Choosing The Best Car Amplifier: A Quick Guide For Buyers

Sep, 2016

When it comes to your car audio systems, one of the most important components would most probably be the amplifier. While this may already be included in the original parts, many opt to have it changed into one that can provide the power that is needed by the speakers. Audiophiles invest in the best car amplifier in order to enjoy superior sound quality while on the road.

While it is indeed a given fact that an amplifier improves audio, this will only be the case if you pick the right one. With the wrong choice, you will end up with distorted sound and being unable to handle the power requirements of the entire stereo system. So, which one makes the best choice? Keep on reading and by the time you are finished reading, you will definitely find it a lot easier to come up with a well-informed choice.

Benefits of Adding a Car Amplifier

While there are improvements in the quality of factory-installed amplifiers over the years, in many cases, they are still inferior compared to those that you can install and buy as after-market component. If you are still hesitant about adding an amplifier in your car’s audio system, the following are just some of the reasons that could possibly make you change your mind.

  • It Improves Sound Quality: This is perhaps the most obvious reason why having an amplifier is a good thing. This provides you with a clean power source that will greatly change the way sound is produced. The sensitivity and response will also be significantly improved.
  • It Powers Upgraded Speakers: When you change the speakers of your audio system, which is necessary in order to make it more powerful, you will most probably be needing an amplifier that will be able to match its requirements. More powerful and louder speakers will need an amp that will be able to perfectly complement its specifications.
  • It Powers Upgraded Subwoofers: Just like in the case of replacement speakers, your subwoofers will generally require more power. This cannot be handled by the factory-installed amplifier, which is why buying a new one will be needed.

How to Choose the Best Car Amplifier

As you begin your search for the best car amplifier, it will not take long before you will be overwhelmed with the possibilities. The options will be almost endless, making it challenging for you to make the right choice. To pick a product that can offer the best when it comes to quality and functionality, keep in mind the factors that we will briefly discuss in the rest of this section.



The first thing that you have to think of would be the specific configuration of the amplifier that you will be needing. This requires the need to take a look at the number of channels, which will be indicative of the number of speakers that can be powered by the amplifier. Generally speaking, one channel per speaker will be needed.

If you are only going to install a subwoofer in an existing system, you will be good with a one-channel amplifier. On the other hand, if you have more speakers, you can choose from two, four, and six-channel amplifiers, among other configurations. If you have a subwoofer and full-range speakers, it would be best to choose a six-channel amp.


Rockford Fosgate R250X1 Prime 1-Channel Mono Block Amplifier

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This is another important factor that should be taken into account and will be highly indicative of the performance that you can expect from your amplifier. If you want to enjoy the best quality of audio, you should never skimp on power. It will be good if you can choose your speakers first, and based on the specifications of the latter, you can easily decide the minimum power that is required for your amplifier.

To determine the power of your amplifier, take a look at the watts, which is usually expressed per channel. The higher the number is, the more powerful it is. If the power of your amp is too weak compared to what is required by your speakers, you will most probably end up with distorted sound, which is one thing you won’t definitely want to happen.

Sound Quality

Pioneer GM-D8601 Class D Mono Amplifier with Wired Bass Boost Remote

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The main reason why you are investing in an amplifier is to be able to enjoy better audio. With this, it just makes sense to look for one that can significantly improve sound quality. This will be dependent on a number of factors. Factors such as decibel, frequency, filters, and impedance are some of the technical specifications that should be looked at, making it possible to differentiate the sound quality of the amplifiers available on the market. To be sure, take time to read reviews and ask for recommendations from other people to have peace of mind.


JX1000/1D - JL Audio Monoblock 1000W RMS Class D Amplifier

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You can always go to a mechanic within the neighborhood to help you install an amplifier. However, to save money, you can do it on your own. Just pick one that comes with comprehensive instructions from the manufacturer. All the required components must also be provided. In some cases, manufacturers even provide links to videos that can be accessed online, making it effortless for you to complete the assembly.

Technical Specifications

JX1000/1D - JL Audio Monoblock 1000W RMS Class D Amplifier

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There are many people who do not take time to look at the specs. After all, they can be confusing. These terms may be hard to understand. Here are some of the specifications that are important to be looked at:

  • Decibel: This refers to the ratio between the value of measurement and reference point. It is also an indication of the loudness of sound.
  • Frequency Response: Simply put, frequency refers to note or the pitch of a tone. This specification refers to the ability to handle the notes within a given spectrum.
  • Impedance: Expressed in ohms, this refers to the resistance to the flow of an alternating current. If the impedance is lower, more current will be required in order to have it powered.
  • Sensitivity: This will be a measurement of the efficiency of the amplifier. With a higher sensitivity, a louder sound can be produced. This specification is important in order to minimize power and heat.
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Expressed as THD, this refers to the change in the harmonic current alongside the amplification of sound. If it is lesser, it means that there is lesser change and the amp is more accurate.

Top Picks for the Best Car Amplifier

If you are clueless on which will make the right choice, below are five of the models that you might want to take into consideration.

1. JL Audio JX1000/1D Amplifier

JX1000/1D - JL Audio Monoblock 1000W RMS Class D Amplifier

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This is a monoblock amplifier that comes with 1,000 watt RMS. It comes with a compact size, making it easy to have it configured in your car. In spite of its sleek profile, however, you can expect that it will be exceptional in terms of its performance.

One of the many things that I loved about this amplifier is the fact that it comes with a practical price. Even if it is economical, it is feature-rich. One that is worth mentioning is the MOSFET power supplies, which are vital for thermal capacity and proper current.

When it comes to installation flexibility, it can also prove to be an impressive choice. It has high level and low level inputs, providing you with the option to have it easily connected to speaker and pre-amp level.

Lastly, it is also worth highlighting that it comes with low pass active filter. This improves the ability of the subwoofer to create powerful sounds without resulting into apparent distortions.

Things We Liked:

  • Provides excellent bass boost
  • Perfect for those looking for budget-friendly alternatives
  • Simple and user-friendly system

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Can get warm in some instances
  • Remote volume knob should be purchased separately

2. Alpine MRX-M110 Amplifier

 Roll over image to zoom in MRX-M110 - Alpine Monoblock 1100W RMS X-Power Amplifier

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Even at an affordable price, you can be confident that you will be able to enjoy a product that has features comparable to their more expensive counterparts. This amplifier has PDX advanced digital technologies, which are common from the company’s higher end models.

Among others, the dual feedback modulation loop is one of the features that will be worth noting. It provides low power signal input and lessens the distortion that can be possibly produced by the amplifier. To add, it corrects error in real time for the best sound output.

Another thing that is worth commending about this product is the integration of multi-stage power management circuit, which has been developed in order to improve its capacity to manage heat, and hence, ensure its reliable functionality even for an extended period.

It already comes with remote control bass knob. With the latter, you will be able to make easy adjustments to the subwoofer without having to pass through the amplifier.

Things We Liked:

  • Comes with amazing power in a sleek profile
  • Installation can be completed in a snap
  • Stays cool even when used for an extended period

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The mounting feet is made from flimsy plastic
  • Signal to noise ratio could have been better

3. Alpine PDX-V9 5-channel Amplifier

 Roll over image to zoom in Alpine PDX-V9, 5-Channel Extreme Power Density Digital Amplifier

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There are many things that will be worth praising about this amplifier, but one that definitely needs to be highlighted is how clean sounding it is. This can be attributed to its total harmonic distortion, which contributes to its ability to deliver superb performance.

The physical design of this amplifier is also impressive. In fact, it is one of the well-received features of the product. It is compact, yet it does not fail to pack a lot of power, making it perfect even for discerning users.

The plug and play design of this amplifier has also captivated the attention of many and is one of the reasons why it is user-friendly. You do not need to suffer from complications to complete its installation as such will surely be done in a snap.

It also has PDX technology. The latter increases not only the reliability of the unit, but also its durability. Even through the years, you can expect the same superior functionality as it was when you first used it.

Things We Liked:

  • Small size makes it easy to install almost anywhere in the car
  • Has higher than the rated power
  • Provides extremely clean sound

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Has limited mounting options
  • Comes with an expensive price

4. Rockford Fosgate R250 X1 Amplifier

Rockford Fosgate R250X1 Prime 1-Channel Mono Block Amplifier

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This mono subwoofer amplifier is filled with features that will give the competition a run for their money. It is an affordably-priced product, yet many of its features are superb, and in fact can be comparable to their more expensive counterparts.

Among others, one of the most notable features of this amplifier is the protection from overcurrent. In the same way, it also has short circuit protection. These are two of the features that will make sure of its long-term functionality.

The Remote Punch Level Control is another thing that will make you impressed about this amplifier. With the latter, acoustic anomalies can be easily corrected and you can be assured of the best audio listening experience.

Lastly, it is worth noting that based on the frequency response of this amplifier, it should be used exclusively for subwoofers.

Things We Liked:

  • Ideal choice for budget-conscious buyers
  • Easy to install and control, even for novices
  • Offers remote level control

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Some users reported having blown transistors
  • Can be prone to heating

5. Pioneer GM-D8601 Amplifier

Pioneer GM-D8601 Class D Mono Amplifier with Wired Bass Boost Remote

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The bass boost remote is perhaps the best thing about this amplifier, which makes it significantly improve audio quality. With the latter, you will be able to have the bass configured from 0 to 18 dB, providing you with complete control.

The power that can be delivered by this amplifier is also worth noting, especially given its sleek profile. In fact, it has a continuous power rating of 800W RMS. The variable low pass filter crossover is also an excellent feature and contributes to its overall performance.

It also has Protection Control System circuity, which is basically the one that is responsible for making sure that it lasts long. It automatically detects the internal temperature and moderates input to avoid overheating.

Lastly, it has a compact design, which is beneficial in terms of its versatility. Users can enjoy flexible mounting options in different types of cars.

Things We Liked:

  • Packs a lot of power
  • Excellent value for its price
  • Provides excellent bass

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Some complaints about possible issues with durability
  • Customer support could be better


Your search for the best car amplifier won’t be easy. However, if you keep in mind the things that have been mentioned above, including some of the products that we have recommended, you will find it a lot easier to make the right decision. Your car amplifier should be seen as an investment for a better music experience, so do not hesitate to spend for it if such means being able to enjoy superior quality.