Today we are going to check out some great class D amps based on a few selection criteria. We wanted to find models that had at least 50 Watts per channel, good sound quality, and compact size. Lets dig right in.
Below are our recommendations for the 4 best cheap Class D amplifiers on the market:
Fosi Audio TB10A Class D Amplifier
The first model on our list comes from Fosi Audio and represents a more advanced package at an affordable range. TPA3116 comes in a compact, well-built chassis that doesn’t take much space on your desktop. Where it differs from the majority of its competition are the controls. Instead of just offering a level control, this one actually comes with bass and treble adjustments.
In terms of power, you are looking at 50Watts per channel, making it a perfect choice for a pair of stereo bookshelf speakers. Sound quality is very good, so much so that you won’t run into any noise on most standard speakers. Impedance rating goes from 2 Ohms to 8 Ohms, which covers most of the bookshelf range. Overall, the Fosi Audio TPA3116 offers a lot for the price you’re asked to pay. In our book, it’s one of the best cheap Class D amplifiers period.
Fosi Audio BT10A Class D Amplifier
Fosi Audio is full of surprises, which is why we have to add one more of their models to this short list. This time around, we have the BT10A. In essence, the internals are very similar to TB10A. However, there are some important differences. Lets cover the basics first.
This is a 50Watt per channel amp, offering two channels in total (see full specs). Terminating impedance is the same, meaning anywhere from 2 Ohms to 8 Ohms. There are no bass or treble controls, but there is Bluetooth connectivity.
When you put this amp to use, you will find that it offers great sound with plenty of gain. Pairing it with your smart devices is extremely easy, and it doesn’t have negative effect on the performance. Although slightly unconventional, BT10A is a great choice for those who want a bit more convenience.
DROK 2.1 Power Class D Amplifier
Those who are looking for an affordable way to power their 2.1 systems can find a great solution in DROK 2.1. Unlike our previous picks, this amp features a woofer channel in addition to its two stereo channels. In terms of power, you are looking at 150 Watts dedicated to the woofer channel and two 75 Watt speaker lines. Not only is this amp more versatile but it’s more powerful as well. The chassis they have used is made of die cast aluminum, which takes care of heat dissipation and actually looks quite attractive.
DROK 2.1 features bass and treble controls along with the standard level knob. In the back, you will see three sets of outputs, one for each channel, and a set of inputs. Overall, it is an awesome bang for the buck choice that delivers decent sound and plenty of power. This is easily one of the best cheap Class D amplifiers around.
SMSL SA50 Class D Amplifier
Last but not least, we have a slightly more refined package to show you. It is made by SMSL and is labeled SA50. On the surface, it is a pretty familiar setup. Two 50 Watt channels with a proper power stage, packed into a die cast aluminum chassis. However, SMSL SA50 also features a variety of protective features. More specifically, it comes with short circuit protection and thermal overload fail safe built in (see full specs).
This tiny amp sounds massive and has more than enough power to drive a set of quality bookshelf speakers. You won’t run into noise, especially if you keep the levels within the optimal range. Overall, it is a bit expensive considering its simple design, but it makes up for that with its performance.
Why Class D Amplifiers?
Class D or digital amplifiers are a fairly new addition to the family. Before transistor technology reached a level where it became practical, amplifiers were limited to analog solutions. The problem with analog amps is their inefficiency. In other words, the power that goes into an amp isn’t fully converted into tangible performance. Instead, a good portion of it is wasted through heat. Class D amps have solved that issue with a great deal of success.
Even the cheaper Class D amps, such as the ones we have shown you today, are incredibly efficient. Higher efficiency also means that you don’t have to dedicate much of the amp’s chassis to cooling, which in turn allows for more compact designs. Lastly, transistors are cheap to produce, making Class D amplifiers rather affordable.
Finding the best cheap Class D amplifier comes down to several factors. You will definitely want at least 50 Watts per channel and a minimum of two channels. Fortunately, this describes just about every basic amp out there.
However, power is only a part of the equation. The performance of the amplifier matters as well. Most of our picks on this list are using the TPA3116 series of chips. These are known to provide great sound with very little noise or discoloration issues. Additionally, the fact that most brands are using the same platform means that compact size is just about guaranteed.
One thing to keep in mind with all of these amplifiers is that none of them come with a DC adapter. The power supply is something you will have to get additionally. It is paramount that you stick to manufacturer’s recommendations and requirements. Failing to do so can damage the amp or simply prevent it from working altogether. With that warning in mind, these products should serve you well. Good luck!