Component pedigree

Brand and pedigree set expectations. A Mundorf or REL capacitor has more good feelings associated with them than an XYZ capacitor. Yet, that XYZ capacitor might just blow the socks off either brand.

The trick, then, is to avoid the manufacturer’s easy way out: choosing a recognizable brand to delight the eye of the customer without benefit of auditioning the results. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve peered into a high-end audio product and grimaced at the sight of row upon row of the same red Wima caps, or black Mundorfs lined up like orderly soldiers. In almost every case these were chosen because some marketing-oriented designer added them as proof of pedigree, not as a performance-oriented design choice.

When we design product we start with brand name components we know and trust because of our past work. But there the path comes to a quick end. Not all parts sound best in a particular area. The Mundorf might outperform the Wima as a coupling cap but then the opposite could be true as power supply bypasses.

You know where this is going. Designers have to listen to their components and make choices based not on eye candy for the customer but performance first.

A pedigree isn’t enough to salvage an ugly dog.

Paul McGowan