Common-mode rejection ratio

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The common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR) of a differential amplifier (or other device) is the measure of rejection by the device of unwanted input signals common to both input leads, relative to the wanted difference signal. An ideal differential amplifier would have infinite CMRR; this is not achievable in practice. A high CMRR is required when a differential signal must be amplified in the presence of a possibly large common-mode input. An example is audio transmission over balanced lines.


Ideally, a differential amplifier takes the voltages, V_+ and V_- on its two inputs and produces an output voltage V_\mathrm{o}=A_\mathrm{d}(V_+ - V_-), where A_\mathrm{d} is the differential gain. However, the output of a real differential amplifier is better described as

V_{\mathrm{o}} = A_\mathrm{d} (V_+ - V_-) + \tfrac{1}{2} A_\mathrm{cm} (V_+ + V_-),

where A_\mathrm{cm} is the common-mode gain, which is typically much smaller than the differential gain.

The CMRR is defined as the ratio of the powers of the differential gain over the common-mode gain, measured in positive decibels (thus using the 20 log rule):

\mathrm{CMRR} = \left (\frac{A_\mathrm{d}}{|A_\mathrm{cm}|} \right) = 10\log_{10} \left (\frac{A_\mathrm{d}}{A_\mathrm{cm}} \right)^2 dB = 20\log_{10} \left (\frac{A_\mathrm{d}}{|A_\mathrm{cm}|} \right) dB

As differential gain should exceed common-mode gain, this will be a positive number, and the higher the better.

The CMRR is a very important specification, as it indicates how much of the common-mode signal will appear in your measurement. The value of the CMRR often depends on signal frequency as well, and must be specified as a function thereof.

It is often important in reducing noise on transmission lines.[citation needed] For example, when measuring the resistance of a thermocouple in a noisy environment, the noise from the environment appears as an offset on both input leads, making it a common-mode voltage signal. The CMRR of the measurement instrument determines the attenuation applied to the offset or noise.

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