Preamp booster ?

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First, sorry I'm a newbie so don't yell.... I've searched and read hundreds of articles but I'm still not certain what to do.

Basically I've created an audio controller as a replacement for the head unit in my car.

The problem is the controller is putting out line level but the special car amp wants more - like 10v peak to peak from what I've read. The car amp has software adjustable gain, so it only needs/wants fixed levels coming in.

How could I boost the 2v peak to peak to 10v with as simple a circuit as possible? A npn transistor circuit? An opamp?

I've gotten it to work using a power amp ic (tda2822) but it adds lots of hiss, and the circuit is a bit too large for the enclosure. I built an npn circuit but it didn't seem to work right - not enough or too much boost???

Thanks for any help!
10Vpp is right at the maximum limit for a 12V supply.

An opamp using a feed of 13.8V should just about manage a maximum output of 10Vpp into a reasonably high load impedance.
Rail to Rail opamps will get closer to the supply rails, but to achieve this performance, some or many of the other parameters are compromised, sometimes severely.

10Vpp is ~3Vac
2Vpp is ~700mVac
700mVac is an unusually low level for a maximum output.

The gain you need is 5times (=+14dB).
An opamp using a 12k & 3k feedback network will give that 5times gain.
If it then feeds a receiver with a 20k input impedance, the opamp sees the 20k//12k as it's total load. Getting 10Vpp into 7k5 from an opamp on 13.8V is getting into the high distortion regions where current output is starting to alter the opamp gain.

Have a look at the ESP and PASS sites for more info on gain stages.
Thanks Andrew a few questions if you dont mind...

Isn't 2Vpp nominal line level? I.e. Line level audio signal voltage at

And isn't 10Vpp basically +-5v so can't a +-12v supply do this with ease???

I understand the V=IR aspects and how one side might not be able to produce the current to produce the required voltage level, but I have to assume the amp impedance is quite high.

I did some more listening and I think it is about 20% off the needed max on a linear scale, I base this on different songs on the iPod at different recording levels and how some of the higher level songs can flex the subwoofer cones to distortion at max volume.

I may try a PGA2311 preamp ic. I also may try the op amp route - simpler, although the PGA2311 or similar would allow a future removal of the specialized amp.

Is there a common ic people use the generate -5v from a +5v supply? So far vie been able do work with a single supply.

Thanks again.
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Line level can be all over the place. Andrew has given you a good lead in is post. Your amp wants about 2-3V RMS which is the typical output level of a CD player. An iPod is about 1V RMS.

My question would be - "Does the amp really need 10 volts in?" That's more like speaker level than line level. And are you sure about the P-P versus RMS values? I'd check on that first before building a booster.

Sure, you can get the level you need with +/- 12V, but you have to generate that negative rail. Building an inverter can be tricky, but maybe someone here knows of a good ready-built unit. I've seen them, but not used them.
Some other person did the analysis on the amp/headunit, and said it was a 5v balanced output with a .8v bias - I'm not sure what it means.... :)

Anyway, everything sounds really good I just can't get the max volume I could get with the stock unit - but it's actually pretty close.

Could it just be that I don't have the .8v bias and that's the difference? If so, is there an easy way to add it?

I don't have access to an oscilliscope so testing audio is pretty difficult.
One other thing, if the amp is designed to take basically line level signals, and I boost the line level using a headphone amp designed to drive 100ohm headphones, I shouldn't have a problem correct? As the amp impedance must be much higher an that. Typically, what would be the ramifications of this, vs. using an op amp circuit, e.g more distortion, etc. Would the headphone amp overdrive the signal. My understanding is that it's job is to produce a voltage potential signal on the line, so withe the higher impedance it just does less work.
Hmmm... If a amp chip is rated to drive 8 ohm speakers, and V=IR, wouldn't a higher impedance require much less current? In all the amp chip data sheets I reviewed I only see 4,8,32 ohm ratings, and yes the power goes down as the R goes up, but isn't a preamp stage low-power?

If the audio switch IC with a buffer stage can drive the doesn't adding another headphone amp after the buffer make the job even easier?

Maybe you can point me to a dummies post I can read about this? This is where "newbie" gets lost...
A headphone amp is designed for driving headphones.
Many headphone have an absolute max voltage limit of 5V.
You want >=10Vpp.
You need to check that the amp you select can meet your specification.
You need a line driver that can output >10Vpp with low distortion, feeding a load consisting of the amplifier input impedance in parallel with the cable capacitance you will install.
Yes, what Andrew says.

The headphone amp "may" give you enough clean output voltage, or it may not. Current won't be a problem here. Find a headphone amp you like and we can take a look at it.

I tried using the tda2822 but the 20x gain is way more than I need. I think I only need about 2-3x. Because my source is basically line level when going into headphone amp, I need to attenuate it too much. I think the problem is that it is single supply running on 5v so I am bumping into the rails/limits. So I either need to use dual supply, or the 12v I have avail - but my 12v is not regulated and it may go as high as 15v.
That's no problem.You don't need tda2822 for this.You need a simple opamp like ne5532 or similar.Then you connect it to run with single supply and calculate wich gain you need.The are many info on this subject in web.

I ended up adding an ic to generate -5v for the op amp. I tried using the 12v from the car directly in a halve bias mode but it caused alternator whine. Problem was the neg voltage ic I bought worked at 8kz so more whine. I have a substitute on order. We'll see what happens...
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