Many consumer-oriented technologies normally undergo their development in the form of two parallel counter-processes: make things more user-friendly, and the opposite – provide more control at the price of convenience. Audio technology is no exception: while having an integrated amplifier as part of an audio system brings a lot of convenience and simplicity, such approach has its limitations. The alternative is to have separate amps for each segment of an audio system. In this review we are talking about candidates for the title of the best monoblock amp as a way to amplify bass signal separately.
1. Alpine PDXM12 1200W Mono Digital Amplifier
Alpine is the name that needs no introduction for those who have been a part of the audiophile army long enough. For us, it wasn’t a surprise to have placed the Alpine’s PDXM12 at the top of our list. The 8 by 10 inches frame, also as thin as 2 inches, will ensure that this device will fit in most vehicles no matter how limited their space is. Also, the weight is twice as less as that of some other amps from this review. Alpine did a very good job putting all the internal electronics in a well-protected compact case together with its six-Layer glass epoxy PC board. Being small this guy can provide good 1200 watts of power, which is pretty impressive. But what makes it stand out from many other amps is the ability of Alpine PDXM12 to provide 1200 watts at both 2 ohms and 4 ohms. With this you can connect different resistance subwoofers without sacrificing the output power. Another feature that we really like is the amp’s PDX-series thermal protection that is implemented in two ways. First, it is the circuitry that controls the temperature and cuts back the power instead of shutting the amp off in case of overheating. Second, it is the stackable design that lets heat sinks of stacked units come into a good contact with each other to provide for proper heat transfer. For easier operation, all of the controls are moved to the front panel and the unit is equipped with quick-connect connectors. Things like MOFSET and high quality material are so natural to such an amp they are not even really worth mentioning – can be taken for granted.
The overall sound is quite detailed and with virtually no distortion. So this Alpine PDXM12 can definitely drive your subwoofer to get the juicy oomph without losing clarity. All you’ve got to do is to make sure your vehicle can handle it. The sound control is implemented with not-variable subsonic filter, which is limited to just three settings (off, 15Hz, 30Hz), and a variable low-pass filter. Also, on the back you can find a port for remote control that does not come with the amp. That is a bit of a downside, but overall Alpine PDXM12 in our opinion is the best class d monoblock amp we looked at.
Alpine PDXM12 is not the cheapest amplifier, but considering all stated above the price is fair for the perks you can get with the unit. One thing we can say for sure – the value this amp carries is adequate with the cost. So, despite the fact that it was discontinued in 2018, anyone looking for reasonable deal must first give this device a try.
2. JL Audio JX1000/1D 1000 Watt RMS Monoblock Car Amplifier
We must confess that we did expect JL Audio products to stay rather in the top part of our list, which is exactly what JL Audio JX1000/1D has proved: one particular goal JL Audio tried to achieve with their JX1000/1D amplifier is to supply the market with a reliable quality product at affordable costs. No gimmicking with a bunch of attractive features, but solid plain functionality. The unit is dressed in a durable and a pretty compact aluminum case, which will fit in your trunk with no problem. JL Audio JX1000/1D is rated 1000/750/500 RMS power at 2/3/4 Ohms respectively, so you can hook it up with pretty much any subwoofer. In the aim of coming up with an affordable amplifier JL Audio did not try to save on the components’ quality: MOFSET power supply, oversized transistors are there to ensure that current handling is never an issue. Also, very practical are the soft start turn-on system and the amp’s thermal protection.
In terms of performance JL Audio JX1000/1D does its job well. The heat sink can in fact get heated, but what it does is it ensures the audio performance is never affected. Besides, with enough headroom the chances are you’ll never have to push the signal power to the maximum. Especially with the variable +12 dB bass boost that can help you shift your sound quality closer to perfection without pushing the overall power too hard. Another interesting thing that one can get with JL Audio JX1000/1D is how great this amplifier can work with OEM systems. If you’re one of those enthusiasts who like to build their audio systems from the scratch or invade their factory audio systems, you may like JX1000/1D.
JL Audio JX1000/1D is a perfect example of how an affordable amp can be made without sacrificing quality and reliability – the most crucial aspects of an amp for a subwoofer. JL Audio JX1000/1D should be definitely considered as a great quality performance-oriented entry level amp.
3. Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D
Rockford Fosgate is another amplifier maker that has earned their reputation among audio enthusiasts. No wonder their R1200-1D made it to the top-3 of our list despite having been introduced to the market long time ago. When it comes to car amplifiers, there is one important parameter that cannot be underestimated – the size of the unit. Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D perfectly passes this test: less than 2 inches thick this unit can be easily mounted anywhere. Also, since our main focus on this review is the subwoofer amps, we could not possibly populate the list of winners with the weak guys. R1200-1D rightfully deserves its position as an amp able to deliver power up to 1200 watts depending on the impedance, which can suit 1, 2 and 4 ohm subs. This contributes to the versatility of the R1200-1D. What makes this amp even more versatile is that it is perfect for a variety of music genres. For this purpose R1200-1D is equipped with variety of controls that will help you fine-tune the sound: low-pass and subsonic filters, punch EQ. These are located on the top of the case, which is in our opinion is convenient. Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D has an optional wired remote control to make it even more convenient. Both the amp and the remote control have LEDs that some folks find too bright, but this is not too serious to turn users away from considering an amp so functional.
The performance of Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D is supported by its P.O.W.E.R technology (Power Output Without Excessive Regulation) technology to allow for quicker response to peaks. This, however, comes at a price of consuming a little more power than average, which was noticed by some. Additionally, the unit can eventually get quite hot, but its heat sink is designed to fight back those issues.
Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D is definitely one of the best class D monoblock amps, especially aimed to provide enough power for your subwoofer. This has indirectly been proven by the fact that it has been on the market for so long.
4. Pioneer GM-D9601
This amp just had to be on this list. Pioneer earned their reputation as a serious maker of car amplifiers for decades. Sold and used around the world this name can be trusted with no doubts. Their GM-D9601 is a class D amplifier carrying a decent amount of power on board. While rated for continuous load of up to 1200 watts, it can handle twice as much at peak levels, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. With impedance varying from 1 to 4 ohms the choice of a suitable subwoofer is never going to be limited. The unit is housed in an elegant casing designed for great heat dissipation. One great feature of Pioneer GM-D9601 is its smart improved thermal protection circuitry – in case of increased temperature it controls the input level to prevent shut-down. With such electronics and power Pioneer GM-D9601 is able to handle multiple subwoofer system, which opens up limitless possibilities. The sound can be fine tuned with the amp’s variable low-pass filter and can be controlled with a wired remote control. Oh, we appreciate when a product quality is consistent to the very last screw in the box. What’s also great is that you can connect Pioneer GM-D9601 with OEM equipment or any other that doesn’t have RCA connectors – no adapters necessary.
We can’t call it the smallest amp, but it is still can be deemed compact considering the amount of power it has. It is a little heavier than many other amps, but this isn’t much of an issue if the amp is properly mounted. And it can still fit in a car in a large number of scenarios. Overall, Pioneer GM-D9601 is a pretty straight-forward amplifier without the unnecessary extras. This way, Pioneer guys were able to keep the price in the reasonable range. The only reason we didn’t place this amp higher in the list is because there are smaller and lighter similar amps.
For a large number of situations Pioneer GM-D9601 can be the best choice for powerful and quality sound at an adequate costs.
5. JL Audio HD1200/1 Monoblock 1200W
JL Audio HD1200/1 monoblock amp is a good amp as we can see further, but is it really worth its price? Let’s see what it’s packed with. The unit has a nice slick compact design that allows for complex installations through stacking – so this amp will not take too much space in your car. Obviously, JL Audio made sure to use high quality components this time as well, so we can trust the reliability of the product. Compared to cheaper amps, JL Audio HD1200/1 has a bunch of controls for more flexible sound signal control: you can adjust filter slopes at 12 and 24 dB, filter frequency, input sensitivity, and even output polarity. Subsonic filtering is somewhat limited as it only has two positions (off and 30Hz). Altogether, this amp is ready for a lot of fine tuning.
JL Audio HD1200/1 comes with the R.I.P.S. (Regulated, Intelligent Power Supply) technology, which is the central piece of their HD series. Thanks to this technology HD1200/1 can provide consistent 1200 watts at all impedance values, which are 1.5, 2, 3 and 4 ohms. This is pretty cool as only a few amps can change impedance without having to cut down on power.
What really made us scratch the backs of our heads is that an amp that costs over a thousand dollars does not come with the remote control included. Is that an omission? That really is a spoonful of salt in a buyer’s cup of tea. It the end we still did not agree with the price of $1 per watt, thus we could not place this amp any higher on our list. But hey, this is a high class amp and its functionality is great.
JL Audio HD1200/1 is like a Mercedes among Hondas – it is good, but its price may be viewed upon as slightly inflated. One thing we can say for sure – if you don’t mind paying a little extra for the name, then HD1200/1 will be a good amp you can trust.
6. Rockford Fosgate R750-1D Prime
Rockford Fosgate Prime R750 can be considered a lighter variant of its bigger brother from the 3rd position of our review. So, anything we said about Prime R1200 we can pretty much say about R750, only downsizing in regards to some of its parameters. Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D is also a class D amplifier that able to provide high quality detailed sound while maintaining versatility of the Rockford Fosgate Prime series. R750-1D has the same set of controls: subsonic filter, variable low-pass filter, punch EQ, optional remote control. Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D also comes in the same type of casing with proper thermal protection and MOFSET power circuitry.
As you can see, R750-1D is just a lower power rated amplifier, but the Prime series quality is in no way compromised. What type of trade-off do you get with this amp? The price of Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D is about 15% lower than that of its 1200 watt brother. Of course, the price difference is not proportional to the power ratings, but Rockford Fosgate Prime series amps are not just about power. So while keeping all good that Rockford Fosgate has to offer with R750-1D you get some cut-down on power consumption. Plus, being equipped with the same heat sink, the less hungry R750-1D is more likely to run cool, which is important. In a smaller car with a smaller subwoofers, Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D may be just what’s right for the audio setup.
If too having too much loud bass is not your main goal, and if you want to preserve the high quality performance, then Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D is your great option to consider.
7. Hifonics BRX2416-1D Brutus
So far we’ve been talking about some of the more expensive monoblock amplifiers that reasonably hold their top positions due to the reputability of their makers and solid performance. However, with different segments on the market price is one of the aspects that cannot be discarded in an attempt to make judgment on the best monoblock amplifier. So while the top of the list was taken by higher end amplifiers, far from the bottom of the list we have Hifonics BRX2416-1D, which is basically five times cheaper than the amplifier from the previous entry. At the same time this is the most powerful amplifier on the review. That is quite of a jump. But hey, we are talking about subwoofer amplifiers, right? So here is something for the bass freaks. Hifonics BRX2416-1D is capable of 2400 watts power, which is a lot. Just like many subwoofer amps this one has options of 1, 2 and 4 ohms, so you are not limited in what sub you can hook up.
Hifonics BRX2416-1D is enclosed in a massive heat sink – something obvious for so much power. Installation should not be a problem even for novices with the enclosed guide brochure. The amp has a good set of controls, all of which are variable, including gain, phase, subsonic filter, low-pass filter and bass EQ, which in turn consists of center, width and the actual bass boost. The bass boost is limited to 10dB only compared to the usually expected 12dB. With so much power, however, we don’t expect such a small difference to be noticed. It is very nice of Hifonics folks to have the remote control included. On the downside, the amp was reported to start smelling like popcorn or something burning after long hours of work. Maybe Hifonics engineers did not expect anyone to push their BRX2416-1D for long non-stop hours, but strong smell in a car is a big issue, even if it only appears after a while. We had to warn. Other than that Hifonics BRX2416-1D is a good amp for the money and with no doubts one of the loudest.
If the loud bass is your craving then Hifonics BRX2416-1D might be the amp you’re looking for.
8. Soundstream Tarantula T1-4000DL
Soundstream T1-4000DL is a type of amplifier that serious audio enthusiasts will not even bother looking at: screaming LED tarantula logo on top together with the more than moderate price is a typical sign of a cheap gimmicky product. Add to this the amp’s bold claim to provide the whole 2000 watts and you’ll get enough reasons for skepticism. So the main question here is does this amp stand solid enough to support what it claims to be. Well, the size and the weight of the Soundstream T1-4000DL are more than substantial, which is promising as you don’t want to see a small and lightweight 2000 watt amp. But the actual verdict could not be made without proper testing, which showed that Soundstream T1-4000DL in fact can unleash the claimed 2000 watts. So we are looking at about a little over 10 cents per single watt – amazing. This amp can even potentially make it under 200 dollars if the prices go down just a little, which is possible. Now, this type of amp would be meant for younger listeners whose preferences usually lie in the area of loudness and energy rather than in the area of expensive reputability. This is the case with Soundstream T1-4000DL – it has the whole bunch of LED presets to add color or even spice up a disco. Why not? As far as the controls go the amp has the entire set: polarity shift, subsonic filter, low-pass filter, 12 dB bass boost and the remote control, which is actually included.
Ok, this cannot be 100% perfect, so what do we have to worry about with this amp? The power terminals were a little disappointment – for 2000 watts Soundstream T1-4000DL has only 4-gauge that could not properly fit the 4-gauge reducer. You can manage to install 4-gauge wire, but we thought you need to be warned. Other than that there isn’t much to discard this amplifier from the list of good guys. One other thing that has to be mentioned: out of all Soundstream products T1-4000DL is one of the best, so why not give Soundstream a chance on this one? Remember – T1-4000DL is the only amp on our list with such powerful capabilities.
Soundstream T1-4000DL is definitely aimed to provide a lot of power and fun for those who are on a budget, but who still want to pump up their rig with tons of power.
9. JL Audio M600/1 Monoblock 600 Watt
If you look at the retail price you can easily notice that JL Audio M600/1 is for sure not the cheapest amplifier. Okay, JL Audio amps bear quality and they do not come cheap, but again, almost a dollar per single watt? Exactly: this amp’s main forte is its ability to withstand the vagaries of the weather. On the other hand, we wouldn’t expect JL Audio to make an amp for half a thousand just for one purpose. JL Audio M600/1 has the ability to pull up to 600 watts while being packed in a pretty small casing: it is less than 5 pounds by weight, which makes it one of the lightest amps on this review. Three impedance settings of 2, 3 and 4 ohms will ensure you have more freedom choosing a suitable subwoofer. Even though the max RMS power is not so huge, the density of how RMS power shifts at different impedance values is pretty cool: the RMS power at the greatest impedance of 4 ohms is no lower than 400 watts. We could have easily expected anything around three or even two hundred. Besides, being moderate on power JL Audio M600/1 will not overheat easily. Add humidity protection and you have a sea wolf. Hey, you can even get it installed on a motorbike.
As far as the performance goes, JL Audio M600/1 can give a clear and tight sound. All the basics are also there: non-variable subsonic filter, variable low-pass filter with 12dB-step slope selection. Two subwoofers can be connected if that is ever necessary. One thing we thought was missing is the remote control, which is optional. For a marine amp a remote control should come part of the package – that’s our opinion. With all the pros and cons weighted we still believe that JL Audio M600/1 is a very good option, especially if intended for outdoor use.
In some cases, like using with an audio system on a boat, one cannot avoid turning their heads towards the marine class amplifiers. Among those, JL Audio M600/1 is one of the best.
10. BOSS Armor AR1500M
How could we complete our review without covering an option for a budget? How about 1500 watts for under a hundred dollars? This is what you can get with BOSS Armor AR1500M. Okay, I can see your smiles and I agree that a 1500 watt amp for such small price will lack something. First of all, BOSS Armor AR1500M is an A/B class amplifier, the only one on the review. But does everybody need class D? No. There are listeners who would not care less about something like this. With BOSS Armor AR1500M you get a MOSFET power supply, which is pretty much a standard these days. The amp comes in a solid durable aluminum housing that also serves as a heat sink – you can’t blame BOSS Audio for cutting down the costs on physical protection. They didn’t even forget about thermal protection – the amp simply shuts down if overheated. You also get a fair basic set of controls, like variable low-pass filter, input mode, and a remote control. It will worth noting that the bass boost goes as far up as +18dB, which is more that what other amps normally have.
The disadvantages of the BOSS Armor AR1500M will make quite a list. On the other hand, for the given price they may not seem as much of a trouble in certain situations. In the process of writing this review we got used to amps having more than one output. Well, AR1500M has only one. The other downside is that the amp does not have the subsonic filter, and its variable low-pass is limited to just 250 Hz at the top boundary. The surge protection is made with a single fuse. An extra fuse along with the mounting hardware is in the package – we like how cheaper amplifiers get all these goodies with them. No jokes – we really think it is a good practice to throw in stuff that more expensive amplifiers very often lack.
BOSS Armor AR1500M is a very simple and more that affordable solution for your bass. Pure and hardcore minimalist functionality with no frills is a fair deal for the price. This is a working amp that one can buy by just skipping one night at a bar.
The amps like JL Audio JX1000/1D, Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D and Pioneer GM-D9601 go really close to each other in our review. We would classify them as great and versatile options for mid-range price category. Among those, the choice is really what you feel inside towards them – that’s how close they are. But the winner of our hearts is the Alpine PDXM12 simply because it can do the same power level at any impedance it can accept. JL Audio HD1200/1 is a very good amp for someone, who is not budget-bound. If you want to go a little lower the mid-range price, then Rockford Fosgate R750-1D can be your amp. For bass-heads we can recommend looking at Hifonics BRX2416-1D and Soundstream T1-4000DL. For outdoors use definitely go for the JL Audio M600/1. If all you need is minimalistic functionality for little money, get yourself BOSS Armor AR1500M.
The competition among some of the amps was very tight and at the same time we tried to look at a number of aspects. So the comparison is somewhat conditional. The same way you cannot compare a thermal coffee mug with a tea cup – they serve different purposes. In the end it comes to choosing the right product for the right situation.