Once you have chosen a number of audio amps, it’s time to explore a few of the specs in more detail in order to help you narrow down your search to one model. The signal-to-noise ratio is a fairly vital specification and describes how much noise or hiss the amp produces. One of the reasons why amps make noise is the fact that they utilize components like transistors as well as resistors that by nature generate noise. Generally the components that are situated at the input stage of an amplifier will contribute most to the overall noise. Thus suppliers normally will select low-noise elements when developing the amp input stage.

The majority of modern power amplifiers are digital amps, also referred to as “class-d amps”. This switching noise can cause some level of speaker distortion yet is usually not included in the the signal-to-noise ratio which merely considers noise in the range of 20 Hz and 20 kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio is measured by feeding a 1 kHz test tone 60 dB below the full scale and measuring the noise floor of the amplifier. These terms are “dBA” or “A weighted”. In other words, this technique attempts to state how the noise is perceived by a human being.

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