Monday, 28 August 2017

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build - Intro

I was very impressed with my 99p PAM8043 has enabled me to build a small portable speaker for just a few pounds.

Off the back of this success I thought I would build a more powerful portable speaker using a PAM8610, which costs . . . .  £1.99 so still a cheap project.

This is the board variant reviewed.

This more powerful board delivers 15W per channel, and runs on 12v (7v to 15v). I was hoping for more sound, which was delivered, but the quality of sound is far below that of the PAM8043.

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build - Power Supply

The 8610 will run on 7 x AA batteries (1300mah) for many hours at a moderate volume. A week's worth of morning and evening listening is achievable on one set of batteries, approx 12 hours. At full volume I would estimate 1 or 2 hours.

(2x15W) 30W / 12V would indicate a 2.5A current requirement, so if you choose a 12V AC adaptor for power probably best to go for 3A as a minimum.

The maximum voltage specified for this amplifier is 15V, the more volts supplies the greater the power output of the amplifier.

PAM8610 - More Volts = More Power (15 v Max)
I have tried this amplifier on  10.5V, 12V and 15V. I would say that after 12V there is little advantage to be had in terms of power output. When listening to music using headphone lead from iphone connected to amplifier, I can turn the volume to 90% running of 12V without distortion. At 15V I can turn it up to 70% without distortion.

So you may save the battery in you iphone a bit? But the extra volume is not worth the bother just stick with 12V. However, many SLA batteries will be near 15V fresh off the charge so it is useful to know that it runs well at this voltage.

It is interesting to note that many listing on ebay or elsewhere say that this amp will take 16V, the the specs it says 15V max. I will try it at 16V and see if it survives.

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build - Speakers

Many of the more complex boards using the PAM8610 require an 8 ohm speaker. But if you buy the basic board, then you can run a 4 ohm speaker . . .  the more complex boards do not really offer any advantages in terms of performance, although they are easier to use, with no soldering required (provided you have the right connectors!)

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build - Sound

The sound was a bit disappointing at first. It is a very mid tone heavy, to the point where it is harsh. Whilst the PAM8043, has a rich sound even when unfiltered this amplifier requires a low pass filter on the woofer, in order to make it listenable.

For example, without a low pass filter, you will require a graphic equaliser to try and remove some of the harsh mid range sound, and having tried this I can tell you it is not a very good option.

PAM8610 Amplifier Review & Build - My Set-Up

This project ended up looking a bit messy, because it had to be reworked so many times, attempting to get the right sound. In the end the addition of low pass filters was the breakthrough, that finished it off. I had tried stuffing the cabinet with wool to change sound, but this was unsuccessful.

The DIY low pass filter was easy to make. I just wish I had thought of it earlier. I had to make sure that the bass / mid range driver and the tweeter were fed separately through their respective filters.

Note size of PAM8610, very small. 

A close up of the amplifier and the wiring, between it and the speaker. The coil, shown below is the professionally made variant. Whilst above right, is a DIY effort that worked adequately.

Amplifier will happily sit on it own wiring, as it weighs next to nothing.
I did not worry about mounting the amplifier to the inside of the cabinet, as the the board is so light, it will sit happily suspended on its own wiring.

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