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Posted January 24, 2022 by Chris in Features
 
 

What is an Amplifier Module? What They Do & When You Need One

Music has been around for thousands of years in some form. It would be unthinkable to teenagers today, but the music was once sold on printed sheets. The intention was that the purchaser of this sheet music would then perform it themselves at home.

Now, of course, recorded music comes from streaming platforms, or in other cases, on vinyl or in digital format downloads. As far as any digital music is concerned, there are a plethora of options for output.

In recent times, music fans have enjoyed the iPod, the resurgence of the Sony Walkman, and of course, mobile devices. For many though, there is nothing like having a proper sound system to play music through.

If you are considering putting together a music system, then you need to understand the different areas. One of the components you may have heard of is the amplifier module. 

What is an amplifier module?

An amplifier module is a component of active speakers. It is used to help drive the speaker, and produce the music that you wish to listen to.

When music is processed by any device, it produces a signal that is sent to some form of speaker. This could be headphones or typical speakers that you see in a home. For this signal to be audible, it needs to be amplified.

There is also something called impedance. This is measured in ohms, and an amplifier helps to reduce this as well as boost the signal.

An amplifier module does the job of a separate amplifier, only it is just for active speakers, and not for passive ones. 

Why is this so important? 

When you wish to listen to music of any type, you need a source and a way to output it. For example, a FLAC audio file could be used, and your mobile device could be your source. So could your home stereo system.

The smartphone will process the digital file and turn its code into music that you can understand. To make this happen, they have a built-in DAC. Every device that is capable of reading these types of files has to have a DAC. However, this is just a piece of the process.

The electronic signal that is sent to the speaker needs to be amplified. In the case of a set of stereo components, there would be a separate amplifier to do this if you had passive speakers.

In the case of active speakers, an amplifier module would be needed. Effectively, any amplifier increases the signal sent to the speakers, while reducing any impedance. Without amplification, there would be no sound. 

Does your stereo system need an amplifier module?

As you have already read, there are a couple of options when it comes to speakers. If you are opting for active speakers, then you will need an amplifier module.

Passive speakers require an external amplifier to do the same job as the module in active speakers. But where a separate purchase is required for an amp in this situation, active speakers come already equipped with an amplifier module.

There is one occasion though when you would need an amplifier module; when you are building your own active speakers. In this situation, you could seek advice online from SoundImports or similar who can advise on amplifier modules and speaker builds. 

So, do you need an amplifier module in custom speaker builds?

In a word, yes. If you are happy using passive speakers or headphones, then you can disregard the thought of an amplifier module. Headphones have a great role in making music sound fantastic, and by and large, they can just be plugged in and used.

Passive speakers are very common too. If you buy a stereo system pre-built it will very likely come with an amplifier and passive speakers.

However, you may decide that you wish to purchase all your components separately and go as far as building your own active speakers. 

Are active speakers better than passive versions?

There are pros and cons to each, but the amplifier module can play a big part.

Passive speakers are part of a system of components. This allows the owner to have a huge degree of flexibility in their choices. Separates mean the user can choose and upgrade areas such as the DAC or amplifier as they wish.

Active speakers come with many of the components needed already fitted. There is no room to choose another amplifier, as the speaker has the module already fitted.

While it sounds as if active speakers have less freedom and customizability, there are other advantages. 

The pros of active speakers and amplifier modules

Using active speakers means less clutter and wiring is going on. All you need to add to active speakers is the source. This could be a turntable, a CD player, or even a mobile device.

This means that an active speaker setup allows for a minimal sound system. This is ideal if you are not interested in mixing and matching components or tweaking with your system. Active speakers are heavier though, so this may be a consideration.

Other advantages with active speakers are linked to digital music files. With many people listening to audio in digital format, active speakers are more important now.

With an active speaker setup, the signal remains in a digital format longer before being converted to analog. This means you receive a cleaner, better sound.

With the amplifier module being inside the speaker and a built-in DAC, there is less need for cables and wiring. This leads to less interference in the audio output also. If you love digital formats and want to get the best out of your music, active speakers may be the way to go. 

How do you make your own active speakers?

You can purchase active speakers from any good retailer on the high street, or online. For some audiophiles though, a custom build is the only way.

There are two main options for this. Either manufacture cabinets yourself and buy all the components or take the process halfway and buy a speaker kit.

The former allows you to choose components from manufacturers such as ICEpower, and fully customize your DIY speaker build. The latter option of speaker kits still gives you the enjoyment of building your own but has less customization.

Either way, if you choose active speakers you will need to incorporate an amplifier module. 

Summary

For most people, speakers are something needed to listen to their favorite music. For others, there are far deeper complexities to take into account, and ScienceDirect explains the anatomy of a loudspeaker for those technically minded.

Unless you are interested in building your own speakers, you don’t need to worry too deeply about amplifier modules. Nevertheless, there is a great deal to be gained by pushing yourself to consider a DIY speaker build.

Not only do you get to choose which components, such as the amplifier module, go into your speakers, but you get more enjoyment. Anyone who has put together their own speakers will tell of the sense of satisfaction that comes from it. Plus, you could save money on purchasing an equivalent set of speakers.

If that doesn’t appeal, then just remember, purchasing active speakers means you don’t need to worry about an external amplifier. Everything you need except a source is already installed.


Chris

 
I listen to and write about music!