How to Choose the Right Car Amplifier To Buy for 2017
Compared to buying a car speaker, buying an external amplifier might sometimes be a little more intimidating. This is most especially true if you’re a first timer. The car audio system jargon tends to be a little complicated when heard by first timers.
This is because there are lots of factors behind the technology of your car speaker and amplifier together.
If this is your first time installing an external amplifier, you might think “My car already has a built in amplifier.” Yes, it does. However, while that is true, there’s always still room for improvement. Should you want to upgrade your car audio system, we will be giving you tips on how to find the best car amplifier for you.
We will start with the basics about car amplifiers and factors to be looked into when buying one. We also included several brand reviews to help jump start your hunt.
Top 9 Best Car Amplifier On The Market
- Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier
- BOSS Audio AR1500M Armor 1500 Watt Monoblock Amplifier
- BOSS Audio R1100M Riot 1100 Watt Monoblock Amplifier
- Kenwood KAC-M1804 Compact 4-channel Amplifier
- Pioneer GM-D8604 Class FD 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier
- Planet Audio AC1800.5 1800-Watt Amplifier
- Pyle PLMRA400 400-Watt 4-Channel Waterproof Marine/Car Amplifier
- Alpine MRV-M500 Mono V-Power Digital Amplifier
- Lanzar HTG157 3000-Watt 2-Ohm Monoblock Mosfet Amplifier
What is a car amplifier?
This a basic knowledge for the car enthusiasts and music lovers. However, for first timers, there might be lots of myths and misconceptions around it. First off, an amplifier is different from a mixer and an equalizer.
Some might boast about similar features. But then, they are three different things all together. Your car amplifier is somewhat like a boost to your speakers. It increases the electric signal that your speakers might receive. This is done by boosting the voltage of the input signal. In turn, this will also increase the power of the signal.
Again, you might want to ask. Why install another amplifier (or an external amplifier) when your car already has a built in one? The answer is, sometimes you might want or need more. The head space in your dashboard can only accommodate so much a car amplifier’s size.
This is why most of the times, built in car amps are small. Smaller amps mean smaller watts (output) and fewer channels.
What To Look for When Buying Car Amplifiers
Just as we mentioned earlier, car amplifiers might get a little tricky for first timers. You might get carried away by salespeople if you don’t have basic knowledge about car amplifiers. They can only tell you so much about car amplifiers (about your wants and needs). But nothing beats a well-equipped buyer!
So here we listed down basic things you might want to look into when buying car amplifiers. However, all of this will still, of course, boil down to your budget and preferences.
1. The car amplifier size
Size matters. Do you want to stash it somewhere in the back seat? Or your car doors? Make sure first that you’re getting the right size. Forget about good quality amplifiers if they don’t fit perfectly into your chosen slot/location.
Do not ever settle for “a little too big” or “a little too small.” It must fit perfectly. Otherwise, it will only ruin the amplifier or your car interior itself.
This is one of, if not the most important factors. Knowing how much power input or output your car amplifier has is very important. Because this is what will determine if your car amplifier is compatible with the speakers you have in your car.
Find the RMS value of your speakers first. Also, take note if you have a subwoofer separate from the speakers themselves (or a tweeter) and you want it to be powered by your amp as well.
Ideally, a car amp that can produce at least 75 to 150% of your speakers’ RMS value is already good. Remember, too little power can also bust your speakers.
3. How many channels does it have?
Take note of the channels available in the car amp as well as your sound system. Are you using a compound or a full-range sound system? Ideally, your car amp should have enough channels to accommodate your speakers. Even your newly installed subwoofer.
This is why car amps with lots of channels available are versatile. However, if your audio system is minimalist, then it’s probably okay to just stick to the traditional 2-channel amp or a mono amp.
These aren’t all of the factors. However, they cover most of the basics you need to know when buying car amplifiers. Good car speakers mean nothing if the car amp doesn’t have enough juice to empower them.
If you’re up to a long term investment, try investing in more powerful amplifiers and sturdier ones. This is what will help you get the most out of your buy. After all, buying car amplifiers should not be done in haste. If you feel like you need to know more about car amps, don’t hesitate to research on your own or to ask close friends knowledgeable in the field.
Top 9 Best Car Amplifier Reviews
#1 – Rockford Fosgate R500X1D
The Rockford Fosgate R500X1D has a sturdy frame that’s made out of cast aluminum. The control panel also has a stealth top mount for added convenience. Its power supply can reach up until 500W making it a strong and powerful amp. Furthermore, this product has a MOSFET power supply.
The overall performance of the R500X1D is superb. A good reason for this is its Mono-D Amplifier model. This model comes with a remote that gives you better convenience.
- This car amp delivers a very clean bass
- Has plenty of power thanks to its wattage
- Durable amp: It can last you years even if frequently used
- The remote control feature
- Subwoofer control is quite poor and can cause inconvenience
- The LED light can be too bright
#2 – BOSS Audio AR1500M
Although the above product is already powerful at 500W, the Boss AR1500M Armor takes power to a whole different level. The best part about this product is you might be attracted to its 1,500W power supply. That’s a 1000W increase from the Rockford Fosgate product.
Similarly, the AR1500M Armor has a MOFSET supply that’s paired with a monoblock A/B model. This product also has a variable low-pass crossover which lets you mix up the sound and customize it.
- 6-year platinum warranty
- Has a remote subwoofer control
- Plug and play amp, lets you install it easy and fast
- Strong bass feature. It also has a switchable bass boost
- Can have a distortion side effect when you lower the frequencies
#3 – BOSS Audio R1100M
The Boss Audio R1100M has a very sleek and unique design that should attract you immediately. It’s another monoblock amplifier with a variable low pass crossover that lets you customize it nicely. Moreover, the R1100M has an automatic shut-off feature. This feature lets the car amp turn itself off when it becomes too hot. This helps in maintaining the durability of your car amp.
This product also has the variable input control. This lets the amp input to match with the output signal that comes from the head unit. This gives your amp maximum performance.
- Automatic shut-off feature: prevents overheating
- Very easy to install
- The variable low pass crossover gives you added versatility by customizing tunes
- Strong power at 1100W
- Its shallow-mount woofers can give you inconvenience
- Has problems with its fuses when installing
#4 – Kenwood KAC-M1804
The Kenwood KAC-M1804 has durable heat sink design. This comes from its trusty extruded aluminum material. The heat sink design isn’t the only durable part of the Kenwood KAC-M1804, as it also has a conformal-coated circuit board that keeps the internal parts secure. To even make it better, this coating can be used for underwater purposes. Truly, this product is one durable piece.
- Compact 4-channel amp
- Has an improved bass compared to other Kenwood car amps
- Extremely durable
- Waterproof and has a great heat sink feature
- Not entirely noise-free: When you turn it off, you might hear a subtle hissing sound which is also present when in use
- Has problems when it comes to power supply
#5 – Pioneer GM-D8604
The Pioneer GM-D8604 is a Class FD 4-Channel amplifier that’s versatile and good for sound quality. Its wattage is up to 1,200W which gives it a great power supply. You’ll be able to notice the quality of its sound by observing the mids and highs. This is because this product will give you a clean and crisp tone.
It also boasts a versatile installation guide. This gives you many options on how to install this car amp. This is done through the many options that it has for connections.
- Lots of installation options
- Strong power that comes at a relatively low price
- The sound quality it produces is loud and clear
- It’s prone to overheating
- There are problems with its long-term durability
#6 – Planet Audio AC1800.5
The Planet Audio AC1800.5 delivers a strong 1,800W max power. It’s a full-range Class A/B with a MOFSET power supply. Similar to the others, the Planet Audio AC1800.5 has a variable low pass and high pass crossover. This gives you a lot of flexibility since you can customize the sounds that your car amp will produce.
This car amp also has a bass boost for better bass. Moreover, the subwoofer control comes with a remote control. With this, you can also bridge channels for better flexibility and more power.
- Bridgeable car amp gives it added versatility
- Very powerful with a maximum of 1,800W
- Comes with variable crossovers that let you mix things up to your taste
- Remote control amp makes it a lot more convenient for you
- This product might have a lot of distortion if you try to increase the gains
- It can be prone to overheating
#7 – Pyle PLMRA400
One of the first things that you can notice with the Pyle PLMRA400 is its unique design. This car amp is designed to be extremely durable that can withstand both heat and moisture. Speaking of moisture, the Pyle PLMRA400 is the second product that we will be introducing that’s waterproof. Hence, you can use it more for marine applications compared to its competitors.
The speakers of this car amp are also gold-plated. Meanwhile, its heat sink is made from a heavy duty aluminum alloy which strengthens this product’s lifespan.
- Built-in fuse protection
- Features low-level RCA connectors
- Input level control can prevent too much distortion from the car amp
- Some channels can malfunction over time
- Although it aims to lessen distortion, it is prone to humming and hissing
#8 – Alpine MRV-M500
If you are looking for an energy-efficient amplifier, then this one is for you. This amplifier can run for a long time without overheating. Moreover, it also does not take a toll on the car’s battery when it is used for extended periods of time. You can comfortably use it during long drives.
The size of this amp is smaller than usual. You will not have a hard time fitting it into your car. The sound quality is clean and crisp. This product gives you value for your money. Alpine continues to deliver by making their products more reliable and powerful.
- Does not consume much battery power
- It is not prone to overheating
- Compact and lightweight
- Sound output is powerful: bass is very deep
- Knob to control the bass is not included
- Screw terminals might be complicated, can cause problems in the installation
#9 – Lanzar HTG157
This product is great for those on a budget but is still looking for a good amplifier. You can upgrade your sound system without breaking the bank. If bass sounds are one of your top priorities, this product is for you.
It is very versatile since you can adjust it according to the desired sound output. If installed properly, this model will not overheat. The sound quality is impressive for its price point. It is compact therefore finding a suitable place to install it in is not a problem at all.
- Very budget-friendly
- Amazing sound quality: Deep and clean bass sound
- Versatile with plenty of ways to adjust the sound
- Small and compact
- More prone to overheating
- Might have difficulties reaching certain ranges of output
How to Maintain Car Amplifiers
Buying the nicest car amp out there is not the solution to long lifespan. Of course, nothing beats a well-maintained car amp. Just like any other car parts or devices in general, there are several do’s and don’t’s. Both of which you must strictly follow.
First off, do not let your car amp overheat. Install a ventilator if you must. Ventilation is one of the most important forms of care for your car audio system. A busted amp can cause even more damage. So take ventilation seriously.
However, if you’re car amp is already broken (or overheated) and you don’t know how to fix it, bring it to professionals immediately. Do not try to tamper or experiment with it. Remember that that may only worsen the damage.
Finally, keep your car amps clean. Aside from exposure to heat or high temperatures, accumulated dust may also affect your car amps. (the circuits, wiring and all) This is especially true if your car or the car amp hasn’t been in use for a long time.
Among all the car amplifiers, the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D might be a good try. Especially for those who are upgrading their car audio systems for the first time. Not only does it have a very sturdy built mean long term use, but it also comes with a controller. This controller can be quite convenient for people who are not familiar with operating or setting up an amp.
Also, it is simply a very powerful amp which satisfies the power factor. Its high wattage output can totally power your speakers (and even an additional subwoofer) or your car audio system in general. Delivering a very clean bass is also perfect for those who have installed subwoofer units in the car.
However, at the end of the days your budget, needs, and preferences must come first. Do not ever settle for less. A good amplifier can make all the difference in the world when it comes to good car audio systems.