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Ultra-Low-Noise Amplifiers and Granularity Distortion

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It has often been speculated in hi-fi publicatiaons that passive components such as capacitors and connectors may exhibit threshold or "granularity" effects, analogous to power-amplifier crossover distortion, that become audibly significant at low signal levels despite an ability to detect them with conventional instrumentation. An ultra-low-noise emplifier system of high linearity is described, which allows low-impedance passive components to be tested for nonlinear distortion or threshold effects at extremely low signal levels. Total harmonic distortion at the 0.01% level is detectable for a test signal level of 200 µV. The application of similar circuit techniques to the design of moving-coil head amplifiers of high quality is also described. No evidence of granularity was found in any of the components tested at low levels.

JAES Volume 35 Issue 11 pp. 907-915; November 1987
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