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GaN FETs Drive Fidelity and Efficiency in Class-D Audio Amplifiers

GaN FETs Drive Fidelity and Efficiency in Class-D Audio Amplifiers

With the current maturity of Class-D audio amplifier architectures, amplifier fidelity and efficiency limitations are primarily at the device level. Silicon MOSFETs have been evolving for almost forty years, and their progress towards a perfect switch has slowed dramatically. There are some fundamental characteristics of MOSFETs that degrade sound quality and efficiency. In 2010, the enhancement mode Gallium nitride (GaN) power FET was introduced by Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), providing a large step towards the perfect switch.

Audio Engineering Society
May 11, 2017
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How To GaN: eGaN® FETS in High Performance Class-D Audio Amplifiers

The quality of sound reproduced by an audio amplifier, measured by critical performance parameters such as THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), damping factor (DF), and T-IMD (Inter-modulation Distortion), is influenced by the characteristics of the switching transistors used. Class-D audio amplifiers typically use power MOSFETs, however, lower conduction losses, faster switching speed, and zero reverse recovery losses provided by enhancement-mode GaN (eGaN) FETs enable a significant increase in the sonic quality, and higher efficiency that can eliminate heatsinks. The result is a system with better sound quality in a smaller form factor that can be built at a lower cost.

EEWeb
By: Alex Lidow
February, 2014

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