V-Cap ODAM: What the Future Sounds Like


The evolution of the capacitor has led manufactures to utilize copper foil in the finest of capacitors. There’s a new kid on the block that might turn the capacitor world on it’s head but it’s too small and too affordable to be a copper foil cap. At first sight, one can brush off this new cap as just another insignificant option to the plethora of capacitors that are already on the market. The ODAM is much more than just another capacitor, it’s revolutionary.

The VCap ODAM capacitor is quite possibly the most transparent capacitor on the market. It will allow your system to perform in a way that you’d never expect from a capacitor upgrade because we’ve become accustomed to the limitations of conventional capacitors. It unlocks the potential of your system and you can experience your music collection in a new way. The ODAM will show you that there’s so much more information in your music. You have no idea what you’ve been missing.

My first experience with the ODAM was when I tested it in my backup DAC, the MHDT Pagoda. This DAC is known for having a wide soundstage but I had no idea how much wider it can get when the restraints were removed by the ODAM. It was quite a revelation. There are so many adjectives to describe what improved and how much they improved. I’m going to fast forward that part to tell you that the key takeaway here is that I’m able to hear and experience the recording more than ever before.

The second revelation that the ODAM provided came from a power conditioner tweak. Use your favorite search engine and search for "Audience conditioner". You can find several images of the internal circuitry of these power conditioners and notice that there are capacitors installed in parallel to the receptacles. You may also notice that each capacitor is slightly larger than the next within the same series of receptacles. This is a simple trick to filter noise at different frequencies. I’ve used this technique in my conditioner for several years now and I’ve concluded that Teflon caps were the best cap type in this position but then the ODAM came along. I installed a 0.47uf and a 0.1uf ODAM @ 600V (one cap on two of the three receptacles of my conditioner) then I had a listen. This was an "OH SH*T" moment. I did not expect this much of a leap in sound quality. The noise floor vanished. My system was already very dimensional but now it’s like wearing 3D goggles for my ears. It was shocking to learn how awful my system’s A/C was all these years.

I was a teenager the first time that I experienced a soundstage through a stereo system although I must admit that I was under the influence of cannabis. I really enjoyed how the high accentuated my hearing ability but I quickly grew out of this smoking phase in my life. I eventually got a job, I bought a car, and had a sound system installed in it.

I followed what members of an online mobile audio forum were doing by installing SEAS or Scanspeak/Vifa drivers into the vehicle. That’s how I was introduced to high end audio and that’s when I realized that this hobby is the gateway into experiencing an audio high without being high. I chased that high ever since.

Most of us in this hobby can relate to the chase for better sound but the chase recently came to a conclusion for me. I’ve finally reached that sonic high that I’ve been chasing and the ODAM helped get me there.

The ODAM couldn’t achieve so much alone. It allows my Pass XA25 and the JCAT FEMTO USB card to shine. The ODAM is the closest thing to no capacitor. It imparts no tonal coloration whatsoever. There is no limitation to sound stage width and depth other than what your system is capable of.

So much has already been said about the ODAM and it’s posted on the VCap website. I encourage you to have a look. Those comments are spot-on.

c_avila1
Post removed 
I very interested in this modification.  I have an old Audience AR6 with 3 outlets.  I have opened the unit before but I'm not clear on the installation of these caps from your description.  Wondering if you have any photos of the caps installed showing the locations.
Thank you for your review of the ODAM caps and hope to hear from you.
Geri
I’ll have to take pictures of the ODAM in my conditioner the next time that I open it which may happen soon if I purchase a syringe of PPT Total Contact.

The leads for the ODAM were not trimmed. I folded the leads back onto itself and lightly twisted them to create a larger gauge that helped the receptacles clamp onto them.

Make sure that the receptacles can be removed from your conditioner. You may need a torx screwdriver to remove the center screws from the rear of the unit.  

I can help you perform this upgrade if you live in Southern California. You should consider upgrading the 3 receptacles also. My conditioner has a Furutech GTX-D NCF, a Cardas, and a SR Blue receptacle. All 3 of these receptacles are much, much better than the stock receptacles. The Furutech NCF IEC inlet was another big upgrade as well.
I'm located in SoCal as well, San Diego.  If you're willing to assist me I would gladly take all the help I can get.
Thank you for the offer!
Geri
Perfect! I'm in Los Angeles and I don't  mind a short weekend drive to help you out. 

Open the unit to make note of the capacitor values and take pictures. Try loosening the outermost receptacle to make sure that it's not permanently fixed in place. 

I recommend that you upgrade the receptacles as well. If you are interested, send an email to your retailer of choice and ask if you're able to return the receptacles in the event that we're not able to perform the modification. We can also install them into your walls if you haven't already upgraded any receptacles.
If I can get an email address I'll send you a quick video of the inside of my AR6.  The capacitors are all booted in a black wrap so the values of the capacitors aren't readily available without cutting the wrap off.  
I'm not sure from what I've read above if you simply added capacitors in parallel with the existing capacitors or replaced all of the caps in the unit with ODAM VCaps?
Phone is 760-473-0563
Post removed 
Ok.. So I got my ODAMs. Chris was super prompt in mailing it out and extremely responsive via email.

My initial thought was to replace the interstage coupling caps (currently Jupiter Copper Foil Wax) but instead I decided to use it in my speaker (Maggies 1.6QR Serial Crossover) bypassing my bulk cap to tweeter (Sonicaps Gen 1)

Before I continue - here's my current system description in short. ES9018 TwistedPear with LL1544A at the output, Custom single stage no feedback JFET Preamp, Jupiter Caps, NCore 122MP, Maggies 1.6QR with 2 x SVS SB12 Plus. Source is Mac Mini with BitPerfect. All interconnect are Belden 8402s and Speaker Wire is 16AWG Duelund, This is my current reference

I had multiple Preamps (opamp based, BJT based, tubes SRPP, tubes anode follower etc), Amps (rotels, ICEPower, various D and AB, IRS2092S based etc), DACs (AK4396, AK4399, AK4490, ES9018K2M, ES9038Q2M, WM8740, AD1865 etc) and Spekers (various Def Techs, B&W 684, Chane, Strada, various Maggies including 1.7, mini etc) before this

Tubes wise - I have tried many buffers and preamps with EH 6922, 6N23P, JJ ECC99, 6N6P gold etc). Found 6N6P very good in SRPP but finally replaced with with JFET biased to give nearly a pure 2HD at -75db. 

OPAMPs wise I think I tried over 20 opamps as preamps and I couldn't stand any one of them in the path. They all flattened the stage. The only one that I could live with was the venerable NE5322

Caps wise - After a lot of experimentation (too many caps to name here) - I settled on Sonicap for bulk caps and for bypasses I used Mundorf SIO and Jupiters for interstage. Duelund Cu Sn did float my boat, I know @grannyring, @alexburger etc prefer Duelund Cu Sn bypass to Jupiters in preamps but it did not appeal to me

With all these experiments spanning over nearly 2 decades, I could not beat my LP or even my tapes. Each of those media had an enduring quality. Tapes had fantastic PRAT and were absolutely non-fatiguing and my LP player had highs to die for

Digital was always better in terms of resolution, bass, blend, balance but 3 huge problems

1. The string instruments never sounded real. Tapes with all the noise reproduced string instruments really well
2. Kick drums were always muddled and the hi hats sounded like garbage bags and crash cymbals were painful
3. There were holes in the soundstage - frequency holes and spatial holes

In the quest to be in audio nirvana - I ordered ODAMs since I had read so much about them. Like it is said "You had me at hello" - I was smitten the moment I used it in my speakers as bypasses (0.47uf)

What can I say - they were crazy good out of the box like no cap I had heard before. They got the timbre right (better than Jupiter and Duelund Cu Sn in speakers). Strings sounded real. Drums (FINALLY!) were authentic. Crash cymbals did not sizzle or warble in complex passages, Instruments did not climb over each other chaotically. There was a separation that I had not heard before. 

The biggest strengths were 

1. Palpable Bass - Not the DJ thumping bass, but the bass of the cello, low register of the piano. They were all felt. The board of the grand piano could be felt. The wood resonance was heard
2. Snap - Skin of the snare drum snapping, the finger or the pick plucking the string. Some call it first attack of the note
3. Depth and Separation - Wide and enveloping (laterally beside my ears) and depth that doesn't seem to end
4. Realism - Being right there is not the word. That is impossible but I would say witnessing it first hand. Seems like I am hearing it through the monitor speakers on stage

Now - couple of cautionary words

1. Break In - There caps come broken in a funny way. They are broken in just enough for one to get smitten at the first listen and then it is a long road downhill after about 2-5 hours of an exhibition. I mean long! 200+ hours. During that time - there are windows of supreme clarity. A tease of what is to come. I still feel there is more to go based on the windows I witnessed.

2. Very revealing of components. I have to tell you this - do not try ODAMs in systems that are not up to the mark. The flaws of every downstream component will be revealed

3. If you like details - this is not the ultimate word in that department. The high are all there and the details are in spades but all this bass and midrange will drown some of the shimmer. If you like that insane amount of detail (I usually get bored or sleepy that that "HF fuzz") - go to CuTF. I haven't fully tested that cap out but it is transparent to point of fault I think. Just my 2 cents. Maybe I need to break in the CuTF a bit more

Lastly - a direct comparison to Jupiter, Mundorf SIO, Duelund Cu Sn in speakers

1. ODAMs are better in every department except the very high of highs which I always tell people is not real music if present. It's like an bright needle on an LP. Some of us want a bit of that in our music to drown out ambient noise in the house - ODAMs will not give you that artificial high. Mundorfs (specifically SIO and SGIO supreme) give that that

2. Jupiters are more musical on first listen. You have swap ODAMs and Jupiters to see that musically is derived at the expense of detail. ODAM have far more details

3. Duelund - yes - they are good. But they are very un-involving. ODAMs are seductive. Details wise both are equal

To me - ODAMs are the best I have heard so far. They brought my digital sources to a level above tapes and LP. That is saying a lot!! In my 20 years - this was one of those OMG moments when I first heard them

Next step - replace the interstage with ODAM and then bypass them with CuTF. Will report on it after a month or so

For now - I say ODAMs as bypassed in speakers are awesome!!




Quick Update

Nearly 400 hours in and the ODAMs have stabilized. Huge open soundstage consistently

Now the kicker - Vcap CuTF bypass that I thought was over the top first is simply magical now. In short - doesn't matter what your bulk caps are (mine are Sonicap Gen 1) - when bypassed with ODAM and CuTF - the combo is speakers is to die for! CuTF simply makes the ODAM sound better. It does not alter the strengths of ODAM but makes every aspect of it shine

I have not yet changed the Jupiter in my interstage but I am scared to. I don't know why but I cannot imagine anything more than this. I ll get to it but right now I am enjoying this. Every song is new

Lesson learned. 

1. Burn in baby - burn in. Do not judge before that. 350+ hours. Minimum! Otherwise it depends on the day. Don't forget to give the caps a rest during the burn in. 12 hours in - 12 hours out

2. Any harmonics over 3HD now can be easily heard. 4HD in any quantity causes the crispness to show. Higher the 4th - crisper the sound. 5th + causes the soundstage to get congested and diffused. All this wasn't so apparent with the earlier caps - with these caps - you can quite easily hear effect of any harmonics over -100db. 

Yes.. these caps are that good!  


Thank you Q for your insights to the fantastic caps, I really appreciate your co parisons to the other products we Are familiar and can relate to.
Another update

Right after my last post - I created an alternate signal path in my preamp to couple using ODAM bypassed with CuTF. While that path powered the sub and burned in - I continued to listen via the Jupiter Copper (not bypassed). I wanted to get a good feel for the sound over a period of time before I switched over to ODAM  to compare

About a month ago - I started to switch back between Jupiter and ODAM (bypassed with CuTF) and although initially I preferred Jupiter on every switch - I felt it was because CuTF was not burnt in. 

Fast forward to now. CuTF burnt in. And OMG - 450+ hours. Very - I mean very painful burn in. But it was so worth the wait. This combo has clearly exceeded the Jupiters. The stage is literally holographic. It make is so easy to discern the stage. Music reaches out to you - you do not have to lean in. Instruments had a realism before but now - one doesn't need to put an effort to discern them. Singular phrase to describe it would be "effortless" - for the listener. Long periods of mediation are possible without falling asleep. Even levels as low as -65db are loud enough to focus and drown ambient noise and conversations in the house

One things to note however. Not sure if this is mood dependent, temperature/humidity dependent - but on certain days - the music is ethereal and is quadraphonic  ! Not everyday and seems like the number of days when it is this is true is on the rise. CuTF still burning in? Possibly but I am not quite sure. It is not something that everyone will like but it is very interesting. 

My audiophile tinkering as come to a dead halt for now.

Oh.. lastly - for those using iTunes, Audnirvana, Room, BitPerfect, Tidal etc - Amazon Music HD streaming through Airport Express Gen II is plenty to blow your brains. Even Ultra HD (192/24) downsampled to 44/16 by the iPhone over airplay is amazing. No more Mac Mini with lossless audio etc. Try it


Atma-Sphere, Ralph Karsten has installed Vcaps in much of my systems. I had a UV-1 serial number 002 I regret selling that had ODAM in. Today I picked up my PAS 2 that he modified and used ODAM in. And I will say I do love the ODAM caps.  My MP3 has Vcaps, MA-1 vcaps.... I love vcaps.... Most are not the ODAM line. But I am seeing that they are a very special capacitor in every way. For the price I don’t think you can come close to the transparency and details they deliver. Thanks again to Ralph and the. Atma-Sphere team. 
@qauntumpot Thanks for posting such a detailed review with follow-ups. I have not applied CuTF decoupling caps to the ODAM in my system, but I plan to sooner or later.

@gunhold and I spoke on the phone earlier in the year to discuss how I approached the conditioner mod. A couple of weeks later, he called me back and said that he upgraded the receptacles and caps at the same time. The mods made a vast improvement to his system, and I knew they would. He sent me a photo of the project and a short clip of the completed conditioner. His DIY skills are fantastic and looked as though Audience themselves performed the work.

I experimented with the orientation of the capacitors in the conditioner. Caps perform their best when AC enters the capacitor from the inner foil and exits the outer foil. The opposite is true when used as coupling caps in the signal path. The soundstage shrinks and everything condenses to the center when the caps are incorrectly installed in the conditioner, so mind the outer foil.

I’m going to digress a bit here: if you think that the ODAM and receptacle upgrades are terrific, wait until you install an Akiko Audio Harmonizer Unit into the conditioner. It’s a grounding component that you connect directly to the IEC ground. It’s that simple to take your system to the next level and beyond.
I swapped the Odams in my 45 SET Wednesday (Thanks for the help Ciro). I knew I'd be in for a long break-in... Went through some pain with the Duelunds in my DAC. I wanted my "old" DAC back. Odams sounded pretty pretty good out the gate, with a wonderful clarity. Now, not so much. Soundstage has done some collapsing and even some noticeable grain on some tracks. About 30 hours in thus far. 
@jmolsberg Clarity is an adjective that I would use to describe the ODAM but never grainy. These caps might be revealing other weaknesses in your system. You might get better synergy if you switch to warmer tubes that don't reveal as much detail. 

Also, point the speakers straight forward and then slowly begin adjusting the speakers inward as you listen to correct the soundstage problem. Your speakers maybe pointing inward too much. 

I'll message you to inquire further. 
I have around 70 hours in and the soundstage has certainly blossomed. I did have a bad tube in my AM Tubadour dac which was the cause of my "grain." I am resisting rolling tubes until i have 150+ hours on the caps. The ODAMs offer a much higher level of fidelity than the replaced ElectroCube Mylar capacitors. It does take some time to get your head around what you are hearing or not hearing. 
update at 150 hours the v-cap odams are liquid. just wonderful and smooth as silk. the bass energy is tremendous! very pleased with the coupling cap change (:
The Odam caps have nearly 400 house and they are just wonderful! Beautiful flow and tone. Noise floor is non-existent. They did not change the sonic signature of the amplifier just a better version, which was the goal.