Guide to Choosing an Amplifier For Your Car

Choosing The Right AMP For Your Car - Guide - Featured Image

When it comes to the sound system in your ride, a solid amp forms the centerpiece and should not be overlooked.

Since we have served you up with a range of reviews on all different types of car amplifier from monoblock amps through to 5-channel monsters, we thought we’d rattle of a guide to getting the best car amp fuss-free.

Why Do You Need an Amplifier?

However you like to listen to your music, a decent amp is essential.

Here are 3 reasons why you need one…

  • Sound Quality – You’ll notice marked improvements when it comes to sound clarity, response and sensitivity with a great amp.
  • Powering Your Subwoofer – In general, factory-issue amps don’t cut it if you need to drive a heavy-duty sub. Investing in an amp will enhance the capability of your woofer no end.
  • Powering Speakers – When you decide to uprate your speakers, don’t overlook the importance of upgrading the amp to keep pace.

What To Consider When Choosing an Amp

Think about the following before you launch in and start assembling your shortlist of the best car amps

1. How Many Channels?

First thing’s first, you need to consider the number of channels.

For the sake of ease, we’ll stick to the 4 categories we have reviewed here on the site.

  • Monoblock Amp – Designed mainly for powering subwoofers, these provide plenty of firepower without needing such a clean signal. Since subs rarely play higher frequencies, most monoblock amps are not full-range. Monoblocks are produced with efficiency and power output firmly in mind.
  • 2-Channel Amp – A very popular choice, 2-channel amps are versatile units. Power is provided to a pair of channels. You can either power a pair of speakers or bridge the amp so that more output is pushed to one channel making a 2-channel amp a great fit if you have a sub in the trunk.
  • 4-Channel Amp – If you’ve got a whole set of door speakers, think about splurging on a 4-channel amp. Although these amps are also bridgeable, their most application is for a set of speakers.
  • 5-Channel Amp – Combining a monoblock and a 4-channel amp, the 5-channel unit sidesteps the need for multiple amps in more complex sound systems. These don’t work as well for power-hungry applications.

2. Power

The figure that counts is RMS power. Unless you have a thorough understanding, focusing purely on peak power can be misleading at best.

Impedance is measured in ohms. The lower the impedance rating, the greater the wattage from the amp.

Buying an amp that’s too weak for your speakers is a recipe for disaster that will lead to distortion and disappointment.

3. Compatibility

Since most factory head units don’t have any pre-amp outlets, make sure your amp has speaker-level inputs or consider upgrading the head unit instead.

If you’re choosing to build an entire system from scratch, look for a head unit with those pre-amp outlets you’ll need an choose an amp with line-level inputs.

Taking time at this stage can prevent wasted time and money.

4. Technical Specs

We try to avoid bombarding you with technical specifications in our summary reviews but, once you’ve assembled your shortlist of the best car amplifiers, it’s well worth your while doubling down on the specs.

It pays to develop at least a basic grounding in the following areas:

  • Sensitivity – This measures the efficiency of the amp. The higher the sensitivity, the louder the overall sound. Optimized sensitivity also leads to less heat being generated
  • Frequency Response – This relates to the tone or pitch of the sound. The frequency rating indicates how well your amp will be able to handle a range of sound
  • Decibel Rating – Put simply, this shows you how loud the amp will be.
  • Distortion – Total harmonic distortion (THD) will indicate how accurate the amp is.

5. Size of Amp

Don’t overlook the physical size of the units you’re contemplating.

It’s pointless deciding to pour your money into a real beast if you don’t have the interior real estate to comfortably accommodate it. If space is at a premium, consider investing in a shallow-mount amplifier.

You can get plenty of powerhouse amps in compact bodies so don’t be fooled into thinking you need to get a hulking giant.

6. How About The Battery?

You’ll need to pay attention to getting an auxiliary battery if your system is moderate to high power.

With anything over 1000 watts of RMS power, you really need an extra battery so swallow the expense. It will be worth it.

7. Installation and Wiring

You can easily take your amp to a mechanic for installation but it’s not too tough to fit it yourself.

Check out our article on the best car amp wiring kits for more advice.

All in All

We hope you’ll now feel a little more confident in picking up the best car amplifier for your needs.

As long as you think closely about what kind of system you’ll be powering, stick to your budget and read plenty of impartial user reviews, finding the right amp is really remarkably simple.

All you need to do then is install it so check out our car amp wiring kit reviews for more advice there.

We’re aggressively building out our site to make it a one-stop shop for everything car-related so please come back soon!

Brett Gordon

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.