I'm working on an audio system prototype that requires cables passing through active speakers in series. As cables will have different lengths, I'm counting on voltage drops along the way. Is there an efficient way to distribute power so all amps get the same wattage and produce the same sound level?

See draft scheme below:

enter image description here

The amplifier will be a class-D with a wide voltage range input (e.g., 3-24 V).

I'm planning to start with a 20 V 5 A power supply, then I plan to step down to 16 V to allow some voltage drop. Would just a voltage regulator before the amplifier in each PCB be enough to balance the power? Or should I use something more sophisticated like a PMIC? What do you suggest?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "a PMIC"? A voltage regulator is a type of PMIC. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Sep 8 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I meant to say a more complex power management IC (e.g., one that communicates with an MCU, etc) than a common voltage regulator. \$\endgroup\$
    – Emerson
    Sep 8 at 16:07
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Unless you're running the amps right up at their maximum output level, the precise supply voltage level should have little to no effect on their output levels. Look for the PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) spec for your amps to see how a change in supply voltage will affect the output. \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    Sep 8 at 16:08

3 Answers 3


Not a problem.

Please understand that this how electricity works:

"Voltage is pushed, current is pulled".

That means that the source sets the voltage, but the load sets the current.

Specifically, in your case:

The amplifiers take as much current (and power) from the power supply as they wish. The power supply doesn't "push" power to the amplifiers. All you have to do is supply the voltage from the power supply to all the amplifiers in parallel. The amplifiers will then do the rest: they will use as much power as they need.

If you're concerned about voltage drop, use a sufficiently large power supply (e.g.,your 100 W power supply should be fine for three 30 W amplifiers) and properly sized wires (for 5 A, use 14 AWG wire or larger). For best results, you can run six individual wires from the power supply, two to each amp.

so all amps get the same wattage and produce the same sound level?

They will, as long as they are not so loud that they start distorting. That's because they all receive the same input signal and they all are set for the same gain. The supply voltage doesn't affect the output signal level. Only the input level and the amplifier gain affect the output level.


The power the amplifiers produce will be governed by their gain, and the audio input signal amplitude, independently of their supply voltage.

The maximum power the amplifiers can produce will be limited by their power supply voltage. When this limitation happens, the distortion will be clearly audible.

As the amplifiers can handle the maximum voltage your power supply will provide, 24 V against your 20 V supply, your best course is to simply provide the wires to all of the amplifiers. This maximises their 'maximum power output'.

In the case of the class D amplifiers you are using, this is especially the case, as a class D will use less input current with a higher input voltage. They are like an audio buck converter, only drawing the power they need from the supply - more volts need fewer amps. This minimises the load on your supply, and minimises voltage drop along the cables.


Only if you are lucky will this work as you desire. Practical implimentations of Class-D amplifiers and power supplies widely vary and this layout may or may not work.

The selection of a 30W RMS, 24V amplifier module capable of working over such a wide power supply range means the 20V supply is within specifications. Catch is the power output of a Class-D amplifier is related to the power supply voltage to the output circuitry. An amplifier capable of operation down to 3V is not going to be maintain 30W RMS output. Therefore the output power at 20V is going to be less than 30W RMS. For example, dropping a 24V, 30W RMS Class-D amplifier may decrease the output power to 20W RMS. Is the total power of 60W RMS acceptable?

A Class-D amplifier can draw peak currents greater than the simple calculation of 1.414 times the calculated RMS current from the rated output power and the nominal supply voltage. With three modules being driven by the one source all will generate current peaks that will be basically identical and additive. The power supply is rated at 5A but what happens when a current peak exceeds 5A? Does the power supply have a hard shutdown to protect itself and the load? Does the power supply foldback the output voltage until the current drawn is less than 5A? Is the power supply a simple bridge and filter capacitor(s) such that a slow-blow fuse on the primary winding just ignores any such transient? How do the amplifier modules react under these circumstances?

The Class-D amplifiers may inject noise onto the supply line. How does the power supply respond to this noise? How do the amplifiers respond to noise injected onto the power supply line?

The resistance losses in the power line from cabling and connectors is additive for the final amplifier. Are the cables and connectors suitable electrically and physically?

What is the arrangement for earth loop protection? The audio cable earthing for each amplifier and power supply earths are not a common point. This can be a recipe for noise and hum problems.

These are just some quick thoughts on possible problems with this layout. Just accept your 90WRMS design is likely to be 60WRMS in practice. As stated, you may be lucky.

Edit... Should note that with a 16V supply for a 24V, 30WRMS Class-D module the output power is likely to drop into the 15W range i.e. total output power of 45W RMS into 8 Ohms from your 90WRMS design. If the selected amplifier is capable of 14V operation into a 4 Ohm load then the rated output power from the amplifiers should increase. The realised audio output could depend on the efficiency of the different speakers, etc.


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