LM386 Audio Amplifier

Learning how to use the LM386 Audio Amplifier IC — a “minimum parts” circuit.

I was pondering how I was going to amplify the signal coming out of my AD9833 signal generator module, to drive my MakerHawk 3 watt, 8 ohm speaker. Then I found an LM386 IC in my box of assorted op-amps. I found this amplifier to be easy to use, especial with the example “minimum parts” circuit in the data sheet:

Minimum parts circuit from LM386 data sheet. Pins 1, 7, and 8 can be left open if you are okay with the default gain setting of 20.
The LM386 pinout

In the picture at the top of this post, you can see the AD9833 module, but I’m actually trying out the amplifier chip by driving it with a desktop signal generator, which is connected to the leads on the left. With the signal generator set to as little as 100mV p-p, I had no trouble hearing the sound on the speaker with 1khz, 1.5 khz, and 2 khz tones. The sound was quiet and distorted at 500 Hz and lower, but that would be expected of such a small speaker.

The Uno in the picture is not providing the LM386 input signal in this test, but is simply providing the 5V supply voltage.

Some caveats; the LM386 requires at least 4V supply voltage, which is a problem for folks who want to use their microcontrollers with a lower 3.3 V supply only. Also, I think the AD9833 generated a 700 mV p-p signal when I tried it last week, which I believe fits just inside the LM386’s range of minimum -4V and maximum +4V input signal — probably you will want a voltage divider or volume control to attenuate the signal some.

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