Moving with the times?

I regularly complain about the declining availability of DIY-friendly parts – as do quite a few others if you look around. An obvious case in point is opamps, where (more or less) you can say that on one hand high-quality parts have never been better or cheaper, but on the other hand these parts have never been available in less DIY-friendly packages. Even the classic SO-8 SMD footprint is starting to look big and many newer devices are only available in smaller packages, some even “leadless” and/or “powerpad” packages that are very hard for the average diy’er to solder.

However, the many available opamps are actually obvious candidates for some experiments, especially with basic preamp/CMoy-style circuits where the sound quality and sound signature of the opamp really shines though. Some years ago I made a PCB design specifically for that and a few months ago I decided to revisit this layout and update it specifically for use with SMD (SO-8) opamps.

Of course you could use the old design with DIP-adapters, but fast opamps and DIP adapters are usually very bad for stability, so it was way better to create a new version of the layout intended for SMD packages instead. This naturally means you lose the ability to “roll” opamps (i.e. experiment with replacing them), but to most people I think that is an acceptable trade-off.

I haven’t really kept up with the development on the opamp scene the last few years, but what I would look at myself are the various OPA16xx duals. Here you can get both bipolar and FET inputs, “standard” high-quality opamps as well as “audio-specific” devices and more – and the prices are a small fraction of what you paid for top-of-the-range models such as the OPA627 and OPA2107 ten or fifteen years ago. AD also does a few interesting variants by to be honest here I am even less aware of what is available than for TI – I am sure has answers if I ever need them.

The prototype here is made with an OPA1656 dual opamp and the initial impression is that I was on to something with this idea, because it does sound very good. I also have both the OPA1642 (FET-input) and the OPA1612 (bipolar input) in stock and I think these would be interesting candidates as well. Another interesting thing is that the power consumption is lower – in fact so low that without the LED my lab supply is showing a consumption on 0.00A for both rails (it’s not very sensitive). That also means that battery-powered versions would definitely be viable.

The download file for the new version is added to the original project file post because that’s way easier, so go and grab it from there if you want it 🙂

4 Responses to Moving with the times?

  1. Pingback: Project files: Universal Mini-preamp | theslowdiyer

  2. aldo says:

    Have you detected any difference between the LM49720 and the Op you used in the smd version? In your opinion which of them sounds better?

  3. Pingback: Comparisons… | theslowdiyer

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