Wire wound potentiometers have been used widely within the audio visual industry as a superior alternative to carbon based potentiometers for many years. Carbon potentiometers can exhibit the following negative qualities particularly in audio applications:

  1. Carbon potentiometers can be ‘noisy’ electrically. As the carbon elements within the potentiometers age they can begin to generate electrical noise which, when amplified for example, can result in an inferior sound quality audio applications
  2. Potential for failure in higher power applications. Carbon ‘pots’ generally have a lower wattage rating than their wire wound counterparts. This is often the case in high end audio applications employing vacuum tubes, which have been making a ‘come back’ in recent years in the audio industry and music industry. Wire wound potentiometers with a 3 watt rating can offer increased long term reliability for the equipment they are designed into.

Audio Amplifier Application For Wire Wound Potentiometers

A Sydney based client manufactures a range of high end audio amplifiers ranging from 15 watts r.m.s. to 120 watts r.m.s. In the pre-amplifier of the main amplifier they client found after significant research and ‘in circuit’ testing that wire wound potentiometers proved to offer superior sound quality than traditional carbon based potentiometers. Taking this research a step further they found that these potentiometers also added significant quality to their amplifiers when used as audio tone controls and well as the main volume control.

Component Selection Is Critical

As we have outlined with all our resistor application notes, correctly selecting the correct resistor for your application pays dividends in performance, long term reliability and user experience of you finished product.