Mobile Edge has been selling and installing car amplifiers since 1994. Amplifiers have evolved a lot since then but they still do the same thing: Make music sound better and louder. Or at least that’s what they are supposed to do. In this post we will cover 7 different things to consider when buying a car audio amplifier.
1. Be Sure You Are Getting What You Are Paying For
(Also known as Check Out The Fuses)
It’s very tempting to buy that 2000 watt amp for $199. After all, 2000 watts is a lot of watts for $199! Before you plop down your cash, do yourself a favor and check the fuses. It is simple physics. Power = Voltage X Current Draw X Efficiency Constant.. Average voltage of your vehicle may be around 13.5 Volt… Current Draw would be the total fuse rating of the amp and the efficiency constant is about .6 for Class AB amps and .8 for Class D amps.
Lets say the amp is fused at 50 amps and it is a class AB. Simple math says that it will produce 13.5 X 50 X .6 watts… about 405 watts. That is about the most that an AB amp fused at 50 amps can produce.
Normally, you will find that the better quality amplifiers will advertise a more exact rating. Check the fuse and do the math to make sure you are getting what you pay for. For more detailed information, check out this post and this video.
2. Warranty Of The Amplifier
Buyer Beware! Be sure that you are getting a warranty on your amplifier! Many manufactures will not honor a warranty unless the amp was purchased from an authorized retailer. While, on the surface, this might not seem fair, please consider the reasoning behind it: Manufacturer’s work hard to set up a distribution chain that they can trust. When their product is sold by one of their dealers, they know where the product was from the time it left their factory. When it is sold by an unauthorized dealer, the manufacturer has no way of knowing where the product has been or what might have been done to it. How could they offer a warranty on something that was not under their control?
Before buying an amp from anywhere, be sure to verify that the seller in question is indeed authorized. If you cannot find them on the manufacturer’s dealer locator, then pick up the phone and call the company. If they are not authorized, you really need to think twice before making a purchase.
3. Physical Size Of The Amplifier
MAKE SURE THE AMP WILL FIT! Don’t buy a huge amplifier and expect it to fit under your seat. Technology has moved along nicely in the past decade and there are many small (even tiny!) amps that produce a lot of good clean power. Don’t let a small amp fool you. A lot of good amplifiers come in small packages. Make sure it will fit where you want it to fit!
The amp to the right is a Hertz HDP4. It measures just 6.73″ X 11.18″ X 1.83″ but puts out a rock solid 150 watts into each of it’s 4 channels. An amp like this can power most systems and easily fit under most car seats.
4. Amplifier Wiring
Buy good wiring for your amp! Don’t be fooled by the “to good to be true” deals on amp wire kits. Oxygen free copper (OFC) is king! The price of copper has gone through the roof and along with it, quality amp kits have risen in price.
Beware of CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum) kits. These kits are composed of a center conductor of Aluminum and an outer ring of copper. Copper is an infinitely better conductor of electricity than aluminum. In some cases a 4 gauge CCA cable will carry less current than an 8 gauge OFC kit.
Finally, there is a big difference in the “size” of the wire. Back in the day (10-15 years ago) 4 gauge was 4 gauge. It was slightly thicker than a sharpy and the coating was of a consistent thickness. Today, you need to be careful. A lot of Chinese manufactured kits are coming through with a very thick coatings and very little wire! A 4 gauge kit sometimes has less wire than a “real” 8 gauge kit. Buyer beware!
This is one of the better videos that I have found that demonstrates the difference between CCA and OFC kits.
5. Amplifier Feature Set
Make sure that you amplifier will do what you need it to do. Does it have high level inputs for direct connection to your factory deck? Does it have a subsonic filter for your ported subwoofer application? Is it stable to your desired ohm load? All of these questions and a lot more can be answered by a professional shop. They do this every day of their lives!
6. What Will This Amplifier Be Powering?
This is very important. Make sure that the amp will be compatible with the ohm load that you are going to be wiring it up to. If you overload your amp, it will die. Make sure that you are not buying a monoblok (1 channel) amplifier for a 2 or 4 channel application… It happens! Make sure that the amp has crossovers that are compatible with the application you need.
7. Buy A More Powerful Amplifier Than You Need
This might sound A$$ backward… It’s not. In the 20+ years that I have been in this business, I can count on 1 hand the number of speakers that have been blown because of too much power. Nearly EVERY blown speaker that I have seen is the result of too little power! How is that possible you ask? I’ll tell you.
Lets say you buy one of those 2000 watt jobs referred to in #1 of this post. We’ve shown that the most it would produce is 405 watts. You hook this up to your sub box and it disappoints. What do you do? You turn up the gain control of course! BAD MOVE! The gain is there to match the output of your deck to the input of the amp. It has nothing to do with the speakers or subs the amp is hooked up to. There is only one correct setting and it is determined by the deck not the speakers or subs. When you turn up the gain you create clipping. In simple terms, clipping kills speakers. Because the amp did not produce enough power, you artificially tried to boost the power. BAMMM. Fried speakers…
Buy more power than your speakers require. You will be able to keep your gains at the proper setting. This will make for better sound and lower the odds of damaging your speakers.
There are thousands of amplifiers available. Some are good, some are not. Use better judgement and the guidelines spelled out above and you will get better sound that will last for a long time. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. As always, a professional specialist shop like Mobile Edge can give you great advice on quality product that will make sure that you enjoy every minute of your daily commute!
A. Bogdan says
Great review, a lot of things that i didn’t know until now. I ‘m planing to upgrade my OEM audio in Audi A6 2006 Sedan. I have chose 2 amplifier Hertz HD5 -FOCAL FPP 5300 but the most dificult choice is what speakers to hook-up. Can you give me an advice ?
Take a listen to the Audison Voce AVK6 or the Hertz MLK2TW… FREAK’n Amazing!
I have a 800wat 2channel amp running to a couple 10inch subs at 1200w does this mean I should be cranking up the hertz and keeping the gain down a bit? (I forget the specs on my head unit)
Unfortunately, I don’t understand your question. I would recommend that you find a quality shop in your area and go in and explain to them what you want. I’d bet that they will have exactly what you need.
I have a JBL GTO 508c component system and a JBL GTO 938 6×9 speakers in my car. I want to add a sub. Should i get a 4, 5 channel amp?
Mitchell Schaffer says
Juan, There is not a clearcut answer to your question, but I would suspect that a 5 channel amplifier would give you the most flexibility. If you are from our area, please stop in with your speakers and let us take a look at them. We can definitely offer you some good advice.
which companies amplifier is best
I have chevrolet Spark, In that i have Alpine 1 Din Deck no. 110, & Polk Audio speaker 2+2, I want best reasonable & Best sund quality Woofer, 2 Channel Amp please suggest best alternat ,
I am looking for a small 4channel Amp that can hold its own and not cost me a lot of $$$$$.
Mitchell Schaffer says
Chris, we can definitely help you. Stop in with your vehicle and let us take a look at what you need. We have quite a few 4 channel amp in stock.
Ramon Delatorre says
What are good amp brands you recommend?
Mitchell Schaffer says
At Mobile Edge, we proudly offer Hertz, Audison and Memphis Car Audio.
Anthony Sanchez says
Ok, so after I read this arcticle i knew that my amplifier is one of those “too good to be true” amplifiers. Now that I know that. I have a question about the power source to my car. i currently have an lc7 hooked up to my factory bose amp to connect my amplifier. (lanzar 3000 watt peak.) the Lc7 came with a knob to turn the bass up or down. When i turn up the knob and put my stereo to a high level, my RPM’s drop noticibly. Could that be my alternator or what? i know its not my battery, because i just bought a red top optima. if you could shed some light on this, i would very much appreciate it. Thank you.
Mitchell Schaffer says
There is no clear cut answer to this. What you want to do first is to get your charging system checked. Even though it is a new battery, get it checked anyway along with your alternator. Once you know for sure that it is not your charging system, you can dig in to more time consuming troubleshooting.
So is the number of watts you came up with after your tests the rms power of that amplifier?
rasur tipps says
Yes! Finally someone writes about nassrasierer elektrisch.
In today’s world, when so many people are busy making use of their hectic schedule, they appear for strategies
to relaxing and moving away from each of the tensions.
If you like playing Rn – B, techno or hip-hop on a holiday,
then you’ve more subwoofer, simply because this
music sounds real low. The truly fun part is actually customizing
and building the speaker yourself.
I purchased kenwood 2 way 6.5 speakers for my car a civic 09. The speakers watts are 300 watts per pair and 30 watts for rms my question is can i put amplifier on this 4 speakers and what type of amp do i need
Virza Rochdiansyah says
from my experience 4×300 or if you want better is 4×600.. thats why im upgrading my amplifier. and now im try to compare which one is better and fit with my pocket 🙂
Virza Rochdiansyah says
Hi.. Im about to upgrade my amplifier but I’m not that experienced in this things. I have and option for 4 channel amplifier. first is JBL GTO 1004 600.4, second is Rockford prime R300.4 and the last is rockford PBR 300.4
i need some suggestion
Kenny brown says
I’m not anywhere near your area, been doing car audio for 12 years but I’m having a difficult time with my latest system, I have 2 alpine type sws 15d4, a pioneer fh-x70bt (hu) , two 4 1/2 (150 watts Rockford renegades) and 2 boss 350 watt bullet tweeters for surround, I bought a cheap 4 channel amp (boss 2000 watt 2 ohm stable “670rms @4 ohms” so it states, never tested) and I’m looking for an amp to replace it to push my 15s, and a separate amp to push the highs, since right now everything is running off the 4 channel and the highs sound amazing but I would like an opinion on a decent amp to push the alpines, something that will truly give an rms steady rate of 1200-1500watts at 4 ohms, IDK if I need a mono block or a 2 channel and if you know of any 2 channels capable of that if that’s wat I need? Thanks in advance.
I would get a MonoBlock to run the Sub and then use the 4 channel for the remaining speakers.
In my experience it is always better to have a separate Amp for the Sub and Speakers.
However this can get pricey (cost of a second amp and speaker wires to the sub). A solution is to look for an Active Subwoofer (subwoofer with its own built in Amp), as they only require power cable and RCA cable from head unit, which makes for a convenient and easy install. Also makes for a quick and easy removal to take to your next car.
JL-Audio latest innovation in their active ‘MicroSub+’ range, have a first of it’s kind DCD (Direct current) Amp built in. I use the twin 8inch (not much room) in my car and its powerful enough trust me.
Hertz HDP4 is what i am upgrading to tomorrow to power my 4 Speakers (Hertz ESK 165L.5 (100w) component in front and ECX 165 coaxial (70w) in rear). As your article states it’s 150w per channel so this will power all four plus leave around 50-70w headroom. So I’m expecting a transformation, hopefully it will live up to the hype.
It will be replacing a Hertz HCP4 (55w per channel), I have no headroom with this unit, in fact the speakers are underpowered by about 20-50w each. after a year of fiddling with every damn thing and not 100% happy with what I am hearing, I now understand the importance of headroom.
I admit I am a musician and have very musically tuned ears, the moment the shop finished my install and I listened, I identified rear left as out of phase with the rest, which it was. Moral of the story, always have a musician listen to your set-up, they can hear things you can’t.
Hey I have the hertz mille pro 6 x 9, 4 of them in the car. The installer gave me a HCP4 for those speakers. They said that should be enough power, but i think it’s under powered. I think HDP4 would be way better to power them and better sounding no? what is another amp that i can do as well if i wanted to. I heard fosgate would be a good one.
hi there i have 6 #550 pionniers speaker and a 1200w sub i need a good and powerful amp for them can any one help
Jerry Smith says
Hi. Thanks a lot for this article. I was trying to find a suitable amp for my car. I am confused that which amplifier will be the best for my car, is it 4 gauge or 5 gauge and which CCA wire is the best with it?
Great article. I am planning to buy a 4 channel amplifier. my current setup is as follows.
1. Hertz HSK 165 comps
2. Hertz HCX coax
3. Hertz HDP 1 mono
4. Hertz HX 380D sub
5. Pioneer double din 4450 BT HU
I have shortlisted some amps and need your input which amp has best sound quality.
1. Mosconi One 130.4 DSP
2. Audison AV quattro
3. Mosconi AS 100.4 or AS 200.4
4. Hertz HDP 4
5. Audison AP8.9 bit
6. Or any other amplifier.
The goal is to get best sound quality with loudness.
Mitchell Schaffer says
Meer, you should not be seeking advice like this online. You need to go out into stores and audition this product for yourself and see what sounds best to your ears. We would be happy to let you audition the Hertz and audition products here at our store.
Burt Silver says
One thing I completely agree about is that you need to make sure you are getting a warranty on your car amplifier. I would want to make sure that if anything happened to my amplifier, I would be able to have it replaced. I have been looking at different car audio upgrades ever since I bought my new car. I want to make my music sound as great as I can. I will have to keep these tips in mind!
Hi, great advice! referring to your last point, i have a 160w RMS 4 ohm sub which needs an amp, how much more powerful can the amp be (or need to be) for example would a 500w RMS 4 ohm amp be okay or too powerful? Is there a limit to how much more powerful the amp should be?
Choosing an amplifier for audio system is not an easy issue to deal with. Thanks for sharing great tips and information!
Scarlett Autance says
What a bunch of great information. Thanks for taking your time to sharing this.
Jaswinder Singh says
I want to buy an sound system. . From the shop where iam going to buy they sell two models.. and the only difference they say in those two models are that for one model they say that magnet in subwoofer is double than other and aluminium sheet for amplifier is 0.25% thicker than otherother things are same. how much difference it will make and in which way…
Please please assist me fast
Zane Hamilton says
I am looking to buy 2 10″ Memphis Mojo6. would you recommend to get the D2 or D4? also what are a couple amps you would recommend to run these subs on? they run 1100watt RMS or 2200 watt peak each.
Vancouver audio says
Well while buying car amplifier there are things which you need to look before buying as first thing which you need to look is its size of amplifier whether it will fit on your car or not lays importance in itself moreover you will also need to look its quality as you can easily look by viewing its company or reviews on various websites.
Mikey Jacobs says
I have 2 RF punch 3.5″ speakers in dash , 2 RF T1 power tweeters , 2 RF Punch Pro PP4-6 in front doors , 2 RF punch 6.75 in rear doors . I need options on what is best way to amplify this set up I am all set with amp for sub it a p300-12 with built in amp. I am also using a 3 way electronic crossover to help with frequency’s any suggestions would be great I blew my RF prime 300.4 not paying attention put ground in power and power wire in ground lol. Right now I’m using a 2 channel RF p2002 and 4 channel shit boss amp that only channel 1 and 2 work and I rigged the system by parael wire the speakers to all work off 4 channels but it’s obviously not retainable for 8 4 ohm speakers . My budget is around 500 to spend on Amps but I am going to most likely still use the RF P2002 2 channel amp. I need a dsp as well any thoughts would be much appreciated !
Mtx Bass Package says
What a great article to share. A great contribution especially for someone looking forward to buying a car subwoofer, amplifier and enclosure. If anybody wants to install a new one, this is the most effective share, that will be very helpful for the best choice. Thanks a lot for the post.
Dig My Ride says
Investing in the right amplifier for you car’s sound system would provide the best sound quality for your ride. You have to make sure that your car amplifier would fit your other sound accessories so you won’t fry your amplifier.
Tim Roberts says
Can I wire a 4 channel amp to 6 speakers? And which brands makes the best amps?
Mario Mathews says
great content !!
i still on the stock speakers in my car but i was thinking of getting new speakers for better sound
im woundering which amp would be perfect for my bmw f20 116i, 4 speakers 1 subwoofer.
Such a to good information about the car audio amplifier I am use also this is great this blog help full and use full thanks sharing this article