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CrystalFET Phono Stage

Posted 3rd March 2016 at 05:55 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 21st April 2017 at 01:46 AM by rjm

Development thread here. Web page here.

CrystalFET is a J113 jfet-based two-stage phono preamp, with passive equalization and on-board MOSFET-based shunt voltage regulator.

Jfets Q1 and Q3 should be matched between channels, and for best results the value of drain resistors R2 and R9 should be selected based on the jfet pinch off voltage of Q1 and Q3 respectively.

rev. 1.4e (final version) removes some unneeded resistors and tidies up the board layout a little. The resistors have been renumbered.
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Chromecast Audio Output Noise

Posted 26th February 2016 at 12:11 PM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 27th February 2016 at 01:18 AM by rjm

Measured at 24/96 with my Asus Xonar STX soundcard (~ -147 dB noise floor)

The Chromecast Audio output noise powered with the included USB wall wart supply is -130 dB at 1 kHz, rising gradually at lower frequencies and showing some switching power supply noise peaks at 4763 Hz and higher multiples, never exceeding about -120 dB.

This is respectable performance given its price point.
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Voltage Regulators for Line Level Audio. Part 11 : The Crystal M Shunt

Posted 20th February 2016 at 01:49 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 22nd February 2016 at 09:35 AM by rjm

A while back I did a series of blogs on voltage regulators. Back with a new entry today: The Crystal M, configured here for 40 V DC output and a 25 mA load.

The circuit is based on two p-channel MOSFETs, the top one is a constant current source, the bottom one a constant voltage source. As the load current changes, the voltage source adjusts its current to balance.

It's lifted directly on the Salas shunt design (as reworked by me for my own jFET phono stage), but the circuit can also be considered a distant, DC-coupled relative of the Zen amp.

I trick, I discovered, to getting it to work nicely - the attached screencap shows it well-behaved while handling a full-swing output current pulse - is the source resistor R10. This resistance dials-down the current gain of the MOSFET, damping out the overshoot.

The ripple rejection is about 70 dB over the audio bandwidth. The output impedance is about 0.05 ohms over the same frequency...
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LTSpice filter simulation masterclass: 0 to -100dB in five easy steps!

Posted 19th February 2016 at 12:14 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 7th April 2016 at 06:58 AM by rjm

I've never put everything into a single LTSpice worksheet like this before: I find it fascinating. You can really pull apart a circuit to see what makes it tick, before solder ever hits the iron.

Power supply ripple, frequency response, gain, and crosstalk can be established. You can look at turn on and turn off transients, inrush currents, and conductance angle, and check peak currents in the filter capacitors. It's all there if you care to peek in and poke around.

I'm such a huge fan of LTSpice...

The only problem, really, is it is too perfect: all devices are perfectly matched, every part value is exact, and the temperature is always 25 C. Ground loops, wiring inductance, and thermal runaway do not exist. So no, of course there are no guarantees - but as a tool to get you 90% of the way there with the minimum of fuss and bother it is truly indispensable.

Actually I find the more experience you have the more useful LTSpice...
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jFET passive phono preamplifier circuit idea

Posted 16th February 2016 at 02:27 PM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 17th February 2016 at 12:51 AM by rjm

There are various tricks, like parallel input devices and active current sources, that I have avoided here in the interests of simplicity. If you want to go down that road, you can get an idea where it leads, here. Instead, the circuit below is basically a JFET version of my old 6DJ8 amp, here. A single JFET was getting me nowhere in terms of output impedance - around 10kohms! - so I moved to a compound stage buffering each amplifier with a source follower.

Noise and distortion figures look okay. The gain is only 30 dB. A bit low. The main trick is the PSRR, which is awful. The two stage circuit actually amplifies the power supply noise onto the output. So considerable effort must be put into the power supply regulation and filtering. I note that this is pretty much par for the course with this circuit topology where resistors are used instead of current sources on the JFET drains.

The circuit below leaves out the usual RC filter inserted between the power supply...
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Passive RIAA equalization network response calculator

Posted 16th February 2016 at 09:21 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 17th February 2016 at 12:47 AM by rjm

This Excel (2013) worksheet will help you fine tune the values of the resistors and capacitors used in the passive RIAA network found in any number of two stage tube, op amp, and FET phono stage circuits.

Excel handles complex numbers well enough now that this job isn't particularly difficult, though for simplicity the DC blocking cap (Cc) is left out of the calculation.
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jFET phono stage | harmonic cancellation jujutsu

Posted 15th February 2016 at 07:45 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 19th February 2016 at 11:59 PM by rjm

There are lots of phono stage circuits floating around based on two jFET amplifier stages and a passive RIAA network. I'm not sure who did what first, but there's the Boozehound, LePacific, and of course Salas versions.

Setting aside concerns about the ripple rejection**, today I'd just like to focus on the distortion and noise of the circuit itself. The passive RIAA stage is a large obstacle. It attenuates the signal substantially at all but treble frequencies, and it generally presents a large series impedance - both of which tends to increase circuit noise.

The jFET themselves meanwhile are a fine balance between low current, low noise operation with high distortion, or running at high current, high noise, with low distortion. Circuit gain must be paid for meanwhile with added distortion since the two stage design struggles to manage 40 dB.

After spending some time in LTSpice with this, I realized it was the proverbial rock and hard place...
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Headphone amplifier ground. Where to make the chassis connection?

Posted 2nd February 2016 at 08:11 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 24th February 2016 at 02:02 AM by rjm

The discussion thread at the headphone forum is here, but I wanted to throw out the problem to the general blog-reading community here at diyaudio to see if anyone can nail this.

The earthed chassis (light blue) must connect to the circuit common i.e. "ground" (pale green). I do not know where the best place on the circuit ground is to tie that connection.

Suggestions please!

(COM and GND are completely equivalent pads on the circuit board, while IN- and OUT- also pads on the board but physically further away on the ground plane.)

****

Answer: as long as it connects at one point only, or the same point of both channels, it doesn't seem to matter at all. I have it connected at the ground tab of the headphone jack and that seems to be as good as anywhere.

****

The noise was in fact magnetic interference emanating from the transformers. Grounding layout changes / electrostatic...
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What are "Ground Boxes"?

Posted 24th January 2016 at 12:48 AM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)

Ladies and gentlemen, please try to keep a straight face while browsing the following link.

http://www.entreq.com/products/ground-boxes-17667704

I'm not sure whether its possible to build a passive, permanent device that dissipates/neutralizes electrical charge. But the scientist part of me finds the claims that you can interesting.

Static electricity will eventually dissipate by attracting counter ions from the air. This happens more quickly if the humidity is high.

So seriously, if you just stuck a wire into a bucket of dirt, how much "earthing" would that actually provide? Is there any way to amplify that effect by using special materials or even passive electrical components?
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B-board v2 line driver : development circuit

Posted 30th October 2015 at 12:49 PM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 30th October 2015 at 12:56 PM by rjm

Original version is here.

I've been meaning to get around to updating this by folding in the improvements to the diamond buffer stage made during development of the Sapphire 3 headphone amplifier. Here is the first look of the bboard v2 under LTSpice.

I've gone back to simple emitter resistors on the input, running under much lower current to keep the input impedance high. The output is simplified to a basic Sziklai compound transistor pair with the bulk of the bias current running in the second transistor.

In terms of distortion, for line level output level, CCS loaded input has no advantage. I'll have to double-check PSRR and a few other things before signing off on this version though.

FYI only, not a production circuit.
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