Whether you’re commuting to work or heading out on a road trip, there’s nothing better than cranking up your favorite tunes. But to truly experience music the way it was meant to be heard, you need more than just a stock car stereo system. Installing aftermarket amplifiers can give you the crisp highs, deep bass, and full volume you need to transform any ride into a rolling concert.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about car amplifiers. You’ll learn how they work, how to choose the ideal models to power your system, and tips for seamless installation. By the end, you’ll be ready to upgrade your car’s audio equipment for incredible sound.
So let’s get started and turn up the music!
What is a Car Amplifier and Why Do You Need One?
In the simplest terms, a car amplifier does exactly what the name suggests – it amplifies the audio signal from your head unit to boost the power delivered to your speakers. Head units and stock stereos often don’t provide enough juice on their own to really make your music shine.
Adding an amplifier allows you to push more watts to door speakers, subwoofers, and other components. The result? More volume with less distortion, even at higher listening levels. Amps also give you the extra power needed to drive large or complex speaker systems.
There are several types of car amplifiers available:
- Multi-channel amps can power multiple speakers, with some supporting 6, 8, or even 10 channels. These are great for comprehensive systems.
- Mono block amplifiers concentrate power in a single channel, making them ideal for subs.
- Digital amps feature digital signal processing for fine-tuning while analog amps take a more basic approach.
- Class D amps are highly efficient, while Class AB amps focus on audio quality over efficiency.
No matter what amp you choose, you can be sure it will take your car audio to the next level!
How to Match Amplifiers and Speakers for Great Sound
Finding the right amp requires some planning and knowledge about the speakers you want it to power. Here are key factors to consider:
- Amplifier power ratings – The two key measurements are RMS power that it can continuously deliver, and peak power for short bursts. Make sure to match RMS power to the RMS handling of your speakers.
- Impedance – Speakers and amps have rated impedance, measured in Ohms. Matching these values prevents issues.
- Sensitivity – Higher speaker sensitivity means they reach full volume with less power. Adjust amp wattage accordingly.
- Number of channels – Choose an amp with enough channels for all speakers, like 2 for components and 1 for a sub.
- Bridging – Bridging combines two channels into one for more power. This can allow driving high-end component speakers.
The goal is ensuring your amp has sufficient power for all speakers without delivering an excessive signal that could cause blowing and other issues. A little headroom is okay and allows you to turn up the volume when needed.
Top 5 Car Audio Amplifiers for High-Performance Sound
Now let’s look at five of the best car amplifiers currently available and what makes them stand out:
1. Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Prime
- 1200 watts RMS at 2 ohms
- Class D mono block design perfect for subwoofers
- Remote bass control knob included
- 3-way protection circuitry for reliability
With brute power delivery and a compact form factor, the Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Prime is a superb solution for bass lovers who want an amplifier dedicated solely to a sub. It packs a massive 1200 watts RMS into a relatively small chassis while still offering useful features like the bass knob.
2. Alpine MRV-M500 V-Power Digital Monoblock Amplifier
- 500 watts RMS x 1 channel at 2 ohms
- Digital amplifier with DSP and adjustable crossovers
- Ultra-hi-speed switching power supply for precision response
- Bass boost and bass EQ for dialing in low end
Those seeking a technologically advanced digital amplifier will appreciate the Alpine MRV-M500 V-Power. The built-in DSP lets you tweak the sound with high precision while the switching power supply delivers instantaneous response. Bass lovers can also dial-in the perfect lows.
3. Infinity REF-5S 5-Channel Amp
- 75 watts x 4 + 300 watts x 1
- 5 channels to power full system
- MOSFET power supply and variable crossovers
- RGB illumination and custom logo etchings
Capable of powering an entire system from door speakers to sub, the Infinity REF-5S is the versatile 5-channel amp that has your sound covered. It combines great power delivery across channels with customizable looks featuring vibrant RGB lighting.
4. Skar Audio RP 2000.1D Monoblock Class D Amplifier
- 2000 watts max power at 1 ohm
- Massive current capacity for subwoofers
- Rugged construction with extruded aluminum heatsink
- High-density military grade PCB
The Skar Audio RP 2000.1D monoblock can unleash some serious bass courtesy of a beastly power supply with huge current capabilities. It’s overbuilt from the ground up with a rugged exterior and military-grade circuit board designed to withstand abuse.
5. JL Audio JX400/4D 4-Channel Amplifier
- 75 watts x 4 at 4 ohms
- Ultra-clean, natural sound with low noise floor
- High-mass aluminum heatsink
- From legendary handcrafter JL Audio
Audiophiles looking for amplification with pristine sonic quality will enjoy the JL Audio JX400/4D. This 4-channel amp delivers ultra-low distortion power ideal for high-end component speakers. JL Audio is revered for American-built amps with superb lifelike sound.
Professional Installation for Seamless Audio Integration
Installing your shiny new amplifier requires some care for optimal performance. Here are some best practices:
- Find a clean, climate-controlled spot to mount the amplifier using proper installation hardware. Many opt for the trunk.
- Use an amplifier wiring kit suitable for the amp’s power needs. This includes the right gauge power and ground wires.
- Carefully route all wiring through the car’s cavities, under panels, to your battery power source. Avoid running wires through cabin areas.
- Set amplifier gain properly to match the voltage specs of your head unit and other equipment. Gain should be tuned post-install.
Proper gain setting and wiring methods prevent noise, distortion, and power issues. Consider having your equipment professionally installed for peace of mind.
Maximize Your Amp’s Potential with Advanced Tips
You can get even more from your car amplifier by using these advanced tricks of the trade:
- Bass remote knobs – Conveniently adjust subwoofer levels from up front using a knob wired to the amp’s remote level input.
- Crossover filters – Built-in or external crossovers prevent distortion by limiting frequencies sent to speakers or subs.
- Identify distortion – Clipping, buzzing, or hissing means you may need to lower gain. Upgrade electrical if issues persist.
- Fix turn-on pops – Install a delay turn-on module to sequence amp power up after source unit turn-on.
- Add ventilation – Prevent overheating by installing small cabinet fans to force air over the amp.
Carefully tuning your gain, adjusting crossovers, and allowing proper airflow keeps your amp performing optimally for years of listening joy.
FAQs About Car Audio Amplification
If you’re not already sold on the benefits of car audio amplifiers, here are answers to some common questions about integrating them into your ride:
Do I need an amplifier if I have a factory car stereo?
Yes! The relatively low-powered head units in most vehicles benefit greatly from amplification. Just be sure your electrical system can support added power draw.
How many amplifiers and channels do I need?
For most systems, a 4-channel amp combined with a mono block sub amp is ideal. More amplifiers can allow finer tuning per speaker. Just avoid going overboard.
Is a huge amplifier overkill for small speakers?
Not necessarily – having ample overhead prevents clipping and allows you to upgrade speakers down the road. Just be sure to adjust gain properly.
Which is better: Class D or Class AB amplifiers?
Class D are highly efficient though some audiophiles think Class AB sound more natural. Try listening to both to see what you prefer. Quality models of either class will work excellently.
What size power and ground wires do I need?
Check the amp wiring kit recommendation and upgrade wire gauge as needed if significantly exceeding the recommendation, especially for large power amps. This prevents voltage drop.
Let the Good Times Roll with Amazing Car Audio
There’s nothing better than rolling down the windows and cranking up the volume on favorite driving tunes. By learning how to select the ideal amplifiers for your speakers and subs, you can easily build an incredible sounding system that makes every trip a joy.
The right combination of quality gear properly tuned and installed can turn even an economy car into a concert hall on wheels. Now get out there and let the good times roll! Consult car audio specialists if you need any guidance selecting components that will work perfectly in your vehicle.