What is Amplifier?

By cavsi Category: Audio and Video Technology Tags:

An amplifier is any device that will convert a signal with a small amount of energy into a similar signal with a larger amount of energy. In popular use, the term today usually refers to an electronic amplifier, often as in audio applications.

The relationship of the input to the output of an amplifier is usually expressed as a function of the input frequency is called the transfer function of the amplifier, and the magnitude of the transfer function is termed the gain.

Amplifiers are used in wireless communications and broadcasting, and in audio equipment of all kinds. They can be categorized as either weak-signal amplifiers or power amplifiers.

Weak-signal amplifiers are used primarily in wireless receivers. They are also employed in acoustic pickups, audio tape players, and compact disc players. A weak-signal amplifier is designed to deal with exceedingly small input signals, in some cases measuring only a few nanovolts (units of 10-9 volt). Such amplifiers must generate minimal internal noise while increasing the signal voltage by a large factor.

The most effective device for this application is the field-effect transistor. The specification that denotes the effectiveness of a weak-signal amplifier is sensitivity, defined as the number of microvolts (units of 10-6 volt) of signal input that produce a certain ratio of signal output to noise output (usually 10 to 1).

Two important considerations in power amplification are power output and efficiency. Power output is measured in watts or kilowatts. Efficiency is the ratio of signal power output to total power input (wattage demanded of the power supply or battery).

This value is always less than 1. It is typically expressed as a percentage. In audio applications, power amplifiers are 30 to 50 percent efficient. In wireless communications and broadcasting transmitters, efficiency ranges from about 50 to 70 percent. In hi-fi audio power amplifiers, distortion is also an important factor. This is a measure of the extent to which the output waveform is a faithful replication of the input waveform. The lower the distortion, in general, the better the fidelity of the output sound.

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