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Boomer Audio Power Amplifier Using LM4906

The well-known LM386 is an excellent choice for many designs requiring a small audio power amplifier (1-watt) in a single chip. However, the LM386 requires quite a few external parts including some electrolytic capacitors, which unfortunately add volume and cost to the circuit. National Semiconductor recently introduced its Boomer® audio integrated circuits which were designed specifically to provide high quality audio while requiring a minimum amount of external components (in surface mount packaging only). The LM4906 is capable of delivering 1 watt of continuous average power to an 8-ohm load with less than 1% distortion (THD+N) from a +5 V power supply. The chip happily works with an external PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) bypass capacitor of just 1 µF minimum.

In addition, no output coupling capacitors or bootstrap capacitors are required which makes the LM4906 ideally suited for cellphone and other low voltage portable applications. The LM4906 features a low-power consumption shutdown mode (the part is enabled by pulling the SD pin high). Additionally, an internal thermal shutdown protection mechanism is provided. The LM4906 also has an internal selectable gain of either 6 dB or 12 dB. A bridge amplifier design has a few distinct advantages over the single-ended configuration, as it provides differential drive to the load, thus doubling output swing for a specified supply voltage. Four times the output power is possible as compared to a single-ended amplifier under the same conditions (particularly when considering the low supply voltage of 5 to 6 volts).

Circuit diagram:
LM4906 Boomer Audio Power Amplifier circuit schematic
Boomer Audio Power Amplifier Circuit Diagram

When pushed for output power, the small SMD case has to be assisted in keeping a cool head. By adding copper foil, the thermal resistance of the application can be reduced from the free air value, resulting in higher PDMAX values without thermal shutdown protection circuitry being activated. Additional copper foil can be added to any of the leads connected to the LM4906. It is especially effective when connected to VDD, GND, and the output pins. A bridge configuration, such as the one used in LM4906, also creates a second advantage over single-ended amplifiers. Since the differential outputs, Vo1 and Vo2, are biased at half-supply, no net DC voltage exists across the load.

This eliminates the need for an output coupling capacitor which is required in a single supply, single-ended amplifier configuration. Large input capacitors are both expensive and space hungry for portable designs. Clearly, a certain sized capacitor is needed to couple in low frequencies without severe attenuation. But in many cases the speakers used in portable systems, whether internal or external, have little ability to reproduce signals below 100 Hz to 150 Hz. Thus, using a large input capacitor may not increase actual system performance. Also, by minimizing the capacitor size based on necessary low frequency response, turn-on pops can be minimized.