Automatic Gain Control (AGC)

Why AGC is required in a Radio Receiver?

Let us discuss about the facts why we need AGC in a Radio Receiver , as we all know that the voltage gain available at the Receiver from antenna to demodulator in several stages of amplification is very high, so that it can amplify a very weak signal But what if the signal is much stronger at the front end of the receiver ?

If same gain (gain maintained for an incoming weak signal) is maintained by different stages of the Receiver for a stonger  incoming signal, the signal is further amplified by these stages and the received signal strength is far beyond the expectations which can be avoided. so we need to have a mechanism which will measure the stength of the input signal and accordingly adjust the gain. AGC does precisely this job and improves the dynamic range of the antenna to (60-100)dB by adjusting the gain of the Intermediate Frequency and sometimes the Radio Frequency stages.

It is generally observed that as a result of fading, the amplitude of the IF carrier signal at the detecor input may vary  as much as 30 (or) 40 dB this results in the corresponding variation in general level of reproduced signal at the receiver output.

At IF carrier minimum loud speaker output becomes inaudible and mixed up with noise.

At IF  carrier maximum loud speaker output becomes intolerably large.

Therefore a properly designed AGC reduces the amplitude variation due to fading from a high value of (30-40)dB to (3-4)dB.

 Basic need of AGC or AVC:-

AGC is a sub system by means of which the overall gain of a receiver is varied automatically with the variations in the stregth of the received signal to keep the output substantially constant. 

i.e, the overall requirement of an AGC circuit in a receiver is to maintain a constant output level.

Some of the factors that explain why AGC is needed:-

  • When a Receiver without AGC/AVC is tuned to a strong station, the received signal may overload the subsequent IF and AF stages this overloading causes carrier distortion in the incoming signal this can be prevented by using manual gain control on first RF stage but now a days AGC circuits are used for this purpose.
  • When the Receiver is tuned from one station to another, difference in signal strengths of the two stations causes an unpleasant loud output if signal is moving from a weak station to a strong station unless we initially keep the volume control very low before changing the tuning from one station to another . Changing the volume control every time before attempting to re-tunethe receiver is howeve cumbersome. Therefore AGC/AVC enables the user to listen to a station without constantly monitoring the volume control.
  • AGC is particularly important for mobile Receivers.
  • AGC helps to smooth out the rapid fading which may occur with long distance short-wave reception.


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Author: vikramarka

Completed M.Tech in Digital Electronics and Communication Systems and currently working as a faculty.