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First digital audio amps set to invade car radios

Posted: 21 Oct 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:audio amplifier? input digital? car audio system?


STMicroelectronics has unveiled what it claims to be the first car audio amplifier with digital input. Direct connection to the digital audio player eliminates the need for signal conversion, resulting in higher sound quality, better noise immunity, simpler system design and greater system reliability.

The first automotive audio amplifier with digital input, ST's TDA7801 addresses the coming trend towards a fully digital head unit and sound systems in the car, delivering numerous advantages over existing solutions that are based on analog inputs and DACs.

ST's new amplifier raises the bar in car-audio sound quality, in both dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio (from around 90dB to more than 105dB), and delivers intrinsically pop-free operation without clicks or noises during car battery transitions. The elimination of analog lines on the car-radio board also results in superb noise immunity, so that, for example, the audible effects of the cellular network interference are effectively cancelled.

The manufacturing process used for the TDA7801 contributes to the reliability and robustness of the car-audio system, reducing warranty issues and failures in the field. In addition, the device comes complete with the most advanced built-in diagnostic features. First integrated in a power amplifier by ST in 2000 and now a de facto standard, the embedded diagnostics help improve the quality of the car-audio system, making it even more reliable and reducing warranty issues by registering any accidental misconnection that could damage the amplifier.

As important, ST's fully digital audio power-amplifier design reduces the number of active and passive components, simplifying system design and delivering cost-savings at the system and manufacturing process levels.

The TDA7801 is the first member of ST's new digital automotive audio amplifier family. The company is currently readying further additions to the family: a Class-SBi (ST's patented efficiency class for the lowest power dissipation possible outside Class-D) version of the TDA7801 and a breakthrough digital-input Class-D solution that will deliver further increase in power savings.

Samples of ST's TDA7801 are available now, with volume production scheduled for Q2 09. Unit pricing is $6 for 1000 pieces.

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