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Transformer balanced line input amplifier.



IA19 is a 2 channel transformer input amplifier for audio.
The circuit was originally designed for Beyer Dynamics TR/BV 310 type transformers, but these are now out of production.
As I am running out of Beyer transformers, I have included footprints for a telephone line transformer and a Lundahl 6404 transformer.
The circuit has only been tested with the Beyer transformer.
Some of the design parameters are:


Audio transformers are not designed for and should never be used as mains-insulation transformers.

Transformer circuits.

Voltage transformer amplifier schematic.
Fig.1: Voltage transformer amplifier.

Standard voltage transformer amplifier.
This is the circuit that have the best performance at low source impedances, but for low THD at low frequencies the transformer is very large.
Lp and Ls are the primary and secondary winding inductances. Rp and Rs are the primary and secondary winding resistances.
Za is the transformer secondary load. This is normally specified in the transformer data sheet.
Ra and Rb are optional resistors to add gain.
See [1], page 27 for an example of circuit performance.

Current transformer amplifier schematic.
Fig.2: Current transformer amplifier.

This circuit shorts the output of the transformer as the input impedance into node A is close to 0. This will reduce the field in the transformer reducing the THD.
The gain of the circuit is R27 / ( R21 + R22 ) / n, where n is the transformer winding ratio.
The input impedance is R21 + R22.
For a small 200 Ω 1:1 transformer ( Beyer TR/BV 310 001 001, R21 = R22 = 4.99 kΩ, R27 = 10 kΩ ) this will increase the maximum input signal from -20 dBu to 21 dBu at 100 Hz and 0.02% THD.
This circuit is more noisy than the circuit of fig.1. A large part of the noise is from the 3 resistors R21, R22 and R27.
For an input impedance of 10 kΩ and a gain of 1 ( R21 = R22 = 5 kΩ and R27 = 10 Ω ), the noise contribution of these 3 resistors is -110 dBu.
Another issue is DC. A large part of the OP-AMP bias current is supplied through the transformer causing some 2. harmonic distortion.

AC coupled current transformer amplifier schematic.
Fig.3: AC coupled current transformer amplifier.

Adding Cx solves the DC problem, but creates a new one.
We now have a second order filter Ls and Cx.
This filter must have a Q of < 0.5 to prevent it from ringing, which can cause periodic overload with signals close to the amplifier's clipping limit.
For a Beyer 310 001 001 ( Rs = 75 Ω, Ls = 6 H ) this is a minimum value of 9.6 mF for Cx ( see appendix B for calculations ).
Adding a high-pass filter in front of the amplifier can reduce the value of Cx considerably.

INIC loaded transformer amplifier schematic.
Fig.4: INIC loaded transformer amplifier.

Modifying the above circuit to an Inverting Negative Impedance Converter (INIC) can further reduce THD.
In fig.3 there will be some field in the transformer due to Rs. This can be reduced by loading the transformer with a negative resistance.
For R25 = R27, the resistance into node A is - R23.
Setting R23 = Rs will set the field in the transformer to 0, but for stability R23 < Rs.
When selecting R23, the tolerance and temperature coefficient of Rs ( a piece of copper wire ) must be taken into account to assure that the circuit is stable.
For a TR/BV 310 001 001, 51 Ω is a suitable value.
This circuit have similar DC problems (actually worse due to the positive feedback) as the circuit of Fig.2.
Adding Cx to this circuit is not practical as the value will be 470 mF (not a typo - it says millifarads ).

INIC loaded transformer amplifier with servo schematic.
Fig.5: INIC loaded transformer amplifier with servo.

Table 1: Some measurements on the above circuits (on solder-less breadboard).
FigFrequencyInput levelOutput levelTHD+NPrimary THD+N
DC output voltageOutput noise
220 Hz22.01 dBu20.90 dBu0.3%2.harmonic
2100 Hz22.01 dBu20.99 dBu0.012%2.harmonic
21 kHz22.01 dBu21.02 dBu0.0015%2.harmonic
2-40 mV-102.7 dBu
420 Hz22.01 dBu21.10 dBu0.055%2.harmonic
4100 Hz22.01 dBu21.12 dBu0.0036%3.harmonic
41 kHz22.01 dBu21.13 dBu0.0008%3.harmonic
4-300 mV-102.7 dBu
520 Hz22.01 dBu21.10 dBu0.048%2.harmonic
5100 Hz22.01 dBu21.12 dBu0.0031%3.harmonic
51 kHz22.01 dBu21.13 dBu0.0008%3.harmonic
51 mV-102.8 dBu

THD+N and noise measurements are with a 22 Hz to 22 kHz bandwidth.
Component values:
T21: TR/BV 310 001 001.
Signal OP-AMP: NE5532A.
Servo OP-AMP: TL072.
R21, R22: 4.99 kΩ.
R23: 51.1 Ω.
R25, R27: 10 kΩ.
R24: 100 kΩ.
R28: 1 MΩ.
C28: 1 µF.


IA19 schematic.
Fig.6: IA19 schematic ( left channel ).

J21 is a female XLR connector. Neutrik A series and other types with similar footprints can be used.
The 2 nets CH1L and CH2L are brought out on solder pads near the panel and can be connected to the panel with solder tabs. This is useful for connectors where pin 1 and chassis are not internally connected.
The solder-terminals LI+, LI- and LIG can be installed in stead of the XLR.
R21 and R22 are the input series resistors.
C21 and C22 are DC blocking capacitors. These can be shorted if you are absolutely sure the input signal is free from DC.
You can install film capacitors instead to make a high-pass filter ( pin-spacing is 2.5 mm ).
C23..C26 are capacitors to balance the input capacitance in the PCB and the transformer.
T21 is a universal transformer footprint that fits Beyer Dynamic TR/BV 310 series transformers with single, split or center-tapped primary, Lundahl LL6404 or Bourns LM-NP-100x series transformers with single, split or center-tapped primary or secondary.
D21 and D22 are input protection diodes. Ideally they should go from the transformer to GND, but the voltage can be so high they start to conduct and cause distortion.
The values of R23 and R24 depends on the transformer type used.
C29 is a DC blocking capacitor for the output. If you can live with some mV DC out, you can short it.
R29 and R30 provides an impedance balanced output.

Component selection.


All electrolytic capacitors are general-purpose types with sufficient voltage rating.
Supply decoupling capacitors C4..C7 ( not shown in fig. 6 ) must be ceramic types.
Low value capacitors C23..C27 must be ceramic NP0 types.
Only one or two of C23..C26 are needed, see appendix A.
C28 is a 5% or 10% film capacitor.


All diodes are standard signal diodes like 1N4148 or 1N914.


All resistors are 0.25 W..0.6 W 1% metal-film types.
The value of R23 depends on the transformer type used. Use IA19A_Calc.ods in the design files download to calculate it.


So far, I have only tested the circuit with Beyer TR/BV 310 001 001 transformers.
The footprint will accept Bourns LM-NP-100x type transformers ( I have previously used telephone-line transformers in this circuit with good results ) or Lundahl type 6404 transformers.
Both single and split winding versions of the Beyer and Bourns transformers can be used.


U1 is a standard dual OP-AMP in DIP-8 or SOIC-8 case.
NE5532A works well.
OPA2134 has slightly lower THD than NE5532A, but around 1.5 dB higher noise.
OPA1642 looks like a good candidate ( FET input and same voltage noise as NE5532A ), but I am currently out of these.
U2 is a dual FET input OP-AMP in DIP-8 case. TL072 works well, but OPA2134 may be used for lower offset.


The board is designed for Neutrik A and B series connectors.
If you use a similar connector from another manufacturer, make sure that no metal on the connector shorts to the pads for the input solder-terminals.


This is the specification for the IA19AAA prototype.
Supply is ±15 V from a low-noise lab power supply (<-92 dBu (18 µV) noise in the 22 Hz to 22 kHz bandwidth).
The unit dBu is dB referred to 0.775 V.
More detailed measurements are in the file IA19A_Measurements.ods in the design file download.

Table 2: Specification for IA19AAA. Source impedance is 40 Ω and load impedance 100 kΩ.
Supply current, no signal, no load12 mA
Input impedance, 20 Hz..20 kHz10 kΩ
Voltage gain, 1 kHz, left channel-0.85 dB
Voltage gain, 1 kHz, right channel-0.62 dB
Linearity, 20  Hz..20 kHz, ref. 1 kHz+0 dB / -0.03 dB
Output clip level, 1 kHz, <1% THD+N21.7 dBu ( 9.4 V )
THD+N, 1 kHz, 22 Hz..22 kHz BW, 6 dBu ( 1.5 V ) input.0.001%
THD+N, 1 kHz, 22 Hz..22 kHz BW, 20 dBu ( 7.7 V ) input.0.0006%
THD+N, 20  Hz..20 kHz, 10 Hz..80 kHz BW, 6 dBu ( 1.5 V ) input.<0.03%
THD+N, 20  Hz..20 kHz, 10 Hz..80 kHz BW, 20 dBu ( 7.7 V ) input.<0.05%
IMD, SMPTE, 60 Hz / 7 kHz, 4:1, 6 dBu ( 1.5 V ) input.<0.002%
IMD, SMPTE, 60 Hz / 7 kHz, 4:1, 20 dBu ( 7.7 V ) input.<0.002%
Cross-talk, 1 kHz-112 dB
Cross-talk, 20  Hz..20 kHz<-89 dB
Output noise, 22 Hz..22 kHz<-106 dBu ( 3.9 µV )
CMRR ref. IEC60268-3, 50 Hz.99 dB
CMRR ref. IEC60268-3, 1 kHz.80 dB
CMRR ref. IEC60268-3, 20  Hz..20 kHz.>57 dB
Board size including XLR connectors (length / width / height) ( Note 1 )84 mm / 48 mm / 31 mm

Note 1:The board is <46 mm wide allowing a channel spacing of 23 mm.


IA19AAA photo.
Fig.11: Photo of mounted board..

Download IA19A design files.

I have boards available for this project. See the PCBs page.

Known Issues / updates.

No known issues.

Appendix A: CMRR adjustment.

For best HF CMRR, the compensation capacitance for the transformer must be trimmed.
The trimmed performance is typically 20..30 dB better than the untrimmed.

CMRR adjustment setup schematic.
Fig.A1: CMRR adjustment setup.

G is a sine-wave generator with a frequency in the range 10 kHz to 20 kHz and 5 V to 10 V output voltage.
M is ideally a meter with a band-pass filter tuned to the generator frequency, but an ordinary AC voltmeter can be used.
The meter must be able to measure at the generator frequency. Its accuracy is not important, but it should be able to display down to 1 mV.
RHP and CHP is a high-pass filter at 5 kHz that allows you to hold your fingers close to the transformer input without upsetting the measurement too much.

You will need a selection of capacitors in the range 1 pF to 22 pF ( the E-6 series is sufficient ).
With power, signal and meter connected turn the PCB upside down and and hold a capacitor ( start with 10 pF ) across C23 or C25.
The meter reading should decrease with the capacitor in one position. If its decrease with the capacitor in the C23 position, the C23 and C25 positions are used ( and nothing goes in C25, C26 ).
Then find the capacitor(s) that give the lowest meter reading ( this was 15 pF for C26 in the prototype ).
If your transformers are from same batch, it is very likely that the same capacitor value will work for both channels.

Appendix B: Some calculations.

Below some calculations for the transformer input stage.
These are also in the IA19A_Calc.ods spreadsheet.

Inverting Negative Impedance Converter (INIC) schematic.
Fig.B1: Inverting Negative Impedance Converter (INIC). Cx is not in IA19.

The values of R23, R25 and R27 must be chosen so R27 / Rs < R25 / R23 for the circuit to be stable.
Rs is a piece of copper wire, so do take its temperature coefficient into account.

Voltage gain:
Av ≈ R27 / ( R21 + R22 + Rp) / n, where Av is the voltage gain from IN to OUT and n is the transformer turns ratio.
Note that the transformer is used in current mode so a voltage step-up transformer is a step-down transformer in this circuit.

Input impedance:
Rin ≈ R21 + R22 + Rp

INIC input impedance ( into node A ):
B is the positive feedback divider ratio, B = R23 / ( R23 + R25 )
RinA = R27 * ( A * B - 1 ) / ( A * B - 1 - A ), where A is the OP-AMP open-loop gain.
For A >> 1:
RinA ≈ - R23 * R27 / R25
For R25 = R27:
RinA ≈ - R23

AC coupling capacitor Cx.
This is often used in this circuit to avoid DC current in the transformer, but the value must be very large to avoid ringing with transient input signals.
The resonance frequency and Q of this circuit is:
f0 = 1 / ( 2 * π * √Ls * Cx )
Q = √Ls * Cx / ( RinA + Rs )
Note that RinA is negative.
To get Q = 0.5 ( value for critical damping ):
Cx = Ls / ( 0.5 * ( RinA + Rs ) )²

Appendix C: Beyer Dynamics PCB transformers.

Although out of production for many years, these transformers are quite popular and I have had several questions about their specifications.
Part-number: TR/BV 310 abb ccc
310 means a studio grade dual-in-line PCB transformer.

a is winding configuration, where:
0 has a single primary.
1 has a center tapped primary.
2 has split bi-filary primary.
3 has split bi-filary primary connected in the middle (single winding brought out).

Beyer Dynamics series 310 pin-out.
Fig.C1: Beyer Dynamics series 310 pin-out.
The dot marks the start (inner-most end) of the winding.
Pin 8 is static shield and core.
Pins 7, 8 and 9 goes to GND for best CMRR.

bb is turns ratio, where turns ratio is 1:bb.
00 means a special turns ratio (probably a custom manufactured type).

ccc is an type number for the particular transformer:
001 to 020: standard transformer, Rgen = 200 Ω.
021 to 030: special transformer, Rgen = 200 Ω.
031 to 050: standard transformer, Rgen = 600 Ω.
051 to 060: special transformer, Rgen = 600 Ω.
061 to 080: standard transformer, Rgen = 1200 Ω.
081 to 100: special transformer.
101 to 120: special transformer, turns ratio ≤ 1.
251 to 275: standard transformer, Rgen = 200 Ω
276 to 299: standard transformer, Rgen = 500 Ω

Table C1: Some standard types for 200 Ω source impedance.
TR/BV310Rgen = 200 Ω
at Rgen
(open secondary)
30 Hz - 15 kHz ±1 dB
Maximum input level
( THD ≤ 1%, f ≥ 30 Hz )
300 mV
Primary open circuit inductancetyp. 6 H @ 50 Hz
Primary open circuit impedancetyp. 1.885 kΩ @ 50 Hz
Turns ratio1:11:31:51:71:101:151:20
Transformed impedance200 Ω2 kΩ5 kΩ10 kΩ20 kΩ45 kΩ80 kΩ
Primary DC resistance50 Ω50 Ω50 Ω50 Ω85 Ω85 Ω115 Ω
Secondary DC resistance75 Ω580 Ω1.45 kΩ3.45 kΩ4.75 kΩ10.4 kΩ13.5 kΩ
Code number ( bbccc )01001030020500307004100051500620007

Table C2: Some standard types for 600 Ω source impedance.
TR/BV310Rgen = 600 Ω
at Rgen
(open secondary)
30 Hz - 15 kHz ±1 dB
Maximum input level
( THD ≤ 1%, f ≥ 30 Hz )
300 mV
Primary open circuit inductancetyp. 16 H @ 50 Hz
Primary open circuit impedancetyp. 5 kΩ @ 50 Hz
Turns ratio1:11:21:31:51:71:10
Transformed impedance600 Ω2.4 kΩ6 kΩ15 kΩ30 kΩ60 kΩ
Primary DC resistance140 Ω140 Ω140 Ω140 Ω190 Ω190 Ω
Secondary DC resistance190 Ω575 Ω1.45 kΩ3.9 kΩ7.05 kΩ11 kΩ
Code number ( bbccc )010310203203033050340703510036

Table C3: Some standard types for 1200 Ω source impedance.
TR/BV310Rgen = 1200 Ω
at Rgen
(open secondary)
30 Hz - 15 kHz ±1 dB
Maximum input level
( THD ≤ 1%, f ≥ 30 Hz )
300 mV
Primary open circuit inductancetyp. 30 H @ 50 Hz
Primary open circuit impedancetyp. 10 kΩ @ 50 Hz
Turns ratio1:11:21:31:5
Transformed impedance1.2 kΩ5 kΩ12 kΩ30 kΩ
Primary DC resistance310 Ω310 Ω310 Ω475 Ω
Secondary DC resistance430 Ω1.4 kΩ3.75 kΩ8.45 kΩ
Code number ( bbccc )01061020620306305064

These transformers do not like DC.
I tried with a TR/BV 310 001 001 coupled as a voltage transformer with 40 Ω source impedance and 100 kΩ load.
Initial THD+N at 70 mV, 100 Hz was 0.022%, mainly 2. harmonic (there has obviously been DC on this one).
After applying 100 µA from an ohmmeter for a few seconds, THD+N increased to 0.028% still mainly 2. harmonic.
After demagnetizing the transformer, THD+N fell to 0.017%, but this time only 3. harmonic.
Demagnetizing was done by increasing the input level until the transformer went into saturation (ca. 25% THD+N), leaving it there for some seconds and then reducing the level to 0 over 20..30 seconds.
It is possible to demagnetize the transformers while they are mounted in the IA19:
Disconnect the power-supply.
Apply 10 Hz / 6 dBu ( 1.5 V ) to drive the transformer into saturation ( for the TR/BV 310 001 001 ) and reduce the level slowly.
The transformer output waveform can be observed on the top of diodes D22 and D42.

Leakage inductance is not specified for these transformers.
I measured 2 transformers with pins 1, 5, 7, 8, 9 connected to GND.
This was done by putting a 1 µF capacitor in series with the primary and measuring the resonance frequency.
TR/BV 310 001 001 is 2.1 mH and TR/BV 310 001 031 is 4.4 mH

Mechanically these transformers seems very rugged, but internal wiring is down to 25 µm for some types, so handle with care.
Pins 1..8 are gold-plated and very easy to solder.
Pin 9 is raw my-metal and can be difficult to solder. The trick is to take a scalpel and scrape it until it shines just before you solder it.
Some general precautions for handling signal-transformers are listed in [1], page 28.

Appendix D: Some test circuits.

These are some simple circuits to help adjusting and measuring the amplifier.
They can easily be built on strip-board or solder-less breadboard.

Sine-wave generator for CMRR adjustment.
Fig.D1: Simple sine-wave generator for CMRR adjustment.

Simple voltmeter for CMRR adjustment.
Fig.D2: Simple voltmeter for CMRR adjustment.
Power supply connections as in Fig D1.

Switch for CMRR measurement.
Fig.D3: Switch for CMRR measurement. See [1], page 24 for test setup.
For testing bare IA19 boards, the ground of the generator must be connected to IA19 circuit ground as pin 1 of the XLR is separate from circuit ground.


[1] Audio Transformers by Bill Whitlock.

Poul Petersen, C/Faya 14, 35120 Arguineguín, Las Palmas, Spain.
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