ECM Mic Preamplifier


A microphone amplifier that may be used with either Electret Condenser Microphone (ECM) inserts or dynamic inserts, made with discrete components.

Circuit Notes

Both transistors should be low noise types. In the original circuit, I used BC650C which is an ultra low noise device. These transistors are now hard to find but BC549C or BC109C are a good replacement. The circuit is self stabilizing and will set its quiescent point at roughly half the supply voltage at the emitter of Q2. This allows maximum output voltage swing and also the highest dynamic range.

The electret condenser microphone (ECM) contains a very sensitive microphone element and an internal FET preamp, a power supply in the range 2 to 10 volts DC is therefore necessary. Suitable ECM's may be obtained from Maplin Electronics. Although the schematic is drawn showing a three terminal ECM, two terminal ECM's may be used.

The 1k resistor limits the current to the mic. This resistor should be increased to 2k2 if a supply voltage above 12 Volts DC is used and is not needed if the Mic insert is dynamic. The first stage amplifier built around Q1 is run at a very low collector current. This factor contributes to a very high overall signal to noise ratio and low overall noise output. The emitter resistor of Q1 is decoupled by the 100u realizing a maximum gain for this stage. The noise response of the amplifier measured across the 10k load is shown below. Please note that this plot was made with the mic insert replaced by a signal generator.

The second stage, built around Q2 is direct coupled, this minimizes phase shift effects (introduced with capacitive and inductive coupling methods) and acheives a flat output response from 20Hz to over 100kHz. The frequency response measured across a 10k load resistor is plotted below simulated using a 12V power source:

The emitter voltage of Q2 is also fed back to the base of Q1 via resistive coupling. This also ensures bias stabilization againt temperature effects. Q2 operates in emitter follower mode, the voltage gain of this stage is less than unity, however, the overall voltage gain of the preamplifier is about 100x or 20dB as shown in the bode plot above. The output impedance is very low and well suited to driving cables over distances up to 50 meters. Screened cable therefore is not necessary.

This preamplifier has excellent dynamic range and can cope with anything from a whisper to a loud shout, however care should be taken to make sure that the auxiliary equipment i.e. amplifier or tape deck does not overload.

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Content sourced from Zen Schematics

Circuit:Andy Collinson