Active Band Pass Filter

Active Band Pass Filter

The principal characteristic of a Band Pass Filter or any filter for that matter is its ability to pass frequencies relatively unattenuated over a specified band or spread of frequencies called the “Pass Band”.

For a low pass filter, this passband starts from 0Hz or DC and continues up to the specified cut-off frequency point at -3dB down from the maximum passband gain. Equally, for a high pass filter the passband starts from this -3dB cut-off frequency and continues up to infinity or the maximum open-loop gain for an active filter.

However, the Active Band Pass Filter is slightly different in that it is a frequency selective filter circuit used in electronic systems to separate a signal at one particular frequency, or a range of signals that lie within a certain “band” of frequencies from signals at all other frequencies. This band or range of frequencies is set between two cut-off or corner frequency points labelled the “lower frequency” ( ƒL ) and the “higher frequency” ( ƒH ) while attenuating any signals outside of these two points.

Simple Active Band Pass Filter can be easily made by cascading together a single Low Pass Filter with a single High Pass Filter as shown.

band pass filter design

The cut-off or corner frequency of the low pass filter (LPF) is higher than the cut-off frequency of the high pass filter (HPF) and the difference between the frequencies at the -3dB point will determine the “bandwidth” of the band pass filter while attenuating any signals outside of these points. One way of making a very simple Active Band Pass Filter is to connect the basic passive high and low pass filters we look at previously to an amplifying op-amp circuit as shown.

Active Band Pass Filter Circuit

active band pass filter

This cascading together of the individual low and high pass passive filters produces a low “Q-factor” type filter circuit which has a wide passband. The first stage of the filter will be the high pass stage that uses the capacitor to block any DC biasing from the source. This design has the advantage of producing a relatively flat asymmetrical passband frequency response with one half representing the low pass response and the other half representing high pass response as shown.

cascading of filters

The higher corner point ( ƒH ), as well as the lower corner frequency cut-off point ( ƒL ), are calculated the same as before in the standard first-order low and high pass filter circuits. Obviously, a reasonable separation is required between the two cut-off points to prevent any interaction between the low pass and high pass stages. The amplifier also provides isolation between the two stages and defines the overall voltage gain of the circuit.

The bandwidth of the filter is therefore the difference between these upper and lower -3dB points. For example, suppose we have a band pass filter whose -3dB cut-off points are set at 200Hz and 600Hz. Then the bandwidth of the filter would be given as: Bandwidth (BW) = 600 – 200 = 400Hz.

The normalised frequency response and phase shift for an active band pass filter will be as follows.

Active Band Pass Frequency Response

active band pass filter frequency response

While the above passive tuned filter circuit will work as a bandpass filter, the passband (bandwidth) can be quite wide and this may be a problem if we want to isolate a small band of frequencies. An active bandpass filter can also be made using an inverting operational amplifier.

So by rearranging the positions of the resistors and capacitors within the filter we can produce a much better filter circuit as shown below. For an active band pass filter, the lower cut-off -3dB point is given by ƒC1 while the upper cut-off -3dB point is given by ƒC2.

Inverting Band Pass Filter Circuit

inverting amplifier band pass filter
active filter cut-off frequency

This type of band pass filter is designed to have a much narrower pass band. The centre frequency and bandwidth of the filter is related to the values of R1, R2, C1 and C2. The output of the filter is again taken from the output of the op-amp.

Multiple Feedback Band Pass Active Filter

We can improve the band pass response of the above circuit by rearranging the components again to produce an infinite-gain multiple-feedback (IGMF) band pass filter. This type of active band pass design produces a “tuned” circuit based around a negative feedback active filter giving it a high “Q-factor” (up to 25) amplitude response and steep roll-off on either side of its centre frequency. Because the frequency response of the circuit is similar to a resonance circuit, this center frequency is referred to as the resonant frequency, ( ƒr ). Consider the circuit below.

Infinite Gain Multiple Feedback Active Filter

infinite gain multiple feedback active filter

This active band pass filter circuit uses the full gain of the operational amplifier, with multiple negative feedback applied via resistor, R2 and capacitor C2. Then we can define the characteristics of the IGMF filter as follows:

igmf filter characteristics

We can see then that the relationship between resistors, R1 and R2 determines the band pass “Q-factor” and the frequency at which the maximum amplitude occurs, the gain of the circuit will be equal to -2Q2. Then as the gain increases so to does the selectivity. In other words, high gain – high selectivity.

Active Band Pass Filter Example No1

An active band pass filter that has a voltage gain Av of one (1) and a resonant frequency, ƒr of 1kHz is constructed using an infinite gain multiple feedback filter circuit. Calculate the values of the components required to implement the circuit.

Firstly, we can determine the values of the two resistors, R1 and R2 required for the active filter using the gain of the circuit to find Q as follows.

value of Q

Then we can see that a value of Q = 0.7071 gives a relationship of resistor, R2 being twice the value of resistor R1. Then we can choose any suitable value of resistances to give the required ratio of two. Then resistor R1 = 10kΩ and R2 = 20kΩ.

The center or resonant frequency is given as 1kHz. Using the new resistor values obtained, we can determine the value of the capacitors required assuming that C = C1 = C2.

capacitor value

The closest standard value is 10nF.

Resonant Frequency Point

The actual shape of the frequency response curve for any passive or active band pass filter will depend upon the characteristics of the filter circuit with the curve above being defined as an “ideal” band pass response. An active band pass filter is a 2nd Order type filter because it has “two” reactive components (two capacitors) within its circuit design.

As a result of these two reactive components, the filter will have a peak response or Resonant Frequency ( ƒr ) at its “center frequency”, ƒc. The center frequency is generally calculated as being the geometric mean of the two -3dB frequencies between the upper and the lower cut-off points with the resonant frequency (point of oscillation) being given as:

resonant frequency


  • ƒr is the resonant or Center Frequency
  • ƒL is the lower -3dB cut-off frequency point
  • ƒH is the upper -3db cut-off frequency point

and in our simple example in the text above of a filters lower and upper -3dB cut-off points being at 200Hz and 600Hz respectively, then the resonant center frequency of the active band pass filter would be:

Resonant Frequency example

The “Q” or Quality Factor

In a Band Pass Filter circuit, the overall width of the actual passband between the upper and lower -3dB corner points of the filter determines the Quality Factor or Q-point of the circuit. This Q Factor is a measure of how “Selective” or “Un-selective” the bandpass filter is towards a given spread of frequencies. The lower the value of the Q factor the wider is the bandwidth of the filter and consequently the higher the Q factor the narrower and more “selective” is the filter.

The Quality Factor, Q of the filter is sometimes given the Greek symbol of Alpha, ( α ) and is known as the alpha-peak frequency where:

quality factor alpha symbol

As the quality factor of an active bandpass filter (Second-order System) relates to the “sharpness” of the filter’s response around its center resonant frequency ( ƒr ) it can also be thought of as the “Damping Factor” or “Damping Coefficient” because the more damping the filter has the flatter is its response and likewise, the less damping the filter has the sharper is its response. The damping ratio is given the Greek symbol of Xi, ( ξ ) where:

filters damping factor

The “Q” of a bandpass filter is the ratio of the Resonant Frequency, ( ƒr ) to the Bandwidth, ( BW ) between the upper and lower -3dB frequencies and is given as:

So for our simple example above, if the bandwidth (BW) is 400Hz, that is ƒH – ƒL, and the center resonant frequency, ƒr is 346Hz. Then the quality factor “Q” of the band pass filter will be given as:

346Hz / 400Hz = 0.865.     Note that Q is a ratio, it has no units.

When analyzing active filters, generally a normalized circuit is considered which produces an “ideal” frequency response having a rectangular shape and a transition between the passband and the stopband that has an abrupt or very steep roll-off slope. However, these ideal responses are not possible in the real world so we use approximations to give us the best frequency response possible for the type of filter we are trying to design.

Probably the best-known filter approximation for doing this is the Butterworth or maximally-flat response filter. In the next tutorial, we will look at higher-order filters and use Butterworth approximations to produce filters that have a frequency response that is as flat as mathematically possible in the passband and a smooth transition or roll-off rate.

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