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Hexasupercap

Posted 30th July 2014 at 09:06 AM by abraxalito
Updated 9th August 2014 at 12:30 AM by abraxalito

Here's a hexacap built with 10F caps, so the total capacitance is 610F. The individual caps have ESRs varying from around 30mohms to 60mhoms - I weeded out those above 60mohms with the aim of getting the ESR (and hence total impedance) below 1mohm for all audio frequencies.

The caps are rated at 2.7V which is plenty enough for powering a stack of TDA1387s. Just they take a while to charge up - with around 500mA being fed in the voltage takes almost an hour to reach 2.7V from cold. I've been forming them up and the leakage current seems to be stabilizing now, around 30mA, or 0.5mA per cap.

Update - I've installed this beneath a stack of 6 TDA1387s and been listening for a couple of days. The long and the short of it is there's now no going back to 'conventional' caps, supercaps are here to stay in my DAC designs. The improvement in SQ is rather hard to describe in words - its lower colouration to the LF which might be described as improved 'weight' or 'authority'....
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Cheapest 32bit CPU to date...

Posted 22nd July 2014 at 07:22 AM by abraxalito
Updated 22nd August 2014 at 04:17 AM by abraxalito

These Cortex M0 modules are 14rmb on Taobao, just over $2 a pop, with more number crunching speed than my first ever PC (40DMIPs).

The CPU is the STM32F030, a 48MHz devuce with limited I/O (I2C, SPI) in a 20 pin TSSOP. The going rate for this chip is 2.4rmb ($0.40).

I have an idea to build a DAC with a handful of these little beauties carrying out some of the filtering.

Update - a price drop just happened on Taobao to a similar board, now down to 9.9rmb - http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=...32&ns=1#detail

Pic attached of this mind-numbingly affordable board.

Aliexpress has the boards I bought now, priced at $6.20 but this includes 'free' shipping - http://www.aliexpress.com/item/stm32...701304725.html
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First prototype PCB-based hexacap

Posted 21st July 2014 at 11:59 PM by abraxalito

Seeing as building hexacaps with wire is very time consuming, I'm investigating ways to get the production cost down. Here's my first attempt at a PCB hexacap, using 2oz copper - I did the layout on EasyEDA - Web-Based EDA, schematic capture, spice circuit simulation and PCB layout Online

Once I've ironed out the minor errors on the groundfill I'll make the PCB public so anyone can order up their own. There are 127 caps on this board giving a 50Hz capacitive reactance just under 8mohms.
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The real story about closed vs open loop class D amps

Posted 11th July 2014 at 12:11 AM by abraxalito
Updated 23rd July 2014 at 09:51 AM by abraxalito

Very interesting paper which I'd not come across before which poses about as many questions as it answers. Thanks to Bob Cordell mentioning it in his book, here's the link :

http://www.eetasia.com/STATIC/PDF/20...URCES=DOWNLOAD

Compare the FFT in fig3 (closed loop) with fig4 (open loop) in the text - which do you think will sound better?

Here's my take on what the paper is claiming, FWIW. That PSRR measurements when the amp has a BTL (balanced) output aren't appropriate because there is output stage cancelling of them. My first head-scratch moment came because this is true of other amp topologies too, not just classD as BTL outputs are very much alive and well in NXP's range of chipamps for automotive use. So why restrict this to just classD?

Secondly what's the argument that PSRR in BTL amps isn't appropriate? They seem to be saying (though they don't express this very clearly) that whilst output stage...
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Amplifier-centric two-way XO (and system) design

Posted 3rd July 2014 at 04:30 AM by abraxalito
Updated 5th July 2014 at 02:55 PM by abraxalito

The traditional view is that the speakers are the weakest link of the audio system and hence they're not really designed with amplifiers in mind. Why make amp design easier when speakers are plenty hard enough to get right?

In my experience speakers don't contribute very much to the listening satisfaction. They're more a matter of taste, but a much better speaker can't undo the faults of an amplifier (or DAC for that matter). That's not to say some speakers don't sound better than others - I mostly prefer my Paiyons to the much cheaper Denons but their 'betterness' is orthogonal to the way to the manner DACs and amps sound better. Electronics has had the biggest impact on my listening satisfaction so far so here is an XO designed to make the electronics' job as easy as possible.

Given that the critical parameters of an amp designed for listener satisfaction aren't THD+N and FR, rather multitone IMD (aka MTPR) and PSRR it makes sense that an amp is given the narrowest...
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