Discrete Voltage Regulators for Audio Power Supplies
And then... The IC's bowed before us.
Voltage regulators are found in the audio power supply section as well as in Eurorack power supplies. They are designed to deliver a constant, rock solid voltage to power the audio circuits from. Voltage regulators are typically small 3 legged chips (or IC's), with an exposed metal tab. And like all IC's, they suffer from the inability to put high quality or high value capacitors inside of them.
But with discrete voltage regulators, one can do exactly that. Our discrete voltage regulators have at least 15 times lower output noise, 52dB (about 300X) better rejection of any noise coming into them, and 4X better load regulation than any other 3 terminal IC regulator that one can find to compare them against.
Upgrading the voltage regulators in your audio power supply will give a much more detailed and engaging listening experience, and take your gear much further than you will get by using things like premium power cables, AC line regenerators, or power line filters. Voltage regulators are the very last and most critical audio power supply component in the entire power supply chain, and using our discrete voltage regulators for this task will take your gear further than any other power supply tweaks or modifications will.
Discrete Voltage Regulator Videos
We make 'em by the thousands, and here is a fun little video illustrating the process. Filmed on the production floor of Tracer, Inc, right across from the Coors brewing factory in Golden Colorado.
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Our Discrete Voltage Regulators are very popular with and have been reviewed in the following gear. Click the images below to find out more.
Here are a few manufacturers that use Sparkos Labs Audio Power Supply devices in their award winning amplifiers, DACs, and HYPEX based amps.
Discrete Voltage Regulator Overview
Sparkos Labs has created a family of discrete voltage regulators designed to replace 78xx / 79xx / 1117xx and adjustable style regulators for use in audio power supplies. They are available in a TO-220 compatible package and come in 3 industry standard pin-outs. These discrete devices have a fixed output voltage range from +/-3.3V to +/-24V with over 1 Amp of available output current. They can be used to replace the inferior monolithic voltage regulators in audio and eurorack power supply systems to improve the audio power supply performance.
- 125dB Input Rejection
- 3uV RMS Noise @5Vo, 5.8uVRMS Noise @ 15Vo (20Hz – 20KHz)
- Excellent Transient Response
- < 2V Dropout Voltage
- Stable With Ceramic And Low ESR Output Capacitors
- 1 Amp Output Current (Internally Limited And Protected)
- Fully Discrete Design – Right Down To The Error Amplifier
- On – Board 10uF Tantalum Polymer Output Capacitor
- Precision Thin Film 0.1% Tolerance Resistors
- +/- 1.5% Output voltage accuracy
- Available With Positive Or Negative Fixed Output Voltage Of 3.3V – 24V
- Available In 3 Industry Standard Pin Outs
- Perfect for audio power supply and Eurorack power supply designs
Why Discrete Regulators? These discrete voltage regulators will outperform all monolithic voltage regulators in a TO-220 package in input rejection, output noise, transient response, and line and load regulation. The table below details the vastly superior performance of the Sparkos Labs devices to a wide array of monolithic voltage regulators. They are optimized for Audio power supply designs and for use in your Eurorack power supply.
The discrete design of these devices allows for numerous internal capacitors which are impossible to fabricate in a Monolithic IC. There is an onboard output decoupling capacitor which eliminates the need to add one externally. The error amplifier of the device is also fully discrete and is based on the SS3601 discrete op amp slightly modified for this application. The internal reference voltage is a precision shunt reference with post RC filtering for extremely low noise performance.
These discrete devices are a series pass design with a fully discrete error amplifier that compares a feedback voltage to a reference voltage, and in turn controls the pass device.
Mechanical Fit: Upgrading your audio power supply or Eurorack power supply has never been easier. These discrete devices are the smallest on the market and have the best mechanical fit in the industry. At only 450 mils [11.4MM] wide, these devices are only a mere 50 mils [1.3MM] wider than a standard TO220 package, allowing them to fit in the narrowest of heat sinks. They are short enough to fit the existing heat sink mounting hole in your existing equipment. The tab is fully exposed, and not covered by the PCB. That means no more fishing the screw through a small hole on the PCB or cutting out holes in the top lid of your gear. The pins on the device come out in the same spot as the pins of a standard TO220 device when mounted to a heat sink, and since they’re available in 3 different pinouts, you wont have to swizzel or cross the pins around to get them to go where they need to.
Drop In Replacement Guide: In order to replace a monolithic regulator with these discrete devices in your audio power supply, one must know the polarity, pin-out, and output voltage of the device that they wish to replace. A Digikey search of the part being replaced will usually provide the relative information. If one is replacing an adjustable type regulator, the output voltage that it is set to must be known so an appropriate discrete regulator can be chosen and installed. This assumes that any adjustable type regulator is set to a fixed output voltage within the circuit. It should be noted, that in order to replace an adjustable regulator, the resistors that set the output voltage must be shorted out (the resistor to ground) and removed (resistor from Vout to ADJ)
Attempting to make these discrete devices dynamically adjust their output voltage by using POTs or voltage dividers on the ground pin is not recommended in order to achieve the specified performance. If a device being replaced is mounted to a heat sink, that same heat sink should be used with the discrete replacement device. One does not need a larger heat sink when replacing an existing voltage regulator with one of these discrete devices. The existing heat sink will suffice.
Since the tab of these discrete devices is tied to Vin, an electrical insulator should be used between the tab and the heat sink to prevent the heat sink from becoming live with Vin.
The input and output bypass capacitors within the existing circuit should also be adequate and do not require any modifications for normal operation. If the output capacitor closest to the regulator is of ceramic or film type, better transient response might be obtained by removing it from the circuit since ceramic and film capacitors will degrade the phase margin of the device. In these instances where the output capacitor is removed from the circuit, the internal 10uF tantalum polymer capacitor will be sufficient as an output capacitor, and the device will operate with a higher phase margin and less transient response ringing.
The best transient response can be obtained by using a Panasonic EEU – FR1H101B electrolytic capacitor (100μF 50V 65mΩ ESR) as the output capacitor. This capacitor can be used to replace the existing output capacitor or it can be added in parallel with it. It should be noted that the correct polarity must be observed during the installation of these electrolytic capacitors.
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