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The Lab Circuit ideas and innovations, not yet part of a full project.
Old

Z-reg II improved simple Zener voltage regulator

Posted 22nd February 2015 at 02:24 AM by rjm
Updated 22nd February 2015 at 11:25 PM 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.

It works as well as it does because the output current is very low, allowing a pass transistor with a high current gain (h_fe) to be used. It becomes more important in this instance to have clean reference to apply to the transistor base. Otherwise the quality of the output voltage is limited not by the ripple on the collector - but by the ripple on the base.

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.
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Old

Refining the Open Loop Diamond Buffer Headphone Driver

Posted 31st January 2015 at 01:28 PM by rjm
Updated Today 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

Windows volume control settings in dB.

Posted 23rd August 2014 at 12:33 PM by rjm
Updated 27th August 2014 at 07:39 AM by rjm

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.

So now you know.
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Old

Technics SU-9070

Posted 20th May 2014 at 01:01 AM by rjm
Updated 20th May 2014 at 03:15 AM by rjm

The Technics SU-9070 is a 2U rack mount stereo preamplifier from 1977, matched to the SE-9060 amplifier. The preamp was sold as the SU-9070II in Japan.

The circuit is shown below, for educational purposes.

The power supply regulation is quite elegant, I hope to get to that in a future post. Here, just note that there are separate regulated lines for the MC stage, the input/VAS sections of the MM and line amps, and the output sections of the MM and line amps.
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Old

Technics SE-9060

Posted 19th May 2014 at 01:04 AM by rjm
Updated 20th May 2014 at 12:58 AM by rjm

There was a series of relatively slim (2U chassis rather than 4U), upmarket audio separates put out by Technics in 1977: the ST-9030T tuner, SU-9070 preamplifier, and SE-9060 amplifier. They are two degrees of separation from the top of the line models at the time, the range went 9600>9200>90x0.

I recently acquired the tuner (more on that some other time) and have the others in my sights.

For educational purposes, the amplifier schematic for the SE-9060 is shown below. The input stage and voltage amplifier was driven from regulated 55 V supplies (Va+ Va-), while the driver stage was powered directly by the rectified DC at about 50 V (Vb+ Vb-) filtered with 18,000 uF per rail per channel.

Note that there were 9060 and 9060II as well as 9070 and 9070II models in Japan, but the export model of the preamp which sold as the 9070 was actually the 9070II rather than the 9070 domestic version. Likewise the SE-9060 shown below (from a European...
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Old

Gemini Amp - and an idea for yet another headphone amp output stage

Posted 25th April 2014 at 11:13 PM by rjm
Updated 26th April 2014 at 08:19 AM by rjm

As a companion post to the GeminiPS I thought I'd throw the amplifier circuit out there too...

It's not something you'd have any reason to built today I think, but some of the ideas are worth revisiting.

The output stage is what is normally referred to as a complimentary Sziklai pair. The LTSpice circuit below uses the same output, but with the diamond buffer type bias, with it all scaled down to headphone-amplifier voltages and loads. It would be interesting to compare it against i.e. the conventional diamond buffer used in the Sapphire headphone amp. Maybe I'll get around to it. The simulation shows a bit more transient peaking than the straight diamond buffer, ideally there could be some way of adding compensation / reducing the bandwidth to more reasonable levels.
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Old

Voltage regulators for (line level?) audio: The GeminiPS

Posted 22nd April 2014 at 02:40 AM by rjm
Updated 24th April 2014 at 12:40 AM by rjm

Part of a series.

The GeminiPS is another discrete series voltage regulator, with a Zener reference and bipolar pass transistor. It's an old circuit, published in Practical Electronics in 1970-71, and written by D.S. Gibbs and I.M. Shaw. I happen to have a reprint, but there's a nice overview here.

For reference it might be worth checking back to the two transistor regulator. The GeminiPS circuit is related in the sense that it is a more sophisticated take on the same basic principle. With just a handful of components we have a stabilized, 30 W output with soft turn on and short circuit protection. The circuit can be scaled up and down relatively easily, and the complimentary (negative output) version is an easy modification.

The pass transistor (TR2/3, Q2/3) is between the circuit common and the rectifier anodes. This may seem odd, but it was relatively common back in the day when high voltage transistors were both expensive and rare. The...
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Old

Voltage Regulators for Line Level Audio. Part 10 : Simple Shunts

Posted 11th April 2014 at 07:59 AM by rjm
Updated 16th April 2014 at 12:52 AM by rjm

Part of a series.

I've been meaning to take up shunt regulators for some time. I've never got around to building one myself to try, so I'll have to make do by playing in simulation.

Today's circuit is the shunt analog of the Z-reg series regulator: no feedback, Zener reference, single transistor regulation. The output impedance and ripple rejection-characteristics are similar too, with about 40 dB of RR and an output impedance of just a few ohms. It can be built equivalently from either an pnp or pnp transistor. (See attached LTSpice .asc files.)

The difference between shunt and series regulation can best be explained by considering the upstream power supply: In a series regulator an increase in current demand by the load causes the regulator to increase the current to compensate. In a shunt regulator an increase in current demand by the load causes the regulator to decrease the shunt current to balance, so there is no net change in current flowing...
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File Type: asc voltageregulator8-pnp.asc (1.5 KB, 128 views)
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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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