[sdiy] VCF caps in modern synths

Mike Bryant mbryant at futurehorizons.com
Wed Jan 6 11:04:29 CET 2021

Thanks to their use in mobile phone, ceramic capacitors have come on a long way in the past 20 years.   You won’t find microphony in any of the good brands (I always specify Samsung or Yageo), be they NPOs or X7Rs.  Imagine what a smartphone would be like if it was microphonic ?

The only time I can think of a ceramic in a filter sounding different would be in a Moog ladder if you were running flat out – at very high voltage swings there is a slight capacitance change with voltage, though this is more with X7Rs than NP0s.   I imagine commercial synths just keep the signal levels down to stop this becoming an effect.

From: Synth-diy [mailto:synth-diy-bounces at synth-diy.org] On Behalf Of ColinMuirDorward
Sent: 06 January 2021 07:57
Subject: [sdiy] VCF caps in modern synths

Hi folks,

What kind of caps are the grownups using for the VCFs in their synths, especially their polysynths?

I've checked out pictures of voice boards in the DM12, minilogue, and prologue, and I don't see anything sticking out past the SMDs except for some electrolytics, so I assume NP0/C0G is the norm? I don't have much modern stuff to peer inside. In most of the vintage stuff that I own and have opened, I see polystyrenes. I'd love to know what some of the current, more upscale manufactures are using in their polys.

In my own filters, I've noticed polypropylenes often make a sweeter sound than C0Gs, but not always. For eg in high distortion types like my MS20 version, I can use just about anything and it sounds more or less the same. But if I wanted to clone something like an SH-101 vcf, I'd choose polystyrenes and work from there. The behri version must have C0G though, yeah? They aren't stuffing TH parts, right?

In the world of hifi/mastering gear, attractive looking WIMA packages, non-polar electrolytics, and the like, seem to add credibility to a product. I don't see this trend perpetuate in the commercial-synth market, despite VCF-fetishes. At least I haven't noticed any big manufacturers bragging about their caps. Can the pros design for C0G and make it sound just as good as would something fancier? Or would my DM12 sound a wee bit better if I could somehow bodge in 48 polypropylenes?


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