Posted 24th July 2016 at 02:11 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 27th July 2016 at 12:45 AM byrjm
Although the original Sapphire headphone amp can be configured as a line stage, or use as-is as a line stage, I've gone ahead and made a new circuit variant with a new set of boards.
The Sapphire Line (in development) combines the shunt-series regulator, bboard 2.0 buffer and an op amp voltage gain stage. Same basic idea as the Sapphire of course, but with a much less beefy output stage so the low noise regulator can be added and everything still fits on the board.
rev 10e - now with support for 2520 op amp modules
To confirm the calibration of the sound card input and output gain. Also, to determine the relationship between the signal voltage, the recorded signal amplitude displayed in Audacity, and the signal peak and noise baseline levels in the FFT spectra.
* Setting the volume slider of the device output to 100 gives 1 V rms output for an amplitude 0.5 sine wave.
* Setting the volume slider of the device recording line input to 100 gives records a 1 V rms tone as an amplitude 0.5 sine wave, which is displayed in the frequency spectrum (FFT) as peak of magnitude 0 dB in Audacity when both channels are averaged.
* volume setting 100 needed for unity gain loopback.
* 0.5 amplitude sine wave = 0 dB FFT = 1 V rms.
* noise baseline in averaged stereo FFT is 3 dB lower than single channel measurement....
Posted 17th June 2016 at 02:44 PM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 20th December 2016 at 12:01 PM byrjm
I'm not totally sure this would work as advertised, but I can't see any obvious reason why it would not...
It's pretty much the same circuit as I used in the CrystalFET, which started out in a previous blog post in the Voltage Regulators for Line Level Audio series, but here I've replaced the MOSFETs with bipolars. It is shown configured to deliver 20 mA @ 12 V, split supply. Enough to power an op amp phono stage for example, or a preamp, or the voltage gain stage of a headphone amplifier.
Posted 26th February 2016 at 12:11 PM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 27th February 2016 at 01:18 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 01:49 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 22nd February 2016 at 09:35 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 19th February 2016 at 12:14 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 7th April 2016 at 07:58 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 08:11 AM byrjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 24th February 2016 at 02:02 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...