What is a Car Amplifier?

What does a car amplifier do? Car stereo amplifier is a device that boosts electric signals coming from a CD player, radio, and other sources of sound, to power subwoofers and speakers. Since in-built amplifiers are usually relatively weak, the drivers who need a louder and deeper sound with profound bass install an additional digital car amplifier. High-quality models don’t cause sound distortion, ensure better sensitivity and response.

Types of Car Amplifiers

Typically, amplifiers are divided into four major classes:

  • Class A devices ensure low distortion of sound and a high output, but they are huge and emit much heat because they are always on. It’s a versatile variant, but can be unsuitable for some cars.
  • Class B amplifiers are smaller and produce much less heat (they are automatically switched off when there’s no signal coming), though they can potentially distort signals and have a low audio fidelity. They are perfect for car applications.
  • Class AB is the golden middle of the above-mentioned variants, that’s why they are most commonly used in car audio systems. Although there’s always current going through the device, its power is adjusted accordingly.
  • Class D is often considered to be the best car audio amplifier because they quickly switch current on and off and ensure excellent performance. Although many mono subwoofers use amplifiers of this class, they are also suitable for full-range speakers.

Product Comparison Table: Best Car Amplifier

 

Skar 4-channel amplifier

Skar Audio

BOSS 1100 Wt car amplifier

BOSS Audio

Rockford

Rockford

Planer Audio car amplifier

Planet Audio

Alpine compact car amplifier

Alpine MRV-F300

Pioneer car amplifier

Pioneer 

Zeus Hifonics 2400 W car amplifier

Hifonics

Power Output 560 W 1100 W 500 W 600 W 50 W 1200 W 2400 Wt
Class AB AB D AB D FD D
Channels 75 Watts x 4 Channels  2 Ohm x 1 Channel 500 Wt x 1 Channel 4 Ohm x 1 Channels or 2 Ohm x 2 channels 4 Channels x 2 Ohm or 4 Ohm 4 Channels 1 Channel x 4-1 Ohms
Dimensions 7 x 19.5 x 3 inches 10.4 x 9.1 x 2.3 inches 10.5 x 11.8 x 4.2 inches 7.5 x 10 x 2.4 inches 13 x 9.1 x 4.3 inches 4.9 x 13.3 x 11 inches 17.3 x 10 x 2.4 inches
Warranty 2 years 6 years 1 year 6 years Not specified 2 Years 1 Year
Weight 7.3 pounds 4.4 pounds 5.35 pounds 5 pounds 5 pounds 6.5 pounds 10.71 pounds
Mode of functioning Variable sounding: features low pass filters and bass boost Variable: low pass crossover and bass boost Low pass control & punch level control – perfect for low and bass sounding Variable low pass crossover, fixed high pass crossover, and bass boost Both low & high sounding Both low & high sounding All modes would be perfect for low frequencies
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Interesting Facts

The scheme of amplifier connection with car’s audio system

  1. To check whether you need an amplifier, turn off the music in your car with windows and doors fully closed. If there are distortion and lack of clarity, you need upgrading.
  2. Oxygen-free copper wires are the best for amplifiers, while Copper Clad Aluminum wires should be used carefully.
  3. Impedance (the resistance to the electrical current) is an important factor: the lower it is, the less distortion you’re likely to face.
  4. It’s crucial to use amplifiers corresponding with specifications of the original audio system. Strong amplifiers connected to low-power systems can easily burn.
  5. The best car amplifiers have THD (total harmonic distortion) up to 1%.

How We Chose Car Amplifiers

To compile this list, we read every car amplifier review thoroughly and found the best 5 channel car amplifier models plus two more worthy models. The devices were connected to car audio systems of different vehicles: we analyzed the quality of sound, consumed power, distortion, impedance, and compatibility with car models. Users’ feedback was also taken into consideration.

Top-7 Car Amplifiers 2018

Find the best amplifier for car: here we review reliable and efficient models from different manufacturers. They are suitable for different car models – your choice should be based on the power of your car audio system, type of music you listen to, and your budget. On our car amplifier brands list, you will surely find something suitable.

Skar 4-channel amplifier

Skar Audio RP-75.4AB Full-Range MOSFET Class A/B 4 Channel Amplifier, 560W

This is a pretty efficient and reliable amplifier that comes with rapid misfit power supply and 4-level protection, even if it performs at its maximum. The model is versatile as it allows adjusting multiple variables (hpf, gain, bass eq, lpf, crossover and other features). Since it’s an AB class car subwoofer amplifier, it’s designed to produce a clean and high-quality sound without much power consumption and distortion. It operates through 4 channels with 4 Ohm impedance outperforming some models of the same price range and would be perfect for listening to music at medium loudness.

Pros:

  • 4-channel amp;
  • AB class – a trade-off between power consumed and quality of sound.

Cons:

  • needs efficient fans to prevent overheating;
  • filters aren’t good enough for some users.
BOSS 1100 Wt car amplifier

BOSS Audio R110M Riot 1100 Watt, 2/4 Ohm Stable Class A/B

Boss car amplifier is compact and low-cost, but very productive: maximum output of 1100 W allows getting maximum of your vehicle’s audio set without a hitch. It’s capable of both high and low outputs and produces a wide range of sound frequencies while boosting bass by up to 18db. This best cheap amplifier car also comes with a remote control for better user experience. Thanks to special transistors, a user can easily switch conduction modes and get the optimal level of output. Besides, it also features automatic shut-off protection in case the amp gets too hot. This is a model with a truly superior price/quality ratio.

Pros:

  • produces a wide range of sound frequencies;
  • non-expensive and compact;
  • has the automatic shut-off for better protection;
  • has a remote control.

Cons:

  • despite manufacturer’s promises, s prove that it’s better for low output;
  • distorts sound at high output.
Rockford

Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

A top-rated mono amplifier for car, Rockford Fosgate R500X1D is a reliable and powerful model. It comes with protection against short circuit and over-current, can be muted, has a MOSFET power charge, as well as phase switching and the thermal sensor. Besides, there’s a remote control, so if you’ve been searching for a Bluetooth car amplifier, it can be a nice alternative. Although it’s a 1-channel amplifier, users rave about the quality of sound produced and its energy efficiency. If you don’t want to recharge the battery often, this is an optimal solution. Using the punch level control, users can adjust bass sounds to enjoy the perfect driving experience. Thanks to phase switching, you can get maximum of the subs and all other speakers reaching professional sounding.

Pros:

  • saves energy and automatically switches modes;
  • has a remote control;
  • comes with tools for installation;
  • high level of protection.

Cons:

  • relatively expensive;
  • 1 channel only.
Planer Audio car amplifier

Planet Audio AC600.2 Anarchy 600 Watt, 2 Channel, 2/4 Ohm Stable Class A/B

Planet Audio car amplifier is another proof that a cheap and small amplifier can produce a heart-trembling bass. This AB-class model can power up a pair of 4 Ohm subwoofers, or two pairs of 2 Ohm subwoofers, which is enough for lovers of loud music. Sound modes can be easily customized: there’s a high pass crossover, bass boost, and low pass crossover. Thanks to bridge channels, it’s even more flexible. This is the best budget car amplifier so far because it produces a loud and clear sound while providing total freedom of customization: with the help of switchable input sensitivity control, a driver can achieve the balance between the quality of sound and the power consumed. 

Pros:

  • 2-channel amp;
  • has a number of features for sound customization;
  • features the automatic shut-off;
  • comes with variable bass boost;
  •  

Cons:

  • overheats and shuts off quickly during hot weather;
  • some users complain that bass knob doesn’t work properly.
Alpine compact car amplifier

Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier, 50 Watts RMS x 4

Let not 50 Watt power outage confuse you – Alpine amplifier is a small device that concentrates power and energy. This is the best car amplifier for bass of D class, which is why users praise its energy efficiency and performance. The amp is enough to power 4 speakers with a higher power output (80-250 Watt). The model is compact and easy in installation thanks to advanced snap-on terminal covers and features 40% smaller chassis.

Pros:

  • very powerful and efficient;
  • 4-channel;
  • compact;
  • maintains 2 Ohm and 4 Ohm speakers.

Cons:

  • doesn’t have automatic shut-off, but overheats;
  • expensive.
Pioneer car amplifier

Pioneer GM-D8604 Class FD 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier Hifonics ZRX2416.1D

Pioneer car amplifier was created for advanced drivers and audiophiles who are ready to pay for what they want. Being an FD-class amplifier, this model produces both high and low sounds efficiently and clearly. Its versatile design allows for trouble-free installation, and the amp works well with 1-8 Ohm impedance speakers. Maximum 1200 W power outage over four channels is more than enough for filling any vehicle with ground-shaking bass and deep melodic sound. To top it off, Pioneer is the best car amplifier in terms of quality and reliability – thousands of users prove that.

Pros:

  • high maximum power outage;
  • 4-channel;
  • easy to install.

Cons:             

  • users complain that not all channels work.
Zeus Hifonics 2400 W car amplifier

Zeus Mono Class-D Subwoofer Amplifier, 2400-Watt

Zeus offers the best car stereo amplifier for lovers of aggressive bass and incredibly loud music. This model features a very low harmonic distortion and, being a D-class device, has a very well-thought design. Its sink is created for efficient heat dissipation, and surface-mount design makes it easy in installation. MOSFET power supply guarantees optimal power consumption. Besides, there are diagnostic light indicators, protection against overload and short circuits. All that is topped off by RCA outputs and inputs.

Pros:

  • very powerful and efficient;
  • well-thought design and simple installation;
  • protective features.

Cons:

  • expensive;
  • 1 channel only.

How to Use and Install a Car Amplifier?

In order to install an amplifier, you don’t need to visit a mechanic’s shop and pay huge sums for the service – it can be done manually. Just make sure that you buy an amp with a corresponding amount of supported channels and impedance. Some devices come with detailed instructions showing how to install a car amplifier, but if there’s no manual in your kit, videos and guides will help you.

Preparations

Before you start, make sure that together with the amplifier, you get all necessary equipment and materials:

  • a gauge kit with different wires;
  • wire cutters or other tools for splitting;
  • suitable screws;
  • switch.

Some amplifiers already come with wires – that will save your time and ensure you have suitable components.

Connect to the battery

How to connect car amplifier? Security is a top priority: to prevent a shortcut, switch off the battery, and connect the positive wire to it. Secure the fuse to the battery leaving some space (up to 10-15 cm).

Wire the amp

After you’ve connected the positive wire, lead it to the amp and connect to the slot that says “+12”. Don’t forget to hide the wiring. Connect the short ground wire to the chassis near amp’s position. Wire’s other end should be connected to the GND amp’s slot. The blue wire is connected between “rem” slot and the car radio (wire colors should match).

Now put the fuse into the fuse holder to secure it. Put the negative power wire in its place: now the amp must be on when the radio is working. Now you need to wire the subwoofers and RCA cables to the amplifier. This way, you need to connect as many channels as the number of the speakers (subs).

 

Our Recommendations

We’ve tested seven top-rated car audio amplifiers and concluded that there are two models truly worth your attention: a budget BOSS amplifier that can power up four channels and ensure excellent sound without much distortion, and Alpine amplifier that combines efficiency with safety and clarity of deep bass sound. The choice depends on your own preferences and requirements: some users can go with a low-budget device, while others may need an advanced amplifier with superb characteristics and great customization options. If you have extra $100-150, a D-class amplifier would be worth all spending. That’s the most energy-efficient solution so far.

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