Amplifiers are used widely across the music industry. However, what do we know about sound amplifiers? If you are interested to know about how the amplifiers work and what the difference between certain types of amplifiers is, this article is for you.
The process of amplification
Let us start with finding out how exactly the amplification works. The whole process is complicated, but if I were to explain it in simple words, I would say that amplifier is a machine that collects sound waves “stuck” in the walls of instruments and other equipment and releases them in speakers.
The difference between Classes of Amplifiers
There A, B, A/B (also known as C) and D amplifiers. Those letters tell nothing about the process itself, so here I am to explain it.
- Class A amplifiers
Class A is known for the highest energy consumption and for the lowest distortion. The thing is that it has electricity flowing through transistors even when no audio signal is incoming. As the transistors are always activated, circa 75-80 per cent energy is wasted (heating, inefficient current flow) while only 20-25 per cent energy is used for amplifying the sound. That is the price for the cleanest sound.
- Class B amplifiers
Class B amplifiers have more efficient construction. The transistors are being switched on and off, depending on whether there is an incoming audio signal or not. However, this very procedure may create noticeable sound distortion. On the other hand, up to 80 per cent of energy is used directly for amplifying the sound.
- Class A/B amplifiers
Things are getting a bit complicated here, but, again; let us speak in simple words. There is, so to say, a small amount of current flowing through transistors during the whole time. When an audio signal comes in they get fully activated. This allows both to keep sound clean from distortions and save the energy. A/B amplifiers are a perfect compromise between the previous two types.
- Class D amplifiers
Also known as the one with the most complicated construction and the highest efficiency (up to 95 per cent). They use high-frequency modulators to gather and amplify sound waves.
Then there are Tube Amplifiers
Tube amplifiers are loved by some audiophiles. Although they are neither as efficient nor powerful as transistor-based amplifiers, they generate unique type of sound distortion. This distortion is officially said to be harmonic and even musical, adding the warmth to sound (something similar to old-school vinyl crackles). However, this type of “warmth” is required in a very limited numbers of music genres, so tube generators are not that popular.
The Risks of low-powered Generators
Some low-powered generators may put speakers in danger. Those working at 10 or 20 Watts can get distorted and clipping at loud playbacks. The clipping then turns output signal into a constant DC, which leads to overheating the wires and melting them.
How to choose an Amplifier
There are several aspects, you should pay attention to while choosing the amplifier:
- Think of the type you need
If you are an acoustic guitar player, you should pick type A, as it is still the cleanest amplifier. Metal and rock musicians should opt for type B amplifiers, as distortion is sometimes even wanted in those genres. If you still doubt, try A/B, as it has no serious downsides.
- Pick a reliable company
The best choice would be a company that has been on the market for a while. Fender or Orange will do.
By the way, there is one nice amplifier from Orange that meets all the requirements. If you want to learn more about it, read this https://musiety.com/a-complete-orange-cr120-review/ article.
Thank you for reading and good luck.