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- The purpose of an amplifier is to receive a small electrical signal and enlarg e or amplify it.

In the case of a pre-amplifier the signal must be amplified eno ugh to be accepted by a power amplifier. In the case of a power amplifier, the s ignal must be enlarged much more, enough to power a loudspeaker. Although amplif iers appear to be a mysterious black box , the basic operating principles are relat ively simple. Simply stated, an amplifier receives an input signal from a source (CD player or other source) and creates an enlarged replica of the original sma ller signal. The power required to do this comes from the 110-volt wall receptac le. So, an amplifier has three basic connections: an input from the source, an o utput to the speakers and a source of power from the 110-volt wall receptacle. The power from the 110-volts is sent to the section of the amplifier known as th e power supply where it is converted from alternating current to direct current. Direct current is like the power found in a battery - electrons, or electricity flows in one direction only (alternating current flows in both directions). Fro m the battery or power supply the electrical current is sent to a variable resisto r, also known as a transistor. The transistor is essentially a valve, like a wat er valve, that varies the amount of current flowing through the circuit based on the input signal from the source. A signal from the input source causes the tra nsistor to reduce or lower its resistance and allowing current to flow. The amou nt of current allowed to flow is based on the size of the signal from the input source. A large signal causes more current to flow and results in more amplifica tion than the smaller signal. The frequency of the input signal also determines how quickly the transistor operates. For example, a 100Hz tone from the input so urce causes the transistor to open and close 100 times per second and a 1,000Hz tone from the input source causes the transistor to open and close 1,000 times p er second. So, the transistor controls level (or amplitude) and frequency of the electrical current sent to the speaker, like a valve, and this is how it achiev es its amplifying action. Add a potentiometer, also known as a volume control to the system and you have a n amplifier. The volume control allows the user to control the amount of current that goes to the speakers and thus the volume level. There are different types and designs of amplifiers, but essentially they all operate in this manner. 3. How Does an Amplifier Amplify ? Perhaps one of the easiest ways to understand how an analog audio amplifier work s is to think of it as a kind of servo-controlled valve (the latter is what the Br its call vacuum tubes) that regulates stored up energy from the wall outlet and then releases it in measured amounts to your loudspeakers. The amount being disc harged is synchronized to the rapid variations of the incoming audio signal. In effect, an analog amplifier is comprised of two separate circuits, one of whi ch, the output circuit, generates an entirely new and powerful electrical output signal (for your speakers) based on the incoming audio signal. The latter is an AC signal of perhaps 1 volt that represents the rapidly varying waveforms of so unds (both their frequencies and amplitudes). This weak AC signal is used to mod ulate a circuit that releases power (voltage and amperage) stored up by the big capacitors and transformer in the amplifier s power supply, power that is discharg ed in a way that exactly parallels the tiny modulations of the incoming audio si gnal. This signal in the amplifier s input stage applies a varying conductivity to the output circuit s transistors, which release power from the amplifier s power su pply to move your loudspeaker s cones and domes. It s almost as though you were rapi dly turning on a faucet (you turning the faucet is the audio signal), which rele ases all the stored up water pressure the water tower or reservoir are the storage capacitors-- in a particular pattern, a kind of liquid code. The most important thing needed to amplify sound is air. The amplifier, or amp, takes an audio signal and vibrates the speaker inside. This vibration moves the air around the speaker. Your ear perceives this as audible sound. In fact, the h

uman ear itself functions the same way. Your eardrum fluctuates with the vibrati ons it is receiving and send those signals to your brain as sound. The more powe r an amp has, the more air it can move and thus, create a louder sound. So, we k now that amps need to move air to amplify audio signals. But how does it get the signal in the first place? Amplifiers reproduce audio signals that it receives via an electrical signal. Wh en you're speaking into a microphone, your voice is vibrating a tiny diaphragm i nside. The microphone generates an electrical impulse that fluctuates with those vibrations and sends them through a cord into the amp. At this point, the amp i ncreases the strength of that signal by passing it through tubes and/or transist ors. The amount the signal is increased is based on the wattage of the amp and h ow large of a speaker you are trying to vibrate. The newly juiced up signal is n ow translated back into vibrations and emitted as audible sound through the spea ker. It's important to know how much a speaker can take. If the signal output is too high for a given speaker, it can literally tear the speaker apart.