Class D Amps
running, excellent sounding
One of the most exciting
developments in home amplifiers since the invention of the transistor
has arrived: the Class D amp. Manufacturers like Pioneer Elite,
B&W, KEF, B&O, even car companies like Audi are embracing this
advanced technology. But although it is advanced, it's a real win-win
situation for the consumer, because the value is so good. You probably
already own a product with a Class D amp; they are used frequently in
cell phones to maximize battery life.
Class D amps rival the
sound of expensive audiophile amps at a fraction of the price. They are
percent energy efficient. This compares to 40-50 percent
most amps on the market. Because they are so efficient, they can be
small, so they even work well on your desktop, hooked up to your PC and
Here's a look at some of
the models that audio enthusiasts are raving about.
Tripath TA2020A+ Audio Mini Amplifier This
is one of my favorite Class D amps, and I think
it had to be considered one of the best value amps in the world. I have
been using one for several months, and am completely impressed. I don't
notice any harshness, which is the
big thing to watch out for on inexpensive amps. Imaging is good, bass
isn't wimpy as you might expect on such a low priced
amp. This makes a great gift
or a perfect second system or amp for a teenager. If someone doesn't
to turn it off, it hardly uses any electricity. more
Audio DTA-1 This different looking amp can be run
with the included
power supply, or run off of batteries. That's right, this amp is so
efficient it can run off of 8 AA
batteries. That's great for picnics,
tailgate parties, or
using at the beach.
FiiO has gotten a lot of attention for their TAISHAN-D03K Digital to Analog Audio Converter wirh 24-bit/192 kHz Support. Turns out they offer a very competitive amp. With 19 reviews on Amazon, the FiiO A1
received an average review of 4 1/2 stars.
says their mission is to "thrill the ear, delight the eye, please the
pocket". The NuForce
is small enough to be a good choice to hook up to a laptop. They do
recommend using only 8 ohm speakers with this. more about Nuforce
This is the logical step up if you want
more power than the typical
Class D mini amp. Dayton is known for top value in amps and DIY
The Kanto YARO-AMP was
designed to be used with the Apple TV. It doesn't even have RCA input
jacks, so it's quite limited in how you can use it. But With Bang &
Olufsen's ICEpower Class D chips in it, it seems like a steal.
Normally ICEpower amps tend to be priced in the thousands. Kanto has
done a clever job with this amp.
A-5VL A-5VL Integrated Stereo Amplifier This is a full size component so you
can stack it with your CD player and other components. Gary Altunian, a
reviewer for about.com, said the A-5VL "is designed for critical
listening and will reward you with a rich, detailed musical
This compact and very attractive
amp includes USB input, so you can
connect it to your PC. It uses the ICEpower design licensed from Bang
and Olufsen. Pricing has gotten extremely attractive on this unit. Fit
and finish looks much better than less expensive Class D amps. And
given that it has a 24/192 DAC built in, it's hard to beat for value.
Teac has a line called
Esoteric, which includes a very unique product
RZ-1. It's an integrated amp, with the ability to play CDs
and SACDs. It also has coaxial, optical and USB digital
inputs. Amplification is Class D.
(image: Pioneer Electronics)
Pioneer is now in
the third generation of using Class D in several of their Elite
seven or nine channels of amplification, the efficiency of Class D
makes perfect sense. When you have seven or nine channels of
amplification, the electricity savings really adds up with an efficient
design. The SC-61 uses an estimated 47%
less electricity than it's
sibling, the VSX-60, which uses traditional amp design. And the SC-61
is a more powerful receiver! Pioneer says they are committed to Class
D, so we can look forward to exciting things from them. more Pioneer has added Class D to some of their standard receiver line, including the SC-1222 receiver.
Audio Research has the
they refer to as a hybrid, because the power supply is more like a
traditional amp's power supply, while the output stage is what the
call a "green" discrete analog switching-MOSFET output stage for
highly efficient power conversion and low power consumption. At a
weight of about 37 pounds, it's got a little more heft to it than
other high power Class D amps. There's a larger model, the DS-225, a
DS-450, and a DS-450M (mono),
This takes Class D to an extremely high level of performance. But,
because of the energy efficiency, Bel Canto can use unique, small
result is a line of equipment for the person that wants something
classy looking, but
unobtrusive. Bel Canto offers a matching tuner and
a choice of CD players. Bel Canto says "a top of the line Bel Canto
system can use less than 40 watts of power and deliver music
performance with astonishing realism." This is the future of amplifiers. more about Bel Canto
Jeff Rowland Design Group
makes several amps with Class D. They use the Bang and Olufsen
ICEpower design. For the person who wants the absolute best sound
quality, these amps are among the
best you can get.
is known for their retro looking amps with vacuum tubes (in the preamp
stage) peeking out. But they also have amps with the very modern Class
D design in the power amp stage. Their products are particularly
beautiful with a variety of wood cabinets available. more about Peachtree Audio
NAD has begun using this design
on their high end M2.
A damping factor of as high as 2000
at low frequencies show one of the
potential benefits of Class D. video
NAD has also introduced a little brother to the ME2, the C-390DD
Direct Digital Powered DAC Amplifier. NAD will introduce an integrated
amp, the D3020, and a receiver, the D7050. Both will use amp modules
made by Hypex. Also, they make the VISO 1 iPod dock
Channel Islands Audio monoblocks (USA made)
Genesis Advanced Technologies makes
Anthem takes Class D to a new level.
What produces 1000 watts into 8 ohms and 2000 watts into four ohms?
mono power amp. This powerful amp is only 2 1/4 inches (with feet on).
& Wilkins Zeppelin
is one of the best sounding iPod docks in the world. Although it sits
on a table, it can replace an entire
stereo system, providing
audiophile quality, room-filling sound. It's amps are Class D amps.
Geneva Sound makes all in one systems that appeal to folks who like something distinctive looking.
Wadia made waves with an
iPod dock that unleashed a whole new level of performance, by bypassing
the iPod's DAC, and using a state of the art DAC. Now they have a
cosmetically matching Class D amp, the 151 PowerDAC Mini Digital Integrated Amplifier. It lets you hook up additional digital inputs, and
up samples everything to 384/24.
and Audi have used high end audio systems using Class D amplification.
This is the future of
audio amplification. It's available now in select products, and offers top value for your