Capacitor Upgrades, Worth the Scratch?

Capacitor Upgrades, Worth the Scratch?

Capacitor upgrades are perhaps the most contentious subject in the audio world. At the shop our individual opinions range range from agnostic to conditionally supportive. But one area where we can sometimes get behind it is in speaker crossovers.

Speaker crossovers that are built with bipolar electrolytic capacitors can have big problems over time. Because speakers deal with such low impedances and specific frequency responses, the capacitance drift and rising impedance of a aging electrolytic will eventually start to affect the sound. The relative volumes of the different drivers can get out of whack, and the crossovers frequencies can be thrown off, resulting in dead spots or bumps in the frequency range. Upgrading these to film capacitors will solve those problems and head off future reliability issues.

The most common symptom that lets us know a speaker crossover needs attention is that all the drivers make sound but the two speakers sound different from one and another.

Recapping a crossover can be a fun DIY project. If you want some advice on getting started, you could drop our electronics meetup next Tuesday. Or if you don’t want to tackle it yourself we’re always available to knock it out.


Why is Refoam?

Why is Refoam?

The absolute most common work a vintage speaker might need is refoaming. How do you know if your speaker needs to be refoamed? Well, this problem’s pretty easy to diagnose. It looks like this:  

The foam surround has dried out and is disintegrating. Often if the surround needs replacement there will be chunks missing or the whole surround will simply be gone.  

If the speaker has sat unused for a very long time, the surround might still be completely intact, but poke it with a finger and it will crumble.

Running speakers with damaged or missing surrounds will eventually destroy the voice coil. It will also sound like garbage.

Refoaming is simply the process of removing the remains of the old surround, cleaning the cone and frame, and glueing in a new one. At our shop, we also coat the new surround with latex to prevent the problem from recurring in the future.

Hit us up if your speakers are in need of love! -sam