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audioXpress Magazine

July 2021

 

From The Editor's Desk
Multiple Ways To Amplify
The potential to offer better performance.
Editorial By J. Martins

 

audioXpress Magazine July 2021

 

  Have you noticed the important evolution that is taking place in professional audio applications, particularly with commercial installations? The last year and a half caused a business stagnation for many manufacturers of professional audio equipment, but those companies have continued to expand on many of the concepts, features, and technologies that were already under development in 2019, and further accelerated the research to improve their abilities to control, manage, supervise, and monitor vital systems remotely. As in many other technology areas, the pandemic circumstances led to the accelerated adoption of web- and cloud-based tools that were merely being "considered" and suddenly became obviously essential.

Professional audio amplifiers are now sophisticated, multifunction systems that are able to deal with line and speaker levels, more demanding loads, and offering the highest levels of power per channel ever. In terms of design, professional audio amplifiers are also now evolved concepts, combining audio switching, signal processing, conversion, and multiple interfaces. More important, they are now fully connected systems, with embedded intelligence to support any type of speaker configuration that is connected. "Speaker controllers" are increasingly the amplifiers themselves, individually or stacked.

In this edition focused on audio amplifiers, we received more interesting announcements from the professional audio side, but also from the other extreme of the product segment from companies that deal with very high-volume applications. The fact that those extremes are now offering the highest levels of sophistication says a lot about the impact of audio amplification technology. At the component level, we've seen a continuous flow of announcements for the past 18 months. As the demand for audio systems in all types of products continued to rise, audio amplification devices have also evolved at an astonishing pace in performance, efficiency, and features.

 

audioXpress Magazine July 2021

 

When most of us think about audio amplifiers, we hardly ever think about the integrated devices that are today manufactured in the millions and used to power those tiny speakers in mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, and even featured in smart appliances. Those audio amplification chips are not only essential for such systems, but they have achieved a level of sophistication that will influence all other audio designs in other application segments. As an example, just before closing this edition, we wrote about a new revolutionary speaker design for home audio: the new Syng Cell Alpha wireless speaker. Coming from an experienced design team that has worked previously with some of the largest technology companies, this is a truly revolutionary concept in many aspects, and was made possible by the use of new, high efficiency gallium nitride (GaN) transistors. In this case, from GaN Systems, a company that is already powering products praised in high-end circles, and is now getting ready to make a large-scale appearance in a variety of applications. And significantly, some of those applications we don't even associate with high-quality audio.

New power semiconductors are a clear example of what is in place for new high-fidelity sound systems. But so are new system-on-chips (SoCs) as we've seen recently from companies such as Qualcomm, which offers fully integrated platforms including audio codecs, DACs, and sophisticated DSP, integrated with the power amplifier stage. All engineered to work together to provide the best audio quality experiences possible from mobile devices, portable speakers and complete home entertainment systems.

For many audio manufacturers, these solutions available with complete development resources at attractive prices, are hard to resist. But the most important thing is that, when combined with well-tuned designs, they have the potential to offer incrementally better performance.

 

 

J. Martins
Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

 

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