Solid-state device technologies, which are available to the amplifier designer, fall, broadly, into three categories: bipolar junction transistors (BJTs) and junction diodes; junction field effect transistors (FETs); and insulated gate FETs, usually referred to as MOSFETs (metal oxide silicon FETs), because of their method of construction. These devices are available in both P type—operating from a negative supply line—and N type—operating from a positive supply line.
BJTs and MOSFETs are also available in small-signal and larger power versions, whereas FETs and MOSFETs are manufactured in both enhancement-mode and depletion-mode forms. Predictably, this allows the contemporary circuit designer very considerable scope for circuit innovation, by comparison with electronic engineers of the past, for whom there was only a very limited range of vacuum tube devices.
In addition, there is a very wide range of integrated circuits (ICs), which are complete functional modules in some (usually quite small) individual packages. These are designed both for general-purpose use, such as operational amplifiers, and for more specific applications, such as voltage regulator devices, current mirrors, current sources, phase-sensitive rectifiers, and an enormous variety of designs for digital applications, which mostly lie outside the scope of this book.
In the case of discrete devices, I think it is unnecessary for the purposes of audio amplifier design to understand the physical mechanisms by which the devices work, provided that their would-be user has a reasonable grasp of their operating characteristics and limitations and, above all, a knowledge of just what is available.