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Sprouting some Fuzz. Creating Distortion in an Amplifier

An amplifier Clipping a Sine Wave.

An amplifier Clipping a Sine Wave.

Finally we are back to circuits and not just talking numbers and math! First, we will do a little summary of what we have recently talked about. Any repeating waveform can be derived from a sine wave and one or more harmonics of that sine wave. A harmonic is a whole number multiple of the frequency of the the base or fundamental sine wave frequency.   (I am being slightly sloppy here, when I say sine wave I mean a sinusoidal wave.  The phase may be shifted.)

Said another way, any periodic waveform that is not a true sine wave contains harmonics.  And this means that if we distort a sine wave we have generated harmonics.   In musical instruments amplifiers this is commonly done and is called “distortion”, “overdrive”, or “fuzz”.  In our musical reproduction system this is hopefully not done, because distortion is an unwanted thing there.

Tonight I am talking about one kind of distortion, the clipping off the tops of sine waves to create a waveform richer in harmonics.  We will very soon deal with some even more ways to do this, but tonight I show several ways to overdrive an amplifier.   To do this I use a Qucs simulation of a non-inverting op-amp circuit in a video I have made.

For those of you that might be unfamiliar with op-amps I have already created many blog posts on op-amp circuits.  Some of the key ones are:

I also have several Posts about the Simulation software Qucs.  Some of these are:

Finally, an excellent article I found about distortion “stomp pedals”

It is not my goal to build a distortion pedal at this point, but to simply show the principles.   However, if you decide to take it on, please e-mail me with any questions and I will attempt to answer them.


The associated video is embedded below:

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