Types of amplifier
Amplifiers can be specified according to their input and output properties. They have some kind of gain, or multiplication factor relating the magnitude of the output signal to the input signal. The gain may be specified as the ratio of output voltage to input voltage (voltage gain), output power to input power (power gain), or some combination of current, voltage and power. In many cases, with input and output in the same units, gain will be unitless (although often expressed in decibels); for others this is not necessarily so. For example, a transconductance amplifier has a gain with units of conductance (output current per input voltage). The power gain of an amplifier depends on the source and load impedances used as well as its voltage gain; while an RF amplifier may have its impedances optimized for power transfer, audio and instrumentation amplifiers are normally employed with amplifier input and output impedances optimized for least loading and highest quality. So an amplifier that is said to have a gain of 20dB might have a voltage gain of ten times and an available power gain of much more than 20dB (100 times power ratio), yet be delivering a much lower power gain if, for example, the input is a 600 ohm microphone and the output is a 47 kilohm power amplifier's input socket.