Qualcomm Ups Smart Speaker Sound Quality With New DDFA Amplifier Chip

Qualcomm made a couple of audio-related announcements today. One was for the new QCS400 SoC series (as well as a new platform to support the news SoCs) designed to smarten up the smart speaker experience. The other announcement was for the equally-new CSRA6640 chip.

The CSRA6640 is an amplifier chip and one of its main selling points is the fact that it is a single-chip solution featuring the company’s DDFA Digital Amplifier Technology. In more straightforward terms, this is a chip that’s designed for audio-based products likes speakers, and the technology looks to ensure that while the performance remains high, the device also remains power efficient.

The other benefit of Qualcomm’s DDFA Digital Amplifier Technology is that it is more of a ready-to-go solution which cuts out the need for additional components and therefore in theory make it quicker for device makers to bring their audio products to market.

This is not the first chip the company has released like this, as Qualcomm previously announced the CSRA6620 back in 2017 - around the same time it unveiled its 'Smart Audio Platform' in general. In principle, the new CSRA6640 builds on the advancements set out by the CSRA6620 and takes the product line to the next level.

One of the differences the company is keen to point out is how the new chip is better-suited to smaller form factors than ever before. Due to its size and architecture, this makes the new chip a viable alternative for a wider range of devices while still retaining the ability to be easily implemented, and all the while ensuring an audio quality level that's even more in line with what audiophiles might usually associate with traditional class D amplifiers.

Although the overall point here is that this chip is designed to be a more cost-effective and power consumption-sensitive solution, which can be utilized in smaller speakers, that’s not necessarily to say it is limited to smaller speakers. Instead, it just better caters to them than previous solutions have done in the past and paves the way for device makers to focus on smaller products with better sound quality.

This in particular is likely to be of added benefit to the portable speaker market as it will allow companies to look at delivering speakers in the size consumers want, without having to compromise on sound quality. Or for that matter, worrying that the extra sound quality push, or the smaller form, is going to further compromise on battery life - another of the common issues often associated with on-the-go speakers. This will be especially true as the market begins to see increased customer demand for voice and assistant-enabled portable smart speakers.

It should also be pointed out that as this is an amplifier-related solution, the better quality also refers to the loudness of the audio and not just the clarity or depth. Generally speaking, smaller devices lose quality as the volume increases and that’s one of the additional areas Qualcomm hopes to improve on with the new chip.

In short, Qualcomm wants you to know that its latest solution offers better sound quality, in all respects, and regardless of whether the chip is used in an on-the-go speaker, a speaker for the home, a soundbar, or even an amplifier.

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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]