I am designing a digital board which will drive a very coarse (simple on-off) high[er] current speaker. I am worried that the switching of the speaker will cause noise in the power supply driving it. If this was the same power well as the microcontroller, that wouldn't be good.

I will use separate ground and power planes for the power to the amplifier circuit. I don't want to actually use a separate power supply for it's power plane, but think a simple filter might work better. Could I just put an inductor/choke between the "main" power plane and the amp's power plane? I envision with the capacitor, this would essentially form a low-pass filter.

Does this make any sense? Any considerations I should take in selecting values? What about even doing anything in board traces/geomentry to make a simple/crude inductor or provide other isolation?

If I were really concerned about this - I would use a separate power supply. I haven't built the circuit yet and am not seeing any specific problems, so I am just trying to sort of minimize any potential problems. Thus, doing a simple isolation as such might just be a quick and easy thing to do.

Any good tips?


1 Answer 1


The current transients mentioned, depending on magnitude and how well the amplifier circuit is decoupled, may cause dips in Vsupply as described.

Some points to address for a solution:

  • Most important: Use a freewheeling diode, connected reverse biased, across the speaker leads. The on-to-off transition of the speaker causes a significant reverse spike from an inductive load such as a speaker.
    • Use a power Shottky diode if the current involved is big, else any fast diode with a current rating of at least twice the current expected through the speaker coils in on state would work.
  • Use a lot of bulk capacitance at the source of the transients, i.e. across the amplifier circuit, to reduce supply noise propagation: One always tries to eliminate noise at source if possible.
    • Depending on the transient magnitudes, a few hundred to a few thousand microfarads are common in power audio amplifiers. Voltage rating of better than twice the supply voltage would be best.
  • Separate out the power and ground planes for the amplifier portion and the microcontroller portion if feasible, interconnecting grounds at a single point.
  • Coupling the power plane using a choke coil as mentioned in the question is a good additional measure, but ensure this is a very low resistance high inductance coil, preferably with a core. Tricks with PCB traces will not provide the high inductance needed, an actual inductor would be best.
    • Values from a few hundred microHenries to a milliHenry or so should be good to effectively throttle spike propagation. Use an inductor with the least DC resistance that you can afford. Personal preference is something well under 250 milliOhms if possible.

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