Best Car Amplifier Reviews and Buying Guide
The best car amplifier is an important part of any vehicle system because it is what really drives the speakers. Many car systems come with amplifiers, but for the best result, this might not offer enough power to drive the speakers well.
This is why a vehicle requires an amplifier. Amplifiers take the output signal offered by the audio source, after equalization and processing have been done, and boost its power before sending it straight to the speakers.
For an audiophile, this might be the most significant buy as very few other elements have a similar effect on the sound quality as an effective amplifier.
Top 10 Car Amplifiers Comparison Table
|Name||Editor's Rating||Class||Max Power||Channels||Dimension L x W x H||Weight|
|Boss Audio R1100M Riot Car Amplifier||4.1||Class A/B||1100W x 1 channel = 1100W||1||10.4 x 9.1 x 2.2 inches||5 Pounds|
|Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime Car Amplifier||4.7||Class D||500W x 1 channel = 500W||1||11.8 x 10.5 x 4.2 inches||5.3 Pounds|
|Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Car Amplifier||4.5||Class A/B||125W x 4 channels = 500W||4||14.5 x 10.3 x 4.3 inches||6.7 Pounds|
|Pyle PLAM1000 Bridgeable Car Amplifier||4.1||Class D||500W x 2 channels = 1000W||2||14.2 x 10.6 x 3.1 inches||6 Pounds|
|Hifonics ZRX1016.4 Zeus Car Audio Amplifier||4.2||Class A/B||250W x 4 channels = 1000W||4||10 x 10 x 10 inches||10 Pounds|
|Kenwood KAC-M3001 Car Amplifier||4.3||Class D||600W x 1 channel =600W||1||3.9 x 5.7 x 1.8 inches||2 Pounds|
|Kenwood 22154656 Compact Car Amplifier||4.5||Class D||75W x 4 Channels = 300W||4||6.7 x 3.1 x 5.9 inches||2.2 Pounds|
|Rockford Fosgate R600X5 Prime Car Amplifier||4.1||Class AB/D||50W x 4 channels + 200W x 1 Channel = 400W||5||16.5 x 20.3 x 4.3 inches||8 pounds|
|Planet Audio AC1200.4 Anarchy Car Amplifier||4.0||Class A/B||300W x 4 Channels = 1200W||4||11 x 10 x 2.5 inches||7.4 Pounds|
|Kenwood KAC-9106 Monoblock Car Amplifier||4.0||Class D||200W x 1 Channel = 200W||1||15.3 x 10.2 x 4.8 inches||6.2 Pounds|
Top 10 Best Car Amplifier Reviews
1. Boss Audio R1100M Riot 1-Channel – Class A/B Amplifier
Boss Audio R1100M Riot takes the car’s audio system to a new level with its MOSFET power supply and a superb 1100W max power output. It features Variable Bass Boost, Low Pass Crossover, and Remote Subwoofer Control for customizing the sound.
It comes with Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors that enable users to change from non-conduction for better output. Boss Audio R1100M Riot Class – A/B amplifier also comes with specific liner circuitry that improves power output and sound quality while improving efficiency and reducing distortion.
Its 2-ohm stable power speakers result in more volume and power when in use at 2-ohms. The other great feature of this amplifier is the low-level inputs that accept pre-amp output signals and high-level inputs that accept speaker output signals to allow for the addition of processors and amps to the standard factory.
If the device gets overheated, the thermal protection circuit will turn the amp off and enable it to cool down before turning it back on. Furthermore, if a speaker malfunction causing an issue, such as electrical short, the circuit will cut the output and remain shut-off until the problem is solved.
That safety feature gives the user peace of mind knowing his/her amplifier is constantly monitoring the system to protect itself. The unit also features variable gain control that balance the amplifier’s output with the subs or speakers is driving.
- 1100W Max Power at 2 Ohm per channel
- 550W Max Power at 4 Ohm per channel
- Remote Subwoofer Control
- Variable Bass Boost, Variable Low Pass Crossover
- Pretty lights
- Works fine
- No manual
2. Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel – Class D Amplifier
The Rockford Fosgate R500X1D is a powerful 500W mono amplifier that uses effective Class-D circuit topology. This gadget is able to run a 2-Ohms load and comes with onboard Punch as well as Punch Level Control (PLC).
Rockford is able to drive a subwoofer with at most 500W RMS, so the user can really feel the bass rocking the car. The unit comes with a phase switch that gets the subwoofer firing along with other speakers for maximum output, while the speaker inputs enable the user to hook the machine to any system.
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D includes wired remote and comes with a cast aluminum heatsink with top mounted control panel. Additionally, this unit has an infrasonic filter as well as a 12 dB octave high-pass/low-pass and AP crossover so the user can further tweak the sound settings and add cool effects.
R500X1D also features a punch level control wired remote for easy and better control. Remember that this is a class D amplifier and thus has a monoblock.
The best thing about Rockford R500X1D is that it complies with CEA-2006. Furthermore, it features MOSFET power supply and has a protection against short circuit and overcurrent.
- 300W at 4-Ohms, 500W at 2-Ohms
- Cast Aluminum Heatsink
- On-board Punch EQ with plus 18dB boost at 45 Hz
- Easy to hook to other systems
- Easy to set up
- Powers subwoofer with no problem
- Blue light a bit bright
3. Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel – Class A/B Amplifier
Rockford Fosgate R250X4 is a 250W 4 channels vehicle amplifier capable of operating 2 Ohms speakers on all the channels and 4-Ohms mono/bridge on the back channels. Included on board are rear/front crossover controls and Push Bass.
The unit comes with selectable variable crossovers to either feed bass to the sub or protects the high-frequency speakers, Pass-Thru jacks for connecting to another amplifier, and Punch Bass to tune low frequencies.
An amp topology with the features of both worlds of a Class A preamp as well as Class B output stage. Class A feature is great for clear sound quality but requires lots of currents while Class B is superb for power supply.
Therefore, R250X4 reaps these two benefits by offering quality sound in the front-part while providing superb power in the output area.
- 40W x 4 at 4-Ohms, 60W x 4 at 2-Ohms, 125W x 2 at 4-Ohms
- On-board Punch EQ with plus 18dB boost at 45Hz
- Works with aftermarket source or factory installed units
- Pass-thru jack for connecting to other amplifiers
- Excellent product
- Great price
- A bit large in size
4. Pyle PLAM1000 1000W 2-Channel Bridgeable – Class D Amplifier
Pyle PLAM1000 is an affordable unit that provides high-quality, high-power sound to a vehicle’s speakers. It is sturdy with amp heatsinks and accepts high and low-level RCA inputs as well as low-impedance MOLEX inputs.
This 2-channel, 1000W bridgeable device is equipped with a built-in variable sub crossover, a three-way configuration, and a variable gain control. It also features MOSFET pulse width modulation power supply that allows for fresh, distortion-free signal to the speakers.
Pyle PLAM1000 is equipped with overload, short circuit, and thermal protection to keep both the amplifier and the car safe. It features an amazing power output and is a class-D machine – it is smarter than the rivals.
When assembling this gadget, the user needs to connect the left and right speaker wire to the appropriate output terminals to avoid short-circuiting. Reversing the connection will lead to cones moving out of place which lead to bass cancellation.
Further, the product is pretty affordable and provides great services considering its prices range – there is value for the money.
- 1000W maximum output
- 2 x 500W at 4
- 2-channel bridgeable amplification
- Overload, short circuit, and thermal protection
- It sounds great
- Very affordable
- Might have some noise issues
5. Hifonics ZRX1016.4 Zeus Car Audio 4-Channels – Class A/B Amplifier
Hifonics is a United State based firm which produces car audio amplifiers. It launched the Zeus series which happens to feature the ZRX1016.4 amplifier which comes with great features.
This unit offers amazing power at various ranges and owns an innovative design which also happens to be quite attractive. Its key features include the bridged output ability, MOSFET power supply, and 1000W total output power among others.
Hifonics ZRX1016.4 also features a short circuit protection system that protects both the car and the amplifier system. Furthermore, it comes with DC, overload, and thermal protection to add to its protective nature.
This unit comes with a classic Hifonics aluminum heatsink to ensure top of the notch heat dissipation, along with different circuit protection against overheating, short-circuiting, and power overload, making sure it will keep giving superb sound for many decades.
It even gives 250W per channel for 2 ohms components and can bridge into two 500W channels each to power bigger items. This is definitely one of the best amplifiers for the money.
- 4-channels, 1000W, Class A/B
- PWM MOSFET power supply for maximum current level
- Frequency response 45KHz
- DC, thermal, and overload protection
- Flexible onboard processing
- CTA rated
- No waterproof protection
6. Kenwood KAC-M3001 600W 1-Channel – Class D Amplifier
The majority of today’s vehicles have limited space to install additional gadgets and their surface isn’t good for electronics dues to exposure to harsh elements. Kenwood KAC-M3001 compact amplifier is rated as the best car amplifier by many users due to its small size, so it fits even the tiniest areas.
It also uses a conformal coated main printed circuit board (PCB) which provides an additional layer of protection to aid prevent damp air or moisture from damaging the unit. It has an RMS power rating of 4-Ohms, 200W x 1 channel, and 300W x1 channel.
Kenwood also comes with Pulse Width Modulated MOSFET power supply and has an LED power and protect indicators – green and red respectively. Compares to other Kenwood amps, this is the best selling unit and is suitable for ATV, marine, and cars.
This certified amp improves the sound on any machine by adding an amp to its audio system. In fact, it is the ideal way to get clearer, bigger, and louder sound.
- Max power output 600W x 1 channel
- Compact series monoblock class D amplifier
- LED power and protect indicators
- MOSFET power supply
- Amazing size
- Make the sound clean and full
- A bit weak
7. Kenwood 22154656 Compact 4-Channel – Class D Amplifier
Kenwood 22154656 Compact is a small size device, so it fits in most devices – including the ones located in small spaces. The machine uses a conformal coated printed circuit board which provides additional coverage of protection to help prevent damp air or moisture from damaging it.
Measuring 6½ by 1¾ by 3-7/8 inches, it is the ideal unit for cars, motorcycles, boats, and more. It features an output power of 75W x 4 and is a class D amplifier.
One thing about this amp is that it might overheat and thus the user needs to connect it well. Once in place, it makes the speakers in the car glide one of the best sounding systems.
It has enough power to power two 6 inches by 9 inches and tow 6.5 inches speakers. It packs a compact punch and will surely bring the vehicle audio system to life with no distortion even at full volume.
- RMS power at 2-ohms 75W x 4
- Class 4 amplifier
- Compact device to fit in tiny spaces
- Great for cars, boats, motorcycles and more
- Sounds very nice
- Great size
- Not water resistance
8. Rockford Fosgate R600X5 Prime 5-Channel – Class AB/D Amplifier
Rockford Fosgate R600X5 is a prime amplifier series that fall in the class AB/D. It provides 5 channels and has a total power output of 600W. The size of the maximum input gauge is 4 AWG.
Rockford minimum unbridged impedance is 2-Ohms, it isn’t trappable, and its THD is 1 percent at Rated RMS power. Fitted with a single pair of Preamp Outputs, the unit requires an adapter for maximum input level in speakers.
Another notable feature of this unit is the built-in cross-over and features an additional option of Bass/Gain Remo. One can state that it has it all – 5 channels, allowing users to have a spate channel for the rear and frontal groups (this is the standard).
These channels are able to support a load of about 4 ohms at 75 watts each, enabling the user to drive a great choice of voice coils. Users don’t need to replace their rearview mirror with a middle speaker due to the vibration it brings inside the car.
R600X5 has the ability to drive a sub up to a max of 2 Ohms and 300 watts. It has the power to power even larger sub, ensuring max bass and maxi satisfaction for the users.
- 50W x 4 plus 200W x 1 @ 4-Ohm
- Cast aluminum heatsink with top mount controls
- Accepts high level and RCA level input
- 4 Gauge ground/power connectors
- Very easy to mount
- Easy to clean/less time consuming
- Catches scratches easily
9. Planet Audio AC1200.4 Anarchy 1200W 4-Channel – Class A/B Amplifier
Pump up the volume and take off with the Planet A1200.4 class A/B amplifier. With MOSFET power supply and 1200W maximum power, this unit is perfect for a car audio system.
It can power up speakers, subwoofers, or even both. Furthermore, the user can customize the sound with fixed high pass crossover, bass boost, and variable low pass crossover.
Furthermore, the system allows the user to bridge the channels for more flexibility and power. Another great feature of this amplifier is the metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor that switches from full to non-conduction for better output.
The system comes with specific linear circuitry that boosts power output and sound quality while improving efficiency and reducing distortion.
Its high-levels inputs accept subwoofer output signals and the low-level inputs take care of preamp output signals to enable for more amps and processors to aftermarket or standard factory source units. Automatic shut-off protects it if it gets overheated or if there is a short circuit or any other problem.
As if those aren’t enough features, it comes with a switchable input sensitivity that offers adjustable control over the input from the head unit to realize a customized balance between sound quality and power. There are very few amps that can match this gadget out there today.
- MOSFET power supply, Full range class A/B
- High and low-level inputs
- Variable low pass crossover, fixed high pass crossover, variable bass boost
- Metal oxide semiconductor field-effect
- Very powerful
- Sounds great
- Might overheat
10. Kenwood KAC-9106D 2000W Monoblock 1-Channel – Class D Amplifiers
Kenwood produces tough, rugged car amplifiers that bring superior sound quality together with reliable performance. Kenwood KAC-9106D powers the subwoofer to produce great tonal color, impact, as well as detail in the music’s bass, from the soft thump to the hard punch.
The device puts out up to 1000W RMS to the subwoofer and features subsonic filters and onboard low pass that enables users to adjust the sound from the box/subwoofer combo. It is even cable of reaching 18 dB of bass for people who want to flatten up the sound.
KAC-9106D amplifier features signal sensing turn-on and speaker-level inputs, so the device can work on almost any system. There is an aluminum cover plate that covers and protects the unit’s control and connections, giving the user a neat installation and professional look.
- Mono subwoofer amplifier
- Class D amplifier design
- 500W RMS x 1 at 4-Ohms
- Connects to all systems
- Amazing sound
- Powerful bass
- Get heated a little
Car Amplifier Buying Guide
Every vehicle sound system comes with an amplifier of some sort, but they aren’t external. The majority of these amplifiers are incorporated into head units and aren’t that great to talk about.
These gadgets often distort the music when the volume is cranked up, so are some external units and this is why it is vital to know how to purchase the best car amplifier. When installing a new unit, there are a few things that the buyer should pay attention to.
Five of the main ones are:
- System compatibility
- Sound quality
- Auxiliary battery
1. What is the perfect number of channels?
Amplifiers come in different configurations and the ideal number of channels will depend on the number of speakers in the sound system.
- Mono Car Amplifier – This unit features built-in low-pass filters and bass boost and is designed for low-frequency sound. The best kind would be a class D mono unit because it produces less heat, is more efficient, and draw less current, unlike conventional car amplifiers.
- Two-Channel Car Amplifier – This is used for a full-range and/or component speaker system. It requires high-pass filters to function effectively.
- Five and Six Channel Amplifier – This device can be used for car speakers located in the rear, front, and/or the subwoofer of the entire system.
- Multi-Channel Amplifier – Just like the Two-Channel Amplifier, this unit can be used for a full-range subwoofer or speakers.
2. What is the perfect power option?
Most car amplifier reviews indicate the power options of various amplifiers. These units require the right amount of power to produce great sound. That is why many individuals get the speaker first and then look for an amplifier that has enough power to amplify the sound.
There are two aspects of power ratings:
- Root Mean Square Power (RMS) – RMS determines the amount of continuous power an auto amplifier uses to provide the power to the speakers. Buyers should ensure that the power of the amplifier matches that of the subwoofer or speaker.
- Peak Power – This is always higher than the RMS power. It shows how many watts a vehicle amplifier has a sudden and short increase in sound.
3. What about system compatibility and head unit?
There is no problem when building an auto audio system from scratch as the builder will only need to purchase an amplifier that has line level inputs and a head unit that has preamp outputs. Through providing an unamplified signal to the amplifier, the user will end up with the best sound possible.
With that said, the majority of aftermarket units and head units don’t have preamp outputs. Therefore, a person working with an existing head that falls into either of the categories will need to search for an amplifier that has speaker level inputs.
This will result in an amazing sound than it would without the external car amplifier and it will save the need of having additional adapters and wiring.
4. How is the amplifier sound quality?
The sound quality is dependent on various factors and the overall quality is often determined by other elements, such as the speaker or CD player. With that in mind, a low-quality amp can act as a hindrance, preventing other systems from reaching their full potential.
Go for a unit with a wide frequency setting as well as low deviation. The best amplifier for a car should also list its distortion or THD. The lower the THD the better the unit and verse versa.
The quality of electrical elements, such as wiring and transducers, as well as connection and soldering quality, affect the sound as well. Although these factors are hard to measure, it is recommended to choose an amplifier that is well designed and constructed by the manufacturer.
5. Does the amplifier need an auxiliary battery?
Batteries are often underused in vehicles audio when in truth they should be overused and overestimated. It isn’t a surprise, considering that adding an extra battery is a bit expensive to an already expensive investment; however, the investment can be put to great use in higher powered and moderate systems.
As a rule, buyers should ensure that all systems running over 1000W of total RMS have their own battery or an upgraded one. An auxiliary battery is therefore required in these kinds of systems. The main reason is that car audio systems are quite demanding when it comes to sucking power.
Tips for When Purchasing the Best Car Amplifier
To get a concrete and consistent volume for car audio, it’s quite imperative to have the right speaker along with the ideal amplifier. Here are additional things that the buyer should watch out for when purchasing these units as they are key to the durability of the product.
- Look into the fuses – Purchasing a 1000W amp for $100 is pretty amazing, after all, 1000W is a lot of Watts for $100. But, the buyer needs to inspect the fuses before he/she can make the payment.
- Amplifier warranty – There are a lot of car amp manufacturers that don’t offer a warranty unless it is purchased from an authorized dealer. Manufacturers try to establish a chain of authorized dealers that they can believe.
- Size of the amplifier – Buyers should avoid buying a big size unit and shouldn’t let a small size amp fool them either. With that said, some of the best units come in small packages and produces solid watts into all channels.
- Wiring of the amplifier – Buyers should watch out for “too good to be true” deals when it comes to wiring kits. The best units come with OFC or oxygen-free copper wiring which has made them to be more expensive than before.
- Amplifier cooling – Because car amplifiers use a lot of energy, they also produce a lot of heat. This heat is why most units have aluminum covers with built-in cooling fins to cool the device.
- Car amplifier installation – Installing an amplifier is easy, but things can be tricky for first-time buyers. The best thing is to buy a product that comes with an installation manual to ensure that the installer follow all the steps for the perfect result.
Everybody’s desires are different. How much bass is needed, how much it costs, and how loud the system is will surely be determined by the amp that the buyer chooses. An amplifier is only worth the pennies when the user uses the right elements, speakers, and even the subwoofer and power cables.
Buyers should take time when buying the best car amplifier for their need and budget, and they can always refer to this buyer’s guide to see the ideal unit for their cars. Choose the best product according to the car’s need.