LM386, Low Voltage Audio Power Amplifiers

LM386, Low Voltage Audio Power Amplifiers

Texas Instruments offers the LM386 wide VIN low power audio amplifiers with internal gain

The LM386M-1 and LM386MX-1 are power amplifiers designed for use in low voltage consumer applications. The gain is internally set to 20 to keep external part count low, but the addition of an external resistor and capacitor between pins 1 and 8 will increase the gain to any value from 20 to 200.
The inputs are ground referenced while the output automatically biases to one-half the supply voltage. The quiescent power drain is only 24 mW when operating from a 6-V supply, making the LM386M-1 and LM386MX-1 ideal for battery operation.



  • Battery Operation
  • Minimum External Parts
  • Wide Supply Voltage Range: 4 V–12 V or 5V–18V
  • Low Quiescent Current Drain: 4 mA
  • Voltage Gains from 20 to 200
  • Ground-Referenced Input
  • Self-Centering Output Quiescent Voltage
  • LowDistortion:0.2%(AV =20,VS =6V,RL =8Ω, PO =125mW,f=1kHz)
  • Available in 8-Pin MSOP Package


  • AM-FM Radio Amplifiers
  • Portable Tape Player Amplifiers
  • Intercoms
  • TV Sound Systems
  • Line Drivers
  • Ultrasonic Drivers
  • Small Servo Drivers
  • Power Converters


Feature Description
There is an internal 1.35-KΩ resistor that sets the gain of this device to 20. The gain can be modified from 20 to 200. Detailed information about gain setting can be found in the Detailed Design Procedure section.

Device Functional Modes
As this is an Op Amp it can be used in different configurations to fit in several applications. The internal gain setting resistor allows the LM386 to be used in a very low part count system. In addition a series resistor can be placed between pins 1 and 5 to modify the gain and frequency response for specific applications.

Gain Control
To make the LM386 a more versatile amplifier, two pins (1 and 8) are provided for gain control. With pins 1 and 8 open the 1.35-kΩ resistor sets the gain at 20 (26 dB). If a capacitor is put from pin 1 to 8, bypassing the 1.35-kΩ resistor, the gain will go up to 200 (46 dB). If a resistor is placed in series with the capacitor, the gain can be set to any value from 20 to 200. Gain control can also be done by capacitively coupling a resistor (or FET) from pin 1 to ground.
Additional external components can be placed in parallel with the internal feedback resistors to tailor the gain and frequency response for individual applications. For example, we can compensate poor speaker bass response by frequency shaping the feedback path. This is done with a series RC from pin 1 to 5 (paralleling the internal 15-kΩ resistor). For 6 dB effective bass boost: R ~= 15 kΩ, the lowest value for good stable operation is R = 10 kΩ if pin 8 is open. If pins 1 and 8 are bypassed then R as low as 2 kΩ can be used. This restriction is because the amplifier is only compensated for closed-loop gains greater than 9.

Input Biasing
The schematic shows that both inputs are biased to ground with a 50 kΩ resistor. The base current of the input transistors is about 250 nA, so the inputs are at about 12.5 mV when left open. If the dc source resistance driving the LM386 is higher than 250 kΩ it will contribute very little additional offset (about 2.5 mV at the input, 50 mV at the output). If the dc source resistance is less than 10 kΩ, then shorting the unused input to ground will keep the offset low (about 2.5 mV at the input, 50 mV at the output). For dc source resistances between these values we can eliminate excess offset by putting a resistor from the unused input to ground, equal in value to the dc source resistance. Of course all offset problems are eliminated if the input is capacitively coupled.
When using the LM386 with higher gains (bypassing the 1.35 kΩ resistor between pins 1 and 8) it is necessary to bypass the unused input, preventing degradation of gain and possible instabilities. This is done with a 0.1 μF capacitor or a short to ground depending on the dc source resistance on the driven input.

Power Supply Recommendations
The LM386 is specified for operation up to 12 V or 18 V. The power supply should be well regulated and the voltage must be within the specified values. It is recommended to place a capacitor to GND close to the LM386 power supply pin.

Layout Guidelines
Place all required components as close as possible to the device. Use short traces for the output to the speaker connection. Route the analog traces far from the digital signal traces and avoid crossing them

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