Featured image of post Introduction to the Features of Class AB Power Amplifiers and Suggestions on Purchasing

Introduction to the Features of Class AB Power Amplifiers and Suggestions on Purchasing

What are the characteristics of Class AB amplifiers? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What are the effects on sound quality? How to correctly select Class AB amplifiers?

The Class AB amplifier is power amplifier product with the highest share in the current consumer market, and it is also the most popular and selected power amplifier category among HIFI enthusiasts. If you often visit various online or offline audio product sales stores, then among all the power amplifier products you can see, the appearance rate of AB power amplifiers is very high.

AB class power amplifier machine in the “stone machine” family category, can be said to be a product without obvious “weakness”. This is also the point that AB class power amplifiers have more advantages than other types of power amplifiers in the “stone machine family”. Class AB amplifiers have such a high user popularity, mainly due to its design “balance”. These “balances” are reflected in several important parameters of power amplifier products. The characteristics and parameters related to AB power amplifier products are the following three points that are most concerned in the eyes of HIFI enthusiasts:

  1. Sound fidelity

  2. Power amplifier price

  3. Power amplifier energy consumption

Class AB amplifiers do a good job of balancing these three most critical points. A well-designed AB class amplifier can meet the basic expectations of HIFI enthusiasts for a power amplifier product relatively well. The absence of obvious shortcomings has also become the biggest feature of AB class amplifiers.

Let’s take a look at the specific performance of class AB power amplifiers on these three key points:

Sound fidelity of Class AB amplifiers

AB class power amplifier is about the third generation of power amplifier products belonging to the stone machine category. It was born after Class A amplifiers and Class B amplifiers, combining the advantages of Class A amplifiers and Class B amplifiers, while eliminating the fatal flaws of the first two generations of products. Its performance in sound fidelity is slightly inferior to Class A amplifiers, while significantly ahead of Class B amplifiers. It should be stated that this conclusion given here was reached without any auxiliary circuitry involved in signal processing in the amplifier. Since the design of Class AB amplifier products itself is constantly being optimized and repaired by manufacturers, the sound fidelity of some brands of high-end Class AB amplifiers today has the opportunity to compete with ordinary Class A amplifiers.

The price of AB class amplifier

Thanks to the AB power amplifier, the right native circuit design and its excellent performance in sound quality, and the better temperature control than the class A amplifier (usually manufacturers do not need to invest too much heat dissipation manufacturing cost in the AB power amplifier products), the manufacturer of the power amplifier can control the cost within the price range generally acceptable to most consumers and manufacture “suitable for all ages” AB power amplifier products.

Due to the relatively high looseness of the manufacturing cost of AB power amplifiers, its actual retail price can be very close to the people, or it can be set high. The specific pricing strategy also needs to be comprehensively judged in combination with the consumer market positioning and sales of specific products by major manufacturers.

These factors are undoubtedly the killer of AB class power amplifier products, and also give AB class power amplifiers broader prospects. At present, AB class amplifiers can be seen in almost all product levels, including entry-level products, mainstream products, mid-to-high-end products, high-end products and ultra-high-end products. The market coverage can be described as very extensive, and almost more than 70% of the power amplifier products in the retail market are filled with AB power amplifiers.

Therefore, if you do not consider the specific type of power amplifier, directly on the online platform only rely on your own preferences for appearance, buy a power amplifier at will, then this power amplifier opportunity is likely to be AB class power amplifier.

Energy consumption performance of AB class power amplifier

Class AB amplifiers behave similarly to sound fidelity in terms of energy consumption. Its energy consumption performance is significantly ahead of Class A amplifiers and inferior to Class B amplifiers. Its energy efficiency ratio in actual work is about 65%, that is, for every 100 watts of electricity, 65 watts will be used to push the speaker to make sound, and the remaining about 35 watts of electrical energy will be converted into heat from the heat dissipation hole of the amplifier to the air. This kind of energy consumption performance is decent, not very energy-saving, but can also be accepted by the majority of HIFI enthusiasts.

Here, we also make some valuable guidance and practical purchase suggestions on how to choose a suitable AB amplifier.

Major online e-commerce platforms and offline audio product brand stores are very easy to find a lot of AB power amplifier products. Their price range also ranges from a few thousand yuan to hundreds of thousands of yuan. The span of the price range can be described as very large. In such a large price range, to find your own AB power amplifier products, you need to make specific planning and intentions according to each person’s own different circumstances.

For HIFI enthusiasts who are just getting started, the thousand-yuan class AB amplifier is a very good choice. As long as it is a product produced by a regular manufacturer, there is no need to worry too much about buying a product with obvious problems in sound fidelity at this price point, but the premise is that the output power of the amplifier matches the demand power range marked by the speaker. We give a more practical specific price bottom line, friends who have purchase demand for entry-level AB power amplifier products, should choose above the price of one thousand yuan, below this price AB power amplifier is often in the sound fidelity has obvious defects, or in the design itself is not designed for docking home audio, such as some very cheap mono public broadcasting power amplifier products. The price of entry-level AB power amplifier products is more concentrated between 2500 yuan and 5000 yuan. It is a relatively safe strategy for beginners to choose AB class power amplifier products from regular manufacturers in this price range.

Let’s talk about the shape design of AB class amplifiers. Here we mainly introduce you to the historical problems in the shape design of AB power amplifiers. Class A power amplifiers, which appeared earlier than Class AB power amplifiers, have a very large heat generation during operation, and large heat dissipation fins are required inside the product to maintain normal power amplification operations. The larger the surface area of the heat dissipation fin, the better its heat dissipation performance. High-end Class A amplifiers will be equipped with a large number of heat dissipation fins. After a large number of heat dissipation fins are assembled together, the weight of the amplifier itself becomes very heavy.

This phenomenon has led consumers to deliberately choose products with large volume and heavy weight when purchasing power amplifiers. However, the performance requirements of Class AB amplifiers for heat dissipation are actually not as demanding as those of Class A amplifiers.

Theoretically, Class AB amplifiers can be made lighter. However, the early consumer’s “to the election, to the re-election” purchase psychology made the manufacturers of power amplifiers still choose some bulky materials to make the shell of AB power amplifiers in the continuous innovation of technology, the purpose is to increase the weight of the power amplifier, do not want their own products to lose competitiveness in the market. What’s more, counterweights are added directly inside the body of the AB amplifier. This approach has hindered the development of AB amplifiers to a certain extent, in fact, in the case of the same performance, smart consumers are more willing to spend money on AB amplifier products with lighter weight and smaller shape.

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