- Audio & Video
5 Cheap Audio Amplifiers For PC
Picking a good amplifier is one of the most important tasks when you're trying to use the higher quality, bookshelf type speakers on a desktop PC. Without a proper amplifier, it's possible that you're going to hear lots of noise, hissing, crackling and distortion when playing music. Lower quality amplifiers also might not cover the full frequency range, so speakers with tweeters and super tweeters won't be properly utilized. After being burned with a cheap amplifier off of Ebay (it had all the problems that I mentioned) a while back, I decided to be extra careful with my next purchase. Here's a list of 5 cheap audio amplifiers that should provide a decent sound quality without breaking the bank.
I'm going to start this list with cheaper amplifiers and then move on to more expensive ones. Lepai is a Chinese amplifier brand. Recently it merged with Lvpin, which is another Chinese amplifier manufacturer. You might come across it under that name too. Note that the the amplifier that I initially purchased, which was quite bad, was Lvpin LP-838. DO NOT BUY THAT ONE.
LP-2020A can be found for around 20$ on Ebay or Amazon. It's still not the best quality, since there is some clipping and distortion at higher volume, but it is more than enough if you don't plan on cranking the volume dial all the way up. At normal volume levels it works very well, especially when you consider its price.
There might be some crackling when changing the volume, but it's nothing too horrific. As for the specifications, amplifier is capable of driving 2 speakers, between 4-8 Ohm at 20W per channel. Take those specs with a grain of salt though, since they are more than likely not correct. However for some light to medium volumes, which is more than enough for PC speakers, this amplifier is more than enough. Note that the amplifier might not come with a power adapter. 12V 2A minimum is required, so make sure to check what exactly the seller you buy it from is sending you in the package.
Pyle PFA200 is a cheap audio amplifier that can be had on Amazon for as little as 25$. It's still not audiophile grade amplifier, how could it be for 25$, but it's more than enough for enjoying music at normal volume levels.
PFA200 is a class T amplifier with an advertised output power of 60 watts (2 channels per 30 watts). It has 3 knobs in the front. Two for adjusting treble and bass and another larger one for volume. Audio inputs include a pair of RCA jacks, a 3.5mm MP3 jack and a Microphone jack on the back.
Like I already hinted at in the first paragraph this amplifier also has problems with distortion at very high volume levels. It's decent enough on low and medium volume levels. If you're looking just at performance, this amplifier is more than enough. Case design and controls are very similar to that of the previously mentioned Lepai.
Nobsound Mini TPA3116
Nobsound is not very popular, but it is a good audio amplifier brand that has very affordable prices. It uses better quality components than the ones found in Lvpin and Lepai audio amplifiers. In fact the amplifier board within it, the TPA3116 is one of the more popular boards that's used by many other brands.
Amplifier itself can power 2 speakers, with power output rated at 50W on each channel. Power supply in the 12-24V range can be used to power the amplifier. The higher the voltage, the more powerful amplification you're going to get. At the front of the all aluminum case there's only a single knob for adjusting volume, and a switch for turning the amplifier on/off.
Several different versions of this amplifier exist in stores like Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress, including some with 2.1 channel audio, so be careful what you're ordering. Prices for this model are currently set at around 40$. It's a great bang for your buck as far as amplifiers go. I'm personally using this brand for a few months now and I'm loving it. There's practically no noise on low volume levels and only very little if I crank the volume up all the way. Audio is very clear, and the entire speaker range, super tweeters, tweeters and woofers are employed when listening to music.
Breeze BA10C TPA5613
This next amplifier comes with a bit of a heftier price tag. It can be found in the 50-80$ price bracket, depending on what model you decide to buy. Reason for such a price tag lies in the fact that this amplifier comes with a built-in Bluetooth receiver. This means that you can connect your mobile phone or a tablet to it and play music without the hassle of using RCA cables.
On the other hand if you are a fan of RCA cables, it's also possible to connect devices using the RCA interface in the back. Another thing that sets this cheap audio amplifier apart from all the others that I mentioned is the fact that it also supports a subwoofer. This is a 2.1 channel amplifier. Two 75 Watt channels are for regular speakers. Next to them there's another 150W subwoofer channel.
Breeze is actually another one of those less known brands that offer decent quality amplifiers, just like Nobsound. Amplifier is housed in an aluminum enclosure. Power supply voltage can be in the 12-24V range, with a minimum of 2A of current (the more the better). Sound quality is good, but make sure that you get a proper power supply to power the amplifier. Dedicated switching power supply or a laptop brick are recommended.
Pyle Home PTAU45 Mini
Last amplifier on this list is another Pyle amplifier whose price is between 50-60$. This amplifier is a bit more advanced, and I think that this might be my next amplifier.
What I like about PTAU45 Mini is the fact that it has support for multiple RCA inputs, with built-in switch. They are labeled as AUX-1, AUX-2, CD and USB. Up to 3 devices can be plugged into the amplifier (as audio source) at the same time, and you can easily switch between them using the dial at the front. For example, you can connect a PC, a mobile phone and a TV and then easily switch between them depending from where you want to receive audio.
Amplifier specs say that this cheap audio amplifier has two channels and can support speaker load up to 120W. It's quite powerful and it has a built-in power supply, so you plug it directly into the wall. Both the American 110V and the European 220V power distribution standards are supported (there's a switch in the back). Media from a USB stick can be played, that's what the fourth "USB" input on the dial is for. Rest of the dials are for the usual, adjusting volume, bass, treble.
Final thoughts and recommendations
After having a very poor experience using the Lvpin LP-838 audio amplifier I switched to the Nobsound amplifier that I mentioned above. I also got my hands on a new 12V 10A switching power supply. Combination of the new amplifier and the new power supply greatly improved my music listening experience. Leave a comment with your cheap audio amplifier suggestions in the comments down below.