Perhaps you have been around a public address system when a squeal or high-pitched noise has come from the speaker. Someone will turn down the volume and the noise will stop. That noise is an indication that the amplifier (at least one stage of amplification) has begun oscillating. Oscillation is covered in detail in NEETS Module 9, Introduction to Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits. For now, you need only realize that the oscillation is caused by a small part of the signal from the amplifier output being sent back to the input of the amplifier. This signal is amplified and again sent back to the input where it is amplified again. This process continues and the result is a loud noise out of the speaker. The process of sending part of the output signal of an amplifier back to the input of the amplifier is called FEEDBACK.
There are two types of feedback in amplifiers. They are POSITIVE FEEDBACK, also called REGENERATIVE FEEDBACK, and NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, also called DEGENERATIVE FEEDBACK. The difference between these two types is whether the feedback signal is in phase or out of phase with the input signal.
Positive feedback occurs when the feedback signal is in phase with the input signal. Figure 1-15 shows a block diagram of an amplifier with positive feedback. Notice that the feedback signal is in phase with the input signal. This means that the feedback signal will add to or "regenerate" the input signal. The result is a larger amplitude output signal than would occur without the feedback. This type of feedback is what causes the public address system to squeal as described above.
Figure 1-15. - Positive feedback in an amplifier.
Figure 1-16 is a block diagram of an amplifier with negative feedback. In this case, the feedback signal is out of phase with the input signal. This means that the feedback signal will subtract from or "degenerate" the input signal. This results in a lower amplitude output signal than would occur without the feedback.
Figure 1-16. - Negative feedback in an amplifier.
Sometimes feedback that is not desired occurs in an amplifier.
This happens at high frequencies and limits the high-Frequency response of an amplifier. Unwanted feedback also occurs as the result of some circuit components used in the biasing or coupling network. The usual solution to unwanted feedback is a feedback network of the opposite type. For example, a positive feedback network would counteract unwanted, negative feedback.
Feedback is also used to get the ideal input signal. Normally, the maximum output signal is desired from an amplifier. The amount of the output signal from an amplifier is dependent on the amount of the input signal.
However, if the input signal is too large, the amplifying device will be saturated and/or cut off during part of the input signal. This causes the output signal to be distorted and reduces the fidelity of the amplifier. Amplifiers must provide the proper balance of gain and fidelity.
Figure 1-17 shows the way in which feedback can be used to provide the maximum output signal without a loss in fidelity. In view A, an amplifier has good fidelity, but less gain than it could have. By adding some positive feedback, as in view B, the gain of the stage is increased. In view C, an amplifier has so much gain and such a large input signal that the output signal is distorted. This distortion is caused by the amplifying device becoming saturated and cutoff. By adding a negative feedback system, as in view D, the gain of the stage is decreased and the fidelity of the output signal improved.
Figure 1-17A. - Feedback uses in amplifiers.
Figure 1-17B. - Feedback uses in amplifiers.
Figure 1-17C. - Feedback uses in amplifiers.
Figure 1-17D. - Feedback uses in amplifiers.
Positive and negative feedback are accomplished in many ways, depending on the reasons requiring the feedback. A few of the effects and methods of accomplishing feedback are presented next.