What do Drawmer, Parasound and Amphion have in common? No, they’re not unassembled Marvel Avengers. They are in fact the UK signal processing legend, a Californian amplifier builder and a Finnish studio monitor specialist, and they share OEM amplifier modules supplied by ETAL. These modules are now part of the product range known as Anaview – following the corporate assimilation of the latter by the former.
The design company Anaview was founded in Sweden in 2003, making custom Class D amplifier and power supply modules for the wider audio industry. In particular, two circuit solutions drew attention: Adaptive Pole Control (APC) and Adaptive Modulation Servo (AMS), now the basis of the three product series of most interest to pro audio manufacturers around the world.
The ETAL Group is a bigger Swedish organisation with key sales satellites in the UK, Boston MA and Asia and manufacturing facilities in China, Sri Lanka and Estonia. An even larger Swedish technical conglomerate, called the KAMIC Group, maintains ETAL as its magnetics specialist.
As one of several acquisitions, Anaview is part of ETAL Group president Dan Phelan’s mission to integrate new technology sectors and generally improve ETAL’s financial footing. “Pro audio was an opportunity we took when it became possible to acquire Anaview from Abletech Electronics,” he explains, “a move that fitted with our strategy towards this type of business and this type of added-value product. It was also in a complementary area, as we’re looking for new opportunities outside our traditional telecom and industrial markets. Pro audio amplifiers use a lot of the components for which we have the manufacturing capability.”
Based in Stockholm, Stefan Ruuth is now ETAL Group sales manager. “We deliver the heart of the amplifier and, of course, let our customers design all the infrastructure and functionalities around that,” he states. “What we do is amplify a signal from one level to another, with minimum distortion – the rest is up to you.”
Ruuth was an ETAL R&D engineer for many years, designing inductive components many of which are still made today. The sales role now finds him liaising with leading pro audio manufacturers, among many others across entertainment technology and telecoms, and it’s clear that whatever they do with the modules they do it from a starting point called Class D. What does this topology mean to ETAL?
“When Class D first appeared it was far from the quality of Class A/B,” says Ruuth, “but eventually a few companies – and we are one of them – discovered how to keep that sound quality while getting all the benefits of Class D design. The benefit for the customer is that, with the use of Class D, the efficiency is so much higher: with Class A/B, 50% or more of the power you put in was just wasted into heat, which you have to deal with in one way or another; with Class D, around 95% of the energy you put in can be converted into sound.
“That means the models can be made much smaller, and less has to be done do tackle heat – otherwise you need more cooling fans or heat sinks in your design, because eventually heat will destroy your components. Today you can buy Class D and still have the performance of hi-fi that, previously, was only associated with Class A/B.”
The product range is divided into three series: ALA; ALC; and AMS. While ALA is a small module without on on-board power supply, optimised for mobile devices or what Ruuth calls “lifestyle equipment”, ALC and AMS are aimed at MI and pro audio. ALC, holding an original patent, comes in five different power levels from 100W to 1,000W; while AMS is the premium offer. “ALC can typically be found in backline, subwoofers, PA speakers and monoblocks,” explains Ruuth, “and AMS is for applications with tougher demands like studio monitors. Actually they share typical applications; it just depends on the level of sound performance you require.”
The closest ETAL will get to finished amplifiers, for the foreseeable future, are the enclosed ‘evaluation’ blocks for compatibility testing by, for example, potential loudspeaker customers – a straightforward input and output signal – so ‘Anaview’ will not be appearing in a rack near you any time soon. The modules are very user friendly anyway, Ruuth says.
“First of all they’re all UL and CE certified, so time to market is very quick for our customers – no further qualification is needed. Upon request, the right cable-set is supplied, and an experienced engineer can be up and running with an application in minutes. It’s not the widest portfolio, but each series has a good range of different power outputs, plus the ALC and AMS series complement each other well. There’s something for everyone.”