Amount Of Current That Is Flowing In A Cercuit Understanding Guitar Amplifier Classes

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Understanding Guitar Amplifier Classes

If the phrase ‘100 watts, class A/B amp’ makes you scratch your head, you’re not alone. There are many concepts for a beginner or novice guitarist that will be completely foreign when you are just starting out. One of the main ones is the characteristics of a guitar amplifier. There are many different aspects to this, and for the purposes of this article, I will focus on guitar amplifier class designations. Much of this revolves around how the amp handles current. You don’t need to know this to buy your first practice amp, but this knowledge will make you a more well-rounded musician.

Class A

In a class A amp, current is always flowing through the amp, even when idle (no music playing). This means that the amp response is very fast because the current can be transferred to the speaker instantly. There is also low crossover distortion, which is a type of distortion that occurs when switching between devices driving a load – such as a transistor. The bottom line is that Class A guitar amps sound better, respond better, and are more expensive to build as a result. An example of a Class A device would include the Orange AD30HTC 30 Watt Twin Channel Amp.

Class B

Class B amps differ from Class A in that there is zero current when the output devices are inactive. This means that when a signal is present, they have to turn on from a state of no actual current. Class B designs tend to have lower speed (the maximum rate of change of signal at any point in the circuit) and increased crossover distortion, but are consequently more affordable than Class A designs.

Class AB

A combination of class A and B, basically different parts of the output of these amps operate in class A or B. You find that most guitar amps are in this class because it is a more efficient way to operate. Pure class A amps require a large power supply and get very hot. This is a trade-off for the ability to instantly send current to the speaker upon receiving an input signal An example of a Class A/B guitar amp is the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier.

Class D

In this case, the output transistors are operated as switches. These amps have increased efficiency, and as a result require less robust power supplies and smaller heat sinks, which are important advantages in portable and battery-powered devices.

Class H

Class H devices are very efficient and allow for lightweight amplifier designs. However, there is a drawback as the distortion is more pronounced at lower volumes.

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