April 24, 2008 by Steven Castle
Can a high-performance audio amplifier be green? That’s hard to imagine, considering the wasted energy most amplifiers put out as heat. You could always get a class D, E or T amplifier, which are more efficient in handling power but most of which don’t satisfy the demands of discerning audiophiles. They tend to prefer class A and A/B amplifiers, which aren’t very efficient in using energy.
What to do? Amplifier maker Knoll Systems has a solution, which it calls an Eco-System circuit that’s in the company’s new Class A/B GS12 and GS8 multiroom amplifiers (12 and 8 channels, respectively). The circuit senses when other channels aren’t being used and shuts off power to those circuits. According to Knoll Systems, the channels that are off are truly off, not in standby mode or mute.
Can that really save a lot of energy? “An idle circuit isn’t that much more efficient than having it run with full output,” says Richard Hanson, Knoll’s director of sales and marketing and product development. “It’s amazing how much we burn up in idle power in our homes per year.”
Knoll says that with average use, the discrete Eco-System circuits can save more than $100 a year in electricity costs. According to the company, the GS12 with Eco-System uses under 4 watts while idling, while a comparable amplifier without the Eco-System circuitry uses about 40 watts while idling in standby.
The 50-watt-per-channel GS12 and GS8 amps are also said to run very cool, so homeowners can also save on ventilating equipment racks. Hanson says the Eco-System circuitry adds about a $100 premium onto the cost of the equipment. Eco-System is also available in the company’s new GSZ67 seven-source, six-zone control amplifier. Knoll Systems is looking to license the technology to other manufacturers and OEM partners, so you may see more energy-savings amplifiers in the future.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
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