Amplitude modulation

Amplitude modulation

Overview
Amplitude modulation is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 carrier wave
Carrier wave
In telecommunications, a carrier wave or carrier is a waveform that is modulated with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave is usually a much higher frequency than the input signal...

. AM works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent. For example, changes in signal strength may be used to specify the sounds to be reproduced by a loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

, or the light intensity of television pixels. Contrast this with frequency modulation
Frequency modulation
In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation conveys information over a carrier wave by varying its instantaneous frequency. This contrasts with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier is varied while its frequency remains constant...

, in which the frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 is varied, and phase modulation
Phase modulation
Phase modulation is a form of modulation that represents information as variations in the instantaneous phase of a carrier wave.Unlike its more popular counterpart, frequency modulation , PM is not very widely used for radio transmissions...

, in which the phase
Phase (waves)
Phase in waves is the fraction of a wave cycle which has elapsed relative to an arbitrary point.-Formula:The phase of an oscillation or wave refers to a sinusoidal function such as the following:...

 is varied.

In the mid-1870s, a form of amplitude modulation—initially called "undulatory currents"—was the first method to successfully produce quality audio over telephone lines.
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Encyclopedia
Amplitude modulation is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 carrier wave
Carrier wave
In telecommunications, a carrier wave or carrier is a waveform that is modulated with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave is usually a much higher frequency than the input signal...

. AM works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent. For example, changes in signal strength may be used to specify the sounds to be reproduced by a loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

, or the light intensity of television pixels. Contrast this with frequency modulation
Frequency modulation
In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation conveys information over a carrier wave by varying its instantaneous frequency. This contrasts with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier is varied while its frequency remains constant...

, in which the frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 is varied, and phase modulation
Phase modulation
Phase modulation is a form of modulation that represents information as variations in the instantaneous phase of a carrier wave.Unlike its more popular counterpart, frequency modulation , PM is not very widely used for radio transmissions...

, in which the phase
Phase (waves)
Phase in waves is the fraction of a wave cycle which has elapsed relative to an arbitrary point.-Formula:The phase of an oscillation or wave refers to a sinusoidal function such as the following:...

 is varied.

In the mid-1870s, a form of amplitude modulation—initially called "undulatory currents"—was the first method to successfully produce quality audio over telephone lines. Beginning with Reginald Fessenden
Reginald Fessenden
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden , a naturalized American citizen born in Canada, was an inventor who performed pioneering experiments in radio, including early—and possibly the first—radio transmissions of voice and music...

's audio demonstrations in 1906, it was also the original method used for audio radio transmissions, and remains in use today by many forms of communication—"AM" is often used to refer to the mediumwave
Mediumwave
Medium wave is the part of the medium frequency radio band used mainly for AM radio broadcasting. For Europe the MW band ranges from 526.5 kHz to 1606.5 kHz...

 broadcast band (see AM radio
AM broadcasting
AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation. AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is carried out in the medium wave band world wide, and on long wave and short wave...

).


Forms of amplitude modulation


In radio communication, a continuous wave
Continuous wave
A continuous wave or continuous waveform is an electromagnetic wave of constant amplitude and frequency; and in mathematical analysis, of infinite duration. Continuous wave is also the name given to an early method of radio transmission, in which a carrier wave is switched on and off...

 radio-frequency signal (a sinusoidal carrier wave
Carrier wave
In telecommunications, a carrier wave or carrier is a waveform that is modulated with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave is usually a much higher frequency than the input signal...

) has its amplitude modulated by an audio waveform before transmission. In the frequency domain
Frequency domain
In electronics, control systems engineering, and statistics, frequency domain is a term used to describe the domain for analysis of mathematical functions or signals with respect to frequency, rather than time....

, amplitude modulation produces a signal with power concentrated at the carrier frequency and two adjacent sideband
Sideband
In radio communications, a sideband is a band of frequencies higher than or lower than the carrier frequency, containing power as a result of the modulation process. The sidebands consist of all the Fourier components of the modulated signal except the carrier...

s. Each sideband is equal in bandwidth to that of the modulating signal, and is a mirror image of the other. Amplitude modulation resulting in two sidebands and a carrier is called "double-sideband amplitude modulation" (DSB-AM). Amplitude modulation is inefficient in power usage; at least two-thirds of the power is concentrated in the carrier signal, which carries no useful information (beyond the fact that a signal is present).

To increase transmitter efficiency, the carrier may be suppressed. This produces a reduced-carrier transmission
Reduced-carrier transmission
Reduced-carrier transmission is an amplitude modulation transmission in which the carrier wave level is reduced to reduce wasted electrical power...

, or DSB "double-sideband suppressed-carrier" (DSB-SC)
Double-sideband suppressed-carrier transmission
Double-sideband suppressed-carrier transmission : transmission in which frequencies produced by amplitude modulation are symmetrically spaced above and below the carrier frequency and the carrier level is reduced to the lowest practical level, ideally completely suppressed.In the double-sideband...

 signal. A suppressed-carrier AM signal is three times more power-efficient than AM. If the carrier is only partially suppressed, a double-sideband reduced-carrier (DSBRC) signal results. For reception, a local oscillator will typically restore the suppressed carrier so the signal can be demodulated with a product detector
Product detector
A product detector is a type of demodulator used for AM and SSB signals. Rather than converting the envelope of the signal into the decoded waveform like an envelope detector, the product detector takes the product of the modulated signal and a local oscillator, hence the name...

.

Improved bandwidth efficiency is achieved at the expense of increased transmitter and receiver complexity by completely suppressing both the carrier and one of the sidebands. This is single-sideband modulation
Single-sideband modulation
Single-sideband modulation or Single-sideband suppressed-carrier is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth....

, widely used in amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 and other communications applications. A simple form of AM, often used for digital
Digital
A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete values. By contrast, non-digital systems use a continuous range of values to represent information...

 communications, is on-off keying
On-off keying
On-off keying the simplest form of amplitude-shift keying modulation that represents digital data as the presence or absence of a carrier wave. In its simplest form, the presence of a carrier for a specific duration represents a binary one, while its absence for the same duration represents a...

: a type of amplitude-shift keying
Amplitude-shift keying
Amplitude-shift keying is a form of modulation that represents digital data as variations in the amplitude of a carrier wave.Any digital modulation scheme uses a finite number of distinct signals to represent digital data. ASK uses a finite number of amplitudes, each assigned a unique pattern of...

in which binary
Binary numeral system
The binary numeral system, or base-2 number system, represents numeric values using two symbols, 0 and 1. More specifically, the usual base-2 system is a positional notation with a radix of 2...

 data is represented by the presence or absence of a carrier. This is used by radio amateurs to transmit Morse code
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

 and is known as continuous wave
Continuous wave
A continuous wave or continuous waveform is an electromagnetic wave of constant amplitude and frequency; and in mathematical analysis, of infinite duration. Continuous wave is also the name given to an early method of radio transmission, in which a carrier wave is switched on and off...

 (CW) operation.

ITU designations


In 1982, the International Telecommunication Union
International Telecommunication Union
The International Telecommunication Union is the specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies...

 (ITU) designated the types of amplitude modulation:
DesignationDescription
A3E double-sideband a full-carrier - the basic Amplitude modulation scheme
R3E single-sideband
Single-sideband modulation
Single-sideband modulation or Single-sideband suppressed-carrier is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth....

 reduced-carrier
Reduced-carrier transmission
Reduced-carrier transmission is an amplitude modulation transmission in which the carrier wave level is reduced to reduce wasted electrical power...

H3E single-sideband
Single-sideband modulation
Single-sideband modulation or Single-sideband suppressed-carrier is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth....

 full-carrier
J3E single-sideband suppressed-carrier
B8E independent-sideband
Independent sideband
Independent sideband is an AM single sideband mode which is used with some AM radio transmissions. Normally each sideband carries identical information, but ISB modulates two different input signals — one on the upper sideband, the other on the lower sideband...

 emission
C3F vestigial-sideband
Lincompex linked compressor and expander

Example: double-sideband AM


A carrier wave is modeled as a sine wave:


in which the frequency in Hz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

 is given by:


The constants and represent the carrier amplitude and initial phase, and are introduced for generality. For simplicity, their respective values can be set to 1 and 0.

Let m(t) represent an arbitrary waveform that is the message to be transmitted, and let the constant M represent its largest magnitude:


The message might be just a simple audio tone of frequency:


It is assumed that    and that  

Amplitude modulation is formed by the product:


represents the carrier amplitude, which is a constant that demonstrates the modulation index. The values A=1 and M=0.5 produce y (t), depicted by the top graph (labelled "50% Modulation") in Figure 4.

In this example, y(t) can be trigonometrically
Trigonometry
Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies triangles and the relationships between their sides and the angles between these sides. Trigonometry defines the trigonometric functions, which describe those relationships and have applicability to cyclical phenomena, such as waves...

 manipulated into the following (equivalent) form:


Therefore, the modulated signal has three components: a carrier wave and two sinusoidal waves (known as sideband
Sideband
In radio communications, a sideband is a band of frequencies higher than or lower than the carrier frequency, containing power as a result of the modulation process. The sidebands consist of all the Fourier components of the modulated signal except the carrier...

s), whose frequencies are slightly above and below  

The choice A=0 eliminates the carrier component, but leaves the sidebands (DSBSC transmission). To generate a double-sideband full carrier (A3E) signal, we must choose:


Spectrum


For more general forms of m(t), trigonometry is not sufficient; however, if the top trace of Figure 2 depicts the frequency of m(t) the bottom trace depicts the modulated carrier. It has two components: one at a positive frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 (centered on ) and one at a negative frequency
Negative frequency
The concept of negative and positive frequency can be as simple as a wheel rotating one way or the other way. A signed value of frequency indicates both the rate and direction of rotation...

 (centered on ). Each component contains the two sidebands and a narrow segment in between, representing energy at the carrier frequency. Since the negative frequency is a mathematical artifact, examining the positive frequency demonstrates that an AM signal's spectrum consists of its original (two-sided) spectrum, shifted to the carrier frequency. Figure 2 is a result of computing the Fourier transform
Fourier transform
In mathematics, Fourier analysis is a subject area which grew from the study of Fourier series. The subject began with the study of the way general functions may be represented by sums of simpler trigonometric functions...

 of:   using the following transform pairs:



Power and spectrum efficiency


In terms of positive frequencies, the transmission bandwidth of AM is twice the signal's original (baseband
Baseband
In telecommunications and signal processing, baseband is an adjective that describes signals and systems whose range of frequencies is measured from close to 0 hertz to a cut-off frequency, a maximum bandwidth or highest signal frequency; it is sometimes used as a noun for a band of frequencies...

) bandwidth; both the positive and negative sidebands are shifted up to the carrier frequency. Thus, double-sideband AM (DSB-AM) is spectrally inefficient since fewer radio stations can be accommodated in a given broadcast band. The suppression methods described above may be understood in terms of Figure 2. With the carrier suppressed, there would be no energy at the center of a group; with a sideband suppressed, the "group" would have the same bandwidth as the positive frequencies of   The transmitter-power efficiency of DSB-AM is relatively poor (about 33 percent). The benefit of this system is that receivers are cheaper to produce. Suppressed-carrier AM is 100 percent power-efficient, since no power is wasted on the carrier signal (which conveys no information).

Modulation index


The AM modulation index is the measure of the amplitude variation surrounding an unmodulated carrier. As with other modulation indices, in AM this quantity (also called "modulation depth") indicates how much the modulation varies around its "original" level. For AM, it relates to variations in carrier amplitude and is defined as:   where and were introduced above.

So if , carrier amplitude varies by 50% above (and below) its unmodulated level; for , it varies by 100%. To avoid distortion, modulation depth must not exceed 100 percent. Transmitter systems will usually incorporate a limiter
Limiter
In electronics, a limiter is a circuit that allows signals below a specified input power to pass unaffected while attenuating the peaks of stronger signals that exceed this input power....

 circuit (such as a VOGAD
VOGAD
In electronics systems, a VOGAD or voice-operated gain-adjusting device is a type of automatic gain control or compressor for microphone amplification. It is usually used in radio transmitters to prevent overmodulation and to reduce the dynamic range of the signal which allows increasing average...

) to ensure this. However, AM demodulators can be designed to detect the inversion (or 180-degree phase reversal) that occurs when modulation exceeds 100 percent; they automatically correct for this defect. Variations of a modulated signal with percentages of modulation are shown below. In each image, the maximum amplitude is higher than in the previous image (note that the scale changes from one image to the next).

Modulation methods


Modulation circuit designs may be classified as low- or high-level (depending on whether they modulate in a low-power domain—followed by amplification for transmission—or in the high-power domain of the transmitted signal).

Low-level generation


In modern radio systems, modulated signals are generated via digital signal processing
Digital signal processing
Digital signal processing is concerned with the representation of discrete time signals by a sequence of numbers or symbols and the processing of these signals. Digital signal processing and analog signal processing are subfields of signal processing...

 (DSP). With DSP many types of AM modulation are possible with software control (including DSB with carrier, SSB suppressed-carrier and independent sideband, or ISB). Calculated digital samples are converted to voltages with a digital to analog converter, typically at a frequency less than the desired RF-output frequency. The analog signal must then be shifted in frequency, and linearly amplified
Linear amplifier
A linear amplifier is an electronic circuit whose output is proportional to its input, but capable of delivering more power into a load. The term usually refers to a type of radio-frequency power amplifier, some of which have output power measured in kilowatts, and are used in amateur radio...

 to the desired frequency and power level (linear amplification must be used to prevent modulation distortion).
This low-level method for AM is used in many Amateur Radio transceivers.

AM may also be generated at a low level, using analog methods described in the next section.

High-level generation


High-power AM transmitters
Transmitter
In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which, with the aid of an antenna, produces radio waves. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating...

 (such as those used for AM broadcasting
AM broadcasting
AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation. AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is carried out in the medium wave band world wide, and on long wave and short wave...

) are based on high-efficiency class-D and class-E power amplifier
Electronic amplifier
An electronic amplifier is a device for increasing the power of a signal.It does this by taking energy from a power supply and controlling the output to match the input signal shape but with a larger amplitude...

 stages, modulated by varying the supply voltage.

Older designs (for broadcast and amateur radio) also generate AM by controlling the transmitter’s final amplifier (generally a class-C, for efficiency) gain. The following types are for vacuum tube transmitters (but similar options are available with transistors):
  • Plate modulation: In plate modulation, the plate voltage of the RF amplifier is modulated with the audio signal. The audio power requirement is 50 percent of the RF-carrier power.
  • Heising (constant-current) modulation: RF amplifier plate voltage is fed through a “choke”
    Choke (electronics)
    A choke is a coil of insulated wire, often wound on a magnetic core, used as a passive inductor which blocks higher-frequency alternating current in an electrical circuit while passing signals of much lower frequency and direct current by having an impedance largely determined by reactance, which...

     (high-value inductor). The AM modulation tube plate is fed through the same inductor, so the modulator tube diverts current from the RF amplifier. The choke acts as a constant current source in the audio range. This system has a low power efficiency.
  • Control grid modulation: The operating bias and gain of the final RF amplifier can be controlled by varying the voltage of the control grid. This method requires little audio power, but care must be taken to reduce distortion.
  • Clamp tube (screen grid) modulation: The screen-grid bias may be controlled through a “clamp tube”, which reduces voltage according to the modulation signal. It is difficult to approach 100-percent modulation while maintaining low distortion with this system.

Demodulation methods


The simplest form of AM demodulator consists of a diode which is configured to act as envelope detector
Envelope detector
An envelope detector is an electronic circuit that takes a high-frequency signal as input and provides an output which is the "envelope" of the original signal. The capacitor in the circuit stores up charge on the rising edge, and releases it slowly through the resistor when the signal falls...

. Another type of demodulator, the product detector
Product detector
A product detector is a type of demodulator used for AM and SSB signals. Rather than converting the envelope of the signal into the decoded waveform like an envelope detector, the product detector takes the product of the modulated signal and a local oscillator, hence the name...

, can provide better-quality demodulation with additional circuit complexity.

See also

  • AM radio
    AM broadcasting
    AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation. AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is carried out in the medium wave band world wide, and on long wave and short wave...

  • AM stereo
    AM stereo
    AM stereo is a term given to a series of mutually incompatible techniques for wireless radio broadcasting stereo audio in the AM band in a manner that is compatible with standard AM receivers...

  • Mediumwave
    Mediumwave
    Medium wave is the part of the medium frequency radio band used mainly for AM radio broadcasting. For Europe the MW band ranges from 526.5 kHz to 1606.5 kHz...

     band used for AM broadcast radio
  • Longwave
    Longwave
    In radio, longwave refers to parts of radio spectrum with relatively long wavelengths. The term is a historic one dating from the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was considered to consist of long, medium and short wavelengths...

     band used for AM broadcast radio
  • Frequency modulation
    Frequency modulation
    In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation conveys information over a carrier wave by varying its instantaneous frequency. This contrasts with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier is varied while its frequency remains constant...

  • Shortwave radio almost universally uses AM, narrow FM occurring above 25 MHz.
  • Modulation
    Modulation
    In electronics and telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a high-frequency periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal which typically contains information to be transmitted...

    , for a list of other modulation techniques
  • Amplitude modulation signalling system
    Amplitude modulation signalling system
    The amplitude modulation signalling system is a digital system for adding low bit rate information to an analogue amplitude modulated broadcast signal in the same manner as the Radio Data System for frequency modulated broadcast signals.This system has been standardized in March 2006 by ETSI as...

     (AMSS), a digital system for adding low bitrate information to an AM signal.
  • Sideband
    Sideband
    In radio communications, a sideband is a band of frequencies higher than or lower than the carrier frequency, containing power as a result of the modulation process. The sidebands consist of all the Fourier components of the modulated signal except the carrier...

    , for some explanation of what this is.
  • Types of radio emissions
    Types of radio emissions
    The International Telecommunication Union uses an internationally agreed system for classifying radio frequency signals. Each type of radio emission is classified according to its bandwidth, method of modulation, nature of the modulating signal, and type of information transmitted on the carrier...

    , for the emission types designated by the ITU
    Itu
    Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

  • Airband
    Airband
    Airband or Aircraft band is the name for a group of frequencies in the VHF radio spectrum allocated to radio communication in civil aviation, sometimes also referred to as VHF, or phonetically as "Victor"...

  • Quadrature amplitude modulation
    Quadrature amplitude modulation
    Quadrature amplitude modulation is both an analog and a digital modulation scheme. It conveys two analog message signals, or two digital bit streams, by changing the amplitudes of two carrier waves, using the amplitude-shift keying digital modulation scheme or amplitude modulation analog...


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