martes, 29 de junio de 2010

Simple Mixer Schematics

Active state

Active Mixer stages that use Op-Amps are generally known as virtual earth pre-amps. These are inverting in nature. 180 degrees out of phase. IE: The signal coming out of the mixer is upside down as compared to that which is entering it. You then need to use another inverting pre-amp to recover the phase.
This would seem silly at first until you realize that virtual earth means that the inverting node of the op-amp is held virtually at ground (zero volts) potential. Any signal entering the stage via one resistor cannot find it's way back out of any other resistor. This prevents the audio from *say* one synth, polluting the audio from another. Particularly useful in a Mixer with many busses and sends.
Generally speaking the pre-amps stage does not provide any gain. IE: is 1:1 unity gain. A signal passing through a resistor with no load also presents no loss. Even with values beyond 1 meg. Although you may drop the effective current at the other end of the resistor. In this case the current loss is largely irrelevant. Especially at line-level. And is compensated by the op-amp's drive current in an active system.
It is better to have a mixer stage with no gain (or unity gain) because this will not amplify the noise. If good quality op-amps are used, they will not add significantly to the over all noise performance. So the RMS voltage coming out of the mixer should be the same as the sum of all it's inputs. If gain is necessary for a microphone or phono etc, the gain should be a special stage at the top of the chain. IE: the first preamp in the mixer channel. This is then mixed with everything else once the microphone is amplified to line level. This gain stage only adds noise to the microphone and not to the sum of the signals passing through the mixer.
It is interesting to note that resistors themselves add noise to a circuit. This is known as thermal noise. Generally speaking the rule of thumb is: The larger the value the resistor, the greater the thermal noise. This may not be significant in mixer stages at line level but where large gains are required it is desirable to use smaller value resistors. (as small as possible within reason.) Of course sometimes this cannot be achieved but is worth remembering as a rule of thumb. Metal film resistors have less thermal noise than carbon film resistors and are more temperature stable over all. So now there's two reasons to use Metal films in audio circuits.
Driving the busses

Note here that Mixers are more repetitious than complex. The circuits are relatively simple it's just that there's a lot of them. Especially in large recording consoles.
Usually these desks are seen in two halves. The input half and the output half. No matter how complex the input half may become, the output half is essentially just a virtual earth pre-amp as described in the circuits above. Often it is required to have many such busses for things like effects sends, subgroups, monitor bus and so on.
One of the beauties of the virtual earth mixer is that there is also virtually no limit to the number of additional busses as well as the main bus. One could arrange an effects send buss that derives it's signal from the same channel as the main bus. Except that each has it's own volume, pan and assignment independent of each other.
Luis Fernando Cantor B.
Electronica de Estados Solidos
seccion 2

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