Balanced Low Noise Microphone Preamp

This simple design has very low noise, close to the theoretical minimum, high hum rejection and variable gain with a single rotary pot. It is similar to that used in many professional grade mixing desks and can form the basis of a no compromise recording mixer for live work. The design consists of differential compound pairs of transistors with a

common mode (floating) gain control connecting the emitters of the pair. The compound pairs of 2N4403 and BC549s are far more linear than any single transistor. The circuit is differential in and out and therefore requires a balanced to unbalanced buffer to give suitable output for the next signal stages of a channel in a mixing desk. This is provided by a high performance op-amp differential gain stage, which can be a TL071 or similar IC of your choice. The stage has a gain of six or 15 dB and that sets the maximum input level at about 1. 5 volts rms before clipping. This equals an SPL of over 150dB with a typical microphone! Full gain is 1000 times or 60dB. Distortion is low to unmeasurable because it is below the noise level at high gains. The CMRR (Common Mode Rejection Ratio) is well over 60 dB and better than any available mic cable as far as hum rejection is concerned. The bandwidth extends beyond 100kHz, and no RF suppression is shown as it has proved unnecessary in practice. The input impedance or load on the mic is set by the two 3. 3k ohm resistors. This will suit almost any mic with a nominal impedance of 150 to 600 ohms. The input stage is configured for least noise and this has meant a non IC approach. There are some special ICs that can be used for mic pre-amps, they contain a circuit like this one except fabricated on one chip. Examples include the SSM2017 (now obsolete) or the replacement INA103 or similar....

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