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J-Mo Mk. II vs. Szekeres, distortion comparison

Posted 3rd May 2013 at 08:24 AM by rjm
Updated 5th May 2013 at 11:52 PM by rjm

Two headphone amplifiers sharing the same basic MOSFET source follower output stage.

When the source current and source resistance are optimized for the given headphone load and similar maximum output power (~50 mW at 1% THD), the distortion pattern vs. output power is remarkably similar.

One plot below is simulation, the other measurements. The J-Mo 2 simulation closely matched the actual measurements, it wasn't worth my while to generate a full simulated data set when I already had the measurements on hand. No reason to suspect that the Szekeres sim is inaccurate, either.

The take home message is the distortion characteristic of a MOSFET follower is what it is, and unavoidable. Take it or leave it, as it were. However - and this is key - if you don't optimize the stage for the headphone impedance, the distortion for a given output power will increase significantly.

As an aside: Greg did his homework with the original circuit....
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Old

Szekeres Headphone Driver, distortion simulation

Posted 3rd May 2013 at 08:11 AM by rjm
Updated 3rd May 2013 at 08:15 AM by rjm

I've always enjoyed the sound of the Greg Szekeres' Headphone Driver (buffer) and derivatives sharing the MOSFET source follower output stage.

I've often wondered however, whether it's distinctive sound is because it is unusually free from noise and artifacts, or because its unusually prone to heavy second harmonic distortion.

It's not hard to set this up in LTSpice, but I haven't seen it done before. So, for your education and enlightenment, I present the harmonic distortion vs. output power data for the original "classic" circuit as uploaded to Headwize all those years ago. The LTSpice asc file is also included I you want to play along. The harmonic data is generated by hand, reading the FFT peaks for 10 or so different input voltages.
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Attached Files
File Type: asc Szekeres.asc (2.1 KB, 95 views)
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Old

Discrete transistor line amplifier stage mod 1

Posted 19th April 2013 at 10:24 PM by rjm
Updated 20th April 2013 at 05:04 AM by rjm

Changed the collector load on the voltage amplifier stage to a current source (Q3), as per the Marantz SR2285B circuit.

Also increased the resistance of the feedback connection, R6+R8, there seemed to be no obvious advantage in making it much smaller than the typical load (>10k). The compensation capacitor C2 is increased to match, to flatten the HF response.

The circuit can drive light loads to +20 dB. Of course that's not much of a challenge for this general class of circuit.

I'm a bit stumped as to what the next logical step is from here. Seems to me to depend on what you actually want the circuit to do.
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File Type: asc RJM discrete mod1.asc (3.5 KB, 90 views)
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Old

Discrete transistor line amplifier stage

Posted 16th April 2013 at 01:18 AM by rjm
Updated 16th April 2013 at 12:23 PM by rjm

Over the last couple of years most of my interest in audio has been with transistors. I've been slowly teaching myself to read and understand the circuits.

Circuits like this one for example. Not hard, but still a bit too complicated for me to understand without the helpful wikipedia markup attached.

Instead I've looked at primarily at the schematics I have for discrete audio preamplfiers, 1970's vintage typically. Based on what I've learnt so far, I've done up a "test mule" in LTSPICE, shown below.

It's not a circuit you should build. It's for pedagogical purposes, though it does actually work reasonably well - in simulation anyway. Its just a simple starting point to observe how the different parts interact under simulation.
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File Type: asc RJM discrete.asc (3.2 KB, 84 views)
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Posted in The Lab
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Old

A poll. Basic electronics and DIY audio.

Posted 2nd April 2013 at 01:46 AM by rjm
Updated 4th May 2013 at 10:54 PM by rjm

It came up at the help desk, but I want to put this before diyaudio.com members generally:

I feel strongly that people who build audio equipment as a hobby should take it upon themselves to obtain a basic understanding of both the practical and theoretical aspects of electronics. Take a trip to the library and read through the first couple of chapters of electronics textbooks, that kind of thing.

It's more than just the safety aspect, I think of it as a basic necessity...

So, how many people here are familiar with the following statement?

The impedance of a capacitor is -j/([omega]C)

Familiar as dirt? Never heard of it before?
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Old

Preamps are not line level.

Posted 1st April 2013 at 04:57 AM by rjm

If you don't think about it too hard, you'd imagine that the signals in the phono stage would be smaller than the signals in the line level preamplifier stage that follows it. Or that the signals in the DAC/CD player would be about the same level or slightly lower than the signal in the preamplifier.

As usual, the answer is "it depends". It depends on the sensitivity of your speakers, how loud you are listening, and the voltage gain of the amplifier. It also depends on whether we are talking about a MM phono stage or low output MC.

My point is simply this: the volume control is an attenuator, and at the typical "9 o'clock" position the input signal is reduced in magnitude by about 35 dB.

That cuts it back down to being comparable to the output of a moving magnet cart, and much, much smaller than anything found in a DAC stage.

It means you absolutely, definitely, positively must spend as much effort and care...
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Old

Marantz SR2285B Receiver : Phono Stage Model Response

Posted 19th March 2013 at 06:02 AM by rjm
Updated 20th March 2013 at 01:54 AM by rjm

Mid-range 1970's stereo receiver.

I was curious to find out a) what the phono circuit was, and b) how tight the RIAA response might have been.

The answer is "four transistors" and "pretty damn good", respectively.

We are impressed. These Japanese engineers knew a thing or two. I would like to see some of these old circuits resurrected as discrete phono stages with modern components to see just what they are capable of.
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Attached Files
File Type: zip Marantz LTSPICE.zip (1.5 KB, 82 views)
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Old

X-reg voltage stabilizer LTSPICE file

Posted 15th March 2013 at 01:54 AM by rjm
Updated 20th March 2013 at 01:47 AM by rjm

I did up the X-reg circuit in LTSpice.

Results shown below, together with the LTSpice .asc file you can use to play around with this yourself.

First attached image shows FFT for the rectified DC (green), reference voltage (red) and X-reg output (blue) for the designed-for 10 mA output (top) and a more punishing 100 mA (bottom).

Second image shows an LTSpice screengrab for the LT1086 with bypassed adj pin under comparable loading. Input voltage in blue, output in green. This is a reasonable approximation of a "good" IC regulator.

Last image shows a plot of the exported LTSpice FFT data for the X-reg and the LT1086-12V (Cin 1000uF, Cout 100uF) both at nominal currents of 10 mA. The LT1086-12V is a reasonable substitute for a generic LM7812, i.e. a "bad" IC regulator.

A typical op amp will have sufficient PSRR to mop of the residual noise from the bypassed LT1086. The fixed LT1086-12V, on the...
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File Type: zip xreg 01.zip (1.9 KB, 115 views)
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Old

RIAA Equalization Curve

Posted 5th March 2013 at 01:51 AM by rjm
Updated 5th March 2013 at 02:37 AM by rjm

For reference and experimentation.

This excel worksheet will provide you with reference data that you can overlay and compare with the measured/simulated response plots of actual phono stage circuits.
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File Type: zip RIAA Standard Equalization Curve.zip (173.7 KB, 150 views)
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Old

Phonoclone boards, soldering, and Q1, Q2.

Posted 7th February 2013 at 05:34 AM by rjm

This is in response to several recent emails I've received, where people were having problems with, typically, one board having a bad V+ or V- regulated voltage output.

The number of cases relative to the number of boards shipped caused me to worry that a manufacturing error might have occurred, so at my request I had a customer return the phonoclone boards he had built to me for inspection.

I'm happy to report that the problem was traced to poor soldering technique, the boards themselves are fine. What had happened was solder had cooled before the component had fully settled, and pushing the component down to the board surface then tore the trace away from the bottom of the board, breaking the circuit.

Subsequently, thinking the transistors blown, he replaced them, doing a fair bit of damage to the pads of Q1, Q2.

Fortunately, I was able to fairly quickly set everything to rights, and the boards are now on their way back to him....
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