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Old 24th February 2013, 04:06 PM   #21
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ginetto61 View Post
Please let me explain what I intend for minimalism
I meant designs with low devices count
Let's take a line preamp
I have seen line preamps with one mosfet and other with 20 active devices per channel.
Quite a difference. And incidentally that one with one mosfet was the better sounding by a good margin.
This should mean something.
Or not ?
Is it reasonable to use 20 transistors for a line stage ?
Regards,
g
A well executed one mosfet may be better than a poor 20 mosfet, but a well executed 20 mosfet may be better than either. Or, one with a correct parts count for the design. Some seem to like non-buffered inputs and outputs with insufficient line level drive. I even did the passive line stage for a while, until I learned better. My low end Hafler FET preamp sounds better and my CA-5 Nak better still. I have never heard the Threshold, Halo or the Bolerby from Audio Amateur. They all have more than one FET, that's for sure. I am one of those wierdo's who actually prefers to have tone controls in my preamp and wish we still had loudness controls. Wide band amps with infra and ultra sonic filters are not a bad thing IMHO.

One way to look at it was a story I heard many years ago about Dynaco. Hafler told the designer to build it right, then start taking out parts until you heard a difference. Good story at least.
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Old 24th February 2013, 04:49 PM   #22
dmills is offline dmills  United Kingdom
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My general experience is that for most audio things, the majority of my BOM is around the edges anyway... Case, power supplies, RFI and transient protection, input and output buffering, holding bandwidth down to something sane, it all takes parts.

While you can build somethig that might work in a particular situation without much of that stuff, if you want a box that will just work reliably with random sources and loads hooked up, you need all that pain and it typically adds at least as many parts as the core circuit has.

I would concur about the value of engineering time Vs BOM cost for anything except consumer products.

There is something of a move among some audiophile to go for 'everything sould be as simple as possible..... AND THEN SOME', and it usually results in wince inducingly awful gear.

Regards, Dan.
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Old 26th February 2013, 06:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeter View Post
... minimalist approach? welcome to tubes,
where are few components used, but quality of each one is very important.
working in ems company,so i am quite familiar with this "mess"
Hi ! it is one of my point.
Tube circuits are often pretty basic with low active devices count.
I do not understand that the same approach could work also with solid state, maybe not ? i ask because maybe it is not a viable approach with SS ...
But I have to say that looking at schematics from the 70s amps of that era looks more basic than current ones.
Not minimalist in the radical way like the generation of Aleph amps
But still simpler than the common today offering.
Like a trend to make things complicated.
Thanks a lot and regards,
bg
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Old 26th February 2013, 06:24 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vynuhl.addict View Post
... you must mean commercially.
Colin
Yes, I am referring expecially to commercial products.
I gave a look at some power amps ... really really complicated.
I am pretty sure that very good simple projects already exist or are possible.
Why not keep things as simplest as possible ?
Not only.
I read a lot of very positive reviews about Aleph amps
And then the comment that they are "fussy" about speakers because of low power and high output impedance I think.
But if those amps give a spectacular sound why not first select the amp and then the right speaker to mate with it ?
Moreover with a little more complex schematics we can have also amps with more flexibility for different speakers (i.e. more power and lower output impedance).
Regards,
bg
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Old 26th February 2013, 06:49 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CopperTop View Post
I think it's to do with degrees of freedom. The more minimal your design, the more likely it is that in order to change one parameter, you will affect several others, and lose the ability to set parameters arbitrarily. By compartmentalising each function with its own sub-circuit, (or piece of software code, or speaker driver) you give yourself the chance to achieve the truly optimal system.
In the past I have been baffled by engineers' apparent instinct to minimise parts count/cost, or avoid ICs, at the very start of projects, regardless of whether it was going to be an issue in the finished product. My attitude is that components are very cheap compared to engineers' time, and every day spent trying to cram code into a too-small microcontroller, or ameliorating the effects of source impedance when an op amp buffer would have cost $0.10, is a huge waste unless the product is going to sell by the thousands. In DIY it simply isn't an issue.
I know that in audio there is a notion that says that every extra component in the signal path is somehow thickening the nice wiggly line on the oscilloscope trace, and fogging up the music, but I got over that particular superstition some time ago.
Hi ! i think i understand your points
But I ask again ... if extremely good sound can be achieved with simple (let's not say minimalist) topologies why not dedicate more efforts to parts selection or circuit "fine tuning" ?
As an example I was referring to line preamps.
They have quite simple task: gain 2 o 3 and signal buffering
Or even just buffers: I see famous buffers with different level of complexity, from very basic ones (diamond buffers of 4 components) to extremely complex one
Are we sure that the extremely complex ones are the best sounding ?
maybe a 4 devices diamond buffer has a spectacular sound
Why go instead for buffer with 3 or 4 times the devices for the same purpose ?
Maybe there are reasons but ... they must be very robust ones.
Thanks and kind regards,
gino
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Old 26th February 2013, 07:06 PM   #26
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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tubes are unreliable, large, expensive, power hungry and robust to transient V, power over their ratings

small signal transistors are reliable, small, cheap, and "fragile" in respect to over Voltage, Power

so it makes sense to "complicate" SS circuits with added protection, limiting

and to improve cirucit performance with compound transistors, buffering, added gain since you don't pay very much additional price - all of the "extra" the added Q for cascoding, ccs, buffers, even added gain stage like error correction parts in many audio power amps cost less than one added tube, the extra power less a single heater


and of course if the circuit function can be performed by monoithic op amps, they can beat discrete on many of the dimensions of design effort, board area, price, and measured performance

discrete can have an advantage in noise performane for phono preamps - just about the only place left in home audio reproduction where this is true

at line level from the output of our digital sources the input noise of properly selected op amps isn't a home audio listening limitation

Last edited by jcx; 26th February 2013 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 26th February 2013, 07:30 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post
tubes are unreliable, large, expensive, power hungry and robust to transient V, power over their ratings
small signal transistors are reliable, small, cheap, and "fragile" in respect to over Voltage, Power
so it makes sense to "complicate" SS circuits with added protection, limiting
and to improve cirucit performance with compound transistors, buffering, added gain since you don't pay very much additional price - all of the "extra" the added Q for cascoding, ccs, buffers, even added gain stage like error correction parts in many audio power amps cost less than one added tube, the extra power less a single heater
Hi and thank you very much for your very interesting reply
I do not understand if you think that is not possible to achieve very good sound with simple topologies
I mentioned tubes beacuse they are used in very simple circuits
Maybe similar circuits can be built with transistors/mosfets ?
Thanks again and regards,
gino
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Old 26th February 2013, 07:55 PM   #28
benb is offline benb  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ginetto61 View Post
Hi to Everyone !
I have one generic questions on circuit design that is: why minimalist circuits are not very popular ?
For minimalism read low active devices count.
Apart from the Nelson Pass school I see circuits with lots of active devices, even for a simple line preamp so to speak
Are they intrinsically limited ?
Having less components, aren't they easier to fine-tune ?
Thank you very much indeed
Kind regards,
gino
I've lurked a bit in the Pass forums and find his design philosophy intriguing. Despite not having golden ears and unsure if I can tell the difference, I'll have try one of his design someday.

A 12AV6/50C5 audio stage works, even with wide component tolerances and they were made by the millions in "All American 5" AM broadcast radios. On the other hand I'm sure it doesn't have good distortion figures.

Nelson Pass' circuits are about as simple as those, but undoubtedly better. Part of that is surely the "fine tuning" and matching of components, something that makes the process more time consuming and less simple than it looks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
There is a rule of thumb which says that for any BJT, 1mV peak of signal voltage causes 1% of second harmonic distortion (5mV gives 5% etc.). That means that most simple circuits simply can't work if you want the output to be anything like an amplified version of the input. Minimalism is an engineering dead end.

Of course, there may be merit in not making a circuit more complex than it needs to be but that is a different question.
And this helps explain why most BJT circuits have so many transistors. Power amps look just like opamps with differential input stages, a voltage gain stage and current-gain output stage. Each one does its work without much change of Vbe - in fact, the circuitry tends to rely more on current gain, which is more (nearly) linear in BJT's, and to top it all off, the large voltage gain of the system is brought back down with a large amount of negative feedback. Because of this, the design is tolerant of component variation - each transistor can have markedly varying performance (as in current gain) from the next, yet each completed unit off the assembly line works pretty much the same as others without any component fine tuning.

One might argue that Pass' designs (and I presume other low-parts-count hifi designs) hide the complexity in the fine tuning of the components.
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Old 26th February 2013, 08:06 PM   #29
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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One might argue that some simple designs hide the distortion by a form of suggestion: tell the builder/buyer that he can't hear the distortion because it is 'nice' distortion and he may believe you. Once he has bought the item he may tell his friends too. I wonder whether there is any correlation between people who prefer simple designs, and people who are very open to hypnosis. Both require people to sincerely believe things which are not true.
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Old 26th February 2013, 08:17 PM   #30
rdf is offline rdf  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
One might argue that some simple designs hide the distortion by a form of suggestion: tell the builder/buyer that he can't hear the distortion because it is 'nice' distortion and he may believe you.
The documented perceptual limits of distortion are pretty well known these days. I suggest the opposite, that these limits are ignored to achieve the lowest possible measured performance at the expense of added complication. For those of us who lived through the original brochure distortion races, buyers hypnotized to believe 0.001% is ten times nicer than 0.01% were a common experience. It wasn't true.
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