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In electronics, power amplifier classes are letter symbols applied to different power amplifier types. The class gives a broad indication of an amplifier's characteristics and performance. The first three classes are related to the time period that the active amplifier device is passing current, expressed as a fraction of the period of a signal waveform applied to the input. This metric is known as conduction angle (θ). A class A amplifier is conducting through all the period of the signal (θ=360°); Class B only for one-half the input period (θ=180°), class C for much less than half the input period (θ<180°). Class D amplifiers operate their output device in a switching manner; the fraction of the time that the device is conducting may be adjusted so a pulse-width modulation output (or other frequency based modulation) can be obtained from the stage. Additional letter classes are defined for special-purpose amplifiers, with additional active elements, power supply improvements, or output tuning; sometimes a new letter symbol is also used by a manufacturer to promote its proprietary design. By December 2010, AB and D classes dominated nearly all of audio amplifier market with the former being favored in portable music players, home audio and cell phone owing to lower cost of class AB chips.
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