Amplifiers: To Meet Needs, Learn About Linearity, Gain

Designed to inherently work better at some frequencies than others, there is no power amplifier that is perfect for every application.

Amplifiers: To Meet Needs, Learn About Linearity, Gain
According to attributes, power amplifiers are classified alphabetically, usually A through D, or more specifically Class A through Class D, indicating whether an amplifier is optimized for efficiency, linearity or a compromise between the two.
Amplifiers: To Meet Needs, Learn About Linearity, Gain
According to attributes, power amplifiers are classified alphabetically, usually A through D, or more specifically Class A through Class D, indicating whether an amplifier is optimized for efficiency, linearity or a compromise between the two.

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There is so much that can be said about power amplifiers that entire books have been written about them.

According to attributes, power amplifiers are classified alphabetically, usually A through D, or more specifically Class A through Class D.

Without being cognizant of it, we encounter amplifiers in every area of our lives. For example, there are power amplifiers in hearing aids and laptop computers, the mp3 player and/or radio in your car, guitar amps, keyboard amps - they all operate on the same basic principles.

Let’s discuss the basics of power amplifiers for live sound reinforcement for worship, which are the very same used in secular concert sound systems. My hope is that, after reading this article, you will be able to make an informed decision when considering a power amplifier purchase for your house of worship.

Converting low-level audio into audio strong enough to move loudspeaker cones or drivers, power amplifiers have been a necessary component in the signal chain for almost as long as audio systems have been in existence.

Power amplifiers are an electronic component that convert a small electric current into a larger one. That electric current is commonly referred to as the signal. The measurement of that output signal is called the gain or gain factor, and most often referenced in decibels (specifically 10 times the logarithm of the output power divided by the input power).

Power amplifiers are designed to inherently work better at some frequencies than others, and no power amplifier is perfect for every application. While choosing a power amplifier for your application, there’s usually a trade off on one particular attribute or another. Some power amplifiers are better at delivering gain (or boost of signal), while some are better at linearity (how closely the output matched the input, often also referred to as “fidelity”), or efficiency (how much power is wasted in the amplification process).

According to attributes, power amplifiers are classified alphabetically, usually A through D, or more specifically Class A through Class D, indicating whether an amplifier is optimized for efficiency, linearity or a compromise between the two. Class A power amplifiers provide the best output quality (the best linearity), but tend to be inefficient, heavy, large, run hot, and are power hungry. Class B power amplifiers offer less linearity, but are less expensive, operate at a lower temperature, and are more efficient. Class AB, as you might imagine, offer an output quality of a Class A and the efficiency of a Class B.


More About Kirk Denson
Kirk Denson is the Director of Audio and Technical Production at the House of Hope Worship Center, located in Chicago. Kirk is a veteran of the music industry, as a concert touring sound engineer, and also the film industry, as a sound designer and editor with a desire to give back to the community by way of his ministry work as the Founder and Executive Director of the MEMa studio. .
Get in Touch: kirk@kirkdenson.com    More by Kirk Denson

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Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Budgeting · Amplifiers · Audio System · Boost · Class A · Class D · Efficiency · All Topics

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