BUROSCH NF Labor: Beispiel einer Messung Texas Instruments TPA3255
Normally, a graph like that gets a bit sticky to make. You can export everything and load it up in Excel, but that takes time. And Excel isn't so useful when you want to create a graph of a fixed size (say, 800x480 pixels). You can of course screen capture the plot Excel it and re-size it in another program, but the aim here is to make it wickedly fast to capture and present fairly complex data without a lot of intermediate steps.
With the new release, the above scenario would be accomplished by measuring IMD performance at 8 ohms to initially create the graph, and then running it again at 4 ohms and directing that output of that sweep to the graph you just made (instead of a new one), and then importing the old data into the graph with the two traces. And along the way, you can interactively play with scaling, axis names, colors, import/export, etc.
The purpose of this blog post is to show how to quickly evaluate an amplifier using many of the new features and plug-ins in the 1.726 release. About 18 months ago we looked at a generic TPA3255 board that was a reasonable performer. In that evaluation, the tests made were mostly single-point snapshots. And when showing the frequency response, the data was plotted in Excel. What you should takeaway in the evaluation below is how much of the testing today has become completely automated, the breadth of the tests that can be performed, and the speed. At the end of the day, the goal is to help you understand your products quickly.
For the tests below, the connection diagram is shown below. The QA450 doesn't need to be used here: you could manually connect a load as required for the tests. We're using the QA450 in manual mode in these tests. In manual mode, you change loads (4 or 8 ohms) by pressing on-screen buttons. The QA450 also supports automated control via REST.
MutlitoneA good first test when first trying to understand an amplifier is a multi-tone test, because it provides a quick way to look at the gain, gain balance, the flatness of the spectrum and the cross-talk all at once.The total RMS power from 20 to 20 KHz using a multi-tone stimulus is about 17.3W into 8 ohms in the plot below. From the text display at the bottom of the graph we can see the amp has a gain of roughly 27.5 dB, exceptional (0.01 dB) matching between the channels, about -75 dB of cross-talk, and just a bit of roll-off (about 0.4 dB) up near 20 KHz. Generally, we might state the gain of the amp is 27.5 dB +0/-0.4 dB. And no worrisome spurious products are observed.Here the Multitone QA401 output level is -6 dBV (total RMS in 20 to 20 KHz). For inputs lower than -6 dBV into the TPA3255, the spectrum appears very similar.
Frequency ResponseMultitone looks across the band with a dozen frequencies. But let's take a more detailed look at the frequency response at 4 and 8 ohms. For this, we'll sweep from 20 to 20 KHz at -18 dBV into the TPA3255. With an 8 ohm load this will give about 1W of output. For this test, the sampling rate on the QA401 was set to 192 Ksps and Flat Top windowing was used.
IMDA sweep of IMD is important on Class D amps as it's difficult to measure linearity at higher frequencies using a conventional THD techniques because the world beyond 50 KHz in Class D amps is usually fairly harsh. Below is the setup for the IMD measurement. That this time we are enabling early termination: If the power level exceeds 1W AND the IMD exceeds -60 dB, then the sequence will terminate early.
There isn't an option for the type of IMD measurement right now in the above configuration (ie, SMPTE or ITU), but there will be at some point. The test above will measure the level at 1 KHz while applying a 19 KHz and 20 KHz tone at equal levels (commonly known as the ITU-R or CCIF/ITU). If you specify an output level of 0 dBV, then the level of each tone will be -3 dB, and the combined RMS of the two non-coherent tones will be 0 dBV. The response at 1 KHz is referenced to the combined RMS of the two tones. In the future will be the ability to specify the max order of distortion. Currently, a single second-order product is considered (F1 = 19K, F2 = 20K, and ABS(1* 19K - 1* 20K) = 1 KHz.).A previous post talks more about IMD measurements (including background) on the QA400.The resulting plot of the IMD measurement is as follows. TI doesn't publish IMD figures on the TPA3255.
A plot of about 10W into 8 ohms shows the following activity. We can see the total RMS of the 19 and 20 KHz tones are 19 dBV, and the amplitude of the resulting 1 KHz tone product is about -84 dBV, resulting in measurement of about -103 dB.
Measuring output impedance of an amplifier is done by taking measurements of the output across two loads, usually an open and a typical speaker load, or in this case, a 4 ohm (instead of an open) and 8 ohm load. And then through some algebra we can compute the output impedance of the amplifier. The setup screen for this plug-in is below. We'll first sweep at 8 ohms, and then sweep at 4 ohms. We'll also do the left and right channel together:
When the test starts, we're instructed to first connect the 8 ohm load. With the QA450, we make sure the 8 ohm button is pressed.
That sweep will take a few seconds, and the we see the second prompt. There we connect the 4 ohm load:
Upon completion of the second sweep, we get the following graph of output impedance:
At 1 KHz with a 4 ohm load, this is a damping factor of roughly 30. At 20 KHz, the output impedance is nearly 2 ohms. This is overwhelmingly coming from the output LC filter. The output L is 15 uH, which has an impedance of 1.8 ohms at 20 KHz. This highlights a common complaint with class D. Historically, class D amps have had three big problems: Poor PSRR, marginal to poor output impedance (especially at higher frequencies), and poor tolerance to load changes (as we saw above in the frequency response of 4 versus 8 ohms). TI has addressed the first problem of PSRR by closing the loop on the TPA3255. But the second and third problems are due to the output LC. And TI only closed the loop prior to the LC in the TPA3255. In the future, look towards class D chipsets than can close the loop using feedback taken post-LC. The math and processing to do so must be very difficult. But you can bet the big class D chipset companies are working hard to solve this.
A noise measurement was made with the inputs shorted and with A-Weighting enabled. TI's spec indicates a typical 85 uVrms noise (20 to 20 KHz), and what was measured below was 95 uVrms. This measurement was into 4 ohms.
The gain of an amplifier should be linear across it's operating region. That is, if the amp gain varies based on the incoming signal level, it can result in strange amplitude modulations. The graph below is the setup for the gain linearity test. The set up indicates we'll sweep the QA401 output from -120 to +5 dBV, in 5 dBV steps, and measure the gain at each point. What we'd like to see is a single horizontal line.
The plot from the test is shown below. There are 3 regions to note: The first is left side of the graph below -110 dBV or so input level. Here we can see that if a very small signal is input to the amp, then the gain is around 28.5 dB. And on the far right side, with very high input levels around +5 dBV, the gain drops to about 26.5 dBV.
What we see above on the far left side of the graph and on the far right are to be expected. The key is the steller performance in the middle region from -110 dBV to just over a few dBV of input.On the left side, the deviation can be explained by noise. The signal is so small that its difficult to separate the noise from the signal. But it doesn't matter, because we're not able to hear the signal at this level either. And on the right side, the deviation can be explained by amplifier compression. But at this level, the output is so large (200 to 300W) it just doesn't matter. In summary, the gain linearity of this part is very good.
A Side Note on Power Measurement on the QuantAsylum Audioanalyzer and all other instruments
In many of the above tests, that the power into the QA450 was exceeding 300W in some cases (the manual has more analysis on this). The QA450 cannot handle these levels of power for very long. But if you are doing swept tests with smaller FFT sizes, it can handle them for long enough periods to make the measurement. And this is an important point to make again: The QA450 isn't designed for sinking hundreds of watts for only few minutes. It's designed for making very fast measurements at several hundred watts under control.
Not only doing standard audio power measurements in the Burosch NF Labor: We do also power measurement with LCR power load technology simulating a real speaker box - please see Burosch Interface Load Box.