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How to Choose The Best Car Amplifier for Your Car

Car amplifiers are designed to improve the quality of sound produced by the vehicle’s audio system. Nowadays most cars are offered with some sort of built-in amps. These amplifiers are normally fixed into the head unit and aren’t external. Did you know that built-in amplifiers are not as powerful as some people think? Sometimes we end up blaming our speakers if they fail to crank up the volume to our expectations.

If your speakers are the sort that produces the kind of some stodgy and flat music, then there are high chances that the problem isn’t the speakers but the amplifier. External amplifiers are built specifically for those who really care about their car’s sound system. They bring life to your speakers and sub-woofers hence creating that sharpness and excitement.

Boss audio system

Why do I need an amplifier?

Yes, some speakers are better off even without an amplifier. The question now comes, why add an external amplifier to your car’s sound system? Amplifiers are a very important part of the whole audio system, especially for those who want to breathe life into their car’s sound system. Whether you run your sound system softly to allow for conversation or wide open, an amplifier brings that detailed excitement. Let’s look at a few benefits of including an amplifier in your music system.

  • Enhanced sound quality – Adding an amplifier to your vehicle’s sound system will provide you with a better and clean power source that is capable of driving your speakers with much ease.
  • Unlike the built-in amp that comes with the dashboard stereo, external power amplifiers are not limited by the space that is available within your car. This translates to a more defined sound at all volume levels.
  • Best for powering upgraded car speakers and sub-woofers – A factory amp system may not give the best to your upgraded speakers or sub-woofers. High-quality aftermarket speakers systems require a higher amount of power for them to deliver peak performance. This can only be achieved best using external amp systems. Sub-woofers require relatively more power than the factory amp units. It is therefore important to install external amplifiers.

Choosing the Best Car Amplifier for Your Vehicle

You can purchase a car amplifier from local car audio shops, internet outlets such as Amazon and eBay, or big stores. Before buying an amplifier, it is always important that you the different types of amplifiers available in the market. Most important, you should know the right kind of amplifier best for your vehicle. Purchasing a perfect amplifier may be overwhelming considering that they are a variety of amplifiers in the market today. Whether you’re considering upgrading your existing amp or install a new one, there are certain factors that it is important to pay attention to.

The following are some of the factors you need to consider before settling on the best amplifier.

  • Channels
  • Power
  • System compatibility
  • Amplifier class/ Rating​

Aftermarket Car Amplifier Installation

Amplifier rating or class

Car amplifiers are usually categorized based on their ratings. These ratings or classes are related to the features and design of the system’s electronic circuit. The ratings are given depending on certain characteristics that are related to the amplifier’s energy efficiency, sound performance, and operating temperature. The classes of car amps are Class A, Class B, Class AB, and Class D amplifiers. The following table shows the different classes of car amplifiers and their advantages and disadvantages.

Class A Amplifiers

What I Like

  • Reproduces the perfect high-frequency sound

What I Don’t Like

  • High operating temperatures and are energy inefficient

Class B Amplifiers

What I Like

  • Low operating temperatures and are energy efficient

What I Don’t Like

  • Sound distortion at high frequencies

Class AB Amplifiers

What I Like

  • Reproduces high-frequency sound
  • They are energy efficient
  • Low operating temperatures

What I Don’t Like

  • Peak performance slightly lower those of than Class A car amplifiers

Class D Amplifiers

What I Like

  • They are energy efficient
  • Features low operating temperatures
  • Have excellent low-frequency sound reproduction

What I Don’t Like

  • They have poor high-frequency sound reproduction

Class AB amplifiers are the most preferred because it offers the advantages of both Class A and Class B amps without significant trade-offs. Class D amps are ideal for low-frequency sound applications.

rockford fosgate


A channel refers to the electronic circuit that is used to provide power to a single speaker in a car’s sound system. Car amplifiers featuring multiple channels are ideal for powering multiple speaker units. The important question is should ask yourself is, what is the right number of channels suitable for your car’s sound system. Amplifiers are offered in various configurations. The number of channels depends on the number of speakers connected to your sound system. This simply means that each speaker that you need to amplify requires its own channel. If you’re intending to add a sub-woofer to an already existing system, then a single amp can get the job done. You can configure some of the car amps with multiple channels for specific applications Mono amplifiers with class D’ rating are specifically designed to consume less power and emit less heat when amplifying woofers.

The most versatile units are those with 2, 4, or 6 channels. A car amplifier with two channels can be used to power 2 woofers, 2 coaxial speakers, or can be bridged to run a single sub. 4-channel amplifiers are the best option when you want to add subwoofers to your system and enhance the power directed to the rear full-range speakers. In such a case, it is very easy to run the full range speakers, each with its own channel, and bridge the remaining other 2 channels to power the subunit. You can also power all 4 coaxial speaker units with the same amp and then designate a separate a different mono amp for the sub-woofer. You should note that component systems are usually more complicated and you may require more than a single amplifier and external crossovers.


Never compromise on power when selecting your car amp units. It is important that you don’t under-power your car’s sound system speakers. Most people tend does the mistake of purchasing the amp first before buying the amp. It is recommended that you go the other way round. You should pick the speakers first and then determine the perfect amp suitable to power them. If you’re operating with the pre-installed factory speaker units, it is recommended that you determine the RMS value and then select an amplifier capable of delivering a minimum of between 755 to 150 % of the RMS figure. Power is also crucial if you want to operate off the same amplifier that you’re using for powering the speakers. It may be a great deal to bridge 3 channels so as to provide sufficient power required for running a sub but it isn’t always excellent for every situation. If your amplifier is not capable of matching the required sub-woofer power, then you may consider going for a separate mono amplifier that can get the job done perfectly.

System compatibility

If you’re planning to craft a car audio system from scratch, then you have no other option other than buying a head unit with preamp outputs together with an amplifier featuring line-level inputs. Installing an unamplified signal to your amp gives you a very clear sound. However, most of the pre-installed factory head units and some aftermarket units don’t come with preamp outputs for connecting to an external amplifier. If your existing head unit falls within this category, then you will have to go for an amplifier with speaker-level units. This is also capable of reproducing excellent sounds than the one you’d get minus the external amplifier. It will also save you from messing with additional adapter installation and wiring.

Aftermarket car amplifier installation

You don’t need rocket science to install your car amp unit. It isn’t a hard task as you may have initially thought. All you need to do is to find the ideal locations to fix the amplifier and the best way you’ll route the wires. When shopping for a car amp unit, it is important that you determine an ideal location for fixing the hardware and routing the wires. Because most cars usually don’t come with pre-installed amps from the company, you may be forced to find a place within the vehicle to fit the amp. With that in mind, it’s crucial that you take some measurements before going to buy a car amplifier. Some of the most common locations to install an amp includes under a seat, in the vehicle’s trunk, or against the passengers-side firewall. You need to check the measurements of these spaces before proceeding to purchase the amp.


Selecting the right car amp is important when you want to improve your vehicle’s sound system. You cannot get quality and clear sound from under-powered speakers. Instead, they’ll ruin your listening experience. You need to understand that aftermarket full-range speaker units, component speakers, and sub-woofers cannot perfume to their best without a sufficient power supply from the ideal amplifier. The speakers can even get damaged if they fail to get enough power.

Featured image credit: Pixabay


car accessories, car amplifier, car audio

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