Tuesday, 9 January 2018

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - Intro

I am not an electrical engineer. Perhaps this is why I have tried this amplifier with 5 different power supply options. Including 12V, 15V, 20V, 24V  all have worked to some extent. Which shows this amp although needing a hefty power supply to produce loud music will, produce varying volumes from all different types of supply provided they are within spec voltages of 6V to 24V.

System: This is based on the 2 chip 2.1 board with NE5335 pre-amps. My input source was an Iphone 6, connected via a good old fashioned aux cable, via the 3.5mm headphone socket.

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - 12V 2A Wall Socket Power Supply

This worked OK, but the volume was very low. The sound was perfectly clean, noy problems really but very underwhelming volume.

12V 2A - Cheap and Works to an Extent

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - 12V SLA

I have tried this amplifier on 2 types of lithium batty which are design to replace SLAs, the shido LTX9-BS and the EV Power 7ah 12v LiFePo4 Pack.

The Shido LTX9-BS is the closest match to a true SLA as it gives out many many amps peak current. Powered by this SLA equivalent the TPA3116 gives out clean rich sound at a fairly low volume. Perfectly adequate for a lounge listening, or for speaker computers for example, but certainly not party loud.

SLA or Alternative OK for Low Volume

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - 12V to 24V Transformer from SLA

I have also tried a "Fulree" Step-Up converter, rated at 3A this gives more gain for lower input volume, but I suspect the 3A max current is not high enough to support the TPA3116 at high volumes.

I have tried this 12V - 24V Step-Up converter powered from the above Shido battery and also powered from a 20V 90W (4.5A) IBM Thinkpad Power Supply.

The TPA3116 will cut out (I Think) if it is not getting enough current. I have arrived at this conclusion because whilst using the 12V - 24V Step-Up converter, the cut out occured at a lower volume when running from 12V than it did at 20V.

The 12V - 24V Step-Up converter supplies more current if it has to make up for smaller differences in voltage, so a lower volume cut out when supplying less amps would suggest a current cut out are caused by low current. The step up converter does com,e in a 10A variant which would be a better choice.

10A Variant preferable to 3A Version

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - 20V 4.5A Laptop Power Brick

At 20V this amplifier really starts to shine. The input source (Iphone) can be turned up to full volume with very little distortion. You also begin to feel the bass rather then just hear it. The sound is clean and crisp, and there is little or no hiss.

The good news about this power supply is that you probably already have one! Most laptop bricks run 19V or 20V, and although some may only kick out 2A this will be fine for a board with a single TPA3116 chip.

If you do not have one then I would suggest search for a "Thinkpad T60" power adaptor, they are 20V 4.5A and sell for £6 / $10 including shipping.

Excellent Sound - Feel the Bass - Excellent Value

TPA3116 Amplifier - Power Supply - 24V 6A Power Brick

I had to max this thing out, so I went for the 24V 6A "Minger" power brick that is available on Ebay and Amazon. After all I had tried nearly every other power source! So why not one more to make a good blog post.

24V power brick are quite expensive compared to 20V one, I had to pay £16 / $25 for this supply.

For Maximum Power and Higher Low Input Gain. 
ESDM Report


  1. hi,
    so which power supply do you recommend ?
    I have read that 19V/20V like Thinkpad T60 should be ok.
    Is there any quality degradation when using 24V 6A Power Brick ? I heard that at 24V amp can have some distortion. I am not sure why lots of guys recommend 19/20V bricks. Is it only due to lower price in comparison to 24V bricks ?

  2. Hi Simon, Yes you are correct a 20V brick will sound better, but a 24V brick will be louder.

    I have stuck with 24V brick for the TPA3116 as the quality difference is small, and the power gain is significant.