4 November 2021
Orchard Audio uses GaN Systems’ transistors in Class-D audio products
GaN Systems Inc of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (a fabless developer of gallium nitride-based power switching semiconductors for power conversion and control applications) and Orchard Audio LLC of Succasunna, NJ, USA are collaborating to introduce the latest Class-D audio products to market. Orchard Audio’s Starkrimson Stereo Ultra amplifier and all-in-one Starkrimson Streamer Ultra use GaN Systems’ transistors, highlighting the benefits of GaN in sound performance and quality.
GaN transistors provide a blend of performance and power for Class-D audio applications. The Starkrimson Stereo Ultra amplifier delivers up to 500WRMS (1000WPEAK) of power and 20A of current while maintaining extremely low noise and distortion. This amplifier design offers an enormous reserve of power for extended transients and expands linearly with the load: 125W into 16Ω, 250W into 8Ω and 500W into 4Ω.
The filter is a significant part of a Class-D amplifier. The very fast switching of GaN transistors (2-3x faster than traditional Class-D amplifiers using silicon transistors) allows the use of a simple LC inductor and capacitor filter, which enables the amplifier to have practically no phase shift from DC (0Hz) to 30kHz.
The Starkrimson Streamer Ultra is a high-end audio system that combines the Orchard Audio PecanPi DAC and Starkrimson Stereo Ultra amplifiers and streamer. The system can perform the same functions that once required a rack full of components.
The Starkrimson Streamer Ultra is 2Ω capable and offers fully balanced output, extremely low noise and distortion, ultra-low jitter, and native playback up to 24Bit/192K. The streaming amplifier can be controlled from any smartphone, tablet or PC.
“The Ultra amplifier design would not be possible with the use of silicon MOSFETs or other GaN FETs without some compromise,” says Leo Ayzenshtat of Orchard Audio. “GaN Systems’ transistors allowed me to reach higher power levels, and the higher efficiency offered by GaN means minimal heatsinks. The dead-time can be made smaller than with silicon counterparts, and GaN’s very fast slew rates [~10,000V/μS at switch node; the switching frequency is almost 800kHz] makes an almost perfect square wave,” he adds.
“We’re thrilled with the growth of GaN we’re seeing in the audio marketplace, including our most recent announcements with Syng and Orchard Audio,” says Paul Wiener, VP strategic marketing at GaN Systems. “This momentum demonstrates the value of our GaN transistors in delivering superior sound quality, performance and size reduction for Class-D audio applications.”