Difference Between Clipper And Clamper


Clipper and clamper circuits are both types of electronic circuits used to modify or shape waveforms. They are often used in signal processing and communication systems. Let us talk about how they differ from each other.

What Is A Clipper?

The protection of the electronic devices is achieved through the use of clipper circuits. Clipper circuits are circuits that clip off or remove a portion of an input signal, without causing any distortion to the remaining part of the waveform.  In other words, a clipper is a device that limits the positive amplitude or negative amplitude of an input AC signal.  In some conditions, a clipper removes a small portion of the positive half cycle or both positive and negative half cycles.  Depending on the orientation of the diode, either the positive or the negative half cycle is removed.

Clipper circuits can also be referred to as current delimiter, amplitude delimiter, voltage delimiter, slicers, amplitude selectors or simply limiter. A clipper consists of both linear and non-linear elements but does not contain energy storing elements such as capacitor. The linear elements used in the clippers include resistors and the non-linear elements used in the clippers include diodes and transistors.

A wave shaping circuit is said to be a clipper if it performs one of the following three operations.

  • Clips portion or entire positive half part of the input signal
  • Clips portion or entire negative half part of the input signal
  • Clips portions of both positive and negative half parts of the input signal

Types of Clippers

  • Positive Clipper: In a positive clipper circuit, the positive half of the input waveform is clipped or limited. When the input voltage rises above a certain threshold set by the diode’s forward voltage drop, the diode becomes forward-biased and starts conducting. This effectively limits the positive peaks of the input waveform.
  • Negative Clipper: In a negative clipper circuit, the negative half of the input waveform is clipped. When the input voltage drops below a certain threshold, the diode becomes reverse-biased and starts conducting, thereby limiting the negative peaks of the waveform.
  • Bi-Directional Clipper: A bi-directional clipper limits both the positive and negative halves of the waveform by using two diodes facing in opposite directions.

What a Clamper?

A clamper is an electronic circuit that changes the DC level of a signal to the desired level without changing the shape of the applied signal. In other words, the clamper circuit moves the whole signal up or down to set either the positive peak or negative peak of the signal at the desired level. The clamper can also be referred to as a DC restorer, clamped capacitors, voltage multiplier or AC signal shifter.

A typical clamper is made up of a capacitor, diode and resistor. Some clampers contain an extra element referred to as DC battery. The resistors and capacitors are used in the clamper circuit to maintain an altered DC level at the clamper output.

 In a clamper circuit, the DC component is simply added to the input signal or subtracted from the input signal. A clamper circuit adds the positive DC component to the input signal to push it to the positive side. Similarly, a clamper circuit adds the negative DC component to the input signal to push it to the negative side.

We can use clamping circuits for any of the following operations.

  • To place the positive peak or negative peak of the input signal at the required or desired level.
  • To add the DC component to the input signal
  • To subtract the DC component from the input signal.

Types Of Clamper Circuits

  • Positive Clamper: In a positive clamper circuit, the positive peak of the AC waveform is clamped to a predetermined DC voltage level. This effectively shifts the entire waveform upwards.
  • Negative Clamper: In a negative clamper circuit, the negative peak of the AC waveform is clamped to a predetermined DC voltage level. This shifts the entire waveform downwards.

In both types of clamper circuits, the choice of capacitor value, diode characteristics, and resistor values influences the amount of DC bias added to the AC waveform. Clamper circuits are especially useful in situations where accurate control of the DC offset of an AC signal is necessary for correct signal interpretation or display.

Clipper And Clamper: Key Differences


  • A clipper circuit is designed to clip or limit a portion of the input waveform, either removing or attenuating specific portions of the waveform.
  • A clamper circuit is designed to shift the entire waveform by a certain DC voltage level without affecting its shape.


  • Clipper circuits operate by comparing the input voltage with reference levels and altering the output based on the comparison.
  • Clamper circuits shift the entire waveform vertically by adding a fixed DC voltage to it.


  • Clipper circuits are used to control the amplitude of a waveform and remove unwanted portions.
  • Clamper circuits are used to add or restore a DC bias to a waveform.


  • Diodes are commonly used in clipper circuits to achieve the clipping effect.
  • Diodes and capacitors are typically used in clamper circuits to achieve the shifting effect.

Output Waveform

  • The output waveform of a clipper circuit may have certain portions removed or “clipped” based on the circuit configuration.
  • The output waveform of a clamper circuit is shifted vertically while maintaining its original shape.


  • There are various types of clippers, including positive clippers, negative clippers, and bi-directional clippers.
  • Clamper circuits are usually categorized as positive or negative clamper circuits.

Voltage Levels

  • Clipper: Clipper circuits use reference voltage levels to determine where the clipping should occur.
  • Clamper: Clamper circuits use a DC voltage level to shift the entire waveform.


  • Clipper circuits are used in applications like peak detection, signal limiting, and waveform shaping.
  • Clamper circuits are used to add a DC bias to AC signals, which is often required in communication systems.

Output Amplitude

  • The output amplitude of a clipper circuit may be smaller than the input amplitude due to clipping.
  • The output amplitude of a clamper circuit remains relatively unchanged from the input amplitude.

Configuration Examples

  • A simple example of a clipper circuit is a diode-based voltage clipper, where the diode conducts only in a specific direction, clipping the waveform.
  • A common example of a clamper circuit is the positive clamper, which shifts the entire waveform up by a certain DC voltage level.

Also Read: Difference Between Center Tapped And Bridge Rectifier

Clipper And Clamper: Key Takeaways

Description Diode clipper is a wave shaping circuit which clips or cuts off the input waveform.   Diode Clamper changes the DC reference of waveform. It shifts the DC level in upward or downward direction.  
Alternative Name Clipper can also be referred to as current delimiter, amplitude delimiter, voltage delimiter or simply limiter.   Clamper can also be referred to as voltage multiplier or AC signal shifter.  
DC Level In the clipper circuit, the DC level will remain the same.   In the clamper circuit, DC level get shifted.  
Use Clippers are used when we want to modify the amplitude voltage. For example, if we want to generate a square wave from a sinusoidal signal, we can use the clipper circuit.   Clamper is used when we require multiples of the input voltage at the output. For example, the clamper circuit is often utilized in the voltage multiple circuit.  
Output Waveform Positive clipper will clip positive portion of output waveform whereas negative clipper will clip negative portion.   Positive clamper will shift output waveform in upward direction whereas negative clamper will shift output waveform in downward direction.  
Shape Of The Output Waveform Shape of the output waveform can be Sinusoidal, square, rectangular etc.   The shape of the output waveform remains same as input waveform.  
Requirements Clipper requires only DC battery and diode.   Clamper requires battery, diode and capacitor.  
Application Clipper is used in Transient protection circuit, waveform changing circuits, in noise limiter, Receivers and transmitters.   Clamper is used in test equipment, Sonars, Radars, Voltage multipliers, removing distortions in TV.  
Output Voltage Output voltage obtained from clipper circuit is less than the input voltage.   Output voltage is more (multiples) of the input voltage.  

Also Read: Difference Between Half Wave And Full Wave Rectifier