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Old 07-14-2002, 05:59 PM   #1
Lee

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What do those specifications on amps mean? ..

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3.4 What do all of those specifications on amplifiers mean? [JSC, BG]
Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies which the amplifier can reproduce within a certain power range, usually +/-3dB.

Continuous power output is the power output of the amplifier into one channel into a certain load (usually four ohms) below a certain distortion level (usually at most 1%THD) at a certain frequency (usually 1kHz). A complete power specification should include all of this information, e.g. "20W/ch into 4 ohms at < 0.03%THD at 1kHz" although this can also be stated as (and be assumed equivalent to) "20W/ch at < 0.03%THD". The amplifier should also be able to sustain this power level for long periods of time without difficulties such as overheating.

Peak power output is the power output of the amplifier into one channel into a certain load (usually four ohms) below a certain distortion level (usually much higher than the continuous rating level) at a certain frequency (usually 1kHz). A complete power specification should include all of this information, e.g. "35W/ch into 4 ohms at < 10.0%THD at 1kHz" although this can also be stated as (and be assumed equivalent to) "35Wch at < 10.0%THD". Consumer warning: some manufacturers will state the "peak power output" rating by including the amount of power which can be drawn from "headroom", which means power supply capacitors. They usually will not tell you this in the specification, however; indeed, they tend to prominently display the figure in big, bold letters on the front of the box, such as "MAXIMUM 200W PER CHANNEL!!!" when the continuous rating is 15W/ch and the unit has a 5A fuse.

Damping factor represents the ratio of the load being driven (that is, the speaker - usually four ohms) to the output impedance of the amplifier (that is, the output impedance of the transistors which drive the speakers). The lower the output impedance, the higher the damping factor. Higher damping factors indicate a greater ability to help control the motion of the cone of the speaker which is being driven. When this motion is tightly controlled, a greater transient response is evident in the system, which most people refer to as a "tight" or "crisp" sound. Damping factors above 100 are generally regarded as good.

Signal to Noise or S/N is the ratio, usually expressed in decibels, of the amount of true amplified output of the amplifier to the amount of extraneous noise injected into the signal. S/N ratios above 90 to 95dB are generally regarded as good.
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