How to Choose an Amplifier for Your Car’s Sound System

How to Choose an Amplifier for Your Car’s Sound SystemYou’re here because you want to take your car’s audio experience to the next level. You’ve either heard that adding an amplifier will help you achieve your goal, or you’ve tried to add one before, but the results have failed to meet your expectation. In this guide, we share all of the information that you need to teach you how to choose a car amplifier. We discuss the benefits of an amplifier and the factors that need to be taken into consideration to find the best car amplifier.

The Benefits of Adding an Amplifier

If you’re interested in making your music loud, you’re definitely going to want to add an amplifier. However, volume isn’t the only reason why you should bring an amplifier into your car’s audio system. This component brings your music to life and makes for a much more enjoyable listening experience.

Some of the biggest benefits of adding an amplifier include:

  • Improved sound quality: An amplifier offers a clean source of power that drives your speakers without putting any unnecessary strain on them. Your music will have a much clearer sound and your volume levels will be much more defined.
  • More power for speakers: If you want to upgrade your speakers, you’re probably going to need more power, especially if you want to add high-quality speakers. An amplifier will give you the power you need to ensure you get the best performance out of your upgraded speakers.
  • Power for subwoofer: If you really want to create an incredible audio experience, chances are you’re going to want to add a subwoofer to your system at some point. Subwoofers need a lot of power. An amplifier will provide you with the power you need for a subwoofer.

Steps to Choose the Best Car Amplifier

Now that you know the benefits of adding an amplifier, let’s talk about actually finding the best amplifier. Below, you’ll find important information that will help you figure out how to choose a car amplifier.

Determine What Amplifier Class Will Work for You

Typically, amplifiers for cars are categorizes by different classes. These classes differentiate the design and features of the amp’s circuitry. Each class describes the efficiency, operating temperature, and performance of an amplifier. Car amplifiers classes include:

  • Class A: This class offers exceptional high-frequency sound, but they aren’t the most energy efficient and they operate at high temperatures.
  • Class AB: These also offer great high-frequency sound, but a little less-so than class A; however, they are more energy efficient and run at cooler temperatures than class A.
  • Class B: Amplifiers in this class are energy efficient and operate at low temperatures. On the downside, they don’t support high frequencies well, which can lead to sound distortion.
  • Class D: This class of amplifiers is also energy efficient and has low operating temperatures. They produce great low-frequency sound, but their high-frequency sound is quite lackluster.

Which class is right for you? That depends on your specific needs; however, typically, a class AB amplifier is a great option, as it offers all the benefits of each class. It’s important to note that while class A amplifiers do offer exceptional high-frequency sound, because they operate at high temperatures and aren’t energy efficient, it’s wise to steer clear of amplifiers in this class.

Choose the Number of Channels You’ll Need

After deciding what class amplifier, the next step is deciding how many channels you will need. A channel refers to the circuitry that is used to power a single speaker. If you want to power several speakers, you’re going to want to choose an amplifier that has several channels.

Generally speaking, you’ll need one channel to amplify one speaker. If you are using an amplifier to power a subwoofer that you’re adding to your system, a single channel will be suitable. If you’re looking to power several speakers, look for an amplifier that has a few channels; an amp with 2 channels, for example, can power two speakers.

Think About the Filters, Too

Amplifiers contain filters, which are circuits that are built in to the amplifier and pull specific sounds away from certain speakers. This process helps to avoid distortion of sound. For instance, an amp that has a low-pass filter has the ability to draw high frequency sounds away from the subwoofer.

The Power of Your Speakers is Important

Obviously, your goal is to get the best sound possible. In order to do that, you’re going to have to choose an amplifier that offers the right amount of power. If the amp doesn’t provide enough power to the speakers, you’re going to end up with a flat sound. For that reason, it’s often suggested that you choose your speakers first and then select an amp that can properly power them.

If you don’t have any plans to upgrade and are looking for an amp to power your factory speakers, you still want to make sure that you determine the RMS value of the speakers. The RMS value refers to the highest amount of continuous power that an amp can produce. Once you do that, choose an amplifier that has the ability to put out between 75 and 150 percent of the RMS value.

Compatibility with the Head Unit is Important, Too

If you plan on building your own sound system, we recommend that you choose a head unit that is outfitted with pre-amp outputs. This type of head unit allows for a direct connection from the receiver to the amp, which translates to better sound quality.

How to Choose the Best Car Amplifier: Summing it Up

Taking the above-mentioned factors into consideration will certainly help you determine how to choose a car amplifier that will best suit your needs. If you still aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask an expert in car stereos for their input. It’s far better to choose the right amplifier the first time around than choose something that doesn’t offer the results you’re looking for.


Troy is a freelance sound engineer with over ten years’ experience in the music industry. His passion for music started when he was young. He would often be found dismantling old radios or television sets and fixing them. Troy is renowned for hosting some of the best live concerts in his hometown. When not working, Troy loves taking his thirsty Ford Mustang for a long drive in the wild. He has been married to Jane for the last 20 years, and together they have two lovely girls. His also known for his delicious, honey coated, barbecued pork chops; which he prepares in his backyard.