What is a Line Driver?

Malcolm Tatum

Line drivers are amplifiers that are capable of enhancing the clarity and strength of analog and digital signals. A line drive works by driving or amplifying the input to the line of transmission to a point that is much higher than normal. As a result, there is less degradation of the signal as it travels through long sections of cable to reach the point of destination.

Both landline and cellular providers often employ VoIP to carry signals back and forth over the Internet.
Both landline and cellular providers often employ VoIP to carry signals back and forth over the Internet.

There are several other benefits that come along with the use of an audio line driver. One has to do with the minimization of noise along the line of transmission. This effectively helps to improve the flow of communication between the point of origin and the point of termination, since it prevents background noise from making it difficult to hear the transmission itself.

Another benefit to the use of a line driver has to do with cleaning up the transmission itself. Along with filtering out background noise, the amplification of the original input also makes it possible to regulate the clarity of the signal. Thus, it is possible to amplify voices that are somewhat weak, making it much easier for the signal to be intelligible once it reaches its destination. This is true even if the point of termination is across the world from the point of origin.

While traditionally associated with telephone services, the line driver has continued to be an essential component today, when many communication signals are carried over the Internet. Both landline and cellular providers often employ what is known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, to carry signals back and forth on a telephone call. Drivers are situated at the switches that receive the online portion of the signal, translate it into forms that is understood by local telephone switches, and delivers the transmission to the end user. The use of drivers to modulate the Internet based portion of the signal make it possible to maintain the integrity of the transmission in the same manner that the signal is preserved when transmitted through copper or other types of cable wiring.

Not all forms of the line driver are utilized on communication equipment. Drivers of this type are also found on musical equipment, such as guitar amplifiers. Once again, the function of the driver is to prevent background noises that could distort the clarity of the notes played. When used to modulate the sound output, the line driver on an amplifier helps to keep feedback to a minimum, making it much easier for listeners to hear the music as the musician intended.

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