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Audio Standards

Discussion in 'Audio' started by geekygenius, Jan 21, 2013.

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  1. geekygenius


    Jan 21, 2013

    First off, let me say that I'm completely new to electronics, and this forum. I haven't been formally educated, and until I am, I decided that learning it as I go would be a good way to learn. The main reason I got into electronics was to build synthesizers/audio equipment.

    Building schematics I find off the web is cool and all, but if I want to attempt designing my own circuits, I need to know some of the standards. Some thing I'm wondering about are, what voltages does an audio signal scale from (it changes in volts, right?). What does CV scale from? What should I do to keep my builds from ruining other things I plug it into? etc.

    Any other tips/tricks would be appreciated.

  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    hi there
    welcome to the forums :)

    CV ??

  3. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
  4. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    One thing to note there are 'pro' and 'consumer' standards, you have to match to the devices you are using...

    The short of it start reading, you have a lot of it to do :)
  5. geekygenius


    Jan 21, 2013
    CV = Control Voltage

    Stuff like gate, pitch (I think its usually 1V/oct), can also be used for modulating parameters.
  6. Yoa01


    Jun 18, 2012
    To answer your questions...

    -Voltages does an audio signal scale from: Typical audio output maxes at around 3V, device dependant. I've used everything from mV to 9V with no damage, but the main key is to use a potentiometer as a volume control (lug 1=signal, lug 2=output, lug 3-=ground). This will safely attenuate your signals.
    -What does CV scale from: typically, 1V/Oct, but can be whatever you want. Heck, you can even use Hz/V if you want, or any scale you think would suffice.
    -What should I do to keep my builds from ruining other things I plug it into: Again, just put a potentiometer attenuator on the output side. You're highly unlikely to damage anything, especially if you're like me and are using analogue gear.

    As for the 'etc.' part, a few useful notes:
    -Gate/trigger signals typically are the maximum positive PSU voltage. Say you're using a 9V battery, your gate signals will be 9V.
    -Unless you feel comfortable build a large multi-wave oscillator using differing OpAmps and careful voltage and current control (as are what most oscillators are), I recommend using a 555 for your oscillating needs. It can output a saw and square wave at once (if you know how to use it), and with minimal waveshaping and attenuation you can get a multitude of waveforms.
    -Learn Logic. I mean analogue logic gates (AND, NAND, OR, XOR, NOR, etc). They will help you immensely, and can be easy to build if you don't want to buy specialised ICs.
    -Don't cut corners. I have done that (using FETs/Vactrols for CV, using 'close enough' values, not thinking things through) and have ended up having to redesign many circuits because of it.
    -Study filters. Aside from normal musical stuff, filters are very helpful in eliminating noise, smoothing signals, and getting interesting tones depending on the type of filter and its implementation.

    I've been building analogue synths for about 8 months now and still have questions or problems. Believe me, Google and this forum will help you a lot. Especially look at other DIY synth builders's sites, including CGS ( and (at the risk of self-promotion) my blog:

    Happy building!
  7. geekygenius


    Jan 21, 2013
    Wow, thanks for the advice! I'm looking for some kind of +1 button for you can can't find one!

  8. Yoa01


    Jun 18, 2012
    Well, you could always help the pageview counter go up on my blog :) Glad to help, though, really. Cool thing with analogue synths is that it's pretty hard to blow stuff up, so I say just have fun with it!

    One last thing: study components and ICs. You'll find there are some neat tricks you can do, and should you find something really interesting, it's somewhat easy to get into the market of selling your synth stuff. I recommend going the modular route, but of course remaking and designing your own monosynths is a ton of fun too.
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