Piecing together a home theatre or a high-end stack calls for an audio amplifier, a critical part of that system. It is the "muscle" that controls the sound, allowing you to power the woofers, and listen to whatever soundtrack is your favourite at an optimum volume. The market is overabundant with amplifiers of all sorts, making the selection decision overwhelmingly confusing. Instead of just purchasing the first amplifier you come across, you should read on and learn what suits your needs the best. So, let's dive in.
Audio Power Amplifier
A power amp does what the term implies; amplifies the weak signals into powerful audio that can drive your loudspeakers and other high-fi equipment. However, some units come with built-in amps, which raises the question of why we need a separate power amp?
The compact units are indeed easy to handle, but they aren't built to work at best. For instance, when one box contains everything from audio inputs to volume control and other equipment, it messes up with the amplification section's current and voltage requirements. Thus, leading to reduced overall performance, especially when you compare it with a separate home theatre power amplifier.
The preamplifier is used in several ways, but in terms of home audio amplifiers, the device aims to enhance the overall voltage gain and ready the signals for amplification. First, you supply the source, which can be anything from a Blu-ray player to a streaming online music site. Next, the source signal is transferred to a preamp, where the voltage gain is boosted. It prepares the voltage, depending on your amplifier's requirement.
Remember the current gain is still the same, and that is why we are using a power audio amplifier for PC and other equipment.
If you are not a fan of using separate amplifiers, then an integrated amplifier is perfect for you. It combines both power and preamp into a single device and is more compact. It won't take as much space as two separate units would, allowing you to manage the placement easily.
The volume controls, source switching, and the amplification occur in the same unit, making them a perfect solution for beginners — not to mention, they are highly cost-effective when compared to the other two we have discussed above.
On the con side, if the customer seeks to upgrade only one equipment in his setup, it is impractical with an integrated system. And that is where the separate units come in, giving the users more flexibility.
Matching Speakers and Audio Amplifier
Extra headroom always gives out purer and evident power for undistorted sound. But what does the term mean? It refers to the difference between the average level at which the amplifier operates, and the max one which provides minimum distortion. It would be hard for your amplifier speaker gear to deliver sound without the frequent distortion that ruins whatever genre you play, even rock.
Some of the best budget stereo amplifiers are designed to harness extra headroom and power. This is only beneficial if the rated power matches with the speaker rating. On the other hand, for applications that require maximum peak transient, the amp with 2 to 4 times higher power rating works fine. Generally, it is considered that a speaker with 350 W power rating will ask for an amp with a rating exceeding or equal to 700 W.
However, if you are using an audio amplifier online or a car audio amplifier, the rules are different. Consult the manufacturer or the brand to find out the specs and decide accordingly.