An amplifier is an electronic device used to boost the power, voltage or current of a signal from a musical instrument, a stereo system or any other audio-playing device. It picks up a weak signal and converts it into a strong one, thus making the sound louder without decreasing the quality.
An amplifier should have certain specifications to really improve the sound. In the absence of those features, an amplifier fails to amplify the sound perfectly. Therefore, if you’re planning to buy an amplifier, look for these 4 things in the device before investing your money.
1) Power Rating
power rating of an amplifier refers to how loud your device can amplify sound. Many buyers believe in buying amplifiers with highest power capability but high power doesn’t mean good sound quality.
When buying an amplifier, look for the power rating according to space in which you want to amplify the sound. If you want an amplifier suitable for average listening in a small room, then 10 W power will be sufficient. However, if you want an amplifier for a music concert, then go for higher numbers.
2) Distortion Level
The distortion level is the amount by which the output of an amplifier is altered or distorted. It is denoted as THD, i.e., Total Harmonic Distortion and expressed in percentage. It is a crucial specification as high distortion level can make the sound unlistenable.
A lower distortion level is better as a lower percentage of THD means the output of the amplifier will be closer to the original recording. Therefore, always choose an amplifier with distortion level below 1%. A slight difference in the distortion level, say between 0.04% THD and 0.1% THD will not make a difference.
3) Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
A signal to noise ratio is a measurement that compares the level of amplifier’s signal power to the level of noise power. It is important because there is always a small amount of noise from the electrons buzzing inside an amplifier. If this background noise becomes prominent, then the music becomes inaudible. Therefore, consider buying an amplifier whose signal to noise ratio is higher so that you hear more of the music and less of the background noise. The larger the ratio, the better will be the separation between the sound signal (music) and the noise level.
Crosstalk is a phenomenon by which a signal transmitted by one channel or circuit affects the other channel or circuit. In amplifiers, it refers to the undesired coupling between the channels of amplifiers. Measured in decibel (Db), crosstalk is when someone is talking on the right microphone but a little sound is coming out of the right speaker. Therefore, when buying amplifier look for the one with less crosstalk as higher crosstalk affects the stereo separation. For example, if A amplifier’s crosstalk is -100dB and B amplifier’s crosstalk is -60dB, then choose amplifier A because the larger the number following the minus sign, the greater is the stereo separation.
Look for these important specifications before purchasing an amplifier. The power rating, crosstalk, SNR and distortion level are all essential aspects that affect the quality of sound increased by your amplifier. Keep these points in mind to get maximum benefit from your purchase.