Home Tweakers' Asylum

Tweaks for systems, rooms and Do It Yourself (DIY) help. FAQ.

Black Gate and Kaisei, a look back and future possibilities

(Hope Peter Qvortrup can read this)
(Part 1: backstory)
2024. It will be tenth anniversary for KAISEI capacitor this year, as well as 18th year since passing of Black Gate.

As someone more a techno-phile than audiophile, Black Gate wasn't on my radar when it was available.
Nor was I interested in "rub somebody else's chance for limited edition that I don't need" when Black Gate just ceased.
Until, much later, I came across Jelmax's claim in super-high sufficiency, ultra-high working frequency, and it's ability in VIDEO circuit, when I was searching for good components for refurbishing TV.

There are others, Cerafine, Silmic, more or less seek to fill in vacant left by Black Gate, with concepts more or less inspired by Jelmax's graphite separator.
"Close to sound of Black Gate, with only a fraction of its price."
Within "audio" frequency band, that is.
That's more than enough if used "only" in audio application, whilst Black Gate offered much more.
As a more-techno-phile-than-audiophile, it bugs me.
Besides, all those Black Gate wannabe, are rated at merely 1000hr.@85c.
Again, quite enough for audio equipments where there's usually not much "stress" for those caps, but that's not so elsewhere; Black Gate, on the other hand, while also 85c-class and imfamously lacked of datasheet, its durability is well testified by remaining users, as long as they are not installed in heated environment.

There were also some product claimed achieving Black Gate's effect here and there, again, not much is known when dealing with far-higher-than-audio frequency.

Then, ten years ago, came along KAISEI capacitor, a "sub-Black Gate" replicated much of BG sans graphite separator.
A Regent/Steward, in absence of Emperor.
New successor to the throne was slated to be from the Regent's family: Audio Note UK's Black Gate Replacement line.
Everything seem optimisic then. Progress looked good, late 2016 was the date, which remains on audionote uk website as of writing.
Some articles in 2018 suggest that proto-types with graphite paper is already done, except how to mass produce graphite-paper; and then there's some saying that there will be no new emperor to claim the throne:

A direct source of that interview mentioned in above link is yet to be found, but everything looks gloom for now. AN-UK's notorious for lack of updating in non-news section of their official website (hell, has anybody ever seen anything about SEIRYU capacitors there?), so "forth coming Black Gate replacement line" staying there doesn't seem saying much.

We may at least be glad that at least we can have KAISEI, an indeed good and close enough "sub-Black Gate," really much, much better than nothing.

But from technological development point of view, no successor for Black Gate's throne is a great loss.
Jelmax was known for some questionable and exotic marketing claims, but some claims, still remain unchallenged to this day.
Such as great increase in overall system S/N ratio, which fit graphite's EMI related physical trait quite well, makes physical sense.
Even non-bipolar models are capable of withstand high voltage of reverse polarity, as some referred them as "semi-bipolar," for which Jelmax claimed making them capable of filter out noise "both ways." The only other "semi-bipolar" capacitor I know of was Vishay/BC's SAL series (also got some graphite, sorta "solid" equivalent to BGs)
Solid capacitors, usually considered inferior audio-wise, have come a long way since Black Gate's heyday. As far as ultra-high working frequency is concerned, they may already be capable of what Black Gate did already. But not anything like increasing S/N ratio, semi-bipolarity, and in turn, reducing EMI intra interferences, etc.
Black Gate started as audio capacitor, ending up much more than audio capacitor.
Black Gate was not considered "neutral" sound-wise, there were already enough arguements about BG's brand of distortion, with or without enough "break-in."
But, again, that's within "audio" frequency range. Far higher and beyond, where distortion would mean nothing other than degrade, Black Gate does wonder. Place BGs in a Laserdisc player, "I can't tell if I was watching DVD!"

Ever since Black Gate ceased production, carbon-family nano materials have come a long way as well: nano-carbon, nano-diamond, nano-tube, fullerene, graphene...
Some of them found their way into supercapacitors, but they are total different design for entirely different application, and are greatly limited in voltage range.
Those other carbon materials may have potential to be more sufficience than BG's graphite particle, but here's the catch:
Audio Note UK is, after all, an AUDIO manufacturer, their only real concern is how BG Replacement line would SOUND.
Meaning that if graphite in separator is replaced with other carbon-family material, it's possible that it may end up something "everything Black Gate is but SOUND," that won't do for them.
It also means that, if they find a totally different way to get Black Gate sound WITHOUT anything graphite/carbon, they would likely just call it a (really good) day, happily announce this new heir to Black Gate's throne, which would be "anything but Black Gate" except sounding.
In audiophile's POV, the Emperor has returned.
In techno-phile's POV, the dynasty has truly died.

The current and possibly the only true obstacle for Emperor's return, is difficulty in MASS PRODUCING specialized graphite paper. Easier for just some prototype, finding supplier is obviously whole other thing.
The following part of this article is proporsal for possible solutions/workarounds. Since I cannot possibly know whether some of them may already be tried, tested and failed, I apologize if following ideas sounding too much "teaching you your job." Since the possibility is still there, I can't just sit and watch and let it die.

This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
  Crux Audio  

Topic - Black Gate and Kaisei, a look back and future possibilities - KAIBER 06:39:22 01/23/24 (11)


Post a Message!

Forgot Password?
Moniker (Username):
Password (Optional):
  Remember my Moniker & Password  (What's this?)    Eat Me
E-Mail (Optional):
Message:   (Posts are subject to Content Rules)
Optional Link URL:
Optional Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Upload Image:
E-mail Replies:  Automagically notify you when someone responds.