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Bob Pease

’ve been working with can most easily measure

I precision op amps.
Some have good linear-
ity. Some are excellent. Some
I did some evaluation on
the LM4562 precision audio
have high ZOUT. Some have op amp. Its noise for an
low. Some are bipolar, oth- audio bandwidth is down
ers are CMOS. The figure near 0.4 µVRMS, and at least
shows the basic test I’ve that’s easy to measure. But I
been using for linearity to still had to measure the dis-
exercise the output to 20 V tortion at 1 kHz. The test cir-
p-p by applying a ±10-V sine cuit in the figure can’t show
or triangle wave to the sig- the linearity of the gain at 1
nal input. kHz, only at 5 or 10 Hz.
Meanwhile, the noise gain That’s because the ac error
of 1000 (R2/R1) magnifies is so big, it isn’t easy to see input of the op amp. As I got mad and fed this signal
the input voltage V() by a the distortion. For example, wound up the wires, the ac into our HP3561A spectrum
factor of 1000 so the scope the LM4562’s ac gain at 1 component of the error analyzer. This plainly
can see (on a 5-mV scale) a kHz is about 60,000. Not voltage shrank a lot. showed the amount of the
5-µV signal in cross-plot bad, but for a full output, I kept increasing the fre- distortion, such as 71.45 nV
mode. The noise can be as the summing point error is quency as well as the capaci- at 2.2 kHz, with a 10k load.
low as 5 µV p-p, and you 333 µV, and it’s hard to see tance. Finally at 1 kHz, I got (It degraded to 200 nV with a
can see the distortion of just if that is linear within a few it down under 1 µV of signal 1k load.)
a microvolt or two riding microvolts. plus a few µV RMS of noise. The combination of the
along under the noise. This provided good insight subtracting and self-ampli-
It’s true that many engi- CHEATERS EVENTUALLY into what the 1-kHz gain fying effects of my circuit,
neers are interested in the PROSPER • So I decided to looked like. But why was the plus the ac cancellation, plus
total harmonic distortion cheat. I used a small vari- noise so big? the high resolution of the
plus noise (THD+N). How- able capacitor—a few inch- I realized that I’d been spectrum analyzer, showed
ever, the distortion riding es of twisted pair, often using this lazy man’s gain test –159 dB of distortion at 2.2
along under the noise is called a “gimmick,” using for so long, I wasn’t paying kHz (second harmonic)
sometimes important, even teflon wires. I connected attention to the way the noise when running the LM4562
though an Audio Precision this from the V IN to the of the 1k resistor (about 4 at a 20-V p-p sine output at
nV/√Hz) was bigger than the 1.1 kHz. This was the best
op amp’s noise. So, it was distortion I have ever seen,
time to cut the impedance and fortunately the best test
levels! I didn’t rewire the cir- circuit I have ever seen, or
cuit. Instead, I just slapped in we wouldn’t have been able
20k across each 1 MΩ and to measure it.
20 Ω across the 1k. Of
course, the capacitance had Comments invited!
to be scaled up too, so I put —or:
in about 140 pF on top of the Mail Stop D2597A, National
3-pF gimmick. Semiconductor
This provided a definitely P.O. Box 58090, Santa
improved view of the distor- Clara, CA 95052-8090
tion, with an improved noise
floor. I could see that the ac BOB PEASE obtained a BSEE
distortion, even at 1 kHz, from MIT in 1961 and is staff sci-
was somewhere well below entist at National Semiconductor
1/2 µV p-p. But I still could- Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.
n’t see exactly how low. So I ED ONLINE 14109

20 ••• 12.01.06 ELECTRONIC DESIGN