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Thread: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

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    neonderthalotonalogist Dr.Mavashi's Avatar
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    Default carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    So, I've read on the Laney forum that newer, film resistors are less nosier, that it get rid most of the hiss in the cascading, gainier pre-amp sections. What say you? Also, are these the same caps that are also referred to as signal caps? And if yes, are the Sozo's mustard caps metal film?
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Mavashi View Post
    So, I've read on the Laney forum that newer, film resistors are less nosier, that it get rid most of the hiss in the cascading, gainier pre-amp sections. What say you? Also, are these the same caps that are also referred to as signal caps? And if yes, are the Sozo's mustard caps metal film?
    P.S.
    This is most technical question that I've asked, I am about to become a real gear-schmock.
    Carbon film, metal film, and metal oxide are all less noisy than Carbon Comp. The tradeoff is in sound. One of the reasons a vintage amp sounds the way it does is the carbon comp resistors. In Dave Hunter's Tube Amp book he describes them as being imperfect devices and thus creating a bit of distortion. By our ears this is perceived as warmth.

    A cap is a completely different type of electrical component. A cap is shorthand for capacitor and it's job is completely different from that of a resistor.

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    neonderthalotonalogist Dr.Mavashi's Avatar
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Duke View Post
    One of the reasons a vintage amp sounds the way it does is the carbon comp resistors. In Dave Hunter's Tube Amp book he describes them as being imperfect devices and thus creating a bit of distortion. By our ears this is perceived as warmth.
    Luke
    Ok, so what if I will just swap the comps in V1 will that decrease the hiss and keep most of the warmth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Duke View Post
    A cap is a completely different type of electrical component. A cap is shorthand for capacitor and it's job is completely different from that of a resistor.

    Luke
    Thank you for reminding me of being an idiot, of course, its comp not cap.
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    This is assuming your amp has carbon composite resistors in it, and not carbon film resistors.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    I agree with witih Luke said in terms of the differences...

    Let me add this...you're getting hiss in a high gain setting...a hot pickup into a booster of some kind into a higher gain amp...this hiss willnot be stopped by switching to carbon film or metal film resistors...metal film's are pretty quite and might cut the noise down but a by product will be a terrible impact on your tone...
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    noise isn't that bad... sometimes a little noise comes with great tone.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Mavashi View Post
    So, I've read on the Laney forum that newer, film resistors are less nosier, that it get rid most of the hiss in the cascading, gainier pre-amp sections. What say you? Also, are these the same caps that are also referred to as signal caps? And if yes, are the Sozo's mustard caps metal film?
    P.S.
    This is most technical question that I've asked, I am about to become a real gear-schmock.
    I'd say the person who posted that on the Laney forum knows NOTHINCK!

    LOL!

    Also, on the Laney forum I said "IF" carbon comps are being used. I know they aren't metal films, but they could be carbon film. In that case, the only was to control the hiss might be with a noise gate in the loop.

    I think the 2203 circuit is the highest gain circuit I'd stick with carbon comps. Getting higher than that might get a little too noisey.

    Carbon comps sound great in older low gain amps from the 50s-60s. I have a Kalamazoo Model 1 and Model 12, and a Gibson GA-5T for my "old stuff".
    Last edited by DonP; 03-12-2009 at 06:57 AM.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Forgive me, but there is so much gibberish out here on the error-net about component types it makes my head hurt. Please read Randall Aiken's article on resistor types if you are interested in science rather than fiction. Also R. G. Keen's opinions on the subject. The short version is that carbon comp resistors shift in value much more than other types and make more noise. According to the experienced amp builders I know, carbon comps only contribute potential mojo as plate resistors - relatively high current and high voltage swings. Also, the "mojo" associated with old amps having carbon comp resistors may simply be that the resistance value has shifted (higher) and it just sounds better that way. Modern metal film resistors are much more consistent and less noisy.

    As Luke said, caps are a completely different animal. "Signal caps" are in the path of the signal. The other application would be "filter caps" which are in the power supply and primarily reduce AC ripple on your DC power rail. However, "filter caps" can affect your tone and especially the touch response of an amp.

    There are non-polarized capacitors and electrolytic capacitors (usually, but not always polarized ). So-called signal caps are usually non-polarized and are made with metalized polyester, polypropelene, silver mica (very small values), ceramics, paper and oil (old school!), etc. "Orange Drops" are (usually) polypropelene. "Mallory 150s" are polyester. Normal people (i.e. other than Ken Fisher - and I admire him greatly) cannot hear the difference when switching just one or two caps in an amp. You may well be able to hear the difference if you had two identical amps except one was all Mallory 150s and the other was all Orange Drops. Ceramic caps are cheap and generally should be avoided for signal caps.

    Electrolytic caps have higher voltage ratings and/or higher capacitance at a lower cost. Generally, if their value is stable and they don't "leak" DC, then they're fine.

    My final pet peeve is boo-teek amp builders bragging about cloth covered wire. It's actually easy to work with so go for it, but wire type contributes NOTHING to the sound of an amp. Either it's the right guage and solder joints are solid or it don't work. Period.

    Sorry for the rant. This stuff just gets so **** silly. If you are interested in learning more, here are a few links:

    http://www.aikenamps.com/TechInfo_2.htm

    http://www.tone-lizard.com/Electronic_Parts.htm

    The Tone Lizard's site is really funny. Lots of opinions mixed in with facts but worth wading through IMHO.

    Bottom line: components DO matter but lots of amp builders sling a lot of marketing B.S. too. Speakers, cabinets, tubes, and output transformers probably make the most difference after the actual circuit choice.

    Hope this helps,

    Chip
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    It seems to me that the best "new" designs utilize different types of resistors. My Seal-Marshall for example uses Carbon comps for the signal path, and metal film or metal oxide where heat and abuse are going to be problems like in the power supply.

    Luke
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Start View Post
    Forgive me, but there is so much gibberish out here on the error-net about component types it makes my head hurt. Please read Randall Aiken's article on resistor types if you are interested in science rather than fiction. Also R. G. Keen's opinions on the subject. The short version is that carbon comp resistors shift in value much more than other types and make more noise. According to the experienced amp builders I know, carbon comps only contribute potential mojo as plate resistors - relatively high current and high voltage swings. Also, the "mojo" associated with old amps having carbon comp resistors may simply be that the resistance value has shifted (higher) and it just sounds better that way. Modern metal film resistors are much more consistent and less noisy.

    As Luke said, caps are a completely different animal. "Signal caps" are in the path of the signal. The other application would be "filter caps" which are in the power supply and primarily reduce AC ripple on your DC power rail. However, "filter caps" can affect your tone and especially the touch response of an amp.

    There are non-polarized capacitors and electrolytic capacitors (usually, but not always polarized ). So-called signal caps are usually non-polarized and are made with metalized polyester, polypropelene, silver mica (very small values), ceramics, paper and oil (old school!), etc. "Orange Drops" are (usually) polypropelene. "Mallory 150s" are polyester. Normal people (i.e. other than Ken Fisher - and I admire him greatly) cannot hear the difference when switching just one or two caps in an amp. You may well be able to hear the difference if you had two identical amps except one was all Mallory 150s and the other was all Orange Drops. Ceramic caps are cheap and generally should be avoided for signal caps.

    Electrolytic caps have higher voltage ratings and/or higher capacitance at a lower cost. Generally, if their value is stable and they don't "leak" DC, then they're fine.

    My final pet peeve is boo-teek amp builders bragging about cloth covered wire. It's actually easy to work with so go for it, but wire type contributes NOTHING to the sound of an amp. Either it's the right guage and solder joints are solid or it don't work. Period.

    Sorry for the rant. This stuff just gets so **** silly. If you are interested in learning more, here are a few links:

    http://www.aikenamps.com/TechInfo_2.htm

    http://www.tone-lizard.com/Electronic_Parts.htm

    The Tone Lizard's site is really funny. Lots of opinions mixed in with facts but worth wading through IMHO.

    Bottom line: components DO matter but lots of amp builders sling a lot of marketing B.S. too. Speakers, cabinets, tubes, and output transformers probably make the most difference after the actual circuit choice.

    Hope this helps,

    Chip
    Very, very true!

    Carbon comp resistor values shift upward 20% to 30% over time while film resistors are more stabile. There is a ton of BS out there, designed to make tube amplification appear to be surrounded by a fog of mystery with a touch of voodoo...it simply isn't the case, these circuits are known and understood. The BIG difference is that you can't go to your local community college and get a certificate in tube electronics and even if you could, guitar amplifiers break a lot of rules in traditional tube theory (mainly because they often operate in a non-linear area in guitar amps).

    I feel the biggest reason that people associate a loss of mojo when switching from carbon comp to a film resistor is because they are removing a 100k resistor (for instance) that has drifted to 120k to 130k and replacing it with a new 100k resistor and the sound they hear is different...and it probably happened at a rebuild too, so you have that variable to factor in as well. If they were to switch back to a carbon comp resistor at this point, there would be no perceptable difference UNLESS they put an old one back in.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Fresh Start and Glassman's posts are on the money in my experiences. Metal film resistors are the quietest, and the most 'hi-fi' sounding. I use carbon films pretty much everywhere in the signal path as a kind of 'halfway point' between metal film and carbon comp.

    In servicing old amps, i've often simply touched a carbon comp resistor, particularly near the power tube sockets, and they've broken in two or crumbled. I often measure their values if i'm replacing them, and it is then possible to find or create the same value with the replacement. Usually the value will have gone high, the 20 - 30% Glassman mentioned sounds about right by my experiences.

    Carbon comp's may have a slight edge sonically, particularly for vintage tones, but they can contribute noise and their values will drift with age and heat, and they will become brittle. I'd imagine if a carbon comp was used in the first or second preamp stage it could contribute some hiss that could become big by the time it got to the PI...(although other components and the tubes could be contributing as well). All in all, i very rarely use them.

    Yeah, i'd at least check to see what the plate resistors are in the pre-amp stages, and probably make sure that the first one or two were metal film, and probably their grid resistors also. But try a couple of different tubes in the pre-amp first.
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    I don't know myself, but I recall reading something Mike Soldano had to say on the matter, and I recall he had determined that using metal film didn't hurt tone. Also I recall Vic at Mohave Amps/Plexi Palace reporting that he found virtually no difference in tone, as long as the value was close.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    I'm going to respectfully disagree with there being no tonal difference between metal film and carbon comp. Carbon comp/Carbon film is more believeable in my opinion.

    BTW Chip, I've always heard exactly the opposite about carbon comps in the power section.


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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    There is not much I can add to this topic that Chip & the others already elaborated ,But when I built my metro 2204. I used all metal film resistors stem to stern. The amp sounds warm and vintagey to my ears. When I did my Princeton reverb build, I used metal film on the power rail,And carbon comp every where else. Now on my HRD I changed the plate resistors to carbon comp... I can't say I notice a tonal difference good or bad? If I claim it sounds better to my ears... I'm splitting hairs.

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    neonderthalotonalogist Dr.Mavashi's Avatar
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by crusty philtrum View Post

    Yeah, i'd at least check to see what the plate resistors are in the pre-amp stages, and probably make sure that the first one or two were metal film, and probably their grid resistors also. But try a couple of different tubes in the pre-amp first.
    So my AOR is a 4, ECC83S cascading pre-amp, with only half of V1 used for gain. I love the tone, I just want less hum and hiss with a tad bit more of gain, with fat grain, sandy break up. So, say I want full use of V1 instead of just half to get more gain, and to address the hum/noise I willl use metal film in V1 and V2, and in V3 and the PI I would use carbon film for sonic purposes. Would that get the job done?
    Quote Originally Posted by DonP View Post
    I'd say the person who posted that on the Laney forum knows NOTHINCK!

    LOL!

    Also, on the Laney forum I said "IF" carbon comps are being used.
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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    More gain is going to net more noise (hiss). If you want to cut the hiss more dramatically, bridge your first stage plate resistor with a 10pF to 50pF capacitor; ceramic would be fine in this application. This will cut some of the highest fundimental frequencies without affecting the harmonics produced in later stages. It may be necessary to do this to the second stage to get get the beast under control. I wouldn't go any deeper than the second stage though so you don't start cutting harmonics.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Has it always been this way? Or is it something that has evolved?

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Have you looked inside your AOR? I would imagine it already uses metal film.

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    Default Re: carbon comp resistors vs metal film resitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Duke View Post
    Have you looked inside your AOR? I would imagine it already uses metal film.

    Luke
    I looked inside both of my AOR 50s and I'm pretty sure they are carbon film, but I'm not 100% sure. Mid 1980's technology. The pots are not on the PCB on mine either. That's why I love these things. I'm tempted to experiment on my, but they are both in original shape and both sound quit good, so why mess with a good working amp? If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?


    When you are thinking of ways to kill the noise, how does the 6505+ do it? Is there a noise gate built into those amps? I've not looked at the schmatics.

    I have looked at how Mesa keeps the noise down (older Mark series) and it's small caps killing off the high end. Do it right and it should work well.

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