Car amplifiers are not a particularly exciting subject to most people. I mean, rarely do you hear people saying things like: “Wow, did you see the new amplifier John installed? It makes his car sound amazing.” Well, this can easily be said about a new car stereo or speakers, because they are visible and you do not need to be an expert or even particularly observant to recognize them. Car amplifiers, on the other hand, suffer from the out of sight, out of mind phenomena, yet they are crucial for a good quality performance of your car audio systems. That is why in this website we will be talking all about finding the best car amplifier available that can go well with your car’s head unit, speakers and/or sub-woofers.
After working in the car audio industry for a long time, I came to realize that the biggest problem facing amplifier buyers is not lack of funds, but insufficient knowledge about what to do to crank up their sound system in the most tailored manner. Most car stereo systems do not come with a separate amplifier and basic audio systems upgrades will also mostly leave out an external amp.
But the truth is, even such systems still include an in-built amplifier in the head unit, some may include even more than one, for example cars with a sub-woofer often contain a dedicated car audio amplifier, otherwise the whole system would not work.
However, the vast majority of these in-built amplifiers are not much to write about because of their low power output. That is the reason why if you turn up the volume beyond a certain threshold in your car, you start hearing some annoying distortion. Well, do not worry since you’ve landed on the right page now. By the time you will be done reading this, you will understand the best ways of how to get rid of this distortion and make your car sound so good you will love every single track you play in it.
Do You Really Need A Best Car Amplifier?
An amplifier is basically a device that accepts a weak signal and amplifies it – this is true for both home and car audio systems.
The power that goes in the amplifier is usually not enough to drive the speakers or subs, that is the reason for the distortion mentioned above, however, the signal that gets out is normally more than enough to get the job done. Therefore, buying a good external amplifier (or better yet: the best car amplifier) can do wonders to the overall quality of your car’s audio system and make your music life way richer.
A car amplifier is at the heart of every car’s stereo whether you are powering up a sub-woofer or a set of speakers. A lot of people often buy the wrong amplifier for their car’s stereo system due to the misunderstanding caused by the different technical terms from manufactures and experts.
This technical information won’t be much of help to someone who does not know anything about car amplifiers but would love to upgrade the quality of music in their car like a professional. That is the whole purpose of this website, to provide you with the most relevant information about the best car amplifiers available, and which ones will fit your car and listening needs for the long haul.
Different people decide to include an external amplifier to their car for different reasons. If you need any of these things: to power a subwoofer, louder sound with no distortion or if you simply want to get the most out of your new speakers, then you need a car amplifier.
To find the best car amplifier, there are some basic things that you will have to learn. First of all, all car stereo systems are made up of three main components; the source or head unit, preamp and power. Amplifiers may contain other additional components and features, of course, but these are the only ones you need to be really concerned about since they affect the overall performance of your audio system in different ways as we shall soon find out.
The Head Unit/Source
The source or head unit is where the sound is being produced, it could be your CD drive, AM/FM, Aux/iPod, DVD, Bluetooth, USB among others. An advanced head unit could contain all the above while most basic head units have AM/FM and CD output only. If a little distortion is none of your concern, then you can do without an amplifier and focus on improving the head unit and speakers instead.
There are a decent number of head units with enough power to output distortion-free sound, and this can be improved further using a high pass crossover. However, head units with powerful in-built amplifiers tend to be expensive, so you may consider going with an external amp as long as your head unit comes with preamp outputs.
This is another very important factor to consider since preamp outputs bypass the in-built amplifier and send clear signals to the external amplifier. If your head unit does not contain preamp outputs, then you will have to find your best car amplifier with speaker-level inputs or to use a speaker to line level converter. These two methods however tend to increase the general distortion; the only other choice is to buy a new head unit.
Buying a new head unit can turn out to be the best decision since if you already have a great one to start with, finding a good car amplifier to go along with it will be much simpler.
Another important differentiating factor between amplifiers is the number of channels they have. They exist in different configurations ranging from mono to six channels, each of this is designed for a specific audio system setup.
In essence, at least one channel is required for each speaker, however, you can decide to use more than one amplifier to power your car stereo. For instance, you can power a subwoofer with a dedicated amp and 4 coaxial speakers with a 4-channel amplifier in the same car. Different speakers will also perform best with specific channel configurations, therefore, each amp should be matched with the speakers that it is meant to power.
You can also consider amplifiers with additional features such as ones dedicated for powering woofers or tweeters that come with in-built low pass or high-pass filters respectively.
The power of an amp is simply the wattage that it can provide to the speakers or woofers. Since the whole point of an amplifier is to power up an audio signal, this is one of its most crucial attributes. It can be broken down into RMS and Peak power. RMS refers to the power that your unit is able to produce consistently, that is, the practical amount of power the amplifier is rated for. In contrast, the peak is the maximum amount of power the unit can produce usually as a burst or in a very short span of time.
The mix up between these two values is certainly a huge pain in the neck, especially for those new to buying car amplifiers. It is easy to get confused by manufacturers’ marketing techniques which hype the peak ratings yet it is the RMS that you should be worried about. To be safe, you should aim for an RMS ranging somewhere between 75% – 150% of the power the speakers are rated for. Overpowering your woofers or speakers a little is much better than underpowering them.
Therefore, for a small car, 75W RMS is normally enough to do a good job but this value can be increased to even 200W or more per channel when dealing with mid-range or advanced audio setups. The rule of thumb when comparing RMS and peak powers is to pick an amplifier with an RMS rating that closely matches with that of your speakers, but also ensure there is enough room/difference between the RMS and peak to avoid easily maxing out your car amplifier.
Now that you understand what an amplifier’s RMS rating means, you can easily use it as a tool to make informed decisions about the specifications and brand that will fit your speakers and subwoofers perfectly. For instance, if an amplifier has an RMS rating of 100W x 4 channels, you will want 4 speakers or subwoofers each with 100W rating. That’s one more step towards finding the best car amplifier for your car.
The last thing that you should know about amplifiers has to do with their resistance. Most amps are designed to work with 2, 4, 8 or 16 ohms.
To ensure the best quality performance and also avoid any damages to your system, the total resistance or ohm load of the speakers/subwoofers should also match those of your amplifiers. Otherwise, if the speaker impedance is too low, the power delivered will be too high and it could end up blowing both your speakers and subwoofers; too high and the available power to your speakers will be reduced.
If this physics is just too much for you, a simple short cut to getting the overall rating is to divide the ohm rating of the speakers with the total number of speakers you are planning to hook up to the amplifiers.
Amps exist in several classes, from mono block, class A, B, D and so forth, all based on the circuit design as well as power output. Class D amps are generally the best route for most practical purposes since they use transistors as switches to control the power distribution in your sound system and they also do not overheat as much as the amps in these other classes.
In addition, class D amps are more compact, light and efficient which makes them produce the best quality sound for most kinds of setups.
The best car amplifier can improve the sound quality of your speakers dramatically and that is why a lot of people are looking for what would suit their car best. For very high output levels, you cannot get around the fact that the best car amplifiers can cost even several times the worth of your head unit.
However, this does not necessarily mean that all expensive car amplifiers are great or even good for your needs. Different people have different needs. You can still greatly improve the sound quality in your car stereo while on a budget. The trick is to know the best car amplifier for your vehicle by matching what you are looking to buy with the speakers and sub-woofers that you already have.
This website will help you find the best car amplifier for you. I know that the choice is not an easy one but with the help of my reviews you should be able to power up your audio in no time.