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I returned to DIY electronics in 2009 after a 20 year pause by building a few kits to get in shape. This blog is for me to keep track of my progress.
Instrumentation
Old

Soundcard measurements with ASIO

Posted 7th September 2013 at 09:51 AM by alexcp (My DIY projects)
Updated 17th February 2014 at 05:08 AM by alexcp

I talked earlier about soundcard measurements, and here is some news: Pioneer Hill Software updated SpectraPLUS 5 so that it can now use ASIO.

ASIO (Audio Stream Input-Output) replaces Windows' own MME (MultiMedia Extensions) or DirectSound. As far as I understand, the beauty of ASIO is that it bypasses Windows Mixer and thus doesn't bring any issues associated with sample rate conversion or level adjustment.

The ASIO drivers that came with my E-MU 0204 crash every time (on Windows 7 and WIndows 8). Thankfully, there is ASIO4ALL, which works well for me.

First picture shows two spectra taken with SpectraPLUS: red is the E-MU 0204 output fed directly into E-MU's input; and blue is the output of the E-MU fed into Pete Millett's interface, output of the interface fed to the input of the interface, and then back to the sound card. THD+N is 0.000781% is the first case and 0.001272% in the second.

Next two screenshots are THD+N vs frequency...
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Old

Measurements with a sound card

Posted 13th May 2013 at 09:08 PM by alexcp (My DIY projects)
Updated 7th September 2013 at 09:36 AM by alexcp (Updated for ASIO4ALL)

I am using a USB sound card for measurements. It's a pain, but I have nothing better yet.

The sound card is the E-MU 0204. I've chosen it for the specs:
  • Dynamic Range (A-weighted, 1kHz, min gain): 113dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-weighted, min gain): 113dB
  • THD+N (1kHz at - 1dBFS, min gain): -101.9dB (.0008%)

The sound card is intefaced to the real world by Pete Millett's sound card interface.

The software is SpectraPLUS 5.0 by Pioneer Hill Software (PHS). (No link because my antivirus says their web site is infected.) The software runs on an old MacBook running Windows 7 in Boot Camp.

The results do not seem to be affected by nearby computers, flurescent lights, switching power supplies, etc.

The results are affected by:
  • Windows Mixer settings (levels and sampling rates)
  • Software settings (levels and sample rate)
  • Grounding of the sound card, the interface, and the device under test

The greatest source of pain is...
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Old

Digital Audio Signal Generator

Posted 15th August 2010 at 01:50 PM by alexcp (My DIY projects)
Updated 15th August 2010 at 04:18 PM by alexcp

This handy instrument is a version of the design published in Australian Silicon Chip (a subscription is required to view the details of the article). It is based on a dsPIC33 microcontroller, has TOSLINK and S/PDIF digital outputs (44.1k, 48k and 96k sample rates) and a stereo analog output. Output frequency, phase, attenuation, and other parameters are set by the keyboard. It produces sine, square, triangle, and sawtooth waves and has a variety of modes. It can be powered by an external DC source or a battery. The article claims low distortion for sinewave (less than .06%) and even lower with a good external DAC, but I did not have a chance to verify that just yet. Highly recommended.
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