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Copyright 2000 by Autosound 2000, Inc.

All rights reserved, no part of this publication my be copied, reproduced, or stored by any means, electronic, mechanical, optical, or otherwise without written permission of Autosound 2000, Inc.

A2462 Distortion And Speaker Damage


By Patrick Poovey We have been asked several questions about one of the articles presented in the last issue of the tech briefs. The first question regards the insertion of a capacitor to clear up the question of amplifier clipping and DC (found on page 640.) This suggestion originated with the myth that as an amplifier clips, it puts out a DC signal. The idea is that if DC is at the output, a capacitor in series with the speaker will "block" the DC from being applied to the speaker's terminals. If this capacitor makes no difference when placed in the circuit while the amplifier is driven into clipping, then the amplifier isn't putting out DC! The capacitor used here needs to be quite large in order to prevent roll-off in the audible range (>20 Hz.) If a 4-ohm speaker is used for the demonstration then a capacitor with a rating of at least 10,000uF should be used. (This capacitor will have an impedance of approximately 1/10th of the speaker's nominal rating -- 0.4 ohms -- at 20 Hz, and infinite impedance at DC). The voltage rating of the capacitor should be sized relative to the amplifier being used. For example, if the amplifier used is rated at 100 watts (at 4 ohms) per channel, then the capacitor's voltage rating should be at least 80 volts. For the sake of this test it is not necessary for the cap to be nonpolar. The second question is in regard to the statement on page 641,"Put another way, the fundamental of a square wave has a higher peak (27% more voltage, 62% more power) than the square wave itself." The wording of this statement is apparently the root of the confusion. A quick look at Figure 2 below may clear things up. This figure shows a square wave superimposed with its fundamental and is an actual picture of the display of an oscilloscope. The square wave is generated by a function generator and is fed into one input of the oscilloscope. The sine wave is the result of running the square wave through a low pass filter to remove the harmonics. This signal is fed into a second input of the oscilloscope. The sine wave is the fundamental frequency of the square wave. The fundamental has the same period and therefore is the same frequency as the square wave from which it was removed. The harmonics of the fundamental (whose frequencies are odd multiples of the fundamental, i.e. 3f, 5f, 7f ...) are 180 degrees out of phase with the fundamental at its peak. Therefore, the peak of the fundamental is decreased by the addition of harmonics. See Figure 3 for a picture of the fundamental and 3"' harmonic superimposed as in the previous picture. Since the peak voltage of the signal is decreased when harmonics are added to the fundamental to "make" a square wave, the fundamental must start with a higher peak voltage than the square wave. End Text: Three Diagrams follow:

Copyright 2000 by Autosound 2000, Inc. All rights reserved, no part of this publication my be copied, reproduced, or stored by any means, electronic, mechanical, optical, or otherwise without written permission of Autosound 2000, Inc.