The choice of parts is often a matter of trial and error and "tuning" the sound, so the right choice is not necessarily the most expensive part or one that is favored by 99% of other designs. I know of several designers who have tried and do not like Black Gates in several of their linestages and amps. That just means it doesn't work for them. Once, I was asked by one of these people to listen to a particular amp of his. I told him, frankly, that it sounded considerably worse than his usual amps. He surprised me by laughing at this comment -- it turned out his customer "upgraded" the unit by substituting Black Gates for the caps he put in the unit.
That same designer used Black Gates in a linestage. For one customer, he actually had to remove the Black Gates and use something else. It turned out that the designer leaves the linestage on all the time (even if it is tube-based) while the listener turned it on for short sessions. It turned out that the Black Gates did not sound very good in this design unless the unit was on for a fairly long time.
Will Black Gates work for you? It depends.
Jon Soderberg modded my Forte Model 5 with black gates and I think the soundstage widened and deepened over the stock caps. I also own a Rotel RCD 971 as a second player and it has black gates stock. Sounds pretty good. I like the smooth sound of Black Gates.
My H/K Citation 18 tuner was upgraded with Blackgates in the power supply, audio, and multiplex and each location with added Blackgates made the tuner sound better in every respect. I do leave my tuner on all the time so that probably helps. Maybe if you mentioned your preamp make and model, someone with the same preamp can give you their impressions.
Thank you for your response. Larryi, I've heard stories similar to yours... sometimes you just have to roll the dice. Jon Soderburg suggested the idea of the upgrade/mod for my Threshold T3i preamp with BG's.. The stock caps were Elna, they were red in color. He said he was getting positive results and responses from his customers whose Threshold's and Forte linestages and amps he modified, but I still felt it was a gamble when I went for the mod thinking why shouldn't I leave well enough alone. To me the results were better, but not much. The T3i was just as quiet with the Elna caps, but with the BG's there seems to be a little darker background created for the music -but again not much from before. I can hear a little more detail around each instrument -a sense of air separating them from one another which then can creates a sense of more depth in to the recording, as if I could see into the recording a little better then before... Would that be called a deeper sound stage? Anyway, the improvement was there, but by no means huge for me... I'm just glad it didn't leave my T3i sounding cold and sterile
I don't know how many hours you have on your Blackgates, but they don't sound very good until they have at least 300 hours on them. They will get even better after the 300 hour mark.
Thanks Sherod. I had my preamp modified in '06. I never turn it off, and I play music a lot all the time. I'm basically happy with the results.
Where I could find a value match, I replaced all the caps in my Audio Note Dac kit with Black Gate caps, and the improvement in sonics was substantial.
A friend has an Audionote kit DAC, with all the upgrades Audionote makes available, that sounds terrific. I have several other friends with Audionote DACs (DAC4 & 5) that are really good too.
Have you looked into upgrades using some of the premium Audionote capacitors? I know some of these components are many multiples of the cost of Black Gate capacitors, but, I've heard good things about them.
I've got modified tuners, preamps, phono stages, and power amps and, as a generalization, Black Gates almost always sound better, when used correctly, than the equivalent electrolytic capacitor. Of course I'm a little nuts -- look at my system. It has a power amp with 160,000 uF Black Gate cap supply (one of the signature Krells supposedly has them too but I've never seen one).
They are good as power supply caps and can be excellent in coupling and by-pass applications. They will fit where larger teflon film caps will not. Note that there are several variants of BGs --Standard,FKs, Ns etc. and these sound quite a bit different depending on how and where used.
Some people do not like their sound. Others don't care for a particular type. It is possible to use too many, but this is true if you use too much of anything. It's also possible that a circuit might end up sounding worse but that's usually a problem somewhere else.
It's not an accident that they're popular with many modifiers and diy's. They will be missed!
I did upgrade my power supply caps from audio note tin to audio note copper (my output coupling caps also are audio note copper). The power supply is not supposed to make a difference, but I liked it and it could be the placebo effect.
The next upgrade for me would be transformer output coupling, but I'm very happy with the cd how it is now. And the kit saves a lot of dough over retail.
Mostly I listen to vinyl. The audio note kit dac is so much better than my former wadia 301 (modded).
Have Black Gate in ARC SP15 POWER SUPPLY FASTER QUIETER..great mod by GREAT NOTHERN SOUND.
Black Gates are good. Not sure if they are worth the price, though. IMHO even the cheapest Taiwanese capacitors made today are much better then the best capacitors that were made 20 years ago. YMMV
Taiwan(China or anyone else) has NEVER(yet) manufactured ANYTHING that can compare to the Rubycon Black Gates, in sound OR technology. We(modders) lost a valuable resource when they discontinued the line. Read: (http://www.acoustic-dimension.com/blackgate/techEcap.htm) What's stated about distortion is measurable, and verified here:(http://www.stereophile.com/news/022105industry/#) Read paragraphs 6,7,& 8 of the article. The closest we have now is the Sanyo OsCon, and(unfortunately) they are only made in smaller values. I have them in the power supply of my TacT RCS 2.2X. (http://www.diyparadise.com/oscon.html) PLEASE NOTE: In the above; I am(mainly) referring to the use of electrolytic capacitors, and power supply mods. There are a number of excellent signal caps currently in manufacture, though none(that I am aware of) from Taiwan or China.
It was a sad day for me when Rubycon announced that they were shutting down production of the Blackgate caps. A large chunk of their inventory was sold to Parts Connexion in Canada, but the inventory is slowly being depleted. Many values and models are no longer available. Like many revered NOS tubes, I'm sure that certain values of NOS Blackgates will probably sell for a premium, but then, unlike tubes, capacitors have a finite lifespan. I can only hope that some manufacturer will take over where Rubycon left off and begin manufacture of comparable or better, with technological advancements, audiophile-grade electrolytic capacitors.
Does anyone know why Rubycon stopped manufacturing the Black Gates?
Rja- Read the 'Industry Update' that I cited in my post(second URL). That was speculation(very plausible), but nothing else was ever mentioned as to why production was ceased, outside of a rumor of problems between Jelmax Co.,Ltd. and Rubycon Corp.
From the Stereophile article:
"One audio manufacturer we spoke with speculated that Rubycon, the firm that manufactured the Black Gate capacitors, was concerned over the expiration of the technology's patents, which date to the mid-1970s. Another Deep Throat insider claimed that it was simply a matter of supply and demand: The big demand for capacitors these days is for the organic semiconductor models used in computers, so that's what manufacturers, such as Rubycon, focus on, not low-demand, difficult to manufacture devices such as the "super" electrolytics."
I used Black Gate caps in many mods and got good results. I am still listening to them.