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Chip Amps Amplifiers based on integrated circuits

The best sounding audio integrated opamps
The best sounding audio integrated opamps
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Old 11th February 2013, 09:44 AM   #2081
teleman is offline teleman  Norway
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Thanks abraxalito for your invaluable comments. There is no earthloop, hum or any other grounding issues as I've "star" grounding & all +/- pins are decoupled with 0.1uF polyester film caps. I've also incorporated an earth lift switch. Surprisingly there isn't any RF/EMI problems either despite I had reinstalled the preamp from dicast alu box to an ABS enclosure.

Yes,you're absolutely right in your assertion in using single supply, especially from an economical perspective. It's just that the pre doesn't sound "open" or"spacy" on 9v single supply. The difference is like night & day with +/- 9 (12 or 15v!)

You may agree that a sonically pure ic may not be as musical as a jellybean one with some specification deficiencies! JRC 4558 is a good example of this as the most sought after chip for Ibanez TS effects! This could be due to the fact that NE5532 too is nearly 30 yrs old & not as efficient as the modern chips yet highly musical in a particular application.

I will definitely try the LM6172...I actually considered it at one time,but decided against as it was rather pricy for my liking.

Last edited by teleman; 11th February 2013 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 11th February 2013, 11:04 AM   #2082
abraxalito is offline abraxalito  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleman View Post
Thanks abraxalito for your invaluable comments. There is no earthloop, hum or any other grounding issues as I've "star" grounding & all +/- pins are decoupled with 0.1uF polyester film caps.
I've found the traditional style of two 0.1uF caps from each rail to gnd at the chip problematic for SQ. I'm guessing this has to do with the supply rail HF hash getting on to the gnd. I prefer nowadays to have a series resistor with the caps - somewhere in the range 1-4R7 is typical. This attenuates HF hash on the local gnd because all gnd connections come with inductance. My other solution is going balanced whereby no current flows to gnd and therefore no decoupling needs to be to gnd.

Quote:
Yes,you're absolutely right in your assertion in using single supply, especially from an economical perspective. It's just that the pre doesn't sound "open" or"spacy" on 9v single supply. The difference is like night & day with +/- 9 (12 or 15v!)
Perhaps this is the 5532 not liking such low supplies - I don't know because I've never tried a 5532 at 9V.

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I will definitely try the LM6172...I actually considered it at one time,but decided against as it was rather pricy for my liking.
Yes, its more expensive than 5532. Hard to find an opamp which isn't as the 5532 is such a great bargain.

@suntechnik - I've tried AD8065 which is the single version of AD8066. It adds a top end colouration which I don't care for. I got some really cheap but I doubt I'll use them much because of this. I'm not the only person who's noticed this colouration. On paper though it looks excellent.
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Last edited by abraxalito; 11th February 2013 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 11th February 2013, 11:45 AM   #2083
teleman is offline teleman  Norway
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Originally Posted by suntechnik View Post
I liked instrumental AD8620 for demanding tweaking. AD8066 is good all around.
Would consider OPA2134 as a ball park for audio instead of NE.
Well, you should read Dougles Self's (the famed Sound Craft & other mixer designer) very detailed technical report on OPA2134. Appararntly, according to Mr.Self's tests, has a very nasty distortion curve around & above 10kHz! On the other hand, NE5532 faired far better if not beat many of the newer chips on specs!

I've used OPA2134 as very high impedance input buffer, but found it a bit susceptible to short circuit & sudden power failure! I've indeed destroyed a few,but found OPA2132 more stable & better sounding!
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Old 25th March 2013, 03:40 PM   #2084
cogitech is offline cogitech  Canada
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Over the past several weeks I have been trying several opamps in my WM8740-based DAC and I will offer my impressions of them for this purpose:

1) OP275 - This is the opamp that was included with the DAC. Warm and smooth, but boringly so. Flat.

2) AD8599 - Generally good, with decent sound stage, but the top end is too hot and seems slightly distorted. Not "real" sounding.

3) OPA2132 - Very nice and well-balanced. Great bass. Warm, but not overly so. Slightly receded highs make for less forward sound and slightly narrower sound stage than AD8599, but still far more pleasurable to listen to.

4) OPA2107 - All the same great sound as the 2132, except the top end is better and the sound stage and imaging are improved. Perhaps slightly less bass? Either way, I really like this one. If I had not tried #5 below, this would be my opamp.

5) AD8066 - Thick, but fast bass. Incredible treble extension. Excellent mids. Sounds extremely accurate and fast. The sound stage and stereo separation seems twice as wide as any of the others and the imaging just blows my mind.

You can probably guess that the AD8066 is my current favourite. I generally like the "warmer Burr Brown sound", but I am running tube amplification, so I get plenty of warmth from that.

I find the combination of a fast, clean, crisp, accurate (analytical?) source with tube amplification and single-driver full range speakers to be very potent and impressive!

I may switch back to the OPA2107 and/or OPA2132 at some point just to hear the difference once again, but I think the AD8066 has found a permanent home in my DAC.

Last edited by cogitech; 25th March 2013 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 25th March 2013, 05:37 PM   #2085
Kindhornman is offline Kindhornman  United States
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The best sounding audio integrated opamps
My question is are any of these test fair to the devices that are being tested here? What I mean by that statement is that if you are merely rolling opamps and not optimizing each one for the circuit in question is the test valid? From what I gather from my reading each opamp may operate optimally under slightly different conditions, voltage changes and such, along with any needed external decoupling capacitors and other factors may significantly change the characteristics of the opamp in question. So if each op was optimized and then subjectively compared the results could be very different.
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Old 25th March 2013, 06:12 PM   #2086
cogitech is offline cogitech  Canada
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Originally Posted by Kindhornman View Post
My question is are any of these test fair to the devices that are being tested here? What I mean by that statement is that if you are merely rolling opamps and not optimizing each one for the circuit in question is the test valid? From what I gather from my reading each opamp may operate optimally under slightly different conditions, voltage changes and such, along with any needed external decoupling capacitors and other factors may significantly change the characteristics of the opamp in question. So if each op was optimized and then subjectively compared the results could be very different.
Indeed. This is very true. However, not all of us have the knowledge or skills to optimize a circuit for each specific opamp. For those of us whose circuit is static (as purchased) all we can hope to do is roll through opamps till we find one that subjectively sounds best in that circuit.

This is why I stated my particular use of the opamp before my listening notes. It is only relevant to those people using the device in the same/similar manner, and then just barely so because it is subjective anyway.

To be clear, I certainly do not think any absolute statements can be made about an opamp other than what is stated in its spec sheet.

Despite all of this, I have noticed that each opamp does seem to have a general "flavour". It seems this way, at least, because there does seem to be some general consensus about the sound of some opamps. Most people agree, for instance, that OPAs are generally warmer than ADs, and that the OPA2132 sounds better than the OPA2134, etc. etc.

In the end it really is anecdotal evidence, but it is important. It was this kind of info that inspired me to try all of the opamps I did, and I am glad I did so.
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Old 25th March 2013, 06:37 PM   #2087
Kindhornman is offline Kindhornman  United States
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The best sounding audio integrated opamps
cogitech,
At least that is a very honest answer. If we are only going off of subjective information then everyone would really have to make up their own mind as I doubt that many agree on what sounds best to them. When it comes down to circuit design then I would expect the designer to optimize each circuit for each device if an honest answer is really being looked for on a technical basis. For you you have found what you are looking for and that is fine. We just have to remember that in each situation with a different circuit topology the results can easily change.
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Old 25th March 2013, 07:12 PM   #2088
suntechnik is offline suntechnik  Russian Federation
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Originally Posted by cogitech View Post
However, not all of us have the knowledge or skills to optimize a circuit for each specific opamp.
There is no such thing like "optimizing a circuit for specific opamp". Opamp is a standard building block. Right opapmp has to be picked up for specific task that is true.

For example instrumental AD8620 data-sheet claims "APPLICATIONS: High performance audio" so there is nothing wrong in using AD8620 instead of NE.
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Old 25th March 2013, 07:22 PM   #2089
Kindhornman is offline Kindhornman  United States
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The best sounding audio integrated opamps
suntechnik,
That would seem to go against some of what is in both the Bob Cordell and Doug Self books on design. Doug has a certain way that he parallels opamps to lower distortion rather than using higher cost opamps. So I do not think that the statement that all opamps that are called audio opamps says that they are all equivalent in use. There is more to it than the general case, there is also the specific construction and component design of each opamp that would need to be considered.
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Old 25th March 2013, 07:24 PM   #2090
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Originally Posted by suntechnik View Post
There is no such thing like "optimizing a circuit for specific opamp". Opamp is a standard building block. Right opapmp has to be picked up for specific task that is true.

For example instrumental AD8620 data-sheet claims "APPLICATIONS: High performance audio" so there is nothing wrong in using AD8620 instead of NE.
I think you need to brush up a little on this. Every op-amp has a few things that were optimized in place of others. Loading varies, compensation varies, drive capability, etc. Some like being pulled into class A, others don't. When they ever invent a perfect op-amp, then it will be a standard building block. Until then, they are a complex part just like every other.
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