CrystalFET is a J113 jfet-based two-stage phono preamp, with passive equalization and on-board MOSFET-based shunt voltage regulator.
Black boards pictured are the original rev. 1.1a prototype, which I ended up using for mc operation. There was a connectivity error in the schematic used to make the boards, so the layout was redone as rev. 1.2a.
1.2a are for mc operation only, about 55-56 dB. I'm giving these away for $5 for one pair, see here. [only four sets left!] Rev. 1.2a is up and working. No abnormalities, near-perfect agreement with the LTSpice simulation.
Last, rev. 1.3c features switchable 35/56 dB gain for moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, and adds a jumper for the regulator "boost" feature. The basic circuit hasn't changed, just fixes and refinements of the concept. Pictured below.
Posted 26th February 2016 at 11:11 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 27th February 2016 at 12:18 AM byrjm
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.
Posted 20th February 2016 at 12:49 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 22nd February 2016 at 08:35 AM byrjm
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.
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...
Posted 18th February 2016 at 11:14 PM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 7th April 2016 at 06:58 AM byrjm
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...
Posted 2nd February 2016 at 07:11 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 24th February 2016 at 01:02 AM byrjm
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.
(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...
I admit I did not give ASUS the benefit of the doubt and seriously consider their Essence STX soundcard as a replacement for my Onkyo SE200-PCI. ASUS make nice motherboards, but unlike Onkyo have no previous expertise in high end audio.
I am happy to report - a bit late in the game, the card came out in 2009 - that they've done a really good job with it and the drivers for Windows 10, technically still in beta, work just fine.
Asus updated the design recently to the STX II. The PCB has been redone, but the only visible change is the PCM1792A DAC has been moved towards the top of the card closer to the IV conversion op amps. An second LDO regulator IC, U34, empty on the STX, is now populated. A "TXCO" clock source is added next to the ASUS audio controller IC. The four film caps next to the output IC are replaced with WIMA brand. It's basically identical, so it...
Current version is 5.60C, last update was 2012 to be compatible with Windows 8. Driver package 5.60C installs without issues on Windows 10 64 bit. The AudioDeck utility installs as well.
However, all is not well:
On installation, Immezio 3D effects are enabled. This locks the sample rate at 48 kHz. 44, 96, and 192 kHz cannot be selected. Deselecting the Immezio 3D effects prompts a reboot, but the Immezio 3D effects remain enabled after rebooting. The card is stuck at 48 kHz. 3D effects (which enables the DSP processing such as Qsounds, EAX, A3D) cannot be shut off.
I see three possible workarounds:
1. Find a command line switch, or edit the installation batch file to disable Immezio 3D on installation...
Posted 2nd October 2015 at 05:07 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 9th November 2015 at 01:44 AM byrjm
This is a headphone amplifier with digital inputs, not a DAC with a headphone jack. Though technically given equal board space, the headphone amp, with hot-running single-ended class-A output stage, is surely the centerpiece of the design. (The Asahi Kasei DAC, with MUSES01 for the I-V, is no slouch mind you.)
First impressions. It is large, solid, and very nicely made, but - after seeing the inside - rather simple, spartan even. From the DAC output to the headphone jack is just two op amps and two transistors, the op amps being shared between channels. A third op amp most likely just buffers the analog line output. Apart from the headliner MUSES01 op amp none of the parts are especially expensive, though many were clearly carefully chosen for sound quality - the 2SC5196 for example. The TE7022 USB receiver is a disappointment, as is, to be honest, the single set of power rails and the use of dual op amps shared between channels.
Posted 26th September 2015 at 11:49 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 9th October 2015 at 04:24 AM byrjm
My Onkyo soundcard drivers stopped working when I upgraded to Windows 10. Onkyo says they have no plans to release a patch, so I'm left with no high quality audio solution for my computer. Since I already have a good headphone amplifier, what I'm mainly looking for is a high quality line level analog output.
One options is another soundcard, the ASUS Xonar STX being the obvious choice. I dunno, it doesn't grab me.
I was thinking with going with an external box this time, connected via USB. As this opens up about a zillion options, I'm going to limit things to,
Respected audio brands with a solid reputation for digital audio.
Small enough to be placed on top of my computer case.
Posted 26th June 2015 at 02:59 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 1st October 2015 at 07:04 AM byrjm
I'm often asked "which op amp sounds better".
The reply is usually a scowl and muttered "does it look like I care!?" Which is something of a lie... I do care about getting op amps to sound good. It's the phrasing of the question I dislike.
Op amps do not come in "good, better, best" flavors. All it is - and this is pretty obvious I would have thought but apparently not - all this is about is matching an op amp to the job it's going to do; the circuit it's going to be sitting in.
The op amp you'd choose to use as a DAC IV converter is different from the one you'd choose to back a 100k volume potentiometer in a preamp is different from the one you'd choose for an MC phono preamp input stage...
Why do you think there are like a thousands of different op amps to choose from in the first place? It's because there are thousands of combinations of op amp characteristics and properties ... not because companies...