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Title:
AMPLIFIER CIRCUIT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/110152
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An amplifier, such as a Class D amplifier, having one or more feedback loops comprising a path from the input to the primary amplifier input, where the paths comprise a low pass filter and a compensator which is disabled when the primary amplifier clips.

Inventors:
PUTZEYS, Bruno (Stationsstraat 31a, 3110 Rotselaar, 3110, BE)
RISBO, Lars (Skjoldnæsvej 159 Skjoldnæsholm, 4330 Hvalsø, 4330, DK)
Application Number:
EP2018/069753
Publication Date:
June 13, 2019
Filing Date:
July 20, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PURIFI APS (Hørhavevej 66A, Højbjerg, DK-8270, DK)
International Classes:
H03F1/32; H03F1/34; H03F3/183; H03F3/21; H03F3/217
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013164229A12013-11-07
WO2013164229A12013-11-07
Foreign References:
US20160352293A12016-12-01
US20150214902A12015-07-30
US20060008095A12006-01-12
US4041411A1977-08-09
US7142050B22006-11-28
US8049557B22011-11-01
US8736367B22014-05-27
US20060008095A12006-01-12
US20150214902A12015-07-30
US20160352293A12016-12-01
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INSPICOS P/S (Kogle Allé 2, 2970 Hørsholm, 2970, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An amplifier comprising :

• an input,

• an output,

• a primary amplifier having a primary amplifier input and a primary amplifier output, the primary amplifier being configured to operate in one of at least a first and a second operating mode, the primary amplifier comprising a comparator and a switching power stage controlled by the comparator as well as feedback conductor or filter connected between the primary amplifier output and the input of the comparator and/or the input to the primary amplifier,

• a compensator configured to have its operation disabled when the primary amplifier is operating in the second operating mode,

• at least a first summing node having paths thereto from the input and the primary amplifier output and from which a first path exists to the primary amplifier input, the first path comprising the compensator, and

• at least a second summing node having paths thereto from the input and the primary amplifier output and from which a second path exists to the input of the primary amplifier, the second path comprising a low pass filter configured to be active at least when the primary amplifier is operating in the first operating mode.

2. An amplifier according to claim 1, where the second summing node is the first summing node.

3. An amplifier according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the compensator comprises an amplifier with a feedback network, the compensator being configured to be disabled by short circuiting at least part of the feedback network.

4. An amplifier according to claim any of the preceding claims, wherein the primary amplifier is a class D amplifier comprising a comparator and a switching power stage controlled by said comparator, the primary amplifier having an idle switching frequency.

5. An amplifier according to claim 4, wherein the primary amplifier further comprises a high pass filter connected between the primary amplifier output and an input of the comparator.

6. An amplifier according to claim 4 or 5, wherein the low pass filter has a first gain, at the idle switching frequency, and a second gain, at half the idle switching frequency, where the second gain is at least one and a half times the first gain.

7. An amplifier according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising a third path from the output to an input of the compensator.

8. An amplifier according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first path also comprises the low pass filter.

9. An amplifier according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the first and second paths have parallel portions where the compensator is provided in the parallel portion of the first path .

10. An amplifier according to any of claims 1-8, wherein the compensator is provided also in the second path, the compensator being configured to, when disabled, have a constant gain.

Description:
AMPLIFIER CIRCUIT

The present invention relates to an amplifier and especially a class D amplifier with increased loop gain.

Class D amplifiers and relevant technology may be seen in US4041411, US7142050,

US8049557, US8736367, WO2013/164229, US2006/008095, US2015/214902, and

US2016/0352293.

In a first aspect, the invention relates to an amplifier comprising:

• an input,

• an output,

• a primary amplifier having a primary amplifier input and a primary amplifier output, the primary amplifier being configured to operate in one of at least a first and a second operating mode, such as an amplifier mode of operation, the primary amplifier comprising a comparator and a switching power stage controlled by the comparator as well as feedback conductor or filter connected between the primary amplifier output and the input of the comparator and/or the input to the primary amplifier,

• a compensator configured to have its operation is disabled when the primary amplifier is operating in the second operating mode,

• at least a first summing node having paths thereto from the input and the primary amplifier output and from which a first path exists to the input of the primary amplifier, the first path comprising the compensator, and

• at least a second summing node having paths thereto from the input and the primary amplifier output and from which a second path exists to the primary amplifier input, the second path comprising a low pass filter configured to be active at least when the primary amplifier is operating in the first operating mode.

In the present context, an amplifier is an element configured to receive a signal, such as an audio signal, and output a corresponding signal, preferably with a higher signal amplitude. Often, an audio amplifier receives an electrical audio signal of a low signal strength (voltage) and outputs a corresponding signal with a higher signal strength. In this context, two signals correspond if they have the same frequency contents in at least a frequency interval.

It is noted that an amplifier may be used for amplifying other types of signals than audio signals. An amplifier may be used as a power supply or controller feeding e.g. a linear actuator so as to drive the actuator in a controlled manner. In this situation, the amplifier may receive a lower amplitude signal corresponding to what is desired fed to the actuator, where the amplifier will output a current or voltage adapted to the requirements of the actuator.

In this context, an input is a portion of a circuit, for example, configured to receive a signal.

In many situations, an input is a conductor, such as a conductor of an electrical element, a chip/ ASIC or the like. An input may comprise a connector, such as if the input is an input to the amplifier proper (such as from outside of an amplifier casing and/or from a pre amplifier). Then, a signal source may be detachably connected to the input to deliver a signal to the input. Alternatively, an input may be an input into a portion of the amplifier, where detachability is not desired, so that the input may be a permanent connection. Permanent connections may be obtained via e.g. a conductor, a solder pad or the like to which another element may be permanently connected, such as by soldering, in order to deliver a signal to the input. Naturally, the input may be an internal portion, such as a conductor, of a chip or the like, between portions of the chip.

An output, as the input, may be an output to the surroundings of the amplifier, so that the output may comprise a connector for detachable attachment to e.g. a load, a cable or the like. Alternatively, an output may be an output from one component of the amplifier to another component. If such components are not desired detachable, the output may be permanently connected thereto. In permanently connected situations, an output may be a conductor, leg or the like, where one end of the conductor may be an input and the other end an output.

Often, the primary amplifier output is also the output of the amplifier proper, such as if the outputs share the same conductor(s). It may be desired, however, to connect further circuits, such as filters, between these outputs, after the amplifier output or simply to the outputs. Usually, a low pass filter, such as an LC filter, often called an output filter, is connected to the output to remove high frequency noise stemming from the operation of the primary amplifier, so that this noise is not carried on to a load connected to the output. This filter may be provided inside the primary amplifier and form the output of the primary amplifier. It is noted that the outputs may share a connector to which one port of a filter is connected. A primary amplifier is an amplifier in itself. Thus, it may behave as the above-described amplifier. However, the primary amplifier may be desired to, or allowed to, have other parameters or another behaviour than that/those of the overall amplifier. For example, even though the overall amplifier is usually not desired to be self oscillating, the primary amplifier may in itself be allowed to be self oscillating, such as if the compensator is configured to control the primary amplifier away from oscillation or in a manner so that this oscillation is desirable.

As will be described below, the primary amplifier preferably is a Class D amplifier.

The primary amplifier has a primary amplifier input and a primary amplifier output which may be as the input and output described above. It is noted that it is not usually desired to be able to detach the primary amplifier from the paths mentioned below, so that the primary amplifier input/output may be formed by conductors or the like on e.g. a PCB, within a circuit, between circuits or the like.

The primary amplifier is configured to operate in one of at least a first and a second operating mode, where an operating mode may be a mode wherein the primary amplifier has a particular frequency response, a particular gain, a switching frequency in a particular range or the like. Often, the first mode is the desired operating mode, where the second mode is a mode which is not preferred but which may not be completely avoidable in the primary amplifier. A typical second mode is a clipping mode where the primary amplifier produces an output voltage substantially limited by the power supply voltages stops switching or switches at a frequency outside the range of the first mode. Another second amplifier mode could be the so-called "current clipping" where a protection circuit overrides the comparator and takes control of the power state to limit the output current. When operating in the second mode, the primary amplifier may have only a negligible response to changes in the primary amplifier input signal. The second mode may be when the primary amplifier is not in the first mode.

Thus, the first mode may be characterized as a mode wherein the additional change in the primary amplifier output signal in response to an additional small change in the primary amplifier input signal is substantially the same as the response of the primary amplifier output signal to a signal consisting of only that additional change in the primary amplifier input signal. Thus, in the first mode, the primary amplifier may provide the input signal with the desired gain. That is to say, when the presence of a large signal has not materially impacted the ability of the primary amplifier to respond to an additional small signal.

A third mode may be where the primary amplifier protects itself against a potentially damaging load condition. It may do so, for instance, by turning off temporarily. A fourth mode may be where the primary amplifier is turned off. This may be as part of a power up/down sequence or a result of a command by the user.

In the present context, a compensator is a circuit which, by virtue of the summing node(s) and the paths, is connected in a feed-back loop between the input and output of the primary amplifier. The compensator may be a filter, of any order, which may be implemented in any desired manner. The overall function of the compensator preferably is to regulate the output of the primary amplifier more closely to its desired value. The compensator preferably filters an error signal found by comparing a signal derived from an input and a signal derived from the primary amplifier output, in such a way that in a first frequency range the compensator amplifies the error signal and in a second frequency range the compensator does not amplify the error signal and may even attenuate it. It may be embodied as a low pass filter of any order, or as one or more integrators. The first frequency range corresponds to the desired frequency band of operation. In an audio amplifier this bandwidth corresponds e.g. to 0Hz- 40kHz, 0Hz-20kHz, or 20Hz-20kHz. The second frequency range corresponds to a band outside the first band e.g. 60kHz-lMHz, 100kHz-700kHz and in the case of a class D amplifier typically includes the switching frequency.

The compensator is configured to have its operation is disabled when the primary amplifier is operating in the second operating mode. This disabling may be embodied in any desired manner and may render the compensator out of operation in a number of manners. In one situation, the compensator may, when disabled, prevent transfer of signals along the first path, thus effectively preventing signal transport from the first summing node to the primary amplifier input. In this situation, the first and second summing nodes may be different summing nodes so that a signal may still be fed from the input to the primary amplifier input via the second summing node and the second path. Alternatives to this set-up are described further below.

In another situation, the disabling may be obtained by rendering the compensator "invisible", such as by providing the compensator with no frequency filtering capabilities, such as when it has a predetermined gain, such as unity gain, over a frequency interval of interest (such as 0Hz - 100kHz) . Then, the disabled compensator will allow transport of signals across it and from the first summing node to the primary amplifier input. In this situation, the first and second summing nodes may be different summing nodes or the same summing node, as a signal may under all circumstances be transported from the input to the primary amplifier input via the first path.

In the present context, a summing node is an element configured to combine at least two signals and output a combined/summed signal . In analogue electronics, a summing node may simply be a branched conductor having one branch for each circuit or signal to be combined or summed and one for the output. In other situations, a summing node may include an op amp configured to have a virtual-short input to prevent the summing node from causing cross-talk between its inputs. Another way of constructing a summing node is building a difference amplifier, which provides at its output the difference between two input signals (i .e. the sum of one input signal and the negation of the other) . Difference amplifiers may be implemented using e.g . a transistor or FET with one signal applied to the base or gate and another signal applied to the emitter or source. Difference amplifiers may also be implemented using two transistors or FETs arranged as a differential pair or using op amps. A summing node implemented as a difference amplifier may include further amplification and filtering on account of the use of active devices such as transistors, FETs and op amps.

That a path exists from e.g . the input to the summing node means that a signal may be transported from the input to the summing node. This signal may be altered or not during this transport. Thus, the path may comprise filters or other circuits and may also comprise summing nodes, feedbacks, amplifiers or the like, if desired.

The first and second summing nodes may be separate summing nodes or the same, common, summing node. This first/second or common summing node thus has a path from the input and a path from the primary amplifier output as well as either a common first/second path or the first and second paths to the primary amplifier input. As mentioned below, the first and second paths may be different paths, the same, common, path or paths having parallel portions.

The first and second paths exist from the input to the primary amplifier input. The first path comprises the compensator and the second path comprises the low pass filter.

In this context, a low pass filter is any circuit whose frequency response exhibits a downward trend over at least a decade or over at least 20dB. A low pass transfer function describes a circuit having a lower attenuation (or higher gain) at lower frequencies and a higher attenuation (or lower gain) at higher frequencies.

The low pass filter is provided in a feed-back loop from the primary amplifier output to the primary amplifier input via the second summing node. The low pass filter is configured to be operable or active at least when the primary amplifier is operating in the first operating mode. Naturally, the low pass filter may be permanently active, such as if made only of discrete components or when not being configured to be disabled. In this context, the low pass filter has the low pass filter transfer function at least when active. If it can be disabled, the low pass filter, when not active, may block any signal transfer along the second path. Alternatively, the low pass filter may, when inactive, have a predetermined gain over all of the above frequency interval .

In general, it is desired always to receive a signal from the input, also when the primary amplifier is in the second mode of operation. This signal may be filtered or the like, compared to a signal received from the input. Receiving this signal also when the primary amplifier is in the second mode of operation, or not in the first mode, such as when the primary amplifier clips, may help bring the primary amplifier back to the first mode of operation.

As described, the compensator and the low pass filter may be disabled in a manner so that they block signal transfer along both the first and second paths. In that situation, another path may be provided from the input to the primary amplifier input. This path may have an overlap with one or both of the first/second paths, such as to bypass the blocked

compensator/filter.

In the other situations where one of the filter and the compensator allows transfer of signals from the input to the primary amplifier input even in the second/third/fourth mode of operation, the first/second paths may provide this preferred permanent signal transfer from the input to the primary amplifier input.

As mentioned above, the first and second summing nodes may be embodied as a single, common summing node.

Also, or in addition thereto, the first and second paths may have portions thereof in common with each other and other portions being parallel portions which are not common. In this context, a parallel portion of a path is a portion not comprised in the other path. Then, a blocking circuit, such as the compensator configured to block signal transfer when disabled, may be provided in a parallel portion, so that a signal may be transported via another parallel portion when the circuit is blocking .

In one embodiment, the first path also comprises the low pass filter. Thus, the low pass filter is present in both the first and second paths. This will be inherent, if the first and second paths are the same, common path. If, on the other hand, the first and second paths are different paths, such as if they have parallel portions, a low pass filter may be present in each parallel portion, or the low pass filter may be present in a common portion of the first and second paths. In one embodiment, the compensator is provided also in the second path, where the compensator is configured to, when disabled, have a constant gain, such as unity gain. This may be the situation also if the first and second paths are identical.

As mentioned, many manners exist in which a circuit may be disabled. The compensator may disable automatically by itself, or a signal may be received from another circuit instructing the compensator to disable.

In one situation, the compensator disables automatically when a voltage across, or a current through, the compensator or an element thereof exceeds a threshold value. The compensator may comprise an element triggering or operating as a result of the exceeding

voltage/threshold, where this triggering/operation then disable the compensator.

In one embodiment, the compensator comprises an operational amplifier with a feedback network. Disabling of the compensator may then take place by short circuiting at least part of the feedback network. This short circuiting may be a shorting of a capacitor of the network. When a capacitor is provided between the output and an input of the amplifier, a short circuiting thereof may provide the network with a frequency independent behaviour - imposing a frequency independent behaviour to the compensator or at least reduce the gain and the phase shift of the compensator at low frequencies.

This short circuiting may be obtained in a number of manners. In one situation, the network comprises a diode or two anti-parallel diodes which automatically become conductive - and thus short circuiting components connected in parallel thereto - when a voltage over the diode(s) exceeds the forward voltage of the diode(s). This voltage may be derived from the primary amplifier so that if the primary amplifier clips and outputs an excessive voltage or deviates excessively from the expected voltage, the compensator will automatically be disabled.

In other situations, a detection circuit may determine that the primary amplifier has left the first amplifier operating mode or is in the second, third or fourth amplifier operating mode and then send a predetermined signal to the compensator to which the compensator is configured to react so as to disable. This signal may, e.g. cut off the power to the active circuit of the compensator, remove the bias current from the active circuit of the

compensator or short circuit or disconnect parts of the active circuit of the compensator. Alternatively short circuiting of at least a part of the feedback network of the compensator may be effected using switches, for example transistors or FETs operated as switches and controlled by the signal from said detection circuit. Alternatively such a switch may be inserted in series with the input of the compensator and configured to be normally on (i.e. closed) but turned off when said detection circuit has determined that the primary amplifier is in the second operating mode.

It is noted that if the low pass filter is desired inactive or disabled when the primary amplifier is in the second operating mode, the same types of disabling may be used in this respect.

The primary amplifier comprises a comparator and a switching power stage controlled by the comparator. Often, an output filter is provided between the switching power stage and the primary amplifier output. Normally, the primary amplifier input is connected to or constituted by an input to the comparator. A Class D amplifier may be self oscillating or have an oscillating frequency imposed on it. In general, a Class D primary amplifier has an idle switching frequency. The idle switching frequency may be determined by removing all input signal and measuring the average period of the on/off cycle found at the power stage.

In this context, an output filter often is a low pass filter configured to remove or substantially dampen the switching frequency.

Usually, the idle switching frequency is in the range of 200kHz - 2MHz.

In the Class D situation, the low pass filter is preferably adapted to the switching frequency to attenuate this switching frequency relative to lower frequencies. In one embodiment, the low pass filter has a first gain at the idle switching frequency, and a second gain at half the idle switching frequency, where the second gain is at least one and a half times the first gain. Preferably, the second gain is at least 2 times the first gain, or even at least 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more times the first gain.

The primary amplifier comprises a feedback conductor or circuit, such as a feedback being or comprising a high pass filter, connected between the primary amplifier output and an input of the comparator and/or the input to the primary amplifier.

In this context, a high pass filter is a filter whose gain exhibits an upward trend over at least a desired frequency interval. In the present context, the relevant frequency interval is between a quarter and one half of the idle switching frequency wherein the gain is higher (lower attenuation) at higher frequencies and lower (higher attenuation) at the lower frequencies.

If the primary amplifier is a self-oscillating class D amplifier, this "internal" feedback loop through the first feedback filter may be responsible firstly for setting the idle switching frequency and determining the statistical (linearised) gain of the comparator. It is responsible secondly for making the frequency response or the primary amplifier substantially

independent of the load impedance. Without the first feedback filter, the loaded output filter determines the frequency response of the primary amplifier. With the first feedback filter in place, the frequency response of the primary amplifier becomes substantially inversely proportional to the gain of the first feedback filter. Thus, the third function of the first feedback filter is to program the frequency response of the primary amplifier. If the primary amplifier is a class D amplifier with a fixed oscillator, the first feedback filter no longer sets the switching frequency and statistical gain but the other two functions remain. If the primary amplifier is a linear amplifier, a circuit element corresponding to the first feedback filter may or may not exist, depending of whether the circuit used as primary amplifier already has a frequency response that makes it useful to apply the teachings of this invention around. If not, a first feedback filter will have to be used in a feedback loop around the linear amplifier to obtain the desired frequency response.

This feedback filter may have any order. In legacy Class D amplifiers, this filter is a first order filter, but it may be advantageous to use a higher order filter instead. This has the effect of increasing the closed loop gain of the primary amplifier, thereby increasing the loop gain available to the loop closed through the first summing node.

In one embodiment, the amplifier further comprises a third path from the output to an input of the compensator. This path, together with a path from the amplifier input, allows the compensator to generate an additional input signal to the primary amplifier based on an error signal derived from the signals supplied through the paths from the output and the input to the input of the compensator. By filtering and amplifying the error signal the compensator will produce a signal that counteracts the distortion generated by the primary amplifier, at least within a desired frequency band.

In an embodiment, the primary amplifier is configured to act substantially as an integrator. If the primary amplifier is a class D amplifier, this is done by configuring the first feedback filter to be a high pass filter. A number of additional technologies and solutions may be found in Applicant's co-pending applications titled "AN AMPLIFIER WITH A COMPENSATOR WITH A NETWORK OF AT LEAST THIRD ORDER" and "AN AMPLIFIER WITH AN AT LEAST SECOND ORDER FILTER IN THE CONTROL LOOP" which are filed on even date and hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

In the following, preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated with reference to the drawing, wherein: Figure 1 illustrates a first embodiment of a class D power amplifier according to the invention,

Figure 2 illustrates a second embodiment of a class D power amplifier according to the invention

Figure 3 illustrates a third embodiment of a class D power amplifier according to the invention

Figure 4 illustrates a fourth embodiment of a class D power amplifier according to the invention

Figure 5 illustrates a circuit implementation of the summing node 1, third feedback filter 12 and the first forward filter 2, where forward filter 2 is a first order lowpass filter.

Figure 6 illustrates a circuit implementation of the summing node 1, third feedback filter 12 and the first forward filter 2, where forward filter 2 is an integrator.

Figure 7 illustrates a circuit implementation of the summing node 1, third feedback filter 12 and the first forward filter 2, where forward filter 2 is a second order lowpass filter.

Figure 8 illustrates a circuit implementation of summing node 4, forward filter 3, second feedback filter 11 and compensator 5, where compensator 5 is an op amp with a capacitor used as compensation network 51 in parallel with a diode network 52 connected between the output and the inverting input thus making compensator 5 a saturated integrator and where forward filter 3 is a resistor and second feedback filter 11 is a high-pass filter.

Figure 9 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having two DC poles and one real zero.

Figure 10 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having one real zero and two complex poles of which only the magnitude can be freely chosen.

Figure 11 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having one real zero and two complex poles that can be freely chosen.

Figure 12 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having two real zeros and one DC pole and two complex poles of which only the magnitude can be freely chosen.

Figure 13 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having two real zeros and one DC pole and two complex poles which can be freely chosen.

Figure 14 illustrates another network that may also be used as compensation network 51, making the compensator a function having three real zeros and two pairs of complex poles of which only the magnitude can be freely chosen. Figure 15 illustrates typical curves of the gain obtained by a circuit like that of Figure 8 with the compensation network 51 of Figure 8 (dashed, black), Figure 9 (dashdot, grey), Figure 10 (dotted, grey), Figure 11 (solid, grey), Figure 12 (dotted, black), and Figure 13 (solid, black) used .

Figure 16 illustrates another network that may be used as feedback network 52 to effect saturation of the compensator.

Figure 17 illustrates a circuit implementation of compensator 5 where saturation is implicitly applied by letting the operational amplifier clip against its supply rails.

Figure 18 illustrates a circuit implementation of compensator 5a for use in the embodiment of Figure 2, where no means of saturation is provided but a field effect transistor is connected across compensation network 51 in order to re-set the compensator.

Figure 19 illustrates a circuit implementation of compensator 5a for use in the embodiment of Figure 2, where a switch is placed in series with the integrator to hold the integration but not reset the integrator.

Figure 20 illustrates a fully differential circuit implementation of compensator 5a for use in the embodiment of Figure 2 having three poles (of which two a resonant pair) and two zeros, executed using three op amps, and with reset switches across every capacitor.

Figure 21 illustrates a circuit implementation of forward filter 3 and second feedback filter 11 where forward filter 3 is a first order low pass filter.

Figure 22 illustrates a circuit implementation of the summing nodes 6 and 7 and the first feedback filter 10 where first feedback filter 10 is a high-pass filter.

Figure 23 illustrates a circuit implementation of the summing nodes 6 and 7 and the first feedback filter 10 where first feedback filter 10 is a high-shelf filter.

Figure 24 illustrates a simplified circuit of a linear amplifier configured as a voltage follower, indicating where improved versions of compensation network 51 can be substituted .

Figure 25 illustrates an assembly according to the present invention, of a secondary amplifier 101, forward filter 2, third feedback filter 12, a cable and a load where the input signal to the third feedback filter 12 is connected at the end of the cable to which the load is attached.

Figure 26 illustrates an assembly according to the present invention, of a secondary amplifier 101, which is configured as an integrating amplifier, a difference amplifier 13, a load and a current sensor 14, where the integrating amplifier is configured to respond to the difference between the input signal and the output signal of the current sensor. Figure 27 illustrates a prior art amplifier with approximate equivalent functions marked, namely a first order high pass filter as the first feedback filter 10 and a first order low pass filter as the first forward filter 2.

Figure 28 illustrates an amplifier according to the invention, showing the use of a second or higher order high pass filter in the first order feedback filter.

In Figure 1, an amplifier 100 is illustrated having an input 20, an output 21, a gain stage (boxes 8 and 9), four summing nodes, 1, 4, 6, 7, a first feedback filter 10, a second feedback filter 11, a third feedback filter 12, a first forward filter 2, a second forward filter 3 and a compensator 5.

A primary amplifier is indicated as box 102 and a secondary amplifier as box 101.

A forward path is defined between input 20 and the input into the primary amplifier 101, and multiple feedback paths are illustrated, all between the output 21 and a summing node.

An internal feedback path is defined between the output 21 and the summing node 7, and an internal feedback loop is defined from the output 21, through filter 10, summing node 7, amplifier gain stage 8 and the filter 9.

Through input 20 an audio signal is fed into summing node 1. Output 21 is connected to summing node 1 through feedback filter 12. In the preferred embodiment, feedback filter 12 is a resistor as shown in Figure 5 but it could also contain a filter to allow further shaping of the frequency response of the amplifier 100. The output of summing node 1 is fed into a forward filter 2. In the preferred embodiment forward filter 2 is a first order low-pass filter as shown in Figure 5, with a corner frequency above the audio band . The output of forward filter 2 is connected both to summing node 6 and to summing node 4 through forward filter 3. Summing node 4 also receives the signal of output 21 through feedback filter 11. Summing node 4 feeds the compensator 5. The compensator 5 feeds summing node 6. The

compensator is arranged so that it is disabled when the amplifier clips. The forward path has parallel portions where one portion comprises filter 3, summing node 4 and filter 5 and where the other portion is the direct connection from the input of filter 3 to summing node 6.

A feedback path is defined from output 21 through filter 11 to summing node 4. This feedback path forms part of a feedback loop comprising also the compensator 5, summing node 6 and the primary amplifier 102. Thus, the feedback loop comprises a control circuit formed by filter 11 and the compensator 5. In this embodiment, the compensator comprises an operational amplifier, 50, which is a compensator gain stage, with a capacitive compensation network 51 connected between the output and the inverting input of the operational amplifier. This is illustrated in Figure 8.

When designing filter circuits employing feedback networks around op amps it is common practice to provide a duplicate of these feedback network between ground and the non inverting input of the op amp in order to obtain a circuit with a differential input. Among other advantages this allows for free choice of inverting or non-inverting operation. For clarity however, such duplicate feedback networks are not shown in the drawings and any inversions necessary to restore correct polarity are implied .

The simplest such capacitive feedback network is simply a capacitor as in Figure 8. The resulting circuit is an integrator i .e. a circuit whose gain is inversely proportional to frequency. This is also called a first-order filter or a one-pole filter, the "pole" being a (real or complex) frequency where gain is infinite, and where the "order" is the number of poles. In a simple integrator the pole is at (or in practice very close to) 0 Hz. The ratio of Ifb and Vcomp is inversely proportional to the compensator gain which is desired to be high in the desired operating frequency range. For the purposes of this disclosure, a capacitive network is understood to be a circuit that generates a feedback current Ifb whose magnitude relative to the op amp output voltage Vcomp increases with frequency, at least in the range between the operating bandwidth of the amplifier and half the switching frequency. As an example the ratio between Ifb and Vcomp may increase tenfold between 20kFlz and 200kFlz. As another example the ratio between Ifb and Vout may increase tenfold between 80kFlz and 800kFlz. Moreover, the Ifb/Vcomp ratio is low in the described amplifier operating range to secure a high compensator gain.

In Figure 9, a second order response is illustrated. As an example of the type of response obtained is shown in the grey dashdot line of the graph in Figure 15. At low frequencies, gain is inversely proportional to the square of frequency as evidenced by a downward slope of (40dB/decade) . At high frequencies the response transitions to a first order (20dB/decade) slope. This type of behaviour is highly desirable for compensators. The filter is designed such that the transition to a first order slope happens before the point where loop gain becomes 1, therefore reducing the phase shift to a sufficiently low value to permit stable operation. At the same time, the faster slope at low frequencies permits higher loop gain at low

frequencies than a simple first order circuit would . The refinements in Figure 10 and Figure 11 serve to move the frequency, where gain is highest, to a higher frequency, at the expense of loop gain at DC (dotted grey and solid grey in Figure 15) . The low-frequency loop gain may be further increased (i .e. increase the order) without using additional amplification stages. Hitherto, compensators of orders 3 and higher have only been implemented using one amplification stage per order as illustrated in Figure 20.

In Figure 8, the inverting input terminal of op amp 50 is operated as a virtual short and the compensation network 51 is a capacitor that acts as a differentiator, its output current Ifb being the derivative of Vcomp. Otherwise put, Vcomp is the integral of the current Ifb. The network of Figure 9 acts as a differentiator cascaded with a first order high-pass filter. This network can be extended by adding additional high-pass sections. Adding one more high- pass section results in a response like that shown in the black dash-dot line in Figure 15. A resistor bridging two of the three capacitors (as shown in Figure 12) will again move two poles up in frequency as shown in the dotted black line in Figure 15. Figure 13 shows a method of increasing the Q of the two poles which does not require a three-component parallel T network as was needed to produce the same effect in the two-pole case of Figure 11. Finally, Figure 14 shows that the method can be extended to an arbitrary number of poles by cascading further high-pass sections (optionally with parallel networks to move the poles up in frequency).

This insight is not only applicable to control circuits for class D amplifiers. Figure 24 shows the basic circuit of a standard operational amplifier (actual op amps may use bipolar transistors, j-FETs, MOSFETs or similar devices, or a mixture, and may contain additional bias, cascode or protection circuits) . Compensation network 51, here a capacitor, takes the position of "compensation capacitor". Here too, such a network improves audio fidelity.

In one embodiment of the invention, it is noted that in the context of the primary amplifier 102, the first feedback filter 10 fulfils a function similar to the one fulfilled by the

compensation network 51 in the context of the compensator 5. That is to say, the gain of the compensator is approximately inversely proportional to the gain of compensation network 51. If the compensation network 51 is a capacitor, the compensator 5 will behave like an integrator. If the compensation network 51 is a higher order differentiating network like those shown in Figure 9 and following until Figure 14, the compensator will act like higher order integrators. Likewise, the gain of the primary amplifier 102 is approximately inversely proportional to the gain of the feedback filter 10. Substituting a higher order differentiating network for the capacitor in first feedback filter 10 will therefore increase the gain of the primary amplifier 102. Signal cancellation is again obtained by providing a similar network for the known single capacitor in second feedback filter 11.

Figure 27 illustrates a known, simple circuit whose performance is acceptable in many audio applications. In terms of the elements named in the present description, it can be broken down as a forward filter 2, a first feedback network 10, a gain stage 8 and an output filter 9, where summing nodes 1 and 7 are implemented as circuit junctions. Modifying the first feedback filter 10 by substituting a higher order differentiating network for the capacitor improves loop gain in such a circuit in an inexpensive manner.

In the preferred embodiment a second feedback network 52 is connected to provide saturation i .e. to prevent the voltage across the capacitive feedback network 51 from becoming greater than a pre-set limit. This second feedback network may be as simple as a pair of antiparallel diodes as shown in Figure 8, or may be a more sophisticated circuit such as the one from Figure 16. In yet another embodiment op amp 50 is simply powered from supply voltages chosen so that the output Vcomp of op amp 50 is naturally saturated just outside the normal operating range (Figure 17) .

It can be verified experimentally if signal cancellation and saturation are employed together to the effect that the compensator is arranged to disable its operation when the primary amplifier clips. First an audio signal is applied to input 20 with a sufficient amplitude to cause severe clipping of the primary amplifier 102. As the input signal, a sine wave, which continually sweeps between 20Flz and 20kFlz, is used . The peak-to-peak value Vclip of the output signal 21 is recorded. During this test, saturation of the compensator 50 should be observed (observation 1) . Next, the level of the audio signal is reduced until the peak-to- peak value of output signal 21 is 70% of Vclip. Now, no saturation of the compensator 50 should be observed (observation 2) . Next, the gain of the first feedback filter 10 is changed by 10% at least in the range of DC to 20kFlz. Saturation of the compensator 50 should again be observed, even though the primary amplifier 102 is far from clipping (observation 3) . If observations 1, 2 and 3 are all true, the compensator is arranged to disable its operation when the primary amplifier clips.

An alternative procedure for establishing if signal cancellation and saturation are employed together to the effect that the compensator is arranged to disable its operation when the primary amplifier clips, is to look for a drastic change in distortion performance when the gain of first feedback filter 10 is changed. First, establish the clipping level of the amplifier by applying a sinusoidal audio signal to the input 20 and adjusting the level until total harmonic distortion measures 10% . Then, reduce the signal level by 40% and measure distortion.

Next, change the gain of the first feedback filter by 10% and measure distortion again. If the second distortion figure is at least twice the first distortion figure, the compensator is arranged to disable its operation when the primary amplifier clips. The test could be done at lkFIz and 6kFlz. In the second embodiment (Figure 2), a circuit is added that detects clipping of the primary amplifier. Many ways of detecting clipping exist. One method is monitoring the output of summing node 7 with a window comparator. During normal operation, the output of summing node 7 will remain within certain limits as it needs to cross zero to make the output stage change state. When the primary amplifier clips, the output of summing node 7 will grow much larger. This allows easy discrimination of normal operation or clipping. Another method is to time the comparator output. If it stays in high or low for longer than a predetermined maximum, the primary amplifier is deemed to be clipping. Further methods involve comparing the input or output signal to pre-set limits beyond which the primary amplifier is deemed to be clipping.

The output of the clipping detector is then used to control switches 53 (shown in Figure 18) that short-circuit (i.e. reset) the capacitive feedback network 51. Such switches may be implemented using field effect transistors. A variant using a single capacitor as the feedback network and a field effect transistor acting as reset switch is shown in Figure 18.

Alternatively, a switch may be arranged to disable further integration. Figure 19 shows an implementation of a compensator where a switch is arranged to disconnect the input of the compensator when clipping of the primary amplifier is detected, and to reconnect the input of the compensator when the primary amplifier returns to normal operation.

The compensator does not need to be constructed using one op amp and neither does it need to have only one feedback network. Functionally equivalent circuits can be made e.g. using differential feedback networks, differential op amps or multiple op amps. An implementation is shown in Figure 20 of a third order compensator constructed using three differential op amps and using field effect transistors to reset the individual integrating stages. It will be clear that this implementation is shown to indicate multiple variations at once, and that many useful combinations can be found.

The output of summing node 6 feeds the primary amplifier 102. This amplifier may be a class A, AB, B or D amplifier. In the case that it is a class D amplifier, it may be self-oscillating or oscillator driven. A self-oscillating implementation may comprise a class D gain stage 8, an output filter 9 and feedback filter 10. Gain stage 8 comprises a switching power stage controlled by a comparator (or zero-crossing detector). Gain stage 8 will connect its output either to a positive or a negative power supply rail depending on the sign of the input signal applied to the comparator. Constructed in this manner, primary amplifier 102 operates as a self-oscillating amplifier. If a periodic reference signal such as a triangle wave is connected to the noninverting terminal of Gain stage 8, the amplifier is no longer self-oscillating. Its operating frequency and gain will instead be determined by the frequency, shape and amplitude of the reference waveform . In prior art amplifiers, feedback filter 10 was designed so that the frequency response of the primary amplifier 102 was flat enough for audio use. This does not have to be the case in the present invention where feedback filter 10 may have negligible gain at DC. In the preferred embodiment, feedback filter 10 consists of only a resistor and a capacitor in series (Figure 22) . Consequently the frequency response of primary amplifier 102 approximates a low-pass filter with a large DC gain and a low corner frequency. Over most of its useable bandwidth it has a 20dB/decade downward slope. For practical purposes primary amplifier 102 behaves like an integrator.

In the preferred embodiment, forward filter 3 has a constant gain (e.g . is a resistor) and feedback filter 11 is an exact copy of feedback filter 10 with a resistor in parallel to take into account the fact that the DC gain of the primary amplifier is not infinite, thereby improving signal cancellation. This shows that it is advantageous to have separate circuits for feedback filters 10 and 11. This arrangement is shown in Figure 1. The frequency response of the secondary amplifier 101 closely matches the frequency response of the primary amplifier 102 alone. It may be advantageous to numerically optimize forward filter 3 and feedback filter 11 together to obtain further improved cancellation of the audio input signal at the output of the saturated compensator 5. Figure 21 shows an example where forward filter 3 is a first order low pass filter.

It is preferred to obtain a closed loop frequency response approximating a second or higher order low-pass filter with the possibility of attaining a Bessel, Butterworth or Chebyshev response or anything in-between. A way of constructing a second order low pass filter with a resonant corner (having a Q factor over 0.5) is placing two first-order low-pass filters inside a common feedback loop. To obtain a second order low-pass frequency response from amplifier

100, secondary amplifier 101 and forward filter 2 are used as the constituent parts of such a low-pass filter. The feedback loop is closed through feedback filter 12 and summing node 1.

In the preferred embodiment the secondary amplifier 101 has a large DC gain but a very low corner frequency. Figure 22 shows an implementation of first feedback filter 10 that would effect such a response. Generally, to obtain such a characteristic for the secondary amplifier

101, first feedback filter 10 should be configured to have very low gain at DC and high gain at high frequencies (e.g. the switching frequency, 200kFlz, lOOkFIz) . If first feedback filter 10 has nonzero gain at DC, the frequency at which its gain has increased by 3dB above its DC gain should be low (e.g. below 20kFlz, e.g. below 2kFlz) . If first feedback filter 10 is a first order high pass filter, an approximately second order frequency response may be obtained for amplifier 100 by enclosing secondary amplifier 101 in a feedback loop with a forward filter 2 if forward filter 2 is configured as a first-order low-pass filter. Figure 5 shows an

implementation of such a forward filter 2. Any desired corner frequency and Q factor for the frequency response of amplifier 100 can be obtained by varying the gain and the corner frequency of forward filter 2.

It will be clear to the person skilled in the art that the same frequency response for amplifier 100 is available with different choices of feedback filter 10 and forward filter 2. For example Figure 23 shows an implementation of feedback filter 10 that permits the secondary amplifier to have a low DC gain but conversely a high corner frequency. Subsequently configuring forward filter 2 as an integrator allows the Q factor of the frequency response of amplifier 100 to be chosen freely. An implementation configuring forward filter 2 as an integrator is shown in Figure 17. It is an objective of the invention that the additional signal processing (here forward filter 2) does not suffer from integrating windup. Although it would be more in line with conventional amplifier design strategy to configure forward filter 2 as an integrator, clipping of the primary amplifier would cause the output of forward filter 2 to keep growing so long as clipping persists, causing integrating windup. Therefore, it is preferred to configure forward filter 2 as a low-pass filter and to configure the primary amplifier to have high DC gain and a low corner frequency (e.g. below 20kFlz, e.g. lkFIz).

It is desired that the additional signal processing provides low-pass filtering between the amplifier input and the comparator. Since forward filter 2 is a low-pass filter or an integrator, this is obtained .

Higher order low-pass behaviour can be obtained by increasing the order of the forward filter 2. This can be done, for example, as shown in Figure 7. This further improves the attenuation of high-frequency components in the input signal that reach the comparator.

It is preferred that the amplifier be more amenable to remote sensing . As illustrated in Figure 1 thru Figure 4, the input of the third feedback filter 12 is connected to the load

independently of the inputs of second feedback filter 11 and first feedback filter 10. This allows the input of the third feedback filter 12 to be connected at the far end of the cable connecting the amplifier and the loudspeaker load, whereas feedback filters 11 and 10 may be connected at the near end . This arrangement is shown in Figure 25. This is possible because forward filter 2 is a low pass filter or an integrator, making it insensitive to high frequency components that may be present or missing at the far end of the cable. Also, forward filter 2 does not rely on signal cancellation to prevent integrator windup, so the gain error introduced by the resistance of the cable is of no consequence. By contrast, connecting the second feedback filter 11 at the far end will result in the output signal of the compensator becoming very large. By looking at the remote sensing feedback arrangement of Figure 25, clearly, if the secondary amplifier 101 is configured to act as an integrator, it is in fact operating as a power op amp. In one embodiment, the secondary amplifier 101 is configured as an integrator, so it can be used in many applications requiring the use of a power op amp.

Figure 28 shows an arrangement of secondary amplifier 101 used as a power op amp in conjunction with a current sensor to act as a controlled current source. The current sensor may be a resistor, a current sense transformer or a hall sensor. Its output is typically a voltage proportional to the load current. This voltage is subtracted from the input signal and applied to the input of primary amplifier 102. The subtraction may be done using a simple fixed gain difference amplifier, but additional filtering may be provided also.

In Figure 3 an alternative embodiment is shown. It is obtained from figure 1 by simple block diagram manipulation . Filter 3' now combines the transfer functions of filters 2 and 3, while filter 2' is identical to filter 2 but is now only inserted in the parallel connection between summing nodes 1 and 6. This clearly illustrates that it is possible to deviate from the exact structure of figure 1 without in any way changing the operation of the circuit. This method may be advantageous by allowing separate tweaks to the two versions of H4 (previously filter 2), further improving the accuracy of signal cancellation .

Figure 4 shows an implementation where summing node 1 is duplicated along with its input and feedback filter 12 which now appears twice as 12a and 12b. Flere too, a potential benefit may be expected in improving signal cancellation, as well as allowing different choices for the amplification stages used in 2' and 3'.

It will be plain to the person skilled in the art that such rearranging of functional blocks can yield further embodiments that nevertheless do not deviate from the teachings of this invention. When the first path comprises at least a compensator that is disabled when the primary amplifier clips, a second path may be provided which does not include that compensator but which comprises at least a first order low-pass filter.

It follows that the path that does not comprise the compensator can be characterised by taking the steps of 1) disabling the primary amplifier, 2) disabling the compensator, 3) applying a sinusoidal stimulus to the input 20 and 4) measuring the signal level found at the input of the primary amplifier 102. This measurement is first done at a first frequency which is twice the corner frequency of the amplifier 100, yielding a first signal level, and repeated at a second frequency which is four times the first frequency, yielding a second signal level .

If the second level is less than one-third of the first level, the second path behaves like at least a first order low pass filter. It may be impractical to isolate the input of the primary amplifier for this purpose, because summing nodes are often implemented as circuit junctions. In that case, an alternative test method may be applied in which the amplifier operates normally. Since the use of a first- order filter as the forward filter 2 will result in amplifier 100 operating as a second-order low- pass filter, this characteristic can be tested directly. To this end, a sinusoidal stimulus is connected to the input 20 and the level is measured at the output 21. This test is again done at two frequencies. First at a first frequency which is twice the corner frequency of the amplifier 100, yielding a first signal level, secondly at a second frequency which is twice times the first frequency, yielding a second signal level . If the second level is less than one- third of the first level, the second path behaves like at least a first order low pass filter.