Project files: INA217 Microphone Preamp

What is it?
Board files for my INA217-based microphone preamp and the matching PSU as shown here. The design is meant to be “configurable” with three different gain options and phantom power selectable via jumpers. The amp also has a full complement of protection features. The matching PSU has three rails via two small onboard transformers for a compact “all-in-one” solution.

How big are the boards?
The amp board measures 3.1” x 1.9” (app. 79 x 48 mm.) and the PSU board measures 3.95” x 2.7” (app. 100 x 69 mm).

What is the status of the boards?
The amp board is version 2.1. Version 2.0 was my update of the original design as showcased in the previous blog post (link) and 2.1 adds a few minor tweaks including an LED to indicate directly on the amp board if phantom power is on or off.
The PSU board is version 2.1 as well for much the same reasons (although the v2.1 “tweaks” consisted mostly of fixing a couple of fairly serious mistakes in component labelling 😀 )

Does it use any special/expensive/hard-to-find parts?
Not really hard-to-find as such, but still worthy of some attention 🙂

  • The regulator for the phantom supply regulator must be a LM317HV type which allows for a greater in/out differential. You can use the standard version as well, but a short will then kill the regulator.
  • As for the INA217: I am not sure if there are fakes about, but buy from reputable sources just in case. Anything in an 8-pin DIP is an easy target for fakes really.

Anything else I need to know?

  • This board adds nearly all the bells and whistles described in this paper from THAT corp on instrumentation amp IC-based microphone preamps. These extra components for short-circuit and EMI-protection are optional, but definitely recommended.
  • The board has a Neutrik A-series Combo-jack onboard which is very practical and versatile. Unfortunately it means that if you use the TRS it shorts the phantom voltage to ground if it is plugged/unplugged while the amp is on. Protection features have been added, but this scenario is best avoided so only (dis)connect the TRS while the amp is off.
  • See the INA217 datasheet for gain calculations. While you can add a switch to select between the different gain settings, doing so may add quite a lot of noise so it’s not recommended.
  • Voltages for transformers: The two transformers will have to be 2×12-15V and 2x18V respectively. They are usually single-primary, so choose the ones that you need. Note that with transformers in this form factor you will not be able to deliver more power than is required for a single mic amp. If you need a triple PSU that can supply more than one amp board, this design should work just fine (with external transformers.
  • Replacements for the INA217 are mainly the THAT1510/1512, but there are some differences so I am honestly not sure if they are a drop-in replacement. Refer to the files under “related information” if you want to check for yourself.

Downloads:
Download design files here

Related information:
Note: Always read the “intro post” for additional important information about my designs.

Before you start I strongly suggest you read through the INA217 datasheet. Please also refer to the aforementioned paper from THAT on this type of microphone preamps, this THAT design note and the datasheet for the THAT1510/THAT1512 ICs.

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An INA217 Mic preamp

Most of what I build is designed to reproduce sound that is already recorded, whereas this is designed to actually record sound for later reproduction. A slight departure from what I ordinarily do then, but bear with me. 🙂

It’s a microphone preamp based on the INA217 instrumentation amplifier chip from TI. The board layout is actually (another) one of my old designs that I’d managed to forget about for years but for reasons I’m not really sure about I rediscovered it and decided to rework it fairly recently. I think I did make a prototype board of the original back then but just never put it together – which is probably a good thing as I found an error in my original schematic when I did the update 😀

This design is also known as “the $5 mic preamp” (google it) since if you really pare it back to the essentials, it could be built for not much more than 5 dollars in components. My version is much more luxurious though, featuring an on-board XLR/TRS combo jack, configurable gain and phantom power as well as a DC servo and all the EMI-filtering and protection circuitry needed to avoid noise and accidents with phantom power. The only feature for this sort of amp that I have left out is the option to pad down the output with a switch – didn’t need that (and besides, no space left over anyway 🙂 )

I’ve also updated my matching PSU board which uses two small EI-core transformers to provide both the +/- voltage and the 48V phantom voltage. The transformer form factor only allows current for a single amp board, but that is OK. Originally regulating the phantom voltage was a bit of a faff, but since there is now an LM317HV with can tolerate up to a 60V-input, that was the obvious choice for the phantom supply regulator. This also means that for supplying more boards, my previous “Triple-PSU” design should be usable.

I’ve tested the preamp board with both a condenser mic and a cheap-ish Beyerdynamic dynamic mic and it seems to work quite well. I don’t have a proper recording setup at the moment though, but the sound quality is definitely good enough to warrant further experiments. I’ve made some updates to both boards and I’ll release the files when they have arrived so you can have a go yourself 🙂