Introduction: Recycling Old Car Radio Into an Audio Amplifier

Picture of Recycling Old Car Radio Into an Audio Amplifier

I got this old cd player that was pretty much waste, because It had its front panel lost. Even if it worked I don't have any physical media nor I wanted to listen to radio. But I knew that I could use the amplifier part and use it to drive some speakers, and then connect it to any audio source that I wanted like an iPod, phone, TV, etc.

It then worked very well, and the 4-channels came in handy, so I could connect it to 2 speakers plus 2 larger woofers, to give some Bass! For that I modified 2 of the channels to only reproduce bass, using a very simple low-pass filter.

This made a great setup to replace the very bad speakers that I have on my cheap TV. Now I can enjoy netflix and video games with decent audio, with some bass response to it.

All of that, basically for free! It was going to the trash bin anyway, mother nature is thankful for that, so it's my wallet. :)

Most of the time and efforts goes in trying to figure out how it works, and what you need to do. Once you figured out, the modifications are very minimal, and straightforward. Just some traces broken and a few jumper links to make it work. The only additional part is a 12v wall wart adapter that can provide a few amps, that can be savaged easily from old stuff.

It's certainly doable with any radio, but some will be more challenging then others. Since every model will be different, you will have to figure out by yourself like I did.

Step 1: How to Take Pictures

Picture of How to Take Pictures

You don't need anything special, just a regular camera with non-fixed focus this is very important. And good lighting.

The camera used to take this pictures was an iPhone 5S camera.

Very important tip, take your pictures outside, you can see it makes a huge difference (first picture indoor with regular fluorescent lighting, second picture outdoor). Try taking multiple shots at different positions relative to the sun to avoid shadows and glares, with different exposure and focus, and distance. Then pick the best one.

Step 2: Getting Details to Start R.E.

Picture of Getting Details to Start R.E.

We need as much as information as possible about the heart of the amp.

In this case there's a big 24-pin device attached on the back heatsink, that's a dead giveaway that it is a power device.

In some cases, you will find discrete amplifiers, and those can be some sort of transistor array or H-bridge. But in this case I'm looking for a Class AB amplifier of some sort, because at first glance I can't see any output filtering stage, not a single inductor or big electrolytic capacitor (apart from one in the 12v supply) that would appear in a Class D amplifier.

Thankfully there's a part number that we can search for a data sheet. TA8272H and I found out that this is a full audio amplifier in a chip, it is a linear bipolar amp or like I guessed a Class-AB Amplifier. They are not impressively power efficient, but they are inherently lower noise when compared to Class-D amplifiers.

Step 3: Reverse Engineering!

Picture of Reverse Engineering!

Please view the Original Size pictures:

View the image here:

I explain in more details how I align images here in this tutorial: How can I reverse engineer a simple through-hole board?

Based on the datasheet, I start to enumerate the known pins and traces, on layers on top of the image, then I will follow traces, and sometimes make assumptions to were it goes, then check continuity using a multimeter to make sure that I guessed it right.

I highlighted every trace that was important and required to get the amp working, from its power supply, inputs and outputs, and control pins. I back traced the speaker outputs from the rear panel through the board in magenta. Ground is always easy, I highlighted ground in Blue, (everything in a car is that is attached to the chassis is ground, so you can test continuity easily to know it it's ground). In Red, I highlighted the 12v line that comes from the yellow wire that comes from the car battery. Each of the 4 audio inputs is highlighted in a distinct color.

Everything else was useless. So I broke some traces that powered the other parts of the circuit that I won't need. So I just needed to add a jumper link on the stand-by pin of the IC, that before it was only powered by the micro controller, when the radio was on.

I Injected signals direct to the input pins, and voil√°. audio came out of the speakers.

Since it had a couple of RCAs outputs on the back, I just redirected the audio from the audio-out connectors to feed audio to the amp.

Step 4: Shrinking the Board

Picture of Shrinking the Board

Most of the stuff of the board was not being used. Since I had every important trace drawn on the screen, I found that I could strip 2/3 out of the board much trouble. Again after breaking it apart just cut traces to make sure I had no shorts.

Step 5: Crossover

Picture of Crossover

Since this is a 4-channels amplifier, and I had only 2 inputs connected, I wanted to make a kind of subwoofer using 2 smaller speakers and 2 woofers.

So I made 2 low-pass channels that will reproduce most of the bass, and 2 full range channels but I added a 12dB attenuator, to enhance the low-pass channels.

The low pass filter consist of a simple RC filter that will give a roll out of -3dB per octave with the cut off frequency of fc = 79.5774715459[Hz]. Determined by a 10K resistor with 2 100nF ceramic capacitors in parallel.

And on the full range I added a voltage divider of a 10K-2K to give me some attenuation, to make the bass more pronounced than the full ranges.

Step 6: Volume

I don't have a volume control, but that's not a problem, we can just adjust the volume from our source, like an iPod, TV, etc. Or if you want just wire a stereo potentiometer in line with the input.

But you can go fancy, and add digital volume with remote control.

I explain how to make it in this Instructable: Remote Volume Control for old stereo amp

Step 7: Shrinking the Case

Picture of Shrinking the Case

Step 8: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Step 9: Done!

Picture of Done!

Maybe next time we can incorporate a power on status led, stand-by switch, remote volume control and add blue tooth to the audio amp.


RafaG4 (author)2018-01-20

I am trying to use the amplifier of a Sony CDX-L280 radio using the same integrated TA8272H.
Could you tell me how to make it work without the front of the radio?
When I unplug the front it stops ringing and I do not understand what I should do.
My knowledge in electronics is minimal.
Thank you.

DiegoT35 (author)2017-10-10

This is awesome!!
Please, can you upload/send me a high-res pic for the attenuators and filters welded on the mainboard? Regards!

jacobsteel (author)2017-05-11

Nice! :D

bleedingbrain (author)2017-01-21

I'm trying to do this with an alpine cde-bt103. I have it disassembled and took pictures but I can't seem to figure out how you managed to retrace all of the leads through the board. All I have really done is trace my speaker outs to their obvious first stopping point and then I am completely lost...

I would just like to be able to use the RCA plugs on this board as inputs instead of outputs and plug it back into my car

RahulC49 (author)2017-01-03

I am trying to convert the same radio that you used in your tutorial into an amp to run speakers at home. But my but my board has a TDA8588BJ, which is a voltage regulator cum power amp. I wont be using the RCA jacks but instead will solder the aux wires on the IC. Here is what I am planning to do :
Aux (right) to pin 11(INT 1)
Aux (left) to pin 15 (INT 2)
Aux(gnd) to any ground on the pcb
SHORT pins 22(STB) and 37(Vp)
I will be using the Sony wire harness to connect the two speakers and power (from my PC PSU).
There are a lot of gnd pins on the IC, I am confused what to do with them, I guess grounding the harness black wire should ground all of them.

Vitim (author)RahulC492017-01-04


On the page 44 there's a application diagram, this is the minimum components to use the amplifier IC. You can't connect your audio signal directly to the IC pins, a resistor and capacitor is required on the inputs. But you don't need to buy this, because they are already on the board. You just need to trace them. Your audio input ground is SGND(pin13) and ACGND(pin16) tied with four 470nF capacitors.

If you need help, take hi-res pictures with good lighting and sharp focus of the top and bottom of the entire board. Taking pictures on daylight helps a lot with glare and noise.

RahulC49 (author)Vitim2017-01-04

Okay got it.
But will shorting Vp and STB make it work? Since there is a bus line that communicates with the amps , I am guessing some sort of instruction set could be required.

CyKlopsCC (author)2016-12-13

Couple more questions: (For anybody that can answer)
What are the two yellow connections that you drew in your above diagrams, the upper one appears to link a powered section of the board to a ground section, and the lower one looks to be a resistor between two powered sections of the board?
When you say "jumpered" to the stby pin, do you mean you just ran straight 12v from a nearby powered section to the standby pin?
I cannot get any output sound currently. I am reading 3v or so coming from each of the INPUT leads (all four of them)... not sure about that, perhaps I am missing something necessary in grounding. Where exactly did you solder into the input leads? Right at the amp?

I am not getting even any hiss from the output leads... almost as if it is muted, or not turned on. The only sound I get from the speaker is a faint pop when I connect main power.
Thanks very much.

Vitim (author)CyKlopsCC2016-12-28

sorry for the long delay, I never seems to get comments notifications. The yellow symbols are a inductor and a capacitor, they are part of the power supply filtering. You can see on the datasheet standby it requires anything from 3volts to VCC (same as input voltage, in this case 12v). Try touching the inputs with your fingers you should hear a hum, if not the IC amp is probably in standby or in mute. Read your datasheet to find which pin controls those things.

CyKlopsCC (author)Vitim2017-01-03

Thanks very much for the reply(s).
I am still fuzzy on the section where you talk about the yellow hand-drawn components (inductor + capacitor)... Did you have to add them in (if so, what are their specs?) or are they on the other side of the board, and it is a necessity to be aware of their location as to know where to solder in the leads (before/after) etc?
Typically both the mute and standby would possibly require VCC (within specified range according to datasheets etc)?

CyKlopsCC (author)CyKlopsCC2017-01-03

Actually, I see they are not on either side of the board originally, so you are adding them in. What are their specs, and if you don't add them, what will happen?

RahulC49 (author)2017-01-03

Hey great tutorial.
But how did you connect the aux to the RCA output jack? Those Jack's are for audio output right?

Vitim (author)RahulC492017-01-03

That's right the RCAs was originally outputs from the cd DAC, but the output of the cd DAC is connect to the inputs of the amp, so I just disconnected the DAC from the circuit then the outputs becomes inputs to the amplifier!

RahulC49 (author)Vitim2017-01-03

So I am a bit confused, does the output of the CD player not require amplification?

CyKlopsCC (author)2016-12-10

Great job, thank you Vitim!
I am currently doing this to a newer Clarion deck, similar (common) 4x50W Toshiba setup. Fairly nicely labelled on the board too.
Question #1: Can I bridge the four channels into two, by joining the F/R right outputs, and the F/R left outputs? This would provide 2 x 100W as a result. I worry though that there needs to be additional circuitry to prevent the signals from feeding into each other?

Question #2: For soldering in the input signals, what is the best locations to solder in the accompanying grounds (neg-) from say, the RCA cables such as you used? Or does it matter?

Again, thank you and great job.

Vitim (author)CyKlopsCC2017-01-03

About bridge configuration, typically no unless this configuration is mentioned on the data sheet.

Make connections as close as possible to the IC inputs, and do not pick a ground very far from those LR inputs, this is to avoid picking hum. Just be carefully to not bypass the usual ac couple capacitor and input resistor on the inputs, connect it after, or else you will get very distorted sound and might damage the inputs.

tmoroke (author)2015-07-23

This is a great build. I have the sony cdx-R3300 radio and needed to convert it as per your build but I am struggling with turning the unit power on and audio input. Please assist with maybe close up pictures of the input channels. Thanks a lot for this build really inspired.

JohnSnow87 (author)2015-07-14

that's an awesome build. I'm currently doing a similar build with an old bookshelf stereo system. I removed the 5 disk changer and I pan on shrinking the case. then I can wall mount it in my workshop/shed. it will have am/fm and an aux input. I'll probably end up adding bluetooth too.

tosomja (author)2015-05-28

Under powering speakers is number 1 that is NUMBER ONE cause of voice coils being melted shorted burned etc. If anyone has payed attention in school would know this!This is why internet is so great..A shoe maker with a computer can express his opinion as fact on brain surgery instead of thinking how to make better shoes.This project is just to show what can be done with a 4 channel amp in a radio instead of tossing it out. Yes it may present some problems with power supply but there are many options like switching P.S from a computer etc. And of course it will not be Hi Fi sound like Krell, Levinson and we all know that including that TDA 7293 double or triple etc. chipped boards will sound 10 times better and are very cheap from China is still not FREE ..So this project is not a bad idea.With proper speakers and a P.S it can be a satisfying enough.

Good for you dude.

Vitim (author)tosomja2015-06-09

Sorry, but everyone knows that you can only burn a speaker by putting too much power through it. If you have a underpowered amplifier you will get low volume and possibly distortion, no big deal. You will only have problems if you connect small speakers to it and abuse on the volume level, then you could smell some smoke. Keep in mind it would happen the same thing if you install weak speakers on your car, just use speakers that can handle the rated power. However this amp cannot push the power that the datasheet says, because the amp can only deliver what the power supply can deliver (in this case less, It doesn't matter much, most people do not listen to 100% volume).

tosomja (author)Vitim2015-06-10

Since you are trying to be nice and telling me that I do not know what I am talking about I will try the same.Stick to your math and theory.In real world this is not garbage it is a fact.I will not try to waste my time with one hour of explanations to prove something like the fact the earth is round. Believe what you will your credentials are impressive and Electronics Engineer is someone to admire and I do.I never went to school and can't compete with sooo.. much technical proves..Yes you know the Ohms law. This was not the time to apply it.I am very happy that you don't work for me...I can get a fresh kid from College and he would most likely rattle of the same explanation as you did.But I would be willing to sit down and make a valid discussion with him and teach him there is more to it.I am glad that you understand that if you apply 200 Amps to a 32 gauge of 200 C rated enamel coated copper it will melt.I am sorry that I ever brought my point up and started playing in this gene pool.Enough said.

Vitim (author)tosomja2015-06-30

When you said "Under powering speakers is number 1 that is NUMBER ONE cause of voice coils being melted shorted burned" I think you actually mean under powerED speakers, as like under rated, if that's the case you're correct. But I don't know why you bring this topic since I'm using properly rated speakers that can handle the power delivered by this amp. I'm not trying to act like you said, I'm just trying to make a point here.

Again under powering a speaker (like as putting too little power to it) will cause nothing, it will only burn if you overload it (putting too much power) but certainly not by under powering it.

tpruitt3 (author)tosomja2015-05-28

underpowering speakers causes voice coils to burn out? what if i keep the volume low all the time? will it burn out my voice coils because it is underpowered? just wondering.

ianbatty (author)tpruitt32015-05-28


If underpowering speakers was going to cause "burnout", then leaving them *disconnected* would do it, as you can't get more underpowered than sending *nothing* to them!

Think of a speaker like a light globe. The only way you get to burn it out is by applying *too much* power. This can either be a continuous overload (110 V lamp in a 220 V socket), or a sudden (transient) overload such as a 6v car lamp accidentallly dropped accross a 24 V truck battery.

But put a 220 V lamp into a 110 V socket, or drop a 24 V lamp across a 6 V battery - all you get is a dull red glow from now until (possibly) year 2025.

Moe Odatalla (author)2015-06-23

Excellent repurposing project, and so many informative community comments as well.

Thank you for inspiring.

Coltoh (author)2015-05-28

Under-powering speakers does not damage them.. If it did, everyone would blow their drivers as soon as the volume was turned down.

kschmidt2 (author)Coltoh2015-06-02

volume acts on the pre-amps, in other words, before the power amp section, meaning that the transistors that power the speakers are always delivering around half power to the speakers no matter what the input volume is. That's why you hear the quiet hiss sound when there's nothing playing through the speakers. So, you have a 50 watt amp connected to 50 watt speakers those speakers are always getting around 25-50 watts.

mid_life_crisis (author)2015-06-01

Easiest repurpose to get something close to real power from is to look up one of the many instructions on repurposing a computer power supply and use it to power an old car amplifier. Easy as pie and already has a massive heatsink built in.

banman11 (author)2015-05-30

Very nice project. I liked it very much. Goes very nicely with the spirit of this great website.

I was wondering do you do an instructible on say fixing PC switching power supplies?

jimbuntu (author)2015-05-29

Wow! I have couple of those old tape. I'll try to give another life to them. Thanks, this is good instructables! Two thumbs up!

maniacse (author)2015-05-28

Nice work mate! I like the low-pass integration, casing, but mainly the tracing which leads to shrink board size. Nice one!

guitarzan5150 (author)2015-05-28

I like your style. I've had similar successes converting old boom boxs with busted cd players into guitar amps. Fun fun fun !

ksla (author)2015-05-28

wow fantistic !!!!!!

walkerman1980 (author)2015-05-28

guys(and gals),

this project is not as hard as you think as the ic amp chip is FULLY contained. the toshiba is the spec aheet and pinout of the ic itself. you simply get the pinouts and wire appropriately.

awesome instructable and repurposing is good keeps it from going to waste and saves alot of cash. i love how the case was reused to make the amps case. it dosent take einstein to figure this out but its the idea and originality that counts here:)

awesome man simply awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

rippa700 (author)2015-05-28

Fantastic, and just what I want to make, but apart from shrinking the case my skills don't really cover all that tracing bit. I'll see how I go. Nicely done.

manuel.carrilerocases (author)2015-05-28

Good work, i have done something similar with an old radiocassete for home to hifi amp. But with some radiocar that i have it's difficult fo get the datasheet. ; )

twooper (author)2015-05-28

You won't easily find a 10 Amp wall wart and using a 2 Amp wall wart on a circuit that draws 10 Amps may cause a fire. I don't understand why this irresponsible project is here. You are taking your chances.

ac-dc (author)twooper2015-05-28

Since it has a 10A fuse it most definitely draws less than 10A. The current required will depend on volume level.

Certainly a 2A wall wart is underpowered, but also a 12V wall wart is undervoltage for a chip meant to be used on a ~ 14V vehicle electrical system so the capable wattage is reduced as is current requirement.

Anyway, there is not much chance of a fire. If it's a switching PSU it should shut off if it can't maintain voltage at load current. If it's a linear PSU (only transformer, bridge rectifier, and capacitor) then long before it would overheat to the point of catching fire, it would trip a thermal fuse built into the transformer windings, ruining the PSU but causing no fire.

In practice, with a 2A 12V PSU the volume probably shouldn't be set higher than about half way and not even that high for extended listening periods, BUT 2A @ 12V isn't terribly unreasonable for a low wattage amp. Many class A/B computer speaker amps run off less current than that. The key is what the gain if the amp IC is set to, and if not fixed internal to the chip then it might be adjusted to regain full range of the volume knob before it starts clipping.

Vitim (author)2015-05-28

You're correct, you cannot get hundreds of watts with this, you dont need to do any math to figure out that that little heatsink cannot handdle much power, but still more powerful than most home speakers for iPods or your built in TV sound, those radios are thrown away, and classAB amplifiers have very good fidelity. If you find one that is a class D, it could maybe output a few hundred watts, but I guess most of the cheap radios cant afford the extra design complexity and filtering of class D.

ValentinoM (author)2015-05-28

Great job! I loved the retro-engeneering part

Sufyan Ahmed (author)2015-05-23

I hv Sony car radio does it work?

Vitim (author)Sufyan Ahmed 2015-05-23

This one was a sony radio, but you can do it on almost any radio if it doesn't have a single chip inside.

Sufyan Ahmed (author)Vitim2015-05-24

What is Toshiba n all that diagrams?

Toshiba made the power amp chip that was inside the Sony radio.

gmessenger (author)2015-05-28

Great job!

vicesat (author)2015-05-23

too dificult for almost everybody

drinkypoo (author)vicesat2015-05-28

Trivial if you don't fiddle with it for bass. Do filtering in the crossover, if you even use a sub.

sailorondatea (author)2015-05-24

I have a cheap 50x4W head unit. it is rated for 4-8ohm speakers so I used 6ohm speakers from our old hifi.
Problem was car voltage is often around 14V when engine is on and can vary down to 11V. So i guess these are designed for 16V mav... anyway at 14.4V and 4ohm, 50W would mean 3.6A, (14.4V/4R=3.6A => 3.6A*14.4V=51W) SO how much power you need actually depends on how many speakers you want to use and how much current they draw. In my case (2*6ohms stereo) it needed ~5A. (14.4V/6R=2.4A =>2.4A*2speakers=4.8A). that is when I max the volume. So I need some adapter rated for 6.5A min or preferably 10A...

The issue with wall adapter is they are around 3A max and above that they quadruple in price and size, also can heat too much... they only provide around 12-12.5V.. a pc power supply is fine but then it is only 12V...

So I decided on a sealed battery, solar charge controller and 19V laptop adapter.
19V adapter replaces solar panel, cheap controller keeps battery topped. and now it is 14-11.6V range but actually seldom drops below 12.3. everything works great now, no more mute on beats even if i max the volume. :) It is around 100W and actually i can still add 2 speakers but I dont need 200W. it is a pretty neat clear stereo

drinkypoo (author)sailorondatea2015-05-28

It's typical for automotive equipment to accept a wide voltage range, often from 8-18V. Assume more like 10-14V to be safe. The 12V from a PC power supply is fine. And clever idea, but have you checked your output voltage from the solar controller? I've had two super-cheap ones and they both output too-high voltage to the point that they were unsafe, with 19V input I saw output as high as 18V. I had to go up to a $30 Morningstar controller for my homemade 20W motorcycle-battery solar pack.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make stuff
More by Vitim:Recycling old car radio into an audio amplifierRemote Volume Control for Old Stereo AmpMake you own custom remote control for your project
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