Understanding Amplifier Power Ratings
by Pat Brown
This is a 5-part series discussing audio amplifier fundamentals and performance metrics.
The audio power amplifier is perhaps the most under-specified component in the signal chain, whose performance is often based only on a face value power rating. Is that really all there is to it? Are all “500 watt” amplifiers the same? In this series I will present some universal fundamentals concerning audio amplifier performance, concluding with a rating method that allows meaningful performance assessments and model-to-model comparisons.
Hint: Part 5 includes a brief overview of Parts 1-4. If you are in a hurry, just skip to Part 5 to get the big picture.
Part 1 – What is Constant Voltage?
Part 2 – Limitations On Amplifier Current
Part 3 – Amplifier Test Waveforms
Part 4 – Amplifiers are for Loudspeakers – Loudspeaker Power Rating Types
Part 5 – The Power Rating Matrix