Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Feb. 9, 2018

Reworking your car’s sound system? A quality amplifier is the life source of your sub woofer and speaker system; it provides control for bass, speaker output, distortion, and optimizes your equipment to run at full capacity. There’s a ton of information that goes along with understanding and managing your sound system; we’ve found the best amplifiers for your car, and provided everything you need to know about them. It’s time to strap in, and turn it up.

The Best Car Amplifier

Top of our list of car amplifiers, this one works with both factory installed and aftermarket source units. The chassis is small and simple, and the power output is suitable for a wide range of sound systems. Using the phase switch, you can get the subs working well alongside the other speakers.

One of the best features of this car amplifier is just how rich and deep the bass notes are left seeming. There are sometimes acoustic anomalies when you are in a car environment, but the Remote Punch Level Control helps to correct this problem.

Key Features
  • 150 watts RMS
  • On-board Punch EQ
  • Stealth top-mounted control panel
Specification
  • Brand Rockford Fosgate
  • Model R250X1
  • Weight 5 pounds

Some amp systems just come with far too much fuss; this model gives you straightforward, simple access to dials and inputs. 300 RMS is evenly distributed between your speakers, drowning you in the sound. If you pay close attention to crisp sound – not just the overall volume of the music – you’ll appreciate Alpine’s attention to detail. 

Users have been able to enjoy a crossover of multiple speaker systems without worry; Alpine is compatible with just about any make/brand of speaker. If it outputs sound, they’re built to adapt. This amp is rated at 13 watts per channel, recommended at 2 OHMs. This compact sizes allows you to put your amp system just about anywhere.

Key Features
  • Same power as competitors but with 40% the size
  • 75W / 300 total RMS
  • Simplistic interface w/ attractive price
Specification
  • Brand Alpine
  • Model ALPINE-MRV-F300
  • Weight 5 pounds

If you focus a great deal on the clarity and vibe of your bass, you’ve found your next match. Rockford comes back again with their Fosgate Prime, the optimal bass-boosted amplifier to contour to your other speakers/speaker system.

You get a full warranty on parts and labor, as well as a simplistic interface that’s truly plug and play once you get it installed. Other Rockford users have used all the rest, but keep coming back to Rockford for its impressive sound quality and reliable output. Avoid overheating and fried circuitry while utilizing the small frame and easy installation.

Key Features
  • Unique integrated protection prevents surges/circuits being damaged
  • On-board punch equalizer
  • World-class bass boost
Specification
  • Brand Rockford Fosgate
  • Model R1200-1D
  • Weight 7.83 pounds

Superior sounds quality and reliable performance are combined in this car audio power amplifier. Improved bass is an important feature that many people are looking for when they invest in a car amplifier, and this one enhances both the impact and detail.

Another great feature of this sound system is its versatility. In fact, you can hook it up to pretty much any system. Protecting all the connections and controls is a aluminium cover, which makes the installation look both neat and professional.

Key Features
  • Calls D amp design
  • Variable low-pass filter
Specification
  • Brand Kenwood
  • Model KAC-9106D
  • Weight 6.17 pounds

Another popular product, this amp is slim and petite, which means that it fits nicely into a wide variety of small areas. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it is not a powerful amp. Many people have raved about how well it enhances the sound in their vehicle.

Also, people have talked about how easy the amp is to install in their car, which is a nice feature if you are not all that technically-minded. One of the features is a variable bass boost, so you can set it according to your preferences.

Key Features
  • Variable Bass Boost
  • Soft start turn-on
Specification
  • Brand JL AUDIO
  • Model JX1000/1D
  • Weight 4.41 pounds

Favored highly by many audio enthusiasts, this mono subwoofer amplifier has its own remote bass boost control. Since it is compact in size, the installation options are versatile. While there has been an improvement in power output capability, they are much smaller than previous models, which is a win-win on both counts.

Key Features
  • Class D digital amplifier
  • Remote bass boost control
Specification
  • Brand Pioneer
  • Model GMD8601
  • Weight 6 pounds

Take your audio by the horns with Rockford’s front-installed amplifier system. Each outputs 75 RMS apiece, coming together to deliver  truly thunderous sound. You get DC inputs along the front of this system, which is installed near your rear-facing stereo system – you get a full one-year manufacturer warranty as well.

Even with four channels, Rockford’s model stays immensely cool while pushing the envelope on each internal component. Negative distortion is naturally reduced while energy efficiency ensures you’ll receive a level performance from each speaker. The physical built of this amplifier is small, giving you the option to hook it up where you need to.

Key Features
  • Four channels mean you’ll never need a larger system
  • 300 total RMS
  • High and low DC inputs give control
Specification
  • Brand Rockford Fosgate
  • Model PBR300X4
  • Weight 3.04 pounds

For the boost to your factory system or the core component to your entirely new speaker network, Alpine comes to the rescue – just be certain your factory equipment can handle it if you’re going that route. There’s no “pop-on” or off noise at all; complete silence during use, so you can just enjoy your music and nothing else.

This sleek, sharp design packs immense power and is compatible with just about every speaker system on the market. If you’re looking to connect your older speakers up to Alpine’s model, you’ll be good to go. Versatility and reliable, consistent power are just a few of the reasons Alpine’s model is one of the most popularly-installed amps today.

Key Features
  • Quick-connect speaker connection technology
  • Front panel controls on this stackable design
  • 100W RMS X 4
Specification
  • Brand Alpine
  • Model PDX-V9
  • Weight 7.05 pounds

They call it thunder for a reason – with immense RMS power, the most on our list, you get a serious boost to every component. It’s like your car amplifier is on some serious adrenaline. Between pricing, installation, sizing and power, users are blown out of the water every single time.

Your channels won’t bump out – 100% control and reliability with no static or “chatter” whatsoever. MTX focuses on the core components instead of a flashy exterior, so you get what you want out of this purchase – powerful sound, crisp quality, and no compromising.

Key Features
  • Selectable bass boost; turn it of or off to your liking
  • 1000 W RPS
  • Simple to install with any basic amp wiring kit
Specification
  • Brand MTX
  • Model THUNDER1000.1
  • Weight 5.15 pounds

Subwoofer control mixed with four speakers on the same system – what more could you ask for? With XD700 at the helm, you get more controls over your amplifier settings, truly tuning your music into your style, while upholding XD’s premium quality crisp sound.

These dimensions make it a breeze to install. Normally, users run into problems with any 5-channel system installation, which is exactly what XD wanted to fix. Includes a front and rear frequency channels and a damping factor for your sub channel, and easy mounting brackets.

Key Features
  • Excellent for use in compact cars or larger trucks/SUVs
  • Full range of control over every aspect of your amp
  • Easy installation compared to most other 5-channel systems
Specification
  • Brand JL Audio
  • Model XD700/5
  • Weight 6 pounds

Mono subwoofers have their advantage, and JL Audio ensure that those attributes take the spotlight. With power plus quality, you get up to 600 watts RMS, suited for both cars and trucks alike. This system slips beneath your set with ease of use for wiring up to the dash, minimizing vibrations while delivering killer sound.

You get compatible with numerous types of subwoofers and speakers for ultimate versatility on your unique sound. This model does not include a wireless remote, so all function changes will have to be made manually. Enjoy suppel power to back your tunes with JL Audio’s Slash.

Key Features
  • 600 Watts RMS
  • Low-pass filter
  • 4-gauge power and ground lead
Specification
  • Brand JL Audio
  • Model SLASH 600/1V3
  • Weight 13.5 pounds

Best Car Amplifier Buying Guide and FAQ

When you’re dealing with sound equipment, there are near infinite things to get into in terms of dcb, RMS power, and everything in between. Let’s get into every detail you could possibly need to worry about when you’re deciding which car amplifier is right for you, and some frequently asked questions to clear the air.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Car Amplifier

There are a lot of working parts to your new audio system, so let’s break them down piece by piece and showcase what you should be looking for in a car amp.

  • ChannelsThese play into your decision majorly. We’ll get into these more below, but the main difference between channels are power, audio quality, and heat.
  • Power This is where you start getting into the logistics of RMS and peak performance. Power is everything; it’s one of the three main reasons behind any car amp purchase. Not having enough power to back your amp is a huge mistake.
  • SizeAre you going for under-the-seat amplifiers, or filling up half of your trunk? Either way is fine, but it will impact cost and performance, so choose wisely.

Q: What Kind of Car Amplifier Should I Get?

Watch it – this step’s a doozy. There are essentially six different types of car amplifiers you can get, so it depends on what works best for you. Each one of these different degrees of amplifiers are basically measurements of power. Let’s break them down by type:

Mono Channel
Also known as class D amplifiers, these tend to produce a bit more power than their older brother – the dual channel model. Class D amplifiers utilize multiple transistors, however, they are generally either in an on or off position – there’s not a lot of wiggle room here, so you’ll end up with a load of sound, or nothing at all.
You get a lot of distortion with mono channel speakers, despite the fact that the sound passes through a filter. Overall, they’ll do the trick, they’ll refrain from pushing out a lot of heat, but they’re mostly used solely to power a subwoofer and don’t show a lot of promise on their own.

Dual Channel
You can power two speakers to get more of a surround sound output, and can also handle subwoofers with ease. These are optimal for trucks or vehicles with no trunk space; you’d put these beneath your seats. You can use both channels to power one speaker/subwoofer for maximum output.

Three Channel
You get two types of circuitry in one amplifier, making this perfect for trucks or SUVs with no room in the trunk to spare.

Four Channel
This is when you get into the big leagues. You can pack a full speaker system and support it with four channels; these are ideal for those wishing to turn their trunk area into an audio arena.

Five Channel
In the same way that a three channel system works, a five channel is really four channels, plus one that powers the subwoofer. Odd-numbered systems can sometimes be a pain, so be sure that this is something you really want/fits with your vision before you commit to a purchase.

Six Channel
You won’t see a lot of six-channel amplifier systems out there on the market. These are mostly found in large SUVs or Humvees for maximum power, sound, and audio quality.

Is 2 or 4 OHM Better in a Car Amp?

This gets a little into it, so here goes everything – your amplifiers are the power source for your music, which are relied upon by subwoofers and your speaker system. Your amplifier compresses electrical currents in its circuitry, outputting different watt numbers. Those differing watts are used to identify your OHM, and what the result will be.
Let’s say that your amp produces 100 watts of power, and that comes through a 4 OHM speaker. It’s going to produce 200 watts of power for a 2 OHM speaker. Using those basic principles will help you identify exactly what’s going on in your sound system.
Now, which one is better? The higher your OHM, the better – some models may even include up to 8 OHM. This depends on the wiring providers to your subwoofer, transferring everything into a “load,” sort of like the language that your subwoofer will understand.
More OHM = more capabilities, but also, in most cases, requires more wiring. Depending on how hardcore you want to go here, you may want to opt for a 2 OHM to get excellent sound without sounding like a mobile dancefloor.

Max (Peak) vs RMS Power

Let’s identify what each of these actually mean, and get a firm grasp on the key differences between the two.

Max Peak – The grand total of how much wattage your speaker can handle in bursts. Your speaker is going to output various electrical levels at different times, peaking at sharper points in your audio. Your max peak should be ready to handle it.

RMS Power – This is how much continuous, steady power your amp can run at a time. Your RMS power is better equipped to identify and manage your most frequent wattage use.

In a nutshell, they’re both important metrics for measuring the sound that comes out of your new amplifier, and what your system is going to do with that sound. If you run music that’s too high on wattage and your peak performance can’t handle it, you could end up damaging your equipment.

What Role Does a Car Amp Play?

When you hear about hooking up a fantastic sub(woofer) or epic speaker system, they both rely on the amplifier for power and performance. Without an amp, you’re dead in the water.

Where Do I Mount my Car Amp?

Get ready for a flashback to the 90s. For the most part, depending on the size of your amplifier, you’re going to want to stash it and hook it up in the trunk. Some amplifiers will be better off stored beneath seats (usually the passenger seat since the driver’s seat will have more mechanical/automatic parts).

If you’re going to go with the trunk route, here are a few things you should know before installing your new amplifier:

  1. Get an Amplifier Wiring Kit

You’ll have to pay attention to the gauging, but any wiring kit is going to be of significant importance to you. When you go with a well-rounded kit, you get additional power fuses, lengthy (17 feet on average) wiring, most comprised of the standard copper clad aluminum, and more.

  1. Don’t Bolt it Down

Sounds crazy, but here’s the low-down: we’re all about enhancing your car, not prohibiting it – bolting your amp to the metal chassis of your car, specifically, the inside of your trunk, is going to cause major issues. Vibrations will rattle the entire body, mimicking engine/fuel injector problems, so you won’t be able to identify other issues with your ride. On top of that, it produces an aggravating atmosphere, which isn’t the reason you’re looking to buy a car amplifier.

  1. Never Mount Upside-Down

If you’ve heard the buzz that it produces a superior sound, you may be right. However, it also traps and projects heat which can damage your amplifier, as well as overheat your trunk. Too much heat can fry circuits, which isn’t what you’re going for.

Sources:

  1. Car Stereo Amplifiers – HowStuffWorks
  2. How to Build a Car Audio Amplifier – It Still Works

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