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An important distortion mechanism in hysteretic self-oscillating (SO) class-D (switch mode) power amplifiers-carrier distortion-is analyzed and an optimization method is proposed. This mechanism is an issue in any power amplifier application where a high degree of proportionality between input and output is required, such as in audio power amplifiers or xDSL drivers. From an average-mode point of view, carrier distortion is shown to be caused by nonlinear variation of the hysteretic comparator input average voltage with the output average voltage. This easily causes total harmonic distortion figures in excess of 0.1-0.2%, inadequate for high-quality audio applications. Carrier distortion is shown to be minimized when the feedback system is designed to provide a triangular carrier (sliding) signal at the input of a hysteretic comparator. The proposed optimization method is experimentally proven in an audio power amplifier leading to THD figures that are comparable to the state of the art. Experimental hardware is a hysteretic SO bandpass current-mode-controlled single-ended audio power amplifier capable of 45 W into 8 Omega or 80 W into 4Omega from a plusmn34 V supply with less than 0.03% THD from 100 Hz to 6.7 kHz. Carrier distortion is shown to account for this limitation in THD performance.