Posted 22nd February 2015 at 01:24 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 28th February 2015 at 06:17 AM byrjm
I've added an additional RC filter stage (R3, C4 in the schematic below) before the Zener diode, substantially reducing the amount or ripple on the transistor base by cleaning up the voltage applied to the Zener reference. (The original Z-reg is described here.)
Circuit shows C2 with a value of 300 uF. Typically much larger values are used. I kept the filter capacitance to a minimum here to show circuit working with a reasonably high ripple (1 V p-p) on the input. The rectifier diodes used here are of no particular consequence, I just wanted the simulation to generate a realistic sawtooth for the input.
OK, this doesn't do as much as I originally thought. The improvement is mostly below 100 Hz, whereas the ripple is mostly in the 100Hz-1kHz band. There's perhaps 3 dB less output ripple, but that's about it. You can verify this yourself in LTSpice, just cut the wire between C4 and the junction or R1-R3 and rerun the sim.
Posted 14th February 2015 at 11:47 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 12th April 2015 at 02:59 AM byrjm
Signal Input : 2x XLR female , balance
2x RCA, unbalanced
Maximum input level : +21 dBu, impedance 10kΩ
Input impedance : XLR: 10kΩ, RCA: 68kΩ
Input Sensitivity : +6 dBu
Main amplifier gain : +8 dB
Main amplifier gain adjustment range : -4 / +2 / +8 / +14 / +20 dB
Frequency response : 0-55kHz (-0.5dB)
Damping Factor :> 400 @ 50Ω
Dynamic range :> 128dB (A -weighted )
THD + N (1kHz 1W @ 100Ω): <0.00035%
THD + N (1kHz 0.5W @ 32Ω): <0.0007%
Crosstalk :-110db (1kHz)
Each channel has a BB OPA134PA - socketed - for voltage amplification and an eight transistor discrete buffer with 2 ea. 2SA1837. 2SC4793, C546B, C556B. Dual mono layout - more or less ... the circuit board itself is shared and not completely symmetric. There's a pair of NE5532s at back for balanced-unbalanced...
Posted 7th February 2015 at 06:47 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 14th February 2015 at 09:13 AM byrjm
I recently obtained a pair of AKG K702 headphones to complement my long-standing reference Sennheiser HD 600s. I figured since I'm building headphone amplifiers it would be a good idea to have a reference grade low impedance model as well as the high impedance HD 600s to use for evaluation.
At the same volume position I quickly discovered the HD 600s play slightly louder than the K702s. The datasheet values predict the K702s should be about 3 dB louder, so it seems the sensitivity is off by as much as 6 dB.
K702: 62 ohms, 105 SPL/V ... 93 dB/mW from datasheet, 87~89 dB/mW (99~101 SPL/V) in practice.
HD 600: 300 ohms, 97 dB/mW ... 102 SPL/V.
The K702 requires as much as ten times more power to drive than the HD 600s. The voltage sensitivity is about 3 dB lower than...
Posted 31st January 2015 at 12:28 PM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 18th March 2015 at 01:52 AM byrjm(add photo of finished amp)
A couple of years ago I built a standard op amp + diamond buffer headphone amplifier, called the Sapphire.
My original circuit (Sapphire 1.x) was the simple four transistor four resistor diamond buffer of the LH0002. Later small resistors (Sapphire 2.0) were added to the emitters of the driver transistors to boost the output bias current.
In this next go-round (Sapphire 3.0), I've replaced the emitter resistors with current sources. This provides a significant improvement in PSRR, over 20 dB in simulation. The output pair has been reinforced in a Sziklai configuration for lower distortion, and the primary output transistors five-way paralleled for improved thermal stability. The output impedance is 1~2 ohms, limited primarily by the output resistor.
It simulates to <-100 dB harmonics for 0 dB (1 V rms) output into 60 ohms. The total circuit standing current is less than 50 mA per channel.
Posted 14th January 2015 at 06:07 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 13th February 2015 at 04:11 AM byrjm
The shift of the center of gravity of the high end from component, rack systems to portable continues. Exhibit A
I've also noticed that over the last couple of years the basic blueprint for a portable headphone amplifier as defined by the Sony PHA-1 has now been taken up by all of the major Japanese audio companies.
For all the above you are looking at a battery powered, slim-cased DAC + headphone amp typically with some sort of guard around the controls. They all feature a good variety of analog and digital inputs, offer switchable gains, and are priced over a range from $200 to nearly $1000.
You are looking at the convenience of having the DAC built in, the small size, and the rechargeable lithium...
Posted 3rd October 2014 at 12:40 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 3rd October 2014 at 09:27 AM byrjm
What we are looking at here is the Fast Fourrier Transform (FFT) of the line output from my b-board buffer recorded at 24 bit, 96 kHz by an Onkyo SE-200PCI sound card. Upstream from the b-board is the Phonoclone 3 MC phono stage, connected to a Denon DL-103. The tonearm is Denon DA-307, and the deck is a Denon DP-2000.
Four recordings, taken 1) with music playing, 2) with the tonearm raised 3) with the phonoclone powered off and 4) with the b-board and all upstream components powered off.
True 24/96 data was obtained, measurements out to 48 kHz are possible, with -130 dB noise floor. (I was using Digionsound 6 to do the recording as Audacity truncates 24 bit recordings to 16 bit in Windows due to licensing issues. The FFT was generated in Audacity however.)
The soundcard's line input may have an impressive-looking low noise floor, but it's still useless for measuring line level audio devices like the b-board because the noise of the preamp/ADC...
Posted 23rd August 2014 at 11:33 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 6th July 2016 at 12:34 AM byrjm
I suppose everyone has at one point or another adjusted the volume sliders in Windows. The ones that go from 0-100, and you are never quite sure what whether its a boost, or an attenuation, or what.
Some years ago I measured the outputs and inputs using a fixed amplitude .wav file created in audacity and played back through the Onkyo SE-200PCI. I've taken another look at the worksheet I made and I've noticed that the volume settings correspond to very logical, even steps, namely:
100 0 dB
90 -1 dB
80 -2 dB
70 -3 dB
60 -4.5 dB
50 -6 dB
40 -8 dB
30 -10 dB
20 -14 dB
10 -20 dB
or for the mathematically inclined: 20*log(volume/100)
This scale is the same for both the output master volume and the line input, so its probably maintained throughout the operating system.
Setup notes are in part I. Listening system downstream is the Sapphire headphone amplifier and Sennheiser HD-600 headphones. As the SE-300's line output routes though the Windows sound mixer, while the SE-200's bypasses it, it was not possible to keep the headphone amplifier volume at a constant setting between cards. Since I found the built-in headphone amplifier of the SE-300 to be good but not at the level of the Sapphire, only the stereo RCA output is being reviewed here.
Let me begin by saying that Windows is fundamentally an anti-audiophile proverbial dog's breakfast of setting and driver layers (quick, what's the difference between the DirectX and WaveOut sound modules?), and most soundcards are also anti-audiophile in that they cater to gamers and casual listening with a full barrel of virtualization, equalization, and reverb features enabled by default.* No surprise then that both cards require careful setup to sound their best, or,...