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Old

AT-HA5000

Posted Yesterday at 01:32 PM by rjm
Updated Today at 12:00 AM by rjm

This post, about a push-pull MOSFET output stage for a headphone amp, got me thinking again about the Audio Technica AT-HA5000, which is something of a benchmark in its class. The "basic" signal circuit (not a complete schematic, it's clearly missing some ancillary details) is attached below. Probably out of MJ originally.

I think with any circuit like this, the differences are less about the MOSFETs and the operating points and more about the front end and what tricks you do with the power supply. That, and how you make sure it doesn't go up in a puff of vaporized silicon taking your headphones with it.

The Audio Technica schematic has nice old-school Zener regulators, a discrete JFET front end, a long tailed pair + current mirror for voltage gain and "proper" BJT Vbe multiplier and driver stage. Q7 is presumably in thermal contact with Q10,11 providing overtemp protection, and the output has a protection relay (not shown in detail) for overcurrent...
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Old

Szekeres 2015

Posted 20th May 2015 at 06:00 AM by rjm
Updated Today at 12:02 AM by rjm

The circuit was originally hosted on Headwize, but the site seems to have gone offline.

It was a single stage resistively-loaded MOSFET follower, a unity gain current buffer used to drive headphones.

If I was going to built it today, I would build it as the attached schematic. It's little changed really, just an active current source replacing the source resistor. It runs about 2 watts per channel. Distortion figures aren't great, but the operating point is reasonably optimized for 16-300 ohm loads. The transistor parts are just placeholders for the simulation. In practice you'd use something like BD135.

Mostly though the LTSpice sim is just to serve as a reminder of how poor this circuit topology is, and how well it was designed originally. Even on a "best effort" basis there's little more to eke out from it than was already in the original.
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Old

JLH-2005 headphone amplifier

Posted 18th May 2015 at 08:15 AM by rjm
Updated 20th May 2015 at 12:25 AM by rjm

I was perusing this thread earlier today. Which led me to what I think is the original source, at least as a modern, relatively clean headphone amp version of the original original (by way of ESP).

Some comments from our own Nelson Pass are seemingly relevant.

The rough sim, below (LTSpice .zip attached), shows that the circuit performs well enough. The linearity of the circuit is commendable, but the bias currents and DC offset stability (before the coupling cap, which I added to the sim - the original JLH-2005 circuit is DC coupled!) are most definitely not.

In my humble opinion single-ended output stages should be AC (transformer or capacitor) coupled and the biasing circuit should be designed to have reasonable operating point stability.

AC coupled, and simplified to a single supply voltage, the circuit is of interest primarily for its ability to run at very low voltages - 5V operation is perfectly possible. See attached "Bonus"....
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Old

A headphone amplifier gain calculator

Posted 2nd May 2015 at 05:30 AM by rjm
Updated 2nd May 2015 at 05:33 AM by rjm

You input the headphone sensitivity and impedance, and it spits out what I think is the ideal amplifier gain.

Even if you disagree (personal preference, difference input levels, etc.), the difference will be consistent regardless of headphone as long as the specified parameters are correct.

The gain value setting is tailored to normal line level input and listening fairly loud with the volume control at 9~10 o'clock. The output series resistance is assumed to be zero ohms.

Adjust as desired, and note that 3~6 dB either way will still be a usable. If your amp has a large output series resistance the gain Av should be scaled up as,

(Routput + headphone Z)/(headphone Z)
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Old

Doin' a "Gilmore" : a discrete transistor headphone amplifier

Posted 10th March 2015 at 12:17 AM by rjm
Updated 13th March 2015 at 10:42 PM by rjm

Recently I spent some time updating the diamond buffer of Sapphire headphone amp circuit. Later I stumbled on Kevin Gilmore's headphone amp circuit. Well, I'd read it before, but it had slipped my mind.

On seeing the Gilmore circuit again the thought process re. a Sapphire+Gilmore went something as follows,

"Toss out op amp, convert the Gilmore dual-LTP front end to bipolar, bolt the Sapphire3 buffer stage to the back, and substitute in the Sapphire3 current sources. Wrap in a mild feedback loop."

The result is shown attached. The Vbe multiplier is still a simple resistor (R33) ... that may need to be refined to add thermal throttling. The offset servo is not shown, but the action is shown as Vadj. Alternatively a trim pot would be placed between R30 and R32 to provide a small measure of offset adjustment. Most of the open loop gain is controlled by R14,R15 ... it seems to me that some work could still be done in that area. Despite going...
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Old

Which is better, Sennheiser HD600 or AKG K702?

Posted 25th February 2015 at 12:24 PM by rjm
Updated 25th February 2015 at 11:41 PM by rjm

The HD600s.

Ok, so why donít you like the K702s?

I didnít say I didnít like them. Just that I think the HD600s are better.

Itís pretty simple really:

The K702s have a strident, hard upper-midrange "bump" that I find disagreeable. Yes, it makes tracks sound more ďliveĒ, but itís also fatiguing and a bit clinical, and - as many others before have noted - makes the sound overall somewhat thin. In direct comparison the HD600s seem full the point of boominess, but I'm willing to accept that midbass plumpness for the Sennheiser's warmer, luxurious midrange. In imaging, the K702s trend to a wide, distant, airy soundstage while the HD600s run towards a closed in, intimate presentation. In that sense the K702 are more like listening to speakers, and I can certainly see people being attracted to that.

These are both top-shelf headphones at the top of their game, I don't mean to imply that the AKGs are bad. The two...
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Old

Z-reg II improved simple Zener voltage regulator

Posted 22nd February 2015 at 01:24 AM by rjm
Updated 28th February 2015 at 06:17 AM by rjm

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.
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Old

Gustard H10 Headphone Amplifier

Posted 14th February 2015 at 11:47 AM by rjm
Updated 12th April 2015 at 02:59 AM by rjm

Technical Specifications:

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...
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Old

Headphone Sensitivity: AKG K702 vs. Sennheiser HD 600

Posted 7th February 2015 at 06:47 AM by rjm
Updated 14th February 2015 at 09:13 AM by rjm

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.

First though, a note on sensitivity:

K702: 62 ohms, 105 SPL/V
HD600: 300 ohms, 97 dB/mW

Different units. Grrr!

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.

In numbers,

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...
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Old

Refining the Open Loop Diamond Buffer Headphone Driver (RJM Audio Sapphire 3.0)

Posted 31st January 2015 at 12:28 PM by rjm
Updated 18th March 2015 at 01:52 AM by rjm (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.

LTSpice files below. R5,R6 on LTSpice...
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