The Digital Audio Auto

Most folks have enough room in their homes (some college students excepted) to easily place 100W amplifiers without regard to size or heat. But in the car, high-powered amps have always been relegated to the trunk or under a seat, often requiring creative solutions for anything with real heft.

In an effort to solve the size/heat/performance issue for mobile sound, Santa Clara, CA–based Tripath Technology has been developing its Digital Power Processing (DPP) "Class-T" 1-bit digital audio amplifiers and is ready to fire them up. The company announced last week that Matsushita Communication Industrial (MCI) will be using the Tripath amps to power its latest car audio CD, AM/FM, 4 x 100W, in-dash tuner head unit under its Panasonic brand name.

Tripath says that its Class-T amplifiers (the same technology used in the Bel Canto eVo 200.2 power amplifier) rely on a fundamentally new approach to amplifier design that uses semiconductor-based amplifiers, providing performance, power efficiency, size, weight and cost advantages over traditional amplifier technology. Instead of conventional pulse width modulation, the company explains, Class-T employs multiple signal processing techniques, including adaptive/predicative processing, noise shaping, pre-distortion and delta-sigma modulation.

MCI says that using two of Tripath's TA2022 digital amplifiers allowed it to put four 100W channels in an in-dash unit, without sacrificing audio quality. "Tripath is the only company that can offer 100W of power per channel directly in the dashboard—all other companies are limited to only 40W with high distortion, due to the heat generated by their amplifiers. Tripath technology helped Panasonic create a product that enables listeners to enjoy exceptional quality sound without the need of a heavy trunk amplifier."

Tripath's Dr. Adya Tripathi is clearly pleased with the announcement, adding, "Panasonic's acceptance of our Digital Power Processing (DPP) technology exemplifies the broad range of consumer audio products using Class-T 1-bit digital audio amplifiers." The company's products are also being used by Sony, Aiwa, Hitachi, Blaupunkt, and Apple Computer.