Small, Cost-effective Audio Amplifiers For Portable Audio Systems

audio amplifier

The demand of high-quality audio is increasing in devices from smartphones and personal digital assistants to MP3 players and other handheld, battery-powered consumer products. A growing number of amplifier designers designing high-fidelity audio systems are preferring the new generation of Class D amplifiers to increase power efficiency, lower parts counts and improve battery life.

New Class D Audio Amplifiers Are Compact, Cost-effective

To meet the design challenges for today’s amplifier designers, Maxim Integrated has announced the new MAX98357 and MAX98358 digital-input Class D audio power amplifiers that claim to achieve the highest efficiency in a compact, cost-efficient plug-and-play solution.

Despite their ultra-small form factors, the new MAX98357 pulse-code modulation (PCM) and MAX98358 pulse-density modulation (PDM) plug-and-play speaker amplifiers claim to offer 3.2W of Class AB audio performance for superior audio quality. The chips are ideal for a wide variety of applications — including cellular phones, notebook and netbook computers, tablets and portable media players.


Maxim noted that the new chips are also suitable for applications such as smart speakers that require multi-directional/channel audio. These amplifiers can be easily daisy-chained to support speaker arrays (up to 8 channels supported by time division multiplex or TDM).

“Traditionally, electronics designers use analog amplifiers requiring a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and line driver amplifier on the application processor. This adds overall die cost to the speaker output and affects the form factor of the overall solution size. With the rise of voice-activated consumer devices, designers must also meet today’s increased demand for superior audio quality, while maintaining a simplified, low-power and efficient design”, Maxim noted in the announcement.

Key Advantages of the new Audio amplifiers:

Superior audio quality: Highest dynamic range in its product category (103.5dB), best-in-class total harmonic distortion (THD) noise (0.013%), and excellent click-pop performance (-66dBV out of shutdown) via extensive click-pop reduction circuitry·

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Cost-effective: Uses WLP with no expensive PCB VIAs required; Only one external component (bypass capacitor) and one supply voltage needed for most applications; Competing solutions require at least two external components as well as internal VIAs and two supply voltages·

Plug-and-Play simplicity: No programming required.  Requires only a single power supply and auto-configures for 35 different clocking configurations and 128 digital audio formats.·

Compact: Available in a tiny solution size (1.93mm2 WLP); Allows three gain levels with easy connection ·

Highest Class D efficiency: Offers highest efficiency of 92% compared to competing solutions

“When evaluating audio components for my cybernetic house project, I look for solutions with the best sound quality and form factor,” said Martin Winston, editor of Newstips Bulletin. “The MAX98357 digital PCM input Class D audio amplifier offered high quality in the smallest amount of space for Raspberry Pi or other I2S sources.”

“In addition to highest Class D efficiency and the best audio quality in this amplifier segment, our clever pin-out allows customers to take advantage of the size and low cost of the WLP package, which has been a game changer for many of our customers,” said Greg Mow, Business Manager for Mobile Audio Solutions at Maxim Integrated. 

Availability and Pricing:

The MAX98357 is available for $0.87; MAX98358 is available for $0.87; Both are available at Maxim’s website as well as select authorized distributors· MAX98357EVSYS#WLP and MAX98358EVSYS#WLP (TQFN also available) evaluation kits are available for $59.50

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