LED Color Organ Triple Deluxe

Picture of LED Color Organ Triple Deluxe
*** Checkout the New & Improved version of this project: Color Organ Triple Deluxe II ***

I love lights, and I love music… Naturally a color organ is something that I always wanted to make. However the circuits are often pretty complicated, using many op amps, etc. I'm sure that many people feel the same way.

Now the wait is over. If you are a bit familiar with electronics, you can build a 3 way color organ with only 29 components. I've streamlined the circuit to the absolute minimum, using easy to obtain, inexpensive parts. In fact, if you are electronic hobbyist, you probably have all the parts sitting around already!

In case you've never heard of a color organ, it's a device that emits different colors of light based on sound. LED Color Organ Triple Deluxe divides sound into three frequency bands, and emits red, green and blue lights accordingly.

Watch the video and you'll see what it does.

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Step 1: Overview

The photo is showing the stereo version of Color Organ Triple Deluxe, which is simply the same circuit twice next to each other.

Three groups of LEDs each responds to high, mid, and low frequencies of sound.

In order to simplify the circuit, I design the Organ to connect to a headphone output of audio equipment. The power source can be a 9V battery, or a regulated AC adapter that outputs 9 V. (Most wall wort type adapters output much higher voltage than they are rated, therefore not suited.)

I'd like to thank Collin Cunningham of MAKE: Magazine for publishing his LED Color Organ. His version is a lot more sophisticated and complex (read: expensive), which led me to design a super simple version.

Techy181 month ago
heres a challenge : think u can integrate this into a stereo system
kd6mtw Techy1811 hours ago
on a home receiver, that is easy... just plug into the tape or vcr out L/R rca plugs. they are usally always on no matter what other input you are on.
jsanto1 Techy181 month ago

is it not possible to just use speaker wire as the input sound source instead of the jack?

kd6mtw jsanto111 hours ago
not a good idea without stepping down the speaker signal to a line or headphone level.
floz-ano13 days ago
Hi I'd like to know which resistors to change if I want to use super bright LEDS and so it won't mess up the high mid and low frequency flames???
pm4x11 month ago
My problem is:
The LEDs are too dark and they only light up if I connect the board with an amplifier.
Do you have an idea how I could solve this?
Techy181 month ago
i did this and it worked perfectly
finkeyow2 months ago


i am using 3 1watt high power leds instead of the regular ones. i also replaced the resistors for the leds with 5w 43ohm resistors. as power supply i am using a 16v 2.6a psu. but now, the leds are constantly on, also if i don't plug in the audio jack. could it be, that i need to change the resistors before the base of the transistor?

hi there,
nice instructable
i would like the schematic of this project if i am using a 12volt power supply with 3 amperes and using 12volts 3 smd led strip of the three colours instead of the LEDs
Thanks in Advance......
Modified this last night to work with common anode rgb led strip lights! I used ledartists idea with the 1Kohm resistors instead of leds and connected the collectors of Q2-4 to the bases of TIP31C power transistors (1for each color). Ground the emitter on each transistor and connect a collector from each one to the colors of your strip and provide power to the strip (12v in my case). According to the datasheet of the TIP31, it can handle 3A max so I would either put 2 TIP31's in parallel (6A) for each color or put a decent size heat sink on each one (they cant all be on the same heatsink because that would connect all 3 colors together, the top part of the TIP31 is electrically connected to the center pin or the collector in this case).
1A LED color organ.jpg
ledartist (author)  stevie15 months ago
Sounds great!
If I were to change anything, I'd add a resistor between the Q2 - 4 collector and the base of each TIP31. The circuit now allows too much base current, and  Q2 - 4 might damage as the result.

Maybe 60 to 120 ohm would do.

Also not sure putting two power transistor in parallel is a good idea. Q2 - 4 won't be able to give enough base current for the power transistors. I'd use MOSFET instead. N-ch MOSFET would work the same way as your schematics.

akaberniuk2 years ago
Hello nice work, could you help me to adjust your circuit fro 5V supply I' am going to use this circuit as a part of another project which is supposed to be supplied with 5V. Thank you in advance.
You still need this? I'm currently modifying this circuit to do exactly that.
jabelone6 months ago
Am I able to use a (small) 12v LED strip in place of the LEDs? I have tested that it lights up on 9v. It also uses less current than the LEDs. Would I just remove the resistors for the LEDs? Thanks!
loko426 months ago
I did thic color organ accroding your scheme, but when I put power on, then I get all leds lighting ... and they do not react on music.
What could be a problem?
sagigi7 months ago
can I connect instead of the leds led strip?
i want to connect a RGB led strip. will it look nice or you recommend to leave the project?
shahim7 months ago
Instead of the 0.047 mF capacitor can we use something else?
Like 1 or 0.1 mF? Or anything in series / parallel combination?

Also do I need a stereo audio jack for the input signal to connect to breadboard?
shahim8 months ago
I have a question about how to connect the signal (music) to the circuit.
What do I need to have? Like on your picture you have that black  device that sits on the breadboard., what is that? Some sort of adapter or the end of a regular headphone?

And also, does any spliter  work ?

Thank you.
Where can I get the code
tedomi_pro1 year ago
Can you tell me how to draw Filter Responces? The value 120Hz and 2,5kHz?? How to calculate that value???
You could try using LT Spice too. (Circuit design program)
ledartist (author)  tedomi_pro1 year ago
I drew the graph using Adobe Illustrator. It's not scientific, I simply drew it using my impression of the response.
The R/C values are figured out by experiment. (Too lazy to figure out the math ;)

lhazwani1 year ago
ok i understand. :) but can i use variable resistor then?

plus, will the printed circuit affected when i change the component? (by any means.. just changing without changing inside the software.)

i have this problem that when i do it on breadboard, it lights up like demo video. but on pcb, red leds are the only one light up and voltage at transistors drops drastically.

did i make error in somewhere? ;/ i'll post images later for u to check. thank you. :)
lhazwani1 year ago
Hi. I've followed your circuit and somehow my red leds are the only one light up (even before start) and there is voltage drop at capacitor 0.47microF. And i've change the values of both resistor at r3 and r4 to 20k.

Do you have any advise about this problem?
And can i know the voltage rating for each capacitor that have polarised? thank you. :)
p/s: does the voltage written at capacitor will effect the circuit if each capacitor has different voltage rating? sorry, i'm newbie about capacitor stuff. hope you can reply.
ledartist (author)  lhazwani1 year ago
Try using larger value resistor for R3 and R4 til the red LEDs stop lighting. These resistor values change depending on the transistor used. You might have to use something like 100k ohm.

Capacitors should be rated at least 12V. Doesn't matter if the voltage doesn't match. Voltage rating only means that the capacitor can withstand up to that voltage.

Wondering if the PCB design was tested and working?
ledartist (author)  williebikes1 year ago
Well I made the PCBs, but never actually used them. So no the PCB design is not tested.
However I've been working on the new, improved version, and it's almost ready. I will do another instructables very soon.
sjez1 year ago
Thanks for your quick reply. I still have one question though. I don't understand the function of the two 10k resistors and the 1k transistor connecting to Q1. Oh and the two 100ohm resistors, why are they there? I hope you can help me out.

ledartist (author)  sjez1 year ago
Q1, 10k ohms and the 1k ohm form a modified class A amplifier. I used diode in the biasing network to hold the bias at the bere minimum, so the operation is more like class B. The aim is to only amplify the positive half of the audio signal.
100 ohms at the input is to "mix" stereo signal into one without stressing the audio device connected. (Those should ideally be larger like 10k ohms but I could not afford the signal loss.)
sjez1 year ago
Hey quick question, could please explain me how the frequency filters work? I have been looking for the anwser for a while now, but I can't seem to find it.

ledartist (author)  sjez1 year ago
I'm not an expert on the subject, so I'd point to a good wiki;

From there, you will find many links to references.
mkfries1 year ago
Awesome, thanks. I'll let you know how it works out. I broke my wrist so I have to wear a cast on my arm for 6 weeks so I'm going to build this and attach it to my cast haha, I'll post pictures when it's done.
ledartist (author) 1 year ago
I'm working on the updated version of this circuit. Hopefully I will post a new instructable soon!
mkfries1 year ago
Hey quick question, could I use something like an Electret microphone instead of the direct line-in for the audio input? I want this to be atmospheric
ledartist (author)  mkfries1 year ago
Most (all?) microphones by themselves produce very small output, so you need to amplify before you can connect to a circuit like this one.
You can use small pre-amplified microphones like this one:

or this one:

i build circuit as it is as yours but please explain me that why are you add second capacitor in blue led.
there is only one capacitor in schematic.
and if necessary to add it then tell me the value of it so i can add also.
when i on the circuit blue led is very dim and when i play music through computer's headphone, led operated for few second then automatically dim.
give me solution for it.

Thank you.
ledartist (author)  ankitcpatel91 year ago
The value for the capacitor in question should be 0.047uF, but I used two 0.022uF connected in parallel as substitute. When you connect two capacitors in pararel, the total capacity is the sum of two.

Please note this circuit is analog, and each transistors have different characteristics. Therefor it's often necessary to adjust the values of the components.

i have completed circuit and it works nice.
but now problem is that how to control input of circuit (volume) because if i decrease the volume then i can't hear music but when i increase level of music then led react constantly on so give me the resistor value that i can put between circuit input and speaker output.
temporary i used pot(4.7K) to limit input but nothing happening
should i use more then or less then 10k resistor to limit input ?
ledartist (author)  ankitcpatel91 year ago
Using a pot would be the way to accomplish what you want. How are you connecting the pot?

See the attached image - "+input" would connect to your speaker, and ground connects to both the speaker negative and the Color Organ's ground. "+Output" connects to Color Organ's input. (Don't worry about the ground connecting the pot's case.)

propiracy1 year ago

In your improved color organ circuit video. There seems to me a capacitor on the battery line of the upper right of the breadbord. May i ask what that change is? Does it fix the red led not lighting up?

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