There is no doubt that we now expect much more from our cars than before. It is no longer just about transportation from point A to B. We now want to have a cosy atmosphere in the car whilst in transit and one way to ensure that is through music. It is because of this growing need to have a good sound system in the car that we saw it necessary to review the best car amplifiers for 2020.
When it comes to car amplifiers, there are several manufacturers and sellers on Amazon. It becomes challenging to select the best car amp, especially when you have no experience.
Go through this car amplifiers buying guide, and select the best car amplifier that meets your requirements and preferences. After reading this guide, you will know the best car amplifiers for 2020, the best car amplifier brands, and the cheapest budget car amplifiers.
Alternatively, skip to the best car amplifier on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Car Amplifiers Comparison Chart
- 2 Reviews of The Best Car Amplifiers
- 2.1 1. Rockford Fosgate R250X1 Prime 1-Channel Mono Block Amplifier
- 2.2 2. Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier
- 2.3 3. Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Prime 1,200 Watt Class-D Mono Amplifier
- 2.4 4. Kenwood KAC-9106D 2000W Monoblock Class D Car Audio Power Amplifier
- 2.5 5. Rockford Fosgate Prime 750 Watt Class D 1 channel Amplifier
- 2.6 6. JL Audio JX1000/1D 1000 Watt RMS Monoblock Class D Car Amplifier
- 2.7 7. Alpine PDX-V9, 5-Channel Extreme Power Density Digital Amplifier
- 2.8 8. Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier
- 2.9 9. BOSS Audio Systems R1100M Monoblock Car Amplifier
- 2.10 10. BOSS Audio Systems AR1500M Car Amplifier
- 3 The Cheapest Car Amplifier
- 4 The Most Powerful Car Amplifier
- 5 Overall Best Car Amplifier for 2020
- 6 Best Car Amplifier Brands
- 7 The Functions Of A Car Amplifier
- 8 How A Car Amplifier Works
- 9 Factors To Consider When Buying A Car Amplifier
- 10 What Kind Of Car Amplifier Should I Get?
- 11 Installation Procedure For A Car Amplifier
Best Car Amplifiers Comparison Chart
|Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Prime 1,200 Watt Class-D Mono Amplifier||Kenwood KAC-9106D 2000W Monoblock Class D Car Audio Power Amplifier||Rockford Fosgate Prime 750 Watt Class D 1 channel Amplifier|
|JL Audio JX1000/1D 1000 Watt RMS Monoblock Class D Car Amplifier||Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier||BOSS Audio Systems R1100M Monoblock Car Amplifier|
Reviews of The Best Car Amplifiers
1. Rockford Fosgate R250X1 Prime 1-Channel Mono Block Amplifier
This car amplifier weighs 5 pounds and measures 14.5 by 10.3 by 4.3 inches. It requires a 12 volt battery to operate. This is a 150 Watts RMS car amplifier with an on-board Punch Equalizer. It has +18dB boost at 45 hertz. It also has a top mounted control panel for easy control. It has a heat-sink made out of cast aluminium. It has a conveniently compact design and delivers good sound quality. It also provides the possibility of adding 2 8-inch or 10-inch 4-ohm SVC subwoofers connected in parallel. If you are a bass enthusiast then this car amplifier is for you. This is because it can power a subwoofer with as much as 250 Watts RMS. This amplifier is connectable to any sound system – factory fitted ones included. It can operate with either purchased source units or factory fitted ones. It comes with an onboard 12dB per octave LP or HP or AP crossover.
We give this car amplifier a rating of 4.5 out of 5. Generally, it is a high rated car amplifier. This is because it delivers impeccable performance in terms of sound quality, noise level, remote control, and robustness amongst others. As earlier stated, the bass output is quite exceptional which is why its overall sound quality is quite excellent. The other praised feature stems from its compact design which makes it easy to fit into a car. This is the best 1 channel car amplifier.
2. Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier
This car amplifier weighs 4.6 pounds whilst measuring 13 by 9.1 by 4.3 inches. The sound output is both clearly audible and very clean. It is easily compatible with virtually any type of speakers. This amplifier has a power rating of 13 Watts per channel – at 2 OHMs. Basically it is a 75 W or 300 (maximum) RMS. Again, it has a compact design which makes it easily installable.
It comes with a lot of convenient features such as an auto sensor remote system. We give rate this one a 4.9 out of 5 some of the basis being great sound quality, and easy installation. In a quarter of an hour or less you can be done with the installation procedure. For the best installation experience it is wiser to use 6 or 8 gauge wires. Clean sound, devoid of any static or distortion is produced. This is the best car amplifier for 2020. It’s also the best 4 channel car amp on the market.
3. Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Prime 1,200 Watt Class-D Mono Amplifier
This car amp gives out 1200 Watts in a 1 Ohm load seamlessly. This also has an onboard punch equalizer plus a bass boost feature. The equalizer has a +18dB boost at 45 hertz. It comes with an in-built mechanism that ensures that circuits function smoothly. It weighs 7.12 pounds and measures 13.8 by 9.3 by 4 inches in size. It is a 12bB per octave Butterworth crossover with an infrasonic filter. It comes with a remote punch level control and RCA pass through outputs. There is thermal sensing for output and power supply – this all happens in real-time. There are also top mounted controls and a cast aluminium heat-sink.
As for rating we place this one at 4.5 out 5. Features like great sound quality, remote control and ease of installation account for this. Additionally, the amplifier is robust and can last long. There is a general tendency to remark on the discrepancy between its price and what it delivers. What it delivers far outweighs how reasonably priced it is – it is exceptional. It qualifies as one of the best car amps for 2020.
4. Kenwood KAC-9106D 2000W Monoblock Class D Car Audio Power Amplifier
It requires a 12V battery, weighs 7 pounds and measures 15.3 by 4.8 by 10.2 inches. This car amplifier gives off as much as 1000 Watts RMS to a subwoofer. This is a Class D amplifier with 500 Watts RMS by 1 at 4 Ohms (1000 Watts by 1 at 2 Ohms). It has a variable low-pass filter i.e. 50 to 200 hertz at 24 dB per octave. It is also compatible with virtually any system.
This is a car amplifier we are giving a 4 out 5 rating. Key outstanding features are just the sound quality and a somewhat easy installation procedure. It seems that a continuous 2000 Watt output might be a tall order for this amplifier. This is because it might not be able to handle 1 Ohm constantly. Sound quality is appreciable but not to some people’s expectations. When you push it to extremes it can become problematic. It is best to use it at moderate sound output levels lest you push it too hard. It’s one of the best car amps which is easy to install.
5. Rockford Fosgate Prime 750 Watt Class D 1 channel Amplifier
This amplifier can easily produce 750 Watts into a 1 Ohm load. It comes with three protective mechanisms for over-current, short circuits and thermal. It has onboard punch equalization with 18dB boost at 45 hertz. This amplifier also has a variable 12dB per octave crossover. There is am infrasonic filter plus a low pass varying from 50 hertz to 500 hertz at 12dB per octave. The amplifier weighs 5 pounds and measures 12 by 9.3 by 4 inches. It requires a 12 V battery to function.
As for a rating we give this amplifier 4.7 out of 5, thus its one of the top car amplifiers. It is compact, reasonably priced and delivers excellent power. A recurrent user experience is the absence of any overheating issues. Most people remark that the overall performance of this amplifier far exceeds expectations. Exceptional sound quality plus it can last for years.
6. JL Audio JX1000/1D 1000 Watt RMS Monoblock Class D Car Amplifier
This is an amplifier which powers 500 RMS at 4 Ohms, 750 RMS at 3 Ohms and 1000 RMS at 2 Ohms. It has a variable bass boost i.e. 0 to +12dB at 45 hertz. It weighs 4.41 pounds and measures 14 by 9.5 by 4 inches. It has a soft start turn-on which prevents clicking and popping when the system starts running.
The JX1000/1D gets a 4.5 out 5 rating from us. It is very to setup and the sound output is quite good. There is also a general consensus that the product’s performance matches its price point.
7. Alpine PDX-V9, 5-Channel Extreme Power Density Digital Amplifier
This delivers power of 1600 Watts maximum plus it is a 5-channel. It has CEA-2006 power rating of 100W RMS by 4 and 500W RMS by 1. It measures 13 by 9.1 by 4.3 inches and weighs 7.05 pounds. It has a stackable installation design and has front panel controls. Accessing the amplifier’s vitals is made easy by that front panel controls setup.
We give this one a 4.6 out of 5 rating with sound quality being one of its outstanding features. It is also versatile, robust and very easy to install. One of the most impressive things about this amplifier is the extreme power that it produces. It is very pricey but it is generally acceptable because of the value for money that it provides. This is the best and most powerful car amplifier of 2020. It’s also the best 5 Channel car amplifier on the market.
8. Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier
This amplifier is rated at 500 Watts by 1 channel at 2 Ohms RMS. It can also deliver 300 Watts by 1 channel at 4 Ohms. Frequency ranges from 20 hertz to 250 hertz +/- 1dB. It has high level inputs, RCA pass through outputs, real time thermal sensing for output and power supply. It also has a remote bass control plus a phase switch. It has a 12dB per octave crossover and an onboard punch equalization with +18dB boost at 45 hertz. It is compatible with virtually any sound system. It weighs 5.09 pounds and measures 11.8 by 10.5 by 4.2 inches in size.
We give this one a rating of 4.7 out of 5. There are several great attributes of this amplifier that qualifies it for that rating. Sound output is great, it is durable, there is remote control and noise level is extremely good. It is so good that most people wonder why it is lowly priced. It’s is certainly one of the best car amplifiers on the market.
9. BOSS Audio Systems R1100M Monoblock Car Amplifier
It weighs 4.4 pounds and measures 9.1 by 10.4 by 2.2 inches in size. This gives out a maximum power of 1100 Watts; it is 2 or 4 Ohm stable and is Class A or B. It also has remote subwoofer control. It can power 1100 Watts at 2 Ohms (that is maximum power) and 825 Watts RMS at 2 Ohms. It can power a maximum of 550 Watts at 4 Ohms into 1 channel. It comes with a variable low pass crossover and bass boost.
4.3 out of 5 is a befitting rating for this amplifier. This is great choice for those who are only just buying a car amplifier for the first time. Some of its outstanding attributes are material quality and appreciable noise level. It’s one of the most affordable car amplifier on the market.
10. BOSS Audio Systems AR1500M Car Amplifier
This is a 2 Ohms stable amplifier with a maximum power of 1500 Watts into 1 channel. An output of 750 Watts at 4 Ohms is deliverable into 1 channel. It weighs 5 pounds and measures 10.3 by 6.5 by 2.8 inches in size. It has a switchable bass boost and a low pass crossover. It has both low level and high level inputs.
This is an amplifier we are giving a 4 out 5 in terms of rating. The overall performance of the amplifier is closely tied in to its price point. It seems that the performance is moderate and most people feel it is because of its low price. If you are not the extreme volume and bass enthusiast then this budget amplifier will do for you. Some complications tend to arise if it is pushed too hard to the extremes. High-power continuous use can be an uphill task for this amplifier. This is the cheapest car amplifier for 2020.
The Cheapest Car Amplifier
From our list of the 10 best car amplifiers, the cheapest car amplifier is the BOSS Audio Systems AR1500M Car Amplifier
The Most Powerful Car Amplifier
The most powerful car amplifier for 2020 is the Alpine PDX-V9, 5-Channel Extreme Power Density Digital Amplifier. This is of course the most expensive car amplifier on our list but it is well worth the price tag. Remember how we remarked at the very beginning that the power rating of a car amplifier must be high enough to exceed that of the speakers. This car amplifier has an impressive power rating of 1600 Watts. You also must bear in mind that one of the overriding determinants in choosing a car amplifier is the number channels you want.
It is quite obvious that the most powerful amplifier is the one that can power two front speakers, two rear speakers and a subwoofer. Well, that is why we have chosen this one as the most powerful car amplifier because it is a 5-channel amplifier. On top of that it has a compact design and it is very easy to install. It delivers maximum sound quality and has an aesthetic appeal. This is an amplifier which is a buy-once-and-for-all because it provides a complete experience. This means you can amplify for the whole vehicle with just a single installation of one amplifier. After all, Alphine is a reputable car amplifiers brand. This is easily one of the best car amplifiers on the market.
Overall Best Car Amplifier for 2020
The overall best car amplifier for 2020 is the Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier. This is a class D digital amplifier, which result in a huge efficiency gain without draining your battery or your pockets. This amplifier provides continuous clean power to your speakers, operating at 80% efficiency far greater than conventional Class A or B amplifiers. As a result you enjoy cleaner bass, even during extreme power demands The Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier has dual internal error correction technology which result in the widest frequency response, higher damping factor, and lowest noise in its class.
In summary, this amplifier has a compact design, good sound quality, is easy to install and reasonably priced. This is undoubtedly the best car amplifier for 2020.
Best Car Amplifier Brands
When it comes to the best car amplifier brands there are 5 brands that come to mind. These are Rockford Fosgate, Kenwood, Alphine, Boss Audio and JL Audio (in no particular order). Boss Audio is well known for providing the best budget car amplifiers. JL Audio car amplifiers are usually quite expensive but for valid reasons though. Their minimalist size is far removed from the quality of power and sound that they deliver. You might want to know that renowned car makers such as BMW have had strategic alliances where Alphine did their car audio systems. So there is no question about the exceptional reputation that Alphine has. One of the outstanding things about Rockford Fosgate is that they balance a great package with affordability as well. Kenwood is a very popular car amplifier brand. Its designs stand out in that they do not look typical – they look very sophisticated (like out of a sci-fi movie). Robustness and great audio output are characteristic of their car amplifiers.
The Functions Of A Car Amplifier
In the most basic terms, an amplifier enhances sound quality. It provides a system that produces enhanced power to power your speakers. As is apparent in the name ‘amplifier’ you can basically infer that there is something being amplified. An amplifier converts a low-level input signal to a higher electrical waveform. This conversion occurs without changing the content of the input signal. In essence, what an amplifier does is to boost the low-level signal into a higher voltage that is high enough to cause speakers to vibrate and produce loud enough sound.
How A Car Amplifier Works
Car amplifiers have an internal high power supply that is specially designed to power their circuits. That mechanism is wired up to take in an input audio signal. After taking it in it then boosts and passes it on to the speakers. There are basically 4 key parts that are found in virtually any car amplifier. They are a direct current (DC) power supply, a ground loop circuitry, speaker crossover circuitry and bridging circuitry. The direct current power supply is responsible for switching to high power that is required for the powering the car amplifier. Switching to high power is a process that entails low voltage being stepped up. The input voltage comes from the car’s battery – the connection between the car amplifier and the battery is through a fuse. The ground loop is for preventing noise production. Then there is a 5th part but it is not always found in every car amplifier. These are what are called speaker-level input stages.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Car Amplifier
There are quite a number of things to consider when buying a car amplifier. Some of them are as follows:
The choice of number of channels is informed by what you want to power or use. It could be you want to use speakers only, or subwoofers or even both. Essentially, for every speaker that has to be connected that is a channel needed. 2-channel is ideal for a subwoofer whilst 4-channel is good for the speakers. For both speakers and subwoofer you can settle for 5-channel. Normally channels can be 2, 4 or 6. 4-channel ones are usually regarded as the best since they bring about maximum and volume output. Mono channel is best when it comes to just powering a subwoofer only. A 2-channel is the best fit for powering one subwoofer and two speakers. A 4-channel is ideal for powering two pairs of speakers and a subwoofer.
Where do you want it installed? This will translate into size considerations. There has to be a place where it will fit into your car. At least these days more and more compact car amplifiers are being made. Just a piece of advice here; due to advancements in technology designs have gotten more compact. So do not quickly pass off a car amplifier just because it looks too small. Most of the best performing car amplifiers are actually quite small. The overriding consideration to make has to do with whether it will fit and all.
Wiring is also an important factor. There is what is called oxygen-free copper (OFC) cables. These allow a smooth of power supply flow from the car battery. Anything other than that is not as efficient. Wire gauge specs are also important especially in terms of smooth power flow. It is always recommended that the highest gauge rating is best. There are some considerations to make or basic guidelines that you can follow. You use 8 gauge wires for anything up to 500 Watts RMS. For the range of 500 Watts to 1000 Watts RMS you must use 4 gauge wires. Spanning from 1000 Watts to 1500 Watts RMS it is best to use 2 gauge wires.
There working principle here is quite simple. The power rating of your amplifier must be higher than that of the speakers. This is critically important as it will ensure that your amplifier does not overheat. You must also bear in mind that if the power output of your amplifier is lower than the power rating of the speakers then the speakers could be damaged. In the event that you have to purchase both speakers and an amplifier remember that you must purchase the speakers first. If the speakers are already fitted in the car you can figure out the RMS value. The power rating of the car amplifier would have to be anything spanning from 755 to 150% of the RMS figure. As a rule of thumb, your car amplifier must be able to deliver power that is 2 times more than the speakers’ power rating.
What Kind Of Car Amplifier Should I Get?
The kind of car amplifier to get will depend on certain factors or variables which we have mostly discussed prior. Additional details to add here pertain to amplifier ratings – this can guide you on what kind of car amplifier you should get. There are 4 types of car amplifiers namely, Class A, Class B, Class AB and Class D. Class A ones produce immaculate sound but are characterised by high temperatures and high energy consumption. Class B ones are great on temperatures and energy consumption but experience distortion on sound output at high frequencies.
The AB ones come with low temperatures, low energy consumption and produce immaculate sound. Their downside is that they are not as good as Class As when operating at peak. Class D do well on temperature and energy consumption whilst delivering great sound at low frequencies. However, at high frequencies they deliver poor sound. Overall, the most settled for are the Class AB car amplifiers. This is because they deliver what Class A and Class B provide.
Installation Procedure For A Car Amplifier
The installation procedure of a car amplifier comprises 5 basic connections that must be made. These are connection to the battery, to the ground, to the remote turn-on, to the audio input and to the audio output. Installation can be quite easy for one to do especially since it is the norm for a car amplifier to come with its own wiring kit. The basic things required to install are a main power wire, ground wire, speaker wires, remote turn on wire, RCA cables, inline fuse and connector plugs. Where to install the amplifier is an important consideration to make. The functional mechanism of a car amplifier entails heat generation thus allowance for free air circulation is paramount. Before settling for where to install this is something you must carefully consider. Still on that, you must also bear in mind that you will have to connect the amplifier to the head unit and to the battery. This then means your ultimate positioning of the amplifier must take that into consideration (but still not forgetting free air circulation).
Wiring is best placed under concealed surfaces to avoid any tempering and the like. Before you start doing any fitting it is imperative that you make sure the positive terminal of the battery is not connected. RCA cables and the power wires must by all means placed far apart to avoid crossing paths. Routing them on totally opposite sides is most recommended. The guiding principle here should be the route the power wire will take to the battery. Determine that first then the RCA cables will be routed following a path opposite and out of the path of the power wire. In some cases drilling holes for routing cables might be necessary – just be careful to not drill through sensitive parts. Make sure your wiring has an allowance in length that will not make them too tight once installation is complete. Wiring may entail using connector plugs or bare wires – it depends.
Once the amplifier is now in the intended resting position you can start by connecting the ground wire. You connect it to any metal part of the chassis (in some cases there is a specifically provided connecting point for that). Next you take the RCAs, speaker wires and remote turn on – you then plug them into their corresponding positions at the rear of the head unit. You then connect front, rear and subwoofer speaker wires to their respective speakers i.e. from the amp. Next up is the power wire which you connect to the car battery.
Incorporate the inline fuse as part of the main power line. It is advisable to put the inline fuse in close proximity to the car battery. Proceed to connect the power wire to the positive battery lead. After which you connect back on the positive terminal of the battery. After checking that everything is in order and all wiring is secure you can test the system. If all this is too intricate for you then it is wise to get someone with the know-how to do it for you.
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