates to how long it will last and how fast it will scratch + how closely it is to the theoretical resistance

What do you guys to give your builds that extra thing that makes them really shine.
If you DO have magic/better parts, what's the brand, and where do you buy them?

Curious to hear the experienced builder's opinion about that
Peace

madbean

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Re: does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2011, 01:47:40 AM »

- is it better to use higher voltage caps? i've read that from time to time. if thhe max voltage is 9v, does it improve the sound to go from a 16v cap to the came cap, 100v?

No. The most important factor discerning between two of the same cap rated at different voltages is ESR- equivalent series resistance. This is the amount of internal resistance present in the materials that make up the cap. Higher voltage ratings may relate to lower ESR which can be considered an improvement in quality and reliability. And, different brands and different material bases result in different ESR measurements too, AFAIK. So, you can consider that one possible benchmark in evaluating quality.

Info about ESR:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalent_series_resistance
http://wiki.xtronics.com/index.php/Capacitors_and_ESR


- high quality jacks vs low quality jacks: is there a difference?

Only in reliability, not in sound.

- what about the quality of the box film (mica) caps, is that good? IF there is any difference between two caps of course

It's more a matter of style, IMO. I have seen some evidence that suggests that cap type (ceramic, multi-layer ceramic, polypropylene, film, metalized film, tantalum) probably does produce a "hearable" difference. But, I'm no expert in psycho-acoustics either!

- is there such thing as a better quality IC? i mean into the same model RC4558 > LM4558 , ... ?


Yes, definitely. The "metrics" for quality in ICs are offset voltage, supply tolerance and noise. However, low noise does not necessarily always make an IC preferable. This is why an LM741 or LM308 can sound really damn good in a distortion circuit. They may be inferior to say a TL072 in noise quality, but superior in the amount of low quality distortion we sometimes like.


- metal film resistors vs carbon ones?

It's all about noise. Metal film produces less. You can safely substitute metal film over carbon wherever you like without negatively impacting tone. Unless noise is an integral part of the sound you want to achieve.

- does the quality of the pot only relates to how long it will last and how fast it will scratch + how closely it is to the theoretical resistance


Most pots are pretty similar in construction techniques and materials, except for wire wound (which you pretty much never see in pedals). Tolerance can be an important factor, but not always. For example, in a delay having your actual pot measure as close to the "theoretical" pot resistance directly impacts the length of delay produced. In cases like these, it's easy enough to have a few of the same value on hand (they are cheap, after all) and measure their total resistance to pick the optimal value.


What do you guys to give your builds that extra thing that makes them really shine.
If you DO have magic/better parts, what's the brand, and where do you buy them?

I have a certain set of components I definitely prefer for some things. For resistors, I use carbon most of the time on values 100k or less and metal otherwise. Not always, but often. For electrolytic caps, I prefer the "mini" types because they are not as tall as others. Typical electrolytic caps rated at 16v or 25v are 11mm high. Minis are usually 5-7mm high. For film, I use box caps that have 3mm spacing. The brand I use, AVX, is not available anymore. But you can get other brands: Topmay, WIMA, and a few others. I also like the Panasonic ECQ-V series which are not box type, but chicklets. They are about the same size, too.

Check the "Links" page for suppliers. I buy most conventional stuff at Mouser, specialty stuff at Smallbear and enclosures from Pedal Parts Plus.


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small fish

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Re: does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2011, 04:44:17 PM »
Things I´ve learned so far:

High quality jacks:
No tonal difference but almost every time the washer fits perfectly. Using cheap ones, I made my experience, that you will tighten the screw once, before they´ll screw your jacks.

Metal film caps:
I must admit, that I never believed in any kind of mojo parts / sounds. But there is a tonal difference, whether you use the cheap ones or high quality ones. A difference, you´ll definetly hear!

Carbon comp resistors:
Ok, here´s some mojo: I built a TS clone completely with carbon comp resistors (the fat, brown ones) and it sounds pretty awesome. imho, there IS a tonal difference to other resistors.

(did I spoil my statement about the mojo caps??? who cares... :P

To keep it short:
resistors: use the standard ones (metalfilm resistors, the blue ones)
caps: get quality ones, there´s a difference!
ICs: let your ears guide you! I´m completely into the 75558 for TS. the web tells you, they´re crap. It´s your personal taste!

Otherwise, I like using the "try and error" method - you´ll always learn something for your next build  ;D

regards
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diagrammatiks

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Re: does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2011, 05:26:45 PM »
it really depends.

however, I'd say that 99 percent of pedals that are advertised as using blah blah blah finest whatever isn't really.


bangerang101

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Re: does using high quality component produce a hearable difference?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 05:10:16 PM »
Ive definitely experienced differences in tonal quality w/ different cap types, but if you did a double blind test w/ the same circuit w/ different capacitors, I think you would be hard pressed to tell exactly which one uses what type of capacitor. I always just use polyester box film capacitors from tayda electronics, there 5% tolerance, good quality, and there really inexpensive.

As far as resistors, Ive never been able to tell the difference, but supposedly using metal film results in a quieter pedal (generally speaking). I also use the ones from tayda electronics for these as well, the leads are a bit thinner than ones from mouser, but they work just fine, and are actually really accurate (Ive measured w/ a DMM to test there accuracy, and even the carbon comps are usually almost spot on).

Ive also had good experience w/ there dual opamps, and there transistors (they have bc-108, and 2n2222 in metal can packages for really cheap), and have proved to be of good quality/sound. I just found out there delay chips (pt2339) are bad, so buy specialty stuff like that at smallbear, or other guitar specific specialty parts stores. 

most other stuff I try to get from mouser, or small bear.
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