Transformers for DAC output stages

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(DAC Type)
Ratio I/V resistor
1465 Buy Current out.
Very high bandwidth type
1+1:5+5 6.8K Ohms
45 52.5
1495 Buy Current out
High ratio
1:9+9 100 Ohms max 34 39
3603 Buy Low Z voltage out type
1:1 none 34 24
4383 Buy 1:4 none 34 24
9335 Buy Attenuator none 45 52.5
3575 Buy Voltage out type 
1:1 none 34 24
9335 Buy Attenuator none 45  52.5


The sound quality of almost any commercial CD player or digital music systems can be improved by the use of a transformer to perform the current to voltage (I/V) conversion. There are 3 reasons for this:

1.The usually rather poor operational amp chips which are fed by the I/V resistor are eliminated.
2.The digital and analogue grounds can be isolated which can remove some complex distortion mechanisms.
3.The unique frequency characteristics of the transformer can provide improved filtering of the quantization noise.

The schematic below shows how to connect type 9762 to a CD player. two transformers are required for stereo.

Wiring diagram for DAC transformer

The Iout + and - should be disconnected from the existing circuit and conected to the primary. The secondary windings should be wired in series and connected between the amplifier grid and ground. The internal electrostatic screen should be connected to analog ground. It is important not to conect the amplifier ground to the digital ground of the CD player. The I/V resistor (Rsec) should be connected across the secondary of the transformer as shown.


We recommend using a resistor across the secondary of the transformer. This example assumes the input impedance of the amplifier is high.

First calcualte the primary rms current.. If the output current pf the DAC is 4 mA p-p, This is 4 x 0.354 = 1.4mA rms.

Next calcualte the secondary current. Divide the input current by the ratio. So if the ratio is 1:5 the output current is 1.4 / 5 = 0.28 mA rms. = 0.00028 Amps.

Now choose the resistor. Use Ohms law: R = V / I. So if you want 1v rms, R = 1 / 0.00028 = 3.57 K Ohms.

We have to allow for some insertion loss in the transformer, about 20%.. Nearest value 4.2 KOhms.

NOTES: This will work well provided the secondary feeds a high impedance such as a valve grid. It should be apparent that it is possible to adjust the I/V resistor and transformer ratio to get a different output voltage but it should be born in mind that most DACs work best with a low I/V resistor. The value of the I/V resistor as seen by the DAC (the reflected secondary load) can be calculated by dividing by the ratio squared. With a Rsec = 4.2KOhms the reflected laod will be 4200 / 5^2 = 168 Ohms.


PRODUCT OFFERING: We offer a range of  transformers suitable for most Digital to Analogue Converters (DAC's). Multi-section winding techniques are used to maximize bandwidth and transient response. All our DAC transformers are constructed on Mumetal (76% Nickel) cores for minimal distortion and contained in heavy gauge Mumetal screening cans. Some models have multiple internal electrostatic shields are provided to minimize noise pick-up.

Type 9762 is designed for most popular applications. Types 9055 and 9545 have twin bifilar primary windings which may be used in parallel driven from one DAC or may be used with twin DAC's carrying out of phase signals. These are subtracted by the transformer which provides the ultimate in cancellation of quantisation noise .

Types 8347 and 9055 are offered for DAC's with up to 0.6 mA dc offset. Most modern DACs do not have significant dc offset. The remaining types in the list above are for use with DAC's which provide an analogue voltage out.