Black Gate Capacitors

The Nature of Black Gate Capacitors

It is worth mentioning that the Black Gate (BG) capacitors have been out of production since 2006. Due to their quality and scarcity, their price only went up over the decade. BGs are now selling 3-5 times their original retail price. The only real alternative is the forthcoming Audio Note Kaisei line, which is currently being offered close to Black Gate price levels before the production stopped.

There is a specific nature of the Black Gate capacitors, that some people seem to overlook. If you are not familiar with BGs then you may experience a disappointment after you switch on a DAC with BG caps inside. The sound will be the opposite of what is described. The music will sound as if the treble has been removed, with sluggish dynamics and muddy bass. However, we can assure you that is a temporary phenomenon associated with unused BG capacitors. Basically, unlike all other caps available, the BG caps have graphite particles impregnated paper separator (dielectric) inside them. It takes a couple of days these graphite particles to form the conductive tunnels. The process is very similar to rechargeable batteries. Once the batteries (graphite tunnels are formed) are charged, the BG capacitors continue to improve approximating their best. The sound will open up and the bass becomes clearly defined with plenty of dynamics yet very smooth at the same time. Depending on the BG type, capacity and application, the initial stage of continuous BG running in time is about a week. The sound will continue to improve as long as the equipment is kept switched on. However, unfortunately just like with batteries, the process building up the charge is also reversible. If the rechargeable batteries remain unused for a prolonged period of time, they tend to lose the charge. So if you go on holidays for a week, you more or less would have to start from the beginning. That is unfortunately the only drawback that one has to live with.

The upside is that the sound incomparably better than with any other capacitors we tried and we tried almost them all, vintage inclusive. Once the BG capacitors undergone the initial run in phase, one is rewarded with the magical properties in sound:  everything opens up with vivid colors and pitch dark background; while the sound becomes holographic, speakers start disappearing from the room and the dynamic immediacy starts to surprise us with life-like naturalness of attacks and decay. Having mentioned the specific aspect of BG capacitors, please do not rush with the judgment before one week passes with your DAC being continuously being switched on. Leaving the DAC on permanently not only runs your BG capacitors in and ensures ever improving sound but also reveals the true potential of those capacitors.


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