Car amplifiers help car owners enhance the clarity of the tone coming from an in-vehicle player. Most modern cars have a built-in amplifier, however, these modifications fall short in terms of power and durability. In fact, if you think that a car speaker is emitting flat sound, the amplifier could be the actual reason your tone is not crispy clean.
An external amplifier is a better way to maximize the power of an in-vehicle sound system. It empowers in-vehicle speakers much better, increasing the sharpness of any music you play.
Choosing an amplifier is a challenging process – there are multiple variables to consider when you research the market. Therefore, you would benefit from an extended buying guide that will help you know what to look for when you’re choosing a sound amplifier and review the most popular models you can order online.
How Does a Car Amplifier Work?
Car amplifiers rely on a power supply that keeps the amp circuits up and running. Thanks to a complicated circuitry of wiring, an amplifier boosts the waves emitted by the sound speaker, increasing the clarity of the tone and help the sound disperse better.
Car amplifiers are built from the following components:
- DC-DC supply for high-power switching;
- Ground loop circuits that prevent side noises;
- Wiring that enables speaker crossovers;
- Channel bridging infrastructure;
- Speaker-level input.
These electric wires are typically attached to the main body of the amp, made from durable metal. Such design allows reducing the amount of energy that’s wasted in the form of heat.
Why Do You Need a Car Amplifier?
Most people think that speakers are the powerhouse of in-vehicle players and are the ones responsible for clear low tones, lack of side noises and distortions. The thing is, missing out on an amplifier might reduce the enjoyment of jamming to your favorite tracks.
An amplifier brings out the lower tones and the details of any music you play in the car. Here are the benefits of installing one into your vehicle:
- Clearer sound. An amplifier will clear the tone that’s coming out from the sound system, increasing the power and the reach of sonic waves.
- Higher speaker and subwoofer power. Most newer amplifier models will require an external amplifier to function properly. Default amplifiers don’t allow vehicle owners to fully leverage the power of speakers. External amps, on the other hand, fully bring the best out of the sound system.
- Removing sound distortion. Other than increasing the volume of the sound, external amplifiers add to the clarity of the tone. If you hear sound distortions when increasing the volume of the track, it’s a red flag that there’s a need for amplifier replacement.
How to Choose a Car Amplifier?
Although choosing an amplifier on your own might seem complicated, it really boils down to three major characteristics – channel number, the value of power, and the compatibility with the sound system imbedded inside the car. Let’s go over each of these.
Number of channels
A buyer needs to figure out a number of channels you need to be looking for in an amplifier based on how many speakers are installed in a vehicle. Experienced drivers install a separate channel for every speaker.
To adapt a single-channel model to a multi-channel sound system, consider adding a subwoofer not to miss out on sound clarity and power. Overall, choosing amps with four-six channels allows for the most flexibility and versatility. You can attach only one channel to an in-car speaker or use two channels to attach to a single speaker.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for car amps to emit 100% of speaker power. Having said that, when choosing an amp model for your vehicle, find what the RMS value of your speakers is and look for an amplifier modification with at least 50-75% of that RMS.
The number of channels bridged to a speaker can magnify its power as well. However, not all audio systems allow for audio bridging – most subwoofer manufacturers recommend purchasing an additional mono-amplifier to attach to the unit.
Audio System Compatibility
If you’re fully designing a sound system for a car, choose units equipped with preamplifier outputs with no hesitation. However, if you are working with an existing unit that does not enable preamp output installation, find a model where the inputs are located on a speaker level.
The trouble of rewiring an amp that offers preamp outputs adjusting it to fit your system is not worth the resulting tone improvement anyway.
Where to Install a Car Amplifier?
Wiring an external amplifier is not as hard as it seems – however, choosing a fit location and determining the better route for the wiring are the things vehicle owners need to keep in mind during the installation process.
If your car comes with a built-in amplifier, you can remove it and install a new one in a designated spot. However, it’s not the case for most vehicle models – as a result, you will need to choose a mounting spot for the hardware.
Here are some of the most common amplifier wiring locations:
- Under any passenger seat;
- At the opposite side of the firewall on the passenger side;
- In the trunk of the car.
You should find out the dimensions of these spots right away to choose an amplifier model that fits like a glove. This way, you will save yourself the trouble of having to rearrange the interior of the vehicle.
How Do You Enable and Disable a Car Amplifier?
No vehicle owner wants the amplifier to stay on all the time, even when it’s not needed. To control energy consumption better, use a ‘remote on’ wire. By connecting it to or disconnecting it from the ignition cable, you start or stop running the amplifier. Knowing how to disable an amplifier allows vehicle owners to manage power consumption responsibly and increase the durability of the amp model.
Top 10 Car Amplifiers – Review
There are dozens of popular brands that create car amplifiers. You may have heard of Sony, Pioneer, BOSS, and other amplifier models. How to know which models among these are worthwhile? We tested multiple amplifier modifications and choose the 10 most popular options.
Here’s the full review of the most popular car amplifier models – some of them are hidden gems you never knew existed.
1. ROCKFORD FOSGATE R5000X1D
This mono amplifier is known for its large power output and high durability. The design is minimalistic and compact – you will have no issues fitting this guy under a car seat or in the trunk.
Other intriguing features are an ability to control the model remotely and sound auto-correction – the amp will be able to remove defects from the tract. The amplifier is a go-top option for empowering sound systems with a pair of 4+-ohm subs. The model creates a rich and clear tone.
|• Fits well under the seat|
• Easy installation process
• High power output
|• No wiring kit|
• Underperforming LOC
• Poor customer support
2. JL AUDIO Sound Amplifier JX1000
The platform can empower sound systems with the RMS value up to 1000. There’s built-in bass booster technology that allows music enthusiasts to produce detailed low tones inside the vehicle. Also, there’s a soft start, the system does not click or pop, distracting the driver.
JL Audio is one of the most portable and lightweight amplifier models. That’s why it’s a solid choice for small smart cars. According to the online community of vehicle owners community, JL Audio Amplifier is truly top of the line.
• Huge power boost, especially on the bass level
• High durability
|• Protection mode enables uncontrollably|
• Wires are easy to damage
3. Rockville RXH 3200 Watt
Although the model lacks the output power – you can’t crank up the volume higher than 4 Ohms, it scores high in terms of versatility and high compatibility with most built-in audio systems. There are four A/B channels and one mono amplifier to fit the subwoofers better.
For more personalization, vehicle owners can control the sound filter power in the range of up to 20Hz. Also, the model features studio-level transistors and requires a moderate power supply – the vehicle battery will not be drained quickly.
|• Tight fit for mid-range speakers|
• One of the most affordable models available
• Solid and durable
|• Poor packaging quality|
• No way to amplify the bass level
• Heats quickly
4. BOSS AUDIO SYSTEM Monoblock Car Amplifier Audio Systems R1100M
The amplifier helps bring the most out of your vehicle’s subwoofers. Thanks to high-level inputs, you can easily adjust the amp to factory-made speakers. You can mount the inputs on the low level as well – you can attach the amp to the source unit using RCA cables.
Boss amplifiers offer a solid bass booster – you can adjust the lower tone quality till the beats are as clear as you would want to have them. The unit boasts a portable, sleek and small-size design – it will be easy to find the right wiring spot for it.
|• 6-year warrant from the manufacturer|
• Impressive power range of 1100 Watts
• Mono amplifiers and A/B channels
|• Cheap remote control|
• Residual sound distortion
• Low fuse durability
5. ALPINE Car Amplifier (4-Channel)
The amplifier offers an enjoyable user experience and fast installation. For one thing, you can manage the amp remotely and crank up the bass channel quality. The amplifier is easy to mount into the vehicle – it will fit under the passenger seat just fine, requiring no extra trunk space.
On the flip side, the amp does not support 4-gauge cables thanks to its high compatibility. Naturally, the model falls short in power range – it barely gets to 100 Watt.
|• No sound distortion or static noises on high |
• Straightforward installation process
• Fits most audio systems well
|• Low durability – barely holds for over a year|
• Low security of set screw terminals
• Low power output
6. JL AUDIO Amplifier Class D
The unit is a good fit for speakers both with and without subwoofers. The amplifier provides two speaker systems that take the sound quality to the whole new level. There’s an octave pass with a 12dB range and a low-bass booster. You can reconfigure the filter of the amplifier as a crossover and use it as a three-way There’s an HD-RLC remote control. The body of the model is quite durable, with a black powder finish and the aluminum protective layer for the controls.
|• Lightweight, sits comfortably under the front |
• High input gains that create an open-hall vibe
• Impressive power boost regardless of the compact size
|• Struggles to push out the high tones|
• The sound is fluctuating
• No installation tutorials
7. BOSS AUDIO SYSTEMS 5-Channel System Car Amp
The amplifier has a high volume capacity. Feel free to on a solid 550 Watts for 4 channels, 275 Watts for two-channel speakers. An amp can put out up to 1000 Watts of raw power.
It’s a full-range amplifier model – you will be able to use it to empower subs and the sound speakers. Drivers can benefit from an electrical switch as well that controls the energy consumption and increases the power-saving efficiency of the model. The mounting of the amp inputs is fully adjustable- you can ensure that it fits the original audio system well.
There’s a considerable bass boost as well.
|• Impressive level of low-tone power|
• Stylish LED lighting
• Variable control of inputs
|• Fifth channel is unreliable|
• Balancing the bass and tweeters out
• Heats and shuts off after 2-3 hours of running
8. PIONEER Mono Amplifier GM-D8601
Pioneer is one of the most compact amplifier models a car owner can find. It is considerably smaller than most GM models on the market -that’s why there’s more installation versatility – the unit is not noticeable inside the vehicle.
To use the unit comfortably, you don’t have to get a head-level input. The manufacturing company has built the speaker-level input into the system. Thus, you will be safe from the trouble of buying extra adapters and reconfiguring the audio system.
|• Efficient use of the load, little-to-no heating|
• Has an impressive clarity of low and high tones
• No need to add a capacitor
|• Low durability|
• Turns off and on spontaneously
• Small wire terminals
9. MTX Audio Car Amplifier Thunder Series
This amplifier is designed to maximize the capacity of your subwoofers. Due to the small size, the unit will fit most cars like a glove. Class D circuits protect the unit from losing power as heat. There’s a manageable control panel – you can increase or reduce the power of lower tones tailor your preferences.
A model is empowered with an anti-distortion filter that removes side noises from the track increasing the sound quality. It’s recommended to use the filter jointly with a vented enclosure.
|• Has enough power to sustain |
• Solid protection mode
• Small and easy to install
|• No bass remote|
• Below-average quality of filter capacitors
• No gain control adapter
10. BOSS AUDIO SYSTEMS PL 3000 Planet Audio Car Amplifier
The amplifier is by far the most powerful model on the list, with the 3000-Watts output. You can boost the bass manually, benefit from a phase controller, and a filter for that increases the tone clarity exponentially. The model is empowered by the D class technology and is highly energy-efficient.
The unit takes the subwoofer power up a notch as opposed to a standard amplifier. You can crank the bass and control the gain – such a high level of customization definitely adds joy to the user experience.
|• High power output|
• Sleek and stylish look
• No sound distortions
|• There are occasional humming and static |
• Kinky bass adjuster
• No bass knob
When choosing a car amplifier, aim to find a unit that would fit the interior of the car and is easy to install. Other than its skyrocketing power and RMS values, settle for units that give you more power over high and low tones control, those that come with supersonic filters, and remote controls. These little details will enhance your listening experience exponentially. Also, if possible, find out if a seller offers a warranty.
Since not all models are packaged securely, there’s a risk of ending up with a damaged unit right away – contact the seller and find out if a refund is possible before ordering an amplifier.
By following the tips we listed above, you will not struggle with choosing a durable amplifier unit for a car. A good amplifier can last for years and take the boredom away from driving.