Digital Power Amps Enhance Automotive Audio

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Moving forward with its line-up of digital automotive-audio technologies, STMicroelectronics launched a second generation of power amplifiers which simplify system design and lower cost for car-radio suppliers while delivering purer, clearer sound to drivers and passengers, even in smaller cars.

The new FDA801 and FDA801B 4-channel class-D amplifiers with digital input convert the digital audio source directly into high-quality, cabin-filling sound. The digital input gives immunity to GSM noise, improves sound quality, saves component costs, and simplifies system design. ST had introduced the world’s first class-D digital-input automotive-audio amplifiers in 2012 and is now moving forward with its new and improved second generation that will be soon completed with pin-compatible ICs in various multi-channel configurations.

“Class-D amplifiers are revolutionizing in-car audio throughout the marketplace, from audiophile systems in prestige vehicles to affordable, high-quality sound in smaller cars. ST continues to drive the pace of development, with these new chips setting even more advanced performance and efficiency benchmarks for the industry”. said Alfio Russo, Group VP, General Manager Audio & Body Division, Automotive Product Group, STMicroelectronics.

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The new devices combine superior audio quality and increased energy efficiency, as well as the unique real-time measurement of speaker impedance via the new Digital Impedance Meter (FDA801B), which represents a quantum leap in automotive diagnostics compared to any other audio amplifier.

Key to these enhancements is ST’s advanced fabrication process, BCD9s, which minimizes interference between circuits on the chip, lowers standby-power consumption, and cuts power-transistor dissipation raising efficiency to more than 93 per cent.

By dissipating less power, the FDA801/B can help boost fuel economy in conventional vehicles and extend the driving range of hybrids or battery EVs. Like their predecessors, the new amplifiers are compatible with fuel-saving start-stop technology, maintaining uninterrupted playback when the vehicle battery voltage dips as the engine is restarted.

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The new devices feature a 115dB Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and 110dB dynamic range. Simplified digital input eliminates external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and external decoupling capacitor, thereby avoiding potential DC-offset problems. Further, the amplifiers achieve more than 40 per cent power saving compared to standard class-D amplifiers.

The FDA801 and FDA801B are available immediately in the LQFP64 Exposed Pad Up package that allows efficient heatsink attachment.

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