It’s been a while since my last capacitor comparison review was done. Not much changes actually (not much new ‘interesting’ products also I think). But I was quite tempted to try the Alexander series from Duelund. The reason was simple, it’s quite affordable but having Duelund popularity on it. We’ll see if it’s worth to try.
As usual, I put one of my favorite ‘affordable’ reference capacitor, the Jensen Paper Tube and the ‘premium’ reference capacitor, the Duelund CAST Cu. I kept my ‘ultimate’ reference capacitor, the Duelund CAST Ag, as this was a different beast.
The comparison was done on a #26 tube Preamp. I use my favorite ELMA 1 deck, 2 poles, and 6 steps switches. This would create a perfect isolation and real time testing. More details about the connection to follow.
Below is the picture of the ELMA switch. The red block is the pole. Another pole is located on the opposite direction. Every turn will move both of them, so both will maintain the opposite direction all the time.
Below is the common ‘switching’ method done. This is definitely far from ideal. Only one pole switch used on the front (green box), meanwhile the output itself placed in parallel all together. Although theoretically wise, the signal input will only pass one capacitor (in that case, the Capacitor A), but the output of Capacitor A, B, and C are bonded together. The signal will ‘travel’ to all capacitor before eventually sent to the output side. Based on my experience, if we are doing like this, the sonic different between Capacitor A, B, and C will reduce significantly. So it’s even harder to judge the sonic of each capacitor as all of them will sound ‘similar’ (as the signal actually ‘traveling’ to all capacitors).
Below is the standard capacitor or any other similar comparison in JimmyAuw.com with Elma switch. We use two pole ELMA switch to isolate both input and output side of each capacitor. So on the example below, when the switch is on ‘1’ position, only Capacitor A is on the signal line from input to output. Position ‘2’ for Capacitor B, and ‘3’ for Capacitor C and so on. This will make the comparison becomes very ideal and easier to hear the different for each capacitor tested.
Another wiring example how we test the capacitor or similar stuff. Remember, there should be only the tested capacitor on the signal line. No others allowed!
So, the important is, what is the comparison result? 🙂
During the first few hours, the Alexander sounded quite bright (live and dynamic). It was just too much mid high frequency there (as if there was too many details, but not too ‘neat’). Bass was just nice and low. This was a little bit contrary with Jensen Paper Tube which sounded a little bit too sweet at the beginning and began to open up more after several hours. But off course, it’s not fair to hear the first few hours which most of the capacitor probably not yet settled in.
So I revisited them after around 200+ hours usage time. Now the Alexander got a smooth high (no longer too many high frequency), quite acceptable sweet mid tones, and quite satisfactory bass level. I think if Jensen Paper Tube should need extra details, then this Alexander could have a use of sweeter vocal. Definitely different type of sound for both of them and could be used perfectly to match up your system – when applied correctly.
Then, I also fire up the Duelund CAST Cu. If before I had to choose whether I could have a smooth and extended high or sweeter vocal, then as usual, CAST Cu could deliver both almost perfectly. You would have smooth high, extended resolution, meanwhile keeping the sweeter vocal (although not too sweet). At 8x more expensive, I thought this as a ‘normal’ experience and should happen.
So, how do I rate the Alexander? At around US$ 75 each (not pair) for 0.47 uF / 900 VDC, definitely Duelund will try to enter the high end market which quite crowded by Audio Note Mylar-in-Oil @ 600 VDC (US$69), Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold/Oil @ 1200 VDC (US$ 69), Jensen Paper Tube @ 630 VDC (US$ 114). Meanwhile for the ‘ultimate’ or ‘cost no object’ market, we still have VCap CuTF (around US$ 279 each for 0.47 uF) and around US$ 596 each for 0.47 uF Duelund CAST Cu.
Comparing to Audio Note, Alexander is on the opposite direction. Audio Note has very warm sonic characteristic. Excellent for vocal lover, but quite bit irritating if you expect a liveliness from your music. Maybe the strongest competition will come from Mundorf Silver/Gold/Oil. At slightly cheaper MSRP price and higher VDC rating, Mundorf could offer a hard to beat competition on the stage. They both share similar sonic from most of aspect. Although additional Gold material on Mundorf will have some effect on emphasizing some mid high tones (some people likes it to give ‘gradation’ and extra ‘stiffness’ on the music), meanwhile the Alexander could deliver a even smoother high.
Comparing to CAST Cu? Well, no contest! Some people could say Alexander delivers a Duelund-like sound. That’s true, as long you never hear the CAST Cu. When comparing side by side, we can easily distinguish the different. Similar sonic maybe yes, but CAST Cu brings the music into another level. Maybe as comparing C-Class and S-Class. More balance in terms of the tonal, more comfortable in playing complex music, more mature in terms of the layer arrangement, and a lots of other more… But as I have mentioned before, comparing an US$ 150 pair of capacitor with US$ 1200, definitely you don’t have to become a Math expert to see how much they different – price wise. Although they might not be 8x different in terms of the sound wise.