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Audio amps are 20x more efficient than Class D

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:audio amplifier? Class D amplifier? converter?

AS1001 audio amp

Audium Semiconductor unveils an audio power amplifier IC that the company says is 20x more efficient than competing devicessuch as Class D amplifiersat normal listening levels. The AS1001 operates from a nominal 1.5V power supply and delivers 100W peak power output. The amplifier enables battery-powered amplified loudspeakers to run for up to 10 months on a set of four 'C' batteries, playing for three hours per day, thus reducing CO2 from power generation and pollution from battery production.

The amplifier also enables the development of smaller, cooler, mains-powered audio equipment, with fewer heat sinks. Applications include totally wireless speakers, home theatre surround sound speakers and battery-powered travel speakers. Future Audium ICs will support MP3 docking stations and USB powered speakers.

The AS1001 architecture uses patented techniques to minimize both fixed power losses and output-dependant variable power losses. The modulation scheme uses low switching rates to minimize switching losses. Power rail switching means that the amplifier operates efficiently from a low voltage rail most of the time, with a DC/DC boost converter driving higher voltage transistors on extreme audio peaks.

"Traditionally, audio amplifiers have only reached quoted efficiency figures at maximum output, which is like building a city-car that's only efficient at 200mph and anything but efficient at 30," said Huw Davies, chief commercial officer, Audium. "The AS1001 marks a huge leap forward in efficiency and has come from examining how equipment is really used rather than striving for a marketable arbitrary figure."

"Over 700 million consumer audio devices are sold each year, so the real world efficiency of these has a huge impact on the amount of energy we consume," commented Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizon. "Looking beyond the environmental implications, the technology behind the AS1001 will enable a whole new class of low power consumer products."

Targeting battery powered applications; the AS1001 is a single 64QFN package and operates directly from a 0.8- to 1.8V supply (compatible with, for example, alkaline primary cells and Ni-MH secondary cells). Samples are available now, priced from $8 each in 1,000+ quantities.

For application notes on audio amplifiers click here.

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