PA300 power amplifier
Design by A. Riedl
Taken by themselves, the properties of the PA300 amplifier
are not revolutionary. But
taken in combination, they show something special: a robust 300 watt hi-fi
amplifier that is not too difficult to build.
There are several starting points to the design of a power
amplifier: pure hi-fi without any
compromise; simplicity and reliability; high output power. The design
of the present
amplifier is a mixture of these. The result is a unit that does not use
components, is not too complex, and is fairly easily reproduced. In fact,
it could well be
named a 'Hi-fi public address amplifier'.
There will be a few eyebrows raised at the power output of 300 watts (into
is true, of course, that in the average living room 30–40 W per channel
is more than
sufficient. However, peaks in the reproduced music may have a power of
the average level. This means that some reserve power is desirable. Also,
loudspeakers around with such a low efficiency that a lot more than 30–40W
And, last but not least, there are many people who want an amplifier for
larger than the average living room, such as an amateur music hall.
Fig. 1. With the exception of an IC
at the input, the circuit of the PA300 amplifier is
Since every amplifier contains a certain number of standard components,
the circuit of
Fig.1 will look pretty familiar to most audio enthusiasts. Two aspects
may hit the eye: the
higher than usual supply voltage and the presence of a couple of ics.
The first is to be
expected in view of the power output. One of the ics is not in the signal
path and this
immediately points to it being part of a protection circuit. What is unconventional
is an IC
in the input stage. Normally, this stage consists of a differential amplifier
followed by a
voltage amplifier of sorts, often also a differential amplifier, to drive
the predriver stages.
In the PA300, the entire input stage is contained in one ic, a Type NE5534
The internal circuit of IC1 is shown in the box on further on in this
article. It may
also be of interest to note that the NE5534 is found in nine out of every
ten cd players
(as amplifier in the analogue section). This is reflected in its price
which is low. Its only
drawback is that its supply voltage is far below that of the remainder
of the amplifier.
This means an additional symmetrical supply of ±15 V. Moreover, it restricts
capability of the input stage. The supply requirement is easily met with
the aid of a
couple of zener diodes and resistors. The drive restriction means that
the amplifier must
provide a measure of voltage amplification after the input stage.
The input contains a high-pass filter, C5-R3 and a low-pass filter, R2-C6.
combination of these filters limits the bandwidth of the input stage to
a realistic value: it
is not necessary for signals well outside the audio range to be amplified
– in fact, this
may well give rise to difficulties.
Opamp IC1 is arranged as a differential amplifier; its non-inverting (+)
functions as the meeting point for the overall feedback. The feedback
from junction D7-D8, is applied to junction R4-R5 via R9. Any necessary
is provided by C9, C12 and C14. The voltage amplification is determined
by the ratio
R9:R5, which in the present circuit is x40.
The output of IC1 is applied to drive stages T1 and T3 via R6. These transistors
operate in Class A: the current drawn by them is set to 10 mA by voltage
R13 and their respective emitter resistors. Their voltage and current
appreciable, which is as required for the link between the input and output
The output amplifier proper consists of drive stages T6 and T7 and power
transistors T8, T9, T14, T15. which have been arranged as symmetrical
darlingtons. Because of the high power, the output transistors are connected
The types used can handle a collector current of 20 A and have a maximum
of 250 W.
The output stages operate in Class AB to ensure a smooth transition between
the n-p-n and p-n-p transistors, which prevents cross-over distortion.
This requires a
small current through the power transistors, even in the absence of an
input signal. This
current is provided by 'zener' transistor T2, which puts a small voltage
on the bases of T6
and T7 so that these transistors just conduct in quiescent operation.
The level of the
quiescent current is set accurately with P1.
To ensure maximum thermal stability, transistors T1–T3 and T6–T7 are mounted
on and the same heat sink. This keeps the quiescent current within certain
high drive signals, this current can reach a high level, but when the
input signal level
drops, the current will diminish only slowly until it has reached its
Diodes D7, D8 protect the output stages against possible counter voltages
generated by the complex load. Resistor R30 and capacitor C17 form a Boucherot
network to enhance the stability at high frequencies. Inductor L1 prevents
with capacitive loads (electrostatic loudspeakers). Resistor R29 ensures
that the transfer
of rectangular signals are not adversely affected by the inductor.
As any reliable amplifier, the PA300 is provided with adequate protection
These start with fuses F1 and F2, which guard against high currents in
case of overload
or short-circuits. Since even fast fuses are often not fast enough to
prevent the power
transistors giving up the ghost in such circumstances, an electronic short-circuit
protection circuit, based on T4 and T5, has been provided. When, owing
to an overload
or short-circuit, very high currents begin to flow through resistors R25
and R27, the
potential drop across these resistors will exceed the base-emitter threshold
voltage of T4
and T5. These transistors then conduct and short-circuit or reduce drive
signal at their
bases. The output current then drops to zero.
If a direct voltage appears at the output terminals, or the temperature
of the heat
sink rises unduly, relay Re1 removes the load from the output. The loudspeakers
also disconnected by the relay when the mains is switched on (power-on
prevent annoying clicks and plops.
The circuits that make all this possible consist of dual comparator IC2,
transistors T10–T13, and indicator diodes D13 and D14. They are powered
by the 15 V
line provided by zener diode D10 and resistor R42.
The 'ac' terminal on the PCB is linked to one of the secondary outputs
mains transformer. As soon as the mains is switched on, an alternating
at that terminal, which is rectified by D12 and applied as a negative
potential to T12 via
R50. The transistor will then be cut off, so that C20 is charged via R36
and R44. As long
as charging takes place, the inverting (+) input of comparator IC2b is
low w.r.t. the non-
inverting (–) input. The output of IC2b is also low, so that T13 is cut
off and the relay is
not energized. This state is indicated by the lighting of D13. When C20
charged fully, the comparator changes state, the relay is energized (whereupon
goes out) and the loudspeakers are connected to the output. When the mains
switched off, the relay is deenergized instantly, whereupon the loudspeakers
disconnected so that any switch-off noise is not audible.
The direct-voltage protection operates as follows. The output voltage
to T10 and T11 via potential divider R32-R34. Alternating voltages are
ground by C18. However, direct voltages greater than +1.7 V or more negative
V switch on T10 or T11 immediately. This causes the +ve input of IC2a
to be pulled
down, whereupon this comparator changes state, T13 is cut off, and the
deenergized. This state is again indicated by the lighting of D13.
Strictly speaking, temperature protection is not necessary, but it offers
bit extra security. The temperature sensor is R39, a ptc (positive temperature
type, which is located on the board in a position where it rests against
bracket. Owing to a rising temperature, the value of R39 increases until
the potential at
the –ve input of IC2a rises above the level at the +ve input set by divider
whereupon the output of IC2a goes low. This causes IC2b to change state,
T13 is cut off and the relay is deenergized. This time, the situation
is indicated by the
lighting of D14. The circuit has been designed to operate when the temperature
heat sink rises above 70 °C. Any relay clatter may be obviated by reducing
the value of
The terminal marked 'CLIP' on the PCB is connected to the output of IC1
via R31. It
serves to obtain an external overdrive indication, which may be a simple
a comparator and LED. Normally, this terminal is left open.
As with most power amplifiers, the ±60 V power supply need not be regulated.
the relatively high power output, the supply needs a fairly large mains
corresponding smoothing capacitors—see Fig. 2. Note that the supply shown
is for a
mono amplifier; a stereo outfit needs two supplies.
Fig. 2. The power supply is straightforward,
but can handle a large current. Voltage 'ac'
serves as drive for the power-on delay circuit.
The transformer is a 625 VA type, and the smoothing capacitors
are 10 000 µF,
100 V electrolytic types. The bridge rectifier needs to be mounted on
a suitable heat sink
or be mounted directly on the bottom cover of the metal enclosure.. The
needs two secondary windings, providing 42.5 V each. The prototype used
transformer with 2x40 V secondaries. The secondary winding of this type
is easily extended: in the prototype 4 turns were added and this gave
The box 'Mains power-on delay' provides a gradual build-up of the mains
voltage, which in a high-power amplifier is highly advisable. A suitable
published in 305 Circuits (page 115).
The relay and associated drive circuit is intended to be connected to
'ac' on the board, where it serves to power the power-on circuit. If a
slight degradation of
the amplifier performance is acceptable, this relay and circuit may be
omitted and the
PCB terminal connected directly to one of the transformer secondaries.
Fig. 4a. Component layout of the printed-circuit
for the 300 W power amplifier.
Fig. 4b. Track layout of the printed-circuit
for the 300 W power amplifier.
Fig. 3. This close-up photograph shows clearly how the
are fitted to the heat sink via a rectangular bracket.
Building the amplifier is surprisingly simple. The printed-circuit board
in Fig. 4 is well laid
out and provides ample room. Populating the board is as usual best started
passive components, then the electrolytic capacitors, fuses and relay.
There are no
Circuits IC1 and IC2 are best mounted in appropriate sockets.
Diodes D13 and D14 will, of course, have to be fitted on the front panel
enclosure and are connected to the board by lengths of flexible circuit
Inductor L1 is a DIY component; i consists of 15 turns of 1 mm. dia. enamelled
copper wire around R29 (not too tight!).
Since most of the transistors are to be mounted on and the same heat sink,
are all located at one side of the board. However, they should first be
fitted on a
rectangular bracket, which is secured to the heat sink and the board—see
Fig. 3. Note
that the heat sink shown in this photograph proved too small when 4 Ohm
were used. With 8 Ohm speakers, it was just about all right, but with
full drive over
sustained periods, the temperature protection circuits were actuated.
If such situations
are likely to be encountered, forced cooling must be used.
As already stated, temperature sensor R39 should rest (with its flat surface)
against the rectangular bracket. On the board, terminals 'A' and 'B' terminals
to the left of
R39 must be connected to 'A' and 'B' above IC2 with a twisted pair of
insulated circuit wire as shown in Fig. 3.
The points where to connect the loudspeaker leads and power lines are
marked on the board. Use the special flat AMP connectors for this purpose:
large-surface contacts that can handle large currents. The loudspeaker
have a cross-sectional area of not less than 2.5 mm2.
How the amplifier and power supply are assembled is largely a question
taste and requirement. The two may be combined into a mono amplifier,
or two each
may be built into a stereo amplifier unit. Our preference is for mono
these run the least risk of earth loops and the difficulties associated
with those. It is
advisable to make the '0' of the supply the centre of the earth connections
electrolytic capacitors and the centre tap of the transformer.
The single earthing point on the supply and the board must be connected
enclosure earth by a short, heavy-duty cable. This means that the input
socket must be
an insulated type. This socket must be linked to the input on the board
To test the amplifier, turn P1 fully anticlockwise and switch on the mains.
the output relay has been energized, set the quiescent current. This is
connecting a multimeter (direct mV range) across one of resistors R25–R28
adjusting P1 until the meter reads 27 mV (which corresponds to a current
of 100 mA
through each of the four power transistors). Leave the amplifier on for
an hour or so and
then check the voltage again: adjust P1 as required.