Topics: Vacuum tube, Amplifier, Transistor Pages: 2 (423 words) Published: September 7, 2008
Class A amplifiers amplify over the whole of the input cycle such that the output signal is an exact scaled-up replica of the input with no clipping. Class A amplifiers are the usual means of implementing small-signal amplifiers. They are not very efficient — a theoretical maximum of 50% is obtainable, but for small signals, this waste of power is still extremely small, and can be easily tolerated. Only when we need to create output powers with appreciable levels of voltage and current does Class A become problematic. In a Class A circuit, the amplifying element is biased such that the device is always conducting to some extent, and is operated over the most linear portion of its characteristic curve (known as its transfer characteristic or transconductance curve). Because the device is always conducting, even if there is no input at all, power is wasted. This is the reason for its inefficiency If high output powers are needed from a Class A circuit, the power wastage will become significant. For every watt delivered to the load, the amplifier itself will, at best, waste another watt. For large powers this will call for a large power supply and large heat sink to carry away the waste heat. Class A designs have largely been superseded for audio power amplifiers, though some audiophiles believe that Class A gives the best sound quality, due to it being operated in as linear a manner as possible. In addition, some aficionados prefer thermionic valve (or "tube") designs over transistors, for a number of reasons: Tubes are more commonly used in class A designs, which have an asymmetrical transfer function. This means that distortion of a sine wave creates both odd- and even-numbered harmonics. They claim that this sounds more "musical" than the purely odd harmonics produced by a symmetrical push-pull amplifier. Though good amplifier design can avoid inducing any harmonic patterns in a sound reproduction system, the differences in harmonic content are essential to the...
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