Smoothing ripples

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I mentioned in a reply to a comment that one way to smooth out the remaining ripple of a power supply is with a regulator; which is an electronic device quite similar to an amplifier. I think this comment surprised several of you who have written me suggesting a regulator looks more like an attenuator than that of an amplifier. I agree, but then so too an amplifier is an attenuator as well. I know this is a difficult concept, that of an amplifier being an attenuator. If you will recall my post of several days ago, It Can't Get Bigger, I explained that an amplifier doesn't do what its namesake suggests if viewed from the power supply's perspective. A regulator is identical. Let's review. An amplifier makes its input signal bigger but no bigger than its power supply. The term 'amplifier' suggests a magnification of one parameter (the input music signal) but the actual amplification 'valve' is an attenuator (meaning it can only make something smaller). The trick to this then is to start with a very high power supply, one that is considerably higher than the input signal you wish to make larger, and use the valve to turn this higher voltage down. The end result is larger than the input signal, but never greater than the power supply. From the input signal standpoint it's an amplifier, from the power supply standpoint it is an attenuator. I fear our discussion is getting too complicated and I want this to be simpler. Let me think about how to present this in a clearer light in tomorrow's post and we'll look at when to use a voltage regulator and how it works. We'll also examine why 99% of all power amplifiers do not use voltage regulators and yes, they have large amounts of ripple to contend with.
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Paul McGowan

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