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Unread 12-05-2012, 09:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sozo Standard Caps

Does anyone here understand why Sozo standard caps are labeled as follows:

.68uf is labeled 684K
.022uf is labeled 223K
.0022uf is labeled 222K

And is the whole of Sozo caps just one guy working out of his basement? Nothing wrong with that (in fact I admire it if it's the case), but it is surprising...

I ask because I ordered a set with some extras direct from Sozo, and received them in a box with no logos on the package or label. The caps themselves were in a zip lock bag with bent leads and crooked labels, with hand written notes about the order on the bag. And, part of the order was missing... Hoping that last one is being fixed right now. We'll see.

Not a big deal if the missing caps arrive, but I kind of thought Sozo was a bigger operation than it appears.

Thoughts or info?
Thanks.
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Unread 12-05-2012, 09:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

The numbering system designates the value of the cap. The first part of this page will explain it:

BEAM Pieces -- Capacitor part codes

I couldn't tell you anything about Sozo as a business, however.
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Unread 12-05-2012, 09:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

Those are standard film capacitor designations of capacitance less than 1uF. The first two numbers are the value, and the 3rd number is the numerator.

1 is Picofarads
2 is 1000-9000pico
3 is 1 to 99 nanofarads
4 is 100 - 1000 nanofarads


So 683 is 0.068uF, whereas 684 is 0.68uF.
682 would be expressed as 0.0068uF
681 would be expressed as 680pF

Also, Sozo is the biggest ****ing rip off in guitar amp signal capacitors you can come across.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

Thanks all. FYI, they were very prompt and courteous about getting the missing parts sent out.

As for quality or value, I guess I will find out when they are installed. I had an experience where replacing a single cheap electrolytic with a Sprague Atom made a noticeable improvement. So I figured for the extra $20 it would be worth the gamble to just buy a respected brand for these too.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

If you have the dime to spare, sure. But I wouldn't say "These Mallory 150's are 60 cents. I could get these now, or wait until I get paid again next week and get these Sozos for $4." It's just not a choice for me.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 03:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Originally Posted by MetalMengele View Post
Also, Sozo is the biggest ****ing rip off in guitar amp signal capacitors you can come across.
How so?
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Unread 12-06-2012, 04:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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How so?
Why do I get the feeling you asking this because you're looking to argue, not because you simply don't know?
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Unread 12-06-2012, 05:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Why do I get the feeling you asking this because you're looking to argue, not because you simply don't know?
Nope. Not to argue.

Just curious about other's opinions and how they hear things. It's a good gauge of how I hear things.

FWIW, I liked what the Sozo standards did for my 2204 as opposed to the stock Wima's.

Absolutely hated the TAD/Mojo's. Sounded dark, muddy and dull. Had to .022uF's fail and go leaky causing all the pots to get scratchy.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 07:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

I have a Marshall 1987 clone I have fought with for years to get the last 5% of tone from. No matter what I tried, just couldn't get the warm brightness out of it you hear from good Marshalls. After trying almost everything, I replaced the caps in it (Orange Drops) with Sozos. The improvement was dramatic and immediate, and very Marshally. It was a true magic bullet cure. They may be expensive, but are worth it if you are upgrading a single personal amp. You get these caps and there is no guesswork, they are RIGHT and will sound great in a Marshall.

Another reason for the capacitor numbering is these caps, although sold by a guy in his basement, are certainly not made in his basement. It is very simple to contact a capacitor manufacturer like CDE (Cornell Dubulier) and have them make custom capacitors for you in almost any style or shape you want. Anyone can do it, you just have to talk to one of their engineers and get the design right, and be prepared to order a sizable minimum amount (around 1000 or so IIRC). I'm sure the numbering on the caps is the standard that the company used that made the caps.

But keep in mind, with capacitors, the devil is in the details. Stuff like the cap size and shape, dielectric type, conductor type, and physical construction makes vast differences in how caps sound. The guy at Sozo figured that stuff out and that is what sets his product apart.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 08:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Originally Posted by MKB View Post
I have a Marshall 1987 clone I have fought with for years to get the last 5% of tone from. No matter what I tried, just couldn't get the warm brightness out of it you hear from good Marshalls. After trying almost everything, I replaced the caps in it (Orange Drops) with Sozos. The improvement was dramatic and immediate, and very Marshally. It was a true magic bullet cure. They may be expensive, but are worth it if you are upgrading a single personal amp. You get these caps and there is no guesswork, they are RIGHT and will sound great in a Marshall.

Another reason for the capacitor numbering is these caps, although sold by a guy in his basement, are certainly not made in his basement. It is very simple to contact a capacitor manufacturer like CDE (Cornell Dubulier) and have them make custom capacitors for you in almost any style or shape you want. Anyone can do it, you just have to talk to one of their engineers and get the design right, and be prepared to order a sizable minimum amount (around 1000 or so IIRC). I'm sure the numbering on the caps is the standard that the company used that made the caps.

But keep in mind, with capacitors, the devil is in the details. Stuff like the cap size and shape, dielectric type, conductor type, and physical construction makes vast differences in how caps sound. The guy at Sozo figured that stuff out and that is what sets his product apart.
This is retarded. You changed out Polypropylene caps for presumably polyester caps. Of course it sounded more like a Marshall. No proper Marshall on earth uses Orange Drops.

Whatever difference may exist between Sozo capacitors and Mallory or IC Poly caps in a given circuit is not worth the price difference. I'm sorry, it's just not. No one swaps out Mallory 150's for SoZo's and has their band asking them what they did to make their amp sound so much better at the following practice.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 10:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Originally Posted by MetalMengele View Post
You changed out Polypropylene caps for presumably polyester caps. Of course it sounded more like a Marshall. No proper Marshall on earth uses Orange Drops.

No one swaps out Mallory 150's for SoZo's and has their band asking them what they did to make their amp sound so much better at the following practice.

.
I'm confused. MKB want his Marshall clone to sound like a Marshall and the cap swap did the trick. Yet you berate him for doing the swich because of the cost, which can't have been a whole lot in the big picture. What's your problem with Sozo caps?

I've seen Orange Drops in Marshalls (as a result of a cap job I assume) and if those guys don't like the tone, why not use Sozo's?

Ken
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Unread 12-06-2012, 11:32 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

Sozos are intended to be Mullard "Mustard" clones. Mallorys don't.
Sozos are Film and Foil Polyester just like Mustards while Mallorys are Metalized Polyester.
Huge difference in tone? Possibly not. But I'd rather go with the guy using the same construction method as Mullard.
Price difference is negligible, really. Play that amp for six months and it's down to a difference of 1 a day.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 11:36 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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I'm confused. MKB want his Marshall clone to sound like a Marshall and the cap swap did the trick. Yet you berate him for doing the swich because of the cost, which can't have been a whole lot in the big picture. What's your problem with Sozo caps?

I've seen Orange Drops in Marshalls (as a result of a cap job I assume) and if those guys don't like the tone, why not use Sozo's?

Ken
Personally, I like Orange Drops.
And there is very little difference between foil/film caps, the difference is whether they are POLY film or MYLAR film, etc.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 11:55 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Personally, I like Orange Drops.
And there is very little difference between foil/film caps, the difference is whether they are POLY film or MYLAR film, etc.
I have orange drops in my Les Paul; I replaced the pots when they got scratchy and did a coil split job with them; I used the orange drops in the kit. I didn't notice any tone difference in that application.

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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:15 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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I have orange drops in my Les Paul; I replaced the pots when they got scratchy and did a coil split job with them; I used the orange drops in the kit. I didn't notice any tone difference in that application.
You wouldn't. In a guitar, the caps are just sending a portion of the signal to ground; basically just throwing it away. That's why I think its funny when people say they bought $20 caps and the sound really opened up.

In the amp, we're talking about signal coupling capacitors, where the signal passes through to the next stage. In this case, they type does make a difference. To what extent, I'll leave that up to the user and trust they're hearing what they're hearing.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 12:46 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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You wouldn't. In a guitar, the caps are just sending a portion of the signal to ground; basically just throwing it away. That's why I think its funny when people say they bought $20 caps and the sound really opened up.

In the amp, we're talking about signal coupling capacitors, where the signal passes through to the next stage. In this case, they type does make a difference. To what extent, I'll leave that up to the user and trust they're hearing what they're hearing.
I've read posts from people who say they make no difference (in amps) and posts that claim a huge difference. I think both are correct. People who get a cap job "because it's due" probably have fine caps as it is so replacing good with good won't help. Especially if you use the amp a lot, those caps can last 30 years. Mine have in my MM.

But old dried out/noisy caps, or caps of a different spec...I can see how that might be a perceivable difference when you swap them out.

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Unread 12-06-2012, 03:36 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Originally Posted by MKB View Post
I have a Marshall 1987 clone I have fought with for years to get the last 5% of tone from. No matter what I tried, just couldn't get the warm brightness out of it you hear from good Marshalls. After trying almost everything, I replaced the caps in it (Orange Drops) with Sozos. The improvement was dramatic and immediate, and very Marshally.
This was my experience as well, except I replaced the Wima's.

There are a handful of others in this forum that also had this Sozo moment.

"Orange Drop" is a generic, very confusing and often misused term.

I also didn't like NOS 'mustards' in the 2204 circuit. Did weird stuff to the distortion.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 03:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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"Orange Drop" is a generic, very confusing and often misused term.
Why?
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Unread 12-06-2012, 03:46 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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This is retarded. You changed out Polypropylene caps for presumably polyester caps. Of course it sounded more like a Marshall. No proper Marshall on earth uses Orange Drops.

Whatever difference may exist between Sozo capacitors and Mallory or IC Poly caps in a given circuit is not worth the price difference. I'm sorry, it's just not. No one swaps out Mallory 150's for SoZo's and has their band asking them what they did to make their amp sound so much better at the following practice.
The changeout took place several years ago before the "mustard cap" craze happened, at least AFAIK at the time. I think it was some of the very early Sozos I used. I actually had some poly caps in there originally and the Orange Drops (716P series foil and polypropylene to be exact) were a bit of an improvement over them.

Indeed my band mates did not hear the difference in the tone. But I sure did, and frankly that is much more important. For one amp, the price of the Sozo caps was relatively insignificant as compared to the tonal improvement with my ears.

Again, the big difference with the Sozos was they sounded almost like a sharp cutoff low pass filter on the upper harmonics in the overdrive; there was a great balance of growl and grind with some brightness, but the tone was not sizzly. The Orange Drops seemed to extend the response much higher and the unpleasant sizzle was there.

Another important improvement was using a ceramic 470pF tone cap in place of a mica one. The 470pF ceramic along with the Sozos, a good OT, the proper voltages (B+ no higher than 400VDC), and good NOS tubes can make a very good clone indeed. Also make sure the supply electrolytics are correct, too high a quality filter caps will really mess the tone up.

FWIW, IMHO Sozos would be sheer death in a blackface Fender, it would sound way too dull. The 716p Orange Drops are just right for such an amp.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 03:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Originally Posted by MetalMengele View Post
This is retarded. You changed out Polypropylene caps for presumably polyester caps. Of course it sounded more like a Marshall. No proper Marshall on earth uses Orange Drops.

Whatever difference may exist between Sozo capacitors and Mallory or IC Poly caps in a given circuit is not worth the price difference. I'm sorry, it's just not. No one swaps out Mallory 150's for SoZo's and has their band asking them what they did to make their amp sound so much better at the following practice.
I like to keep the tone of these conversations light and friendly.

Like Jason said, the 'Orange Drop's' that MKB took out could have been 225P's, making the swap polyester for polyester.

I know of a few people that actually like those Sprague orange colored capacitors in their Marshall's & Clones. Whether they are polypropylene or polyester types I couldn't say.

Price?... eh... if its your amp, and its what you want to hear.... who am I to argue? A full compliment of Sozo standard's ( not the vintage ones ) cost me less than a pair of common current production EL34's. Well worth it to me, after hearing the change it made.

What circuit or amp did you try them in? How did they not meet your tonal criteria or needs? I'm honestly interested.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 04:01 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Why?
Well, when I read someone saying 'Orange Drop', they never divulge exactly which type they are referring to. There are a few types.

715p and 716p are Polypropylene.
6PS and 225p are Polyester.

Then there are other manufacturers that have orange colored capacitors that look like the Sprague's. And are not what people are looking for when the term "Orange Drop" is, well, dropped.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 04:51 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

I've found the orange drops a bit sterile (good for Fender stuff), Mallory 150's ok, but muddled a bit...not a bad choice at all, but give me a Mullard/ Phillips any day for great tone, and I have outstanding results from radials, which a lot of people think aren't as worthy as axials. Just my 2 cents.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 04:52 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

OK fair enough, had to ask, I used to work for Sprague...
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Unread 12-06-2012, 05:10 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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OK fair enough, had to ask, I used to work for Sprague...
Dude that's awesome!

I don't know what else to say... you could probably school us all with some ins and outs of what actually goes into making a capacitor.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 05:21 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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Dude that's awesome!

I don't know what else to say... you could probably school us all with some ins and outs of what actually goes into making a capacitor.
In all reality, you don't wanna know what goes into caps.
Even worse, you don't wanna know how they are made and by whom.

I do have some crazy stories about the tests they used to perform on some of the bigger caps though...
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Unread 12-06-2012, 05:29 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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I've found the orange drops a bit sterile (good for Fender stuff), Mallory 150's ok, but muddled a bit...not a bad choice at all, but give me a Mullard/ Phillips any day for great tone, and I have outstanding results from radials, which a lot of people think aren't as worthy as axials. Just my 2 cents.
Quick story.

I built a 5E3 Tweed Deluxe last year. It amazed me at how 'Marshally' voiced it was. I've only known Fenders like the Vibrolux, Showman's, Pro Reverb's, ect... Basically a clean loud rumble. The 5E3 has a very good gained up mid range driven grind to it, reminiscent of an old Marshall.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I pulled all the Spragues and put in all vintage Sozo's. It became more vintage Marshall than I could have ever thought. The Sozo's took all the brittle rasp off of the top in the distortion and smoothed it out a bit, but in no way did it loose its presence, brilliants or clarity. Gave it more of an aggressive bark too. Roll back the volume on the guitar and its still all Fender glory. Fat, warm and chimey.

So far my Sozo experiences have been pretty stellar. Not all, but most.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 05:30 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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I do have some crazy stories about the tests they used to perform on some of the bigger caps though...
Explosions ! ?
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Unread 12-06-2012, 08:58 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

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In all reality, you don't wanna know what goes into caps.
Even worse, you don't wanna know how they are made and by whom.

I do have some crazy stories about the tests they used to perform on some of the bigger caps though...
A few years ago I had the privilege to work with the Sprague folks to design a custom metalized polypropylene cap for a project here at work. I learned all kinds of neat stuff like corona discharge and self-healing. Nice folks and it was an enjoyable experience.
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Unread 12-06-2012, 09:08 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Sozo Standard Caps

Those guys definitely know their shit.
We had a couple huge corona discharge cages, one was fine copper mesh so you could observe from outside the cage, and another one lined with solid copper with remote cameras (one super hi-speed) they used occasionally. That was where the 'safe' tests occurred...
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