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Genius!2: Claudio Lastrucci and the Digam amplifier #13

The founder of Powersoft pioneered the Class D amplification

Claudio Lastrucci, co-founder and technical R&D director of Powersoft, has rightly earned his status among the industry ‘Geniuses’ by virtue of pioneering Class D amplification. He helped change the perception of an unstable switched mode power supply – as digital amps tried valiantly in the early days to depose the linear paradigm – by developing a series of efficient, ultra-high powered and economic solutions using patented technologies. Today, this is entirely in keeping with the green credentials that pro-audio companies strive for.

It was while studying for a PhD in Power Electronics at the University of Electronic Engineering in Florence that the ‘lightbulb’ really came on for the young Italian. Joining him on this empirical journey were Antonio Peruch, with whom he would later co-found Powersoft, and brother Luca.

Claudio was fascinated by power conversion and liked to spend time playing on car and hi-fi systems. But with only 12 volts to play with in order to create more power he needed an effective method to step up the voltage — and this became his early obsession. During his experimentation in the hi-fi world Claudio always believed that not only was their technology way ahead of hi-fi market requirements, but in fact the extraordinary power they could generate even exceeded the expectations of the professional world.

Over a two-year period, Claudio devised a way in which switched mode technologies could be applied to high performances audio amplification with unprecedented power-performance ratios.

By 1996 the three founders were able to unveil a prototype of the patented Digam range was shown at a Milan electronics show where visitors marvelled at the technological breakthrough of a 10kW amplifier, with remote control, bearing a PFC and LED display. This was a stable Class-D product that could produce reliable, high levels of power.

And Claudio and his team have been extending the envelope ever since through a series of market-leading and award-winning ranges (notably the K Series and, most recently, the X Series) in his quest to convert ever-higher percentages of raw energy into extraordinary amplifier power – all contained in ultra-compact 19” chassis.

With these series, customers were immediately able to see the advantages of switchmode amplification in all its glory, with its greatly reduced heat dissipation, back EMF (active recycling of the reactive energy coming back from the loudspeakers), easy handling of low load impedance loads and pristine sound.

These technologies have become the driving force of the company’s core business, while impacting diversified applications, such as highly effective power amplification modules for active speakers and, subsequently, merging amplification and transducer methods, as can be seen in the groundbreaking M-System/M Force.

It was these switchmode technologies that opened the doors to active loudspeakers as we know them today. The previous huge, heavy and, arguably, restricted amplifiers of yore had been replaced by a solution that was a lot smaller and considerably more powerful.

Claudio credits the entire team for this breakthrough. “What drives a company’s success is not just about having a revolutionary idea but those who contribute to making it real. The sum is greater than the parts, and without the enthusiasm for audio and technology that Antonio, my brother Luca and I had put into developing these ideas, all that we have created would have been unattainable.”

Bottom pic: The company celebrated 20 years of business in 2015

Published earlier this year and sponsored by QSC Audio, Genius!2 is the second edition of Genius!, celebrating those clever people whose inventions have transformed the world of professional audio. The 30-page supplement is also available to read in a handy digital-edition form