A schematic is an illustration of a circuit, denoting the value, relationship and characteristics of each component. Some smaller components, such as resistors and capacitors, are represented by the letters "R" and "C" respectively, while larger parts such as transformers and switches are represented by symbols. High end audio circuits are designed to be simple and elegant for minimum interference, typically constructed with premium quality components. Designing an audio schematic is essential if you wish to design your own high-end audio amplifier.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Parts list
- Parts spec
Establish power stage specifications. High-quality audio amplifiers are designed to be efficient. This means that they need less power to achieve the desired volume, because the power they do have is processed more efficiently. Your power stage will influence the characteristics of the amplifier's sound. Make a diagram of your power stage, including the location and connection method of the power transformer.
Plot the signal input. The input stage is where the audio signal is converted into an electrical current. Audio is a low-impedance, line-level signal. This is typically transferred via an RCA jack. Wire connects from the jack output terminal to the operational amp chip on the circuit board. Make a sketch of where each input stage component is located and how they are connected. The closer together they are, the less wiring that is required. Less wire means less distance for the signal to travel.
Plot the output stage. Draw a diagram that illustrates the value and location of the output transformers. Decide which class of output stage you wish to employ. There are three main amplifier output stage classes: Class A, which is single-ended for low distortion, yet is somewhat inefficient; Class AB, which is push-pull and slightly more efficient; and Class B, the most efficient, but not necessarily the best tone. The class of the output stage dictates the type of output transformer.
Make a key. For efficiency and ease of understanding, parts and their values are represented in a key at the side of the schematic. List resistors from lowest resistance to highest, written in ohms. List capacitors in order of capacitance, from low to high. Your key should also state the minimum specifications of each part. Since this is a high-end audio circuit, it is necessary to set a minimum quality standard. It's smart to include manufacturer information for parts such as transformers, jacks and where relevant, tubes. This ensures that your amp design is of consistent quality if other people make use of your schematic.
Draw the schematic. Make a detailed drawing of each part of the amplifier. Include the connection methods, resistor values and component sequences. Illustrate how each stage of the amplifier is connected to the next. Mark clearly where parts are connected and where parts are not connected.
Tips and warnings
- Leave sufficient space around large components. This allows room for upgrades in future.
- Always exercises caution when building electrical circuits. They contain potentially lethal voltages.
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