Sound Semiconductor Expands IC Range with New Single and Dual VCA Chips

June 24 2020, 01:55
Sound Semiconductor announced single and dual channel VCA additions to its product lineup, the ProCircuit SSI2161 and FatKeys SSI2162.The ICs are part of a family of affordable high-performance VCAs from the company, now offering a single, dual and quad versions. The SSI2164 offers four VCAs in a compact SOP package with lowest cost-per VCA, while the new SSI2162 is a versatile building block for high-performance audio applications, and the single-channel SSI2161 provides lowest noise.

Founded in 2016, and headquartered in Sonora, California, Sound Semiconductor is a young company created by a veteran team of musicians and electronics enthusiasts with considerable experience in high-performance audio integrated circuit design, with the goal to produce IC solutions for the electronic musical instruments and audio equipment markets. Sound Semiconductor was formed by original SSM (Solid State Music) IC designers and is headed by Dan Parks, CEO of SSM and former Audio Products Director at Analog Devices and National Semiconductor. 

The company's first products where voltage controlled filters and oscillators for analog synthesizers, and they expanded from there with the SSI2140, an update to the revered SSM2040 Voltage Controlled Filter by original designer Dave Rossum, considered by many to be the best-sounding synthesizer filter IC produced, which helped establish a place in history for Sequential Circuit's Prophet 5. In fact, Dave Smith Instruments, the synth company now again in business with the brand Sequential ( used the company's first product, the SSI2144 Fatkeys Four-Pole Voltage Controlled Filter, for its groundbreaking Prophet X synthesizer.

The SSI2144 was quickly followed by the SSI2164, a significantly improved direct-replacement for the SSM2164 Quad VCA, and Dan Parks, now president of Sound Semiconductor is determined to further expand the range of solutions offered by the company.

Voltage Controlled Amplifiers (VCAs) are widely used for automatic, remote, or CPU control of audio gain and/or attenuation in such systems as music synthesizers, dynamics processors, noise reduction systems, effects processors, and mixing console fader automation; as well as design of voltage controlled filters, exponential voltage to current converters, and many other basic audio building blocks.

Sound Semiconductor's SSI2164, a low noise and low distortion VCA with four independent channels, was introduced several years ago and has been already embraced by the audio community. In pursuit of even better performance, the newly launched SSI2161 internally parallels all four SSI2164 channels for a 6dB noise improvement, offering the lowest noise among VCA chips. Likewise, the SSI2162 internally parallels two pairs of SSI2164 channels for 3dB lower noise.

All VCAs have exponential control with a -33mV/dB gain constant. Current inputs and outputs allow a wide range of input and output resistance to suit design needs, and a unique mode control permits selection of class A, AB, or intermediate biasing of the gain core to optimize noise versus distortion characteristics. A gain range from +20dB to -100dB is possible.

The SSI2161 and SSI2162 are both housed in a 10-lead SSOP Package. Pricing at 1000 pieces is $0.84 for the SSI2161 and $0.99 for the SSI2162. Both are available now and complete datasheets can be downloaded in the company website.
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