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chris ma 2nd January 2002 04:33 PM

Please let me know any information regarding occillation occurs in a amprefier.

I would like to know:-
Is there a easy way to tell or measure occillation?
What effect/damage occillation will have to components?
Ways to prevent/cure occillation?
What are the tell tales signs of occillation?

Happy New Year to all.

kiwi_abroad 2nd January 2002 10:34 PM

Hello Chris,

We really need some more info on you amp to answer some of your questions, but here is some general info.

Oscillation in amps can occur at almost any frequency, from sub-sonic (Tube amps with poor output transfomers and NFB) up to many megahertz. If it's in the audible region, well, you can hear it, at least untill your tweeters pop. I suspect you are concerned with high frequency oscillation though.

Another source of high frequency oscillation is RF pickup, where your cables act as anetnna and the amplifier tries to amplify the signal.

Ideally, beg borrow or steal an oscilloscope, and start probing. Other signs are a distorted/harsh sound, or your output transistors getting warm or hot (or blowing) with no load (assuming it's not a class A amp).

Prevention is ideally in the design. I can't comment unless more info is given, preferably a schematic. Poor PCB layout, and long or unshielded cables don't help either.

This is all relatively common knowledge, other may have more detailed info.

Cheers, Adrian

chris ma 3rd January 2002 12:56 PM

Adrian, thanks for the reply.

Actually Geoff already warned me about the bad wiring of my 1996 version JLH class A would cause occillation about a month ago. My JLH 1996 is done by hardwire, no PCB.

I just want to learn more about the subject before I re-arrange the heat sinks and re-wire the amp.

The problem I have is the first 15 minutes of switch on when the amp is getting warm/heat up. During this time I can hear high frequency screeches occasionally may be 5 times lasted a second each. But after 15 minutes everything seems ok. What worry me is that I might not hear it if it is still occillating without me knowing.

Yes, when I moved one of the power ground wires from the power supply board to the amp board star point around I can hear the high frequency like turning a radio tuning knob. I have moved it to a position so that it is not producing any noise for now. But the power up occillation still occurs.

I only have two multi-meters and two soldering irons on hand, and my circle of friends only know how to change a light bulb. Any help I can get from this forum and Geoff is highly appreciated.


GRollins 3rd January 2002 01:29 PM

You'll need an oscilloscope. No ifs, ands, or buts. From what you're describing, I'd avoid using that amp until you get it debugged, as an oscillating circuit can rip a poor, unsuspecting tweeter limb from limb.


chris ma 3rd January 2002 02:52 PM

So, is it the high frequency like the one that rodents can hear but not human causes the destruction of tweeters? Or is it the heat thus generated by the high frequency due to occillation? Or is it the DC voltage that destroy the tweeter? Or is it the combination of all the aboves? Would Mid-range woofers also can be damaged by occillation?


tiroth 3rd January 2002 03:08 PM

hf oscillation may not be reproducible by the mechanics of the tweeters but is still passed by the crossover, so it can destroy them either through gross power overload or loading that they were not designed to handle.

*if* the only non-signal spectral component is above the audible band, then the low-pass sections of the crossover *should* protect the woofer/midrange.

The symptoms prior to the destruction of one one of my (thankfully cheap) tweeters was a high tone that rapidly increased in frequency, becoming silent, followed by the *pop* of the tweeter self destructing.

daatkins 3rd January 2002 03:16 PM

If your amplifier has a zobel network on the output (a cap and low value resistor connected in series from output to ground), you can sometimes detect oscillation by feeling if the resistor gets warm.

This test is no substitute for having a scope though.

chris ma 3rd January 2002 06:21 PM

I am looking at the Instek GOS-620 - 20MHz Dual-Channel Oscilloscope. Does anyone know this product? Will it suit my needs for building amps or is it under/over kill for my diy purpose? I do not want to buy something that I can only utilise 10% of it.

Please advise.

GRollins 3rd January 2002 06:28 PM

Contrary to popular opinion, it's not too much power that kills drivers, it's too little. Too little power leads to clipping; essentially forming square waves out of sine waves. Since the 'duty cycle' of a square wave is going to be on the order of 100%, you've got all the juice available running through the voice coil at all times...pure heat, in other words (as opposed to the RMS value, for instance, which is what's usually quoted for drivers). Since oscillations are often full power, i.e. clipped, they're awfully hard on tweeters.
It doesn't matter whether they're audible or not--what matters most is whether they're clipping. It's not always the case, but it's the usual case. Act accordingly.


kiwi_abroad 3rd January 2002 07:00 PM

Hi again,

If it occurs during the warmup period, then the first suspect would be mechanical expansion, maybe solder joints going dry which would be more possible with a hard wired amplifier. Get a soldering iron and re-do all of the joints with a touch more solder (for the flux).

Interittant problems are very difficlt to track down with a scope, but it is still the best tool to use if you can get one.

Cheers, Adrian

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