The objective of this coursework is the design of a monophonic phonograph preamplifier

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A phonograph preamplifier



The objective of this coursework is the design of a monophonic phonograph preamplifier, i.e., the preamplifier that converts the signal from the cartridge on the arm of a turntable to a suitable audio line level. You have to design both the circuit, using LTSpice, and the printed circuit board (PCB), using DesignSpark PCB (or any alternative software you are familiar with).


There are two different types of cartridges: moving coil (MC) and moving magnet (MM). MC cartridges are generally considered to have better performance, but they provide a lower signal than MM cartridges and they also require careful selection of the preamplifier input impedance.

After the signal from the cartridge is amplified to a suitable line level it must be filtered. In order to minimise the groove width and the high-frequency noise in a vinyl disk, the high-frequency components of the audio signal are emphasised before recording. This results in a more balanced structure in the groove features as well as a reduction in the stylus wear. The phonograph preamplifier must de-emphasise the high-frequency components using a specific response standardised by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Circuit Specifications

Your preamplifier must be able to support both MM and MC cartridges. You can either use separate inputs and/or a suitable switching mechanism. The required gains and input impedances are shown in Table 1:

Table 1: Gain and input impedance.




DC Gain

36 dB

56 dB

Input resistance

47 kΩ

100 Ω

Input capacitance

100 pF

3000 pF


The low-pass RIAA filter has the following transfer function:


where τz = 318 μs, τP1 = 75 μs, and τP2 = 3180 μs.

There is not a minimum required value for the total harmonic distortion, noise, and power consumption, but you will have to simulate (or estimate) their values – the lower the better.

Assume that a dual power supply +12V/ground/-12V is available. If your circuit requires different voltages, they must be generated from these levels.

You are only allowed to use operational amplifiers and discrete MOSFETs as active components

Printed Circuit Board Specifications

The PCB should be designed using a 2-layer board with mil (1/1000 inch) as the base unit. The board size should be as small as possible, and the design should be optimised for milling manufacturing. The minimum features are:

  • Track width ≥ 10 mil (254 μm).
  • Component-to-component spacing ≥ 10 mil (254 μm).
  • Hole diameter ≥ 20 mil (508 μm).

Surface mount devices (SMDs) should be used where possible, and through-holes should be used for the input/output/power connectors. All the components should be placed on the top side of the board, if possible, and the input/output connectors should be arranged along an edge. PCB footprints may need to be designed.

The input and output connectors on your PCB are standard female RCA phono connectors (see for example

The power supply connector consists of a 3 pin 2.4 mm PCB header (see for example

Do not forget mounting holes. An on/off switch is not required (it is assumed to be on the power supply board).


You can download LTSpice from calculators/ltspice-simulator.html

It is freely available for both Windows and Mac devices.

DesignSpark PCB is freely available at installation

You can use any other PCB software you are already familiar with, and since you have to report the PCB layout only, you can virtually use any graphic editor to draw it.


The report maximum length is 3 pages using the IEEE conference template: ( The results should be presented using figures and plots. DO NOT include the LTSpice and PCB files with your submission. The report should include:

  • Circuit schematic.
  • PCB layout (top/bottom).
  • Simulation results showing that your circuit operates correctly.
  • Harmonic distortion simulation/estimation.
  • Noise simulation/estimation.
  • Power consumption simulation/estimation.

You need to justify your design choices and component selection.

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