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Old

Z-reg II improved simple Zener voltage regulator

Posted 22nd February 2015 at 02:24 AM by rjm
Updated 28th February 2015 at 07:17 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

Refining the Open Loop Diamond Buffer Headphone Driver

Posted 31st January 2015 at 01:28 PM by rjm
Updated 27th February 2015 at 05:40 AM by rjm (update schematic to final)

A couple of years ago I built a standard op amp + diamond buffer headphone amplifier, called the Sapphire.

It's a fairly common circuit, from eBay on up its not hard to find similar designs. The Sapphire is distinguished by its full dual mono design, Zener voltage regulators (Z-regs), and by keeping the buffer circuit outside of the op amp feedback loop.

Regarding the feedback loop, there are two schools of thought:

1. Put the buffer inside the feedback loop, so the op amp does active error correction on the output signal, and the buffer provides the high speed currents required to make that correction.

2. Put the buffer outside the feedback loop to isolate the load from the op amp. The load currents are provided by the buffer, but the output signal relies entirely on the low output impedance of the buffer for accuracy.

The explanation is too long to bother with here, but I am strongly in favor of using a buffer...
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Old

Phonoclone noise measurements

Posted 3rd October 2014 at 01:40 AM by rjm
Updated 3rd October 2014 at 10:27 AM by rjm

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...
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Old

The case of the crazy Sapphire amp.

Posted 3rd April 2014 at 02:24 AM by rjm
Updated 3rd April 2014 at 12:07 PM by rjm

Case report:

A set of Sapphire boards gave the proper V+, V- voltages out of the Z-reg, providing about 10.5 and -10.5 to op amp power pins. The output offsets were unusually high however, apparently at about 2 V in one board, and somewhat less in the other. Typically the offsets are in the order of +/-15 mV.

Changing out transistors and op amps did not help, and to all inspection the passive components were installed correctly and working properly. The offset voltages were extremely temperature sensitive. Measurements for the various circuit voltages were just screwy enough to be inconclusive.

I could ask for no more tests, so requested the boards be sent back to me. I found the circuit basically worked as expected, but the offsets were indeed high on both boards, though I measured 0.6 V max rather than 2 V.

***** stop here and make a guess *****

Blowing on the board through a soda straw, the offset shot up when I blew on...
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Old

Upgrading the Sapphire headphone amplifier (photos)

Posted 17th December 2013 at 11:10 PM by rjm
Updated 20th December 2013 at 11:14 AM by rjm

Straightforward transplant. Out with the old (anyone want them?) in with the new. Re-used the OPA134 op amp and my dog-eared pair of 0.47uF Multicaps.

On powering up I discovered that with the specified 10 ohms in R9,10 the output bias current was upwards of 200 mA and things were getting a bit toasty. I paralleled a second 10 ohm resistor, dropping the resistance to 5 ohms and dialing back the output bias current to about 70 mA. Latest schematic revision has R9,10 values edited to match.

Currents stable. Heatsink temperatures around 50 C. Output offsets around 15 mV. No noise or hum.

Presently giving it some burn in time.
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Old

Sapphire Headphone Amplifier rev. 2.0

Posted 22nd November 2013 at 12:45 AM by rjm
Updated 5th January 2014 at 09:17 AM by rjm (update schematic to 20f4)

Update: I've ordered parts for small number of Sapphire 2.0 kits. The normal price will be $125, but as an introductory offer the first batch will be available for $100. Kit includes a set of boards and all the parts for the board. You need to supply the transformers and diodes, as well as a volume control, and the chassis hardware.

Update: boards are in stock, see photo.

Original here, diyaudio thread here.

November. That time of year for finally getting around to advancing some of my audio projects a little.

The Sapphire has remained in "rev 1+" for some time now, partly because of time constraints, partly because of the lack of popularity, and partly because it was already a re-spin of the beta version and worked just fine.

There were a few housekeeping things I wanted to add though, which have been included in the 2.0 revision.

- added a dedicated ground (GND) pad to connect to chassis...
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Old

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

Posted 3rd May 2013 at 09:24 AM by rjm
Updated 6th May 2013 at 12:52 AM 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

X-reg voltage stabilizer LTSPICE file

Posted 15th March 2013 at 02:54 AM by rjm
Updated 20th March 2013 at 02:47 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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Old

Phonoclone boards, soldering, and Q1, Q2.

Posted 7th February 2013 at 06:34 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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Old

B-board Boxer Project : A Low Voltage Headphone Amplifier for 16 ohm Loads

Posted 7th July 2012 at 01:19 AM by rjm
Updated 29th September 2012 at 03:58 AM by rjm

I always seem to end up optimizing my headphone amplifier circuits for higher impedance headphones, this mostly happens because I own a pair of 300 ohm HD-600s and it is tedious to design for both the voltage requirements of high impedance headphones and the current requirements of low impedance headphones.

Not impossible, just, for the class-A designs I seem to be building recently, increasingly large, heavy, and impractical.

Complimentary transistor circuits, however, offer the opportunity to swap voltage for current at something close to the same design cost. They are therefore a practical topology for efficient class-A power delivery into low impedance headphones. As a design experiment, my aim is to discover how far I can leverage an ultra-low-voltage, unity gain circuit for compactness without sacrificing sound quality.

Ok. Back-of-the-envelope calculations:

A typical 16 ohm in-ear-headphone has a sensitivity of 100-105...
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