Pro Discrete Audio Op Amp

sparkos labs SS2590 discret API audio op amp
sparkos labs pro discrete best audio op amp

An op amp to rule them all.

The SS2590 Pro Discrete Audio Op Amp represents everything we ever wanted in an op amp, but were unable to achieve in the SS3601/SS3602's smaller package size.  These devices are intended for use in professional recording studios, Mic Amplifiers, Lunch Boxes, EQ's, and consoles.  Many of the devices in this class were designed in the 1970's using 1970's technology.  Our SS2590 makes a fantastic upgrade to these op amps and they utilize the latest and greatest transistors and components.  Our PRO to DIP adapters will also allow these devices to be used for replacing single op amps in a DIP 8 package.

These discrete audio op amps have been used at RCA studios in their Mic Preamps, and by other manufacturers such as Nord Acoustics and Apollon Audio in their Hypex based Class D Amplifiers.

Upgrading to the SS2590

The SS2590 PRO discrete op amp was designed to be as sonically transparent as possible.  Our design philosophy is  "a piece of wire with gain" to give the most accurate musical reproduction and recording that is possible.  What you hear is what you record, and every effort has been made to preserve the artists tone, timbre, and timing.  These devices can replace any 6 pin, 1 inch square type of op amp that are integral to many Mic Amps, Lunchboxes, compressors, EQ's and Mixers that are found in most recording consoles.

Subscribe now for a coupon code and a chance to win free devicesWinners picked at random monthly

RCA studios

RCA studios recently upgraded their Mic pres with the SS2590.  If they're good enough for them, they should be good enough for anyone!

contact sparkos labs
Contact us today with any questions about which of our devices you would need for your gear.

Our discrete devices are used in the following manufacturers DACs and Hypex based Power Amplifiers.

What about DIP8 though?

Dont worry, we got you.  We have DIP8 adapters to allow the SS2590 to replace both single and dual DIP8 op amps.
Pro to Single DIP8 adapter

The PRO to DIP adapter allows the SS2590
to replace single op amps in a DIP8 package.

Learn More
PRO to Dual DIP8 Adapter

Use the PRO to DUAL adapter to allow the SS2590
to replace dual op amps in a DIP8 package.

Learn More

The SS2590 PRO Discrete Op Amp:

After the success of the SS3601 / SS3602 discrete op amp we turned our attention to the discrete op amps that are found in studio gear and recording equipment such as the 2520 and Jensen 990 style devices.  Numerous devices that are compatible with these exist on the market, and after buying and evaluating a hand full of them we decided that we could do better.  Much better.
SS2590 API discrete op amp in Nord acoustics Buffer

The playing field:

The first thing that we noticed upon evaluating some devices in this class was that most of them are manufactured with archaic, decades old through-hole components.  This is not so bad in and by its self, aside from component lead inductance.  But the problem with them is that most of these through-hole components (especially the transistors) are old, slow, and pale in comparison to modern devices.  The SS2590 discrete audio op amp makes use of the highest speed and highest gain transistors available.  We use 300MHz output transistors while everyone else is using devices in the 20 to 50 MHz region.


Two Pole Compensation:

We’re the only ones doing this.  Two Pole Compensation is the ultimate compensation technique for maximizing open loop gain within the audio bandwidth.  High open loop gain makes for a more precise amplifier, lower THD performance, and keeps the slew rates high, which makes for more natural attacks and transients.  A white paper on two pole compensation can be found here. 

SS2590 API op amp open loop plot

Noise Performance:

We found the noise performance of the majority of the op amps in this class that we evaluated to be abysmal. Most measured in at several nv√Hz in most designs. Some of the better devices specified in the 1 to 1.5 nv√Hz range, but they all seemed to achieve this noise performance by putting shunt inductors across the RE resistors in the input stage. This technique allows the inductors to “short out” the RE resistors and eliminate their noise contribution. At least at low frequencies.  While this technique does yield lower noise, it does so at the expense of input stage linearity. This is because the linearizing affect of the RE resistors are lost since the shunt inductors essentially "short them out".   

RE resistors in the input stage are a good thing, and will linearize the input stage by swamping the non-linear Rbb of the input stage transistors.   On the SS2590 discrete audio op amp, we opted to keep the input stage RE resistors in order to reap their associated linearity benefit, and we reduced the noise back down by paralleling the input transistors.  It’s the best of both worlds, with the only drawback being a slight increase in input stage complexity.

SS2590 audio op amp simplified schematic

Discrete Op Amp DC Precision:

The DC precision of the devices that we evaluated in this class left something to be desired as well.  We saw offsets in the double digit mV range with warm-up drifts of several mV more.  The SS2590 has a built in POT to allow precise offset adjustment and it has a warm up drift of less than 1mV.  Input bias current induced offsets are greatly reduced by using on-board current sources to supply the input bias current for the device.  This keeps the SS2590 discrete audio op amp from pulling input bias current from the outside world and creating offsets against the resistances seen by the input pins.

In conclusion:

To put it another way, we did every thing on the SS2590 that we wanted to do on the SS3601 / SS3602 but were not able to due to its small size and more limited PCB space.
Discrete audio op amp SS2590 pulse response


  • 165 dB Open Loop Gain to 100 Hz
  • Two Pole Compensation
  • 10MHz Unity Gain Bandwidth
  • Class A Output Current Of +/- 32mA
  • Maximum Output Current Of +/- 250mA
  • 1.5nV√Hz noise in a 20KHz bandwidth
  • Less than 1mV Offset
  • On-Board Supply Decoupling Caps
  • Able to drive 75 ohm loads at full power
  • +/-9V to +/-24V supply voltage range
  • All BJT design with input bias current cancellation
  • Unity gain stable
  • Fully Discrete Design
  • PRO op amp package
Sparkos labs SS2590 best audio op amp pinout

Compatible with:

  • Automated Processes API2520, API2525
  • Lunch Box Mic Preamps
  • Jensen and John Hardy 990 series
  • Sound Skulptor SK series
  • Purple Audio KDJ series
  • Five Fish Studio Discrete series
  • Avedis Audio 1122
  • Seventh Circle Audio SC series
  • Yamaha NE series
  • Rogue 5 Series Discrete Op Amp
  • Whistle Rock Audio series
  • Warm Audio Discrete Series
SS2590 discrete audio op amp package dims sparkos
SS2590 best API audio opamp

Subscribe now for a coupon code and a chance to win free devicesWinners picked at random monthly

Share it for Audiophilia.   Share it for freedom.