Does the music in your car sound distorted at high volumes? Do you want a crisper, fuller, and more detailed sound from your speaker system? If so, you should consider browsing this list for the best amplifier to suit your needs. While you can get a factory system upgrade for more money, you’re probably looking for the best car amplifier for the money that you have in your budget.
Car amplifiers increase the power of the audio signal so that the output is strong enough to vibrate the speakers. Therefore, it is imperative to possess high-quality amplifiers to have a good audio system. The preamp, usually in the head unit, primes the input for the amplifiers and makes sure it is compatible with its input format.
While head units include low-power amplifiers that “drive” smaller speakers, they do not offer the best quality, so many higher-quality systems have separate power amps that are not mounted in the head unit. Most amplifiers have the ability to produce twice the normal power, but its sound often highly distorted.
Because the amplifiers are usually not seen, they are often underrated in the performance of audio systems, but a great amplifier will undoubtedly help produce far better sound and is a much-needed investment.
Whether you need a robust power source for a subwoofer, optimal power for aftermarket speakers, or simply a kick in your factory speaker system, one of these top-rated car amplifiers is your ticket.
Factors & Features To Consider When Buying a Car Amplifier
With the multiple variations of amplifiers to choose from, customization could be looked at as one of the most important factors when searching for an amplifier. Depending on if you want to purchase an amplifier to hook up to your car, just to improve the already existing stereo system and speakers, or if you would like to purchase speakers and subwoofers along the way, the options are endless.
All car amplifiers are very dependable and can be purchased relatively cheap. Of course, there are amplifiers that are out there with more than six channel inputs, but those are usually used for stereo systems that might be in a dance club or at a concert. Amplifiers could also be used for home surround sound and stereo systems that are larger or more powerful than average sound systems.
- Number of Channels
Car amplifiers often tend to have two, four or six channels to power different variations of speakers, subwoofers and a combination of both. When buying a car amplifier, make sure to know how many channels that the amplifier has before the purchase so that you can determine whether or not your new stereo system will be fully supported. Not all amplifiers have an even number of channels. There are amplifiers with one, three and five different channels.
In some cases, amplifiers can have up to ten or more separate channels, but they are rare as they are mainly used to power large venues. Having a five or six channel car amplifier might be the most useful though, as they can support four speakers and a subwoofer. The only difference is that the six-channel amplifier has the capabilities of using six speakers, or four speakers with a subwoofer, compared to the five channel amplifier that can only house four speakers and a subwoofer.
- Amplifier’s Power and Cooling
Some of the best car amplifiers can require quite a bit of power, which is why most amplifiers are wired directly to the car battery for sufficient power flow. To ensure battery safety, an additional fuse might need to be directly installed so there is not a shortage. Toggle switches should also be a factor when thinking about purchasing an amplifier that draws a lot of power so that it can be turned on and off. If a switch is not installed, then the amplifier may drain the full car battery.
With the excessive amounts of power being drawn from the car battery though, the amplifier can generate some heat. But no worries, most amplifiers have aluminum cases and built-in miniature fans to keep them from overheating; just make sure they are equipped with both, so heat won’t be a liability.
Our Recommended Top 10 Car Amplifiers
Our Recommended Top 10 Car Amplifier Reviews
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier
** Editor’s Choice -- Best Car Amplifier **
The Prime R500X1D is an efficient class D 500 Watt 1-Channel amplifier. This amplifier is capable of running a 2-Ohm load (or 300 Watts at 4-Ohms) and includes onboard Punch Bass and remote Punch Level Control. Its low pass filter will block the high notes from running to your subwoofer(s) and really drive the low bass that you desire.
The speaker-level input allows you to hook this amp up to almost any system, including factory stereos, making this the best car audio amplifier for all purpose uses. While it comes as a small package, it is efficient and conveniently compact.
BOSS AUDIO R1100M Riot 1100-Watt Monoblock
** Best Budget Car Amplifier **
This Boss amplifier is a class A/B. It has greater efficiency than a class A, but does not have the possible distortion from a class B. This amp utilizes low and high-level inputs. Low level is measured in voltages. It runs from RCA outputs in the back of your receiver to the RCA inputs on your amp. This type is preferred for the best audio performance.
High level is measured in wattages. It runs from one positive and one negative from the back of your receiver and goes to the input terminal of your amplifier in the same wire form. The amp comes with a remote subwoofer level control and features 2-Ohm stable stereo operation as well as Variable Bass Boost, which gives you control of how much bass you want to pump into your subwoofer(s).
Kenwood KAC-9106D 2000 Watts Peak/1000 Watts RMS Mono Block Class D Car Amplifier With Speaker Level Inputs
Kenwood makes some of the best car amps in the industry that bring you superior sound quality and reliable performance. The Kenwood KAC-9106D is a powerful class D amplifier. The amp performs at 1000 Watts RMS and can reach 2000 Watts during a musical peak. Onboard low-pass and subsonic filters let you adjust the signal so you’ll get the best sound possible from your subwoofer/box combo.
This versatile amp features speaker-level inputs so you can hook it up to most systems. Aluminum cover plates secure and protect the amp’s connections, giving your installation a professional look. If you are looking for an amplifier that really gives you a lot of value for the cost, then the KAC-9106D is an excellent choice to consider.
Planet Audio AC5000.1D ANARCHY 5000-watts Monoblock Class D 1 Channel 1 Ohm Stable Amplifier
The Planet Audio AC5000.1D ANARCHY is an efficient class D amplifier with serious driving power. It has a total RMS output of 3500 Watts and peaks at a pounding 5000 Watts. Like all good car amps for custom installations, this Monoblock has Variable Phase Shift, which allows you to mount your speakers or subwoofers with the magnet facing out.
The AC5000.1D also features a Variable Subsonic Filter to cut off notes that will distort your bass. Need two of the best car amplifiers? The Pre-Amp Outputs and strapping capability will allow you to strap two of these monster amps for a serious car speaker system. Car stereo amplifier reviews rave about this powerful combo. The best car amplifier for you could be this double punch combo.
Pioneer GM-D8604 Class FD 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier
The Pioneer Electronics technology class FD provides the top car amplifiers in the D class. Unlike other class D amps, Pioneer FDs filter out switching signal distortion, making a clearer sound for your system. This ultra-efficient amp is half the size of a GM-Series Class-AB, so it can be versatile while packing a real punch. Variable Low Pass and High Pass filters made adjusting your audio frequency to your sub’s characteristics and your own preference that much easier.
The new Protection Control System senses the internal temperature and moderates the input level to prevent overheating. Its four channels and speaker level inputs make it workable for many systems without requiring add-on adapters. This is the best car amp you can get as far as space and efficiency.
Hifronics ZRX1016.4 Zeus ZRX Series Four Channel 1000 Watt Vehicle Amplifier
The Zeus ZRX Series is a full range of great amps. The Zeus line is a throwback to the original Hedonics amplifiers, a brank that helped to begin the car audio craze which gave us this world of incredible audio technology. The ZRX1016.4 is a four channel 1000 Watt amp completely designed and engineered in the USA.
This super class AB is decked out with an old school Hedonics heat sink and military grade PCB. With high quality, low-level inputs and outputs, diagnostic indicators, thermal and overload protection, and the Hedonics Surface Mount Design, this throwback is packed with cutting-edge technology. The Zeus is an out of this world amp for your mortal speaker system.
Planet Audio AC1500.1M ANARCHY 1500-watts Monoblock Class A/B 1 Channel 2 Ohm Stable Amplifier
The Planet Audio AC1500.1M is a powerful class AB amp. With a total RMS output at 1500 Watts, this is the best car amplifier in the ANARCHY series. This amp has Switchable Phase Shift so you can mount your speakers in different ways. Continuously variable low-pass crossover will remove all notes above the filter frequency setting.
The remote turn-on circuit makes on and off for this system a simple task. LED power and protection indicators keep your amp running safely. The illuminated ANARCHY logo and chrome plated RCA low level and high-level inputs give this amp a sharp look while it pumps massive sound into your system.
Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier
The Prime R250X4 is a 4-Channel class AB amplifier that is perfect for anyone in need of a single amp to run a complete low wattage audio system. Over current, short current protection, and power supply thermal sensing gives your amp the safety that you need. Input sensitivity adjustments may be different for your multiple speakers.
The separate front and rear gain control allow you to easily control the different settings for your multiple speakers. While it’s a great system alone, Pass-Thru jacks allow daisy-chaining another amplifier to your system This amplifier features variable crossovers to protect your high-frequency speakers or feed only bass to your subs and selectable Punch Bass to tune low frequencies.
Kenwood X450-4 -- 450W 4-Channel Amplifier
The Kenwood X450-4 is a compact 4-Channel amp. This amp outputs 450 Watts and maxes at 900 Watts. While its power output is nothing special, it gives “versatility” a whole new meaning. This powerhouse is really more like two amps in one. Here are some of the many possible configurations that you can run with this amp: Power front speakers with 60 Watts each, and rear-fill speakers with 100 Watts each.
Power a set of component front speakers with 60 Watts each, and rear-fills with 60 Watts each. Power front speakers with 60 watts each, and two subs with 150 Watts or less each. Power front speakers with 60 Watts each, and one sub with 300 Watts. This Kenwood amp has an intelligent thermal management system that runs a cooling fan to keep it from overheating. This unique Kenwood is the best amplifier for subwoofer and aftermarket speaker combos in need of a custom set up.
Infinity Reference 5350a High Performance 5-Channel Amplifier
The Infinity Reference 5350a is a high-performance 5-Channel system. This powerful class D amp can power two front speakers, two rear speakers, and a sub with very simple set up. The DBO Bass-Optimization Circuit provides superior adjustability when compared to the usual bass-boost technology.
Every Infinity amp is tested in accordance with CEA-2006, providing a testing procedure to help you compare amplifiers accurately. The specs are industry-accepted standards, unlike a company car amplifier review filled with misleading information. Look for the CEA-2006 logo when comparing amplifiers to know ensure that you are choosing the best car audio amplifier that you can for your money.
Best Car Amplifier Brands
JBL Car Amplifiers
JBL car amplifiers are a top contender in the best amplifier brands in a unique way. JBL is well known as a speaker company, and they compete with companies for the top spot in the best car audio brands. Because they produce so many speakers, they also have started producing amplifiers that are tailored specifically for their speakers.
Due to being a top choice for car speakers, they found no better way to provide the best user experience than by making matching pairs of amplifiers and speakers to have near perfect efficiency, and the best peak output. While they also compete for competitive edges in other factors like size and durability, their main customer pull is the elimination of guesswork when it comes to matching speakers to amplifiers.
Pioneer Car Amplifiers
Similar to JBL, Pioneer supplies even more of a complete package. Pioneer has contracts with all the major retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon, which stock a wide range of their products. Pioneer produces and distributes quality audio equipment like replacement car radios, speakers, and amplifiers. Because they offer everything required to upgrade your mobile audio system, you find it’s almost too easy to pick a system out.
If you’re nervous about finding a system that will fit in your car, you can use the FITGUIDE on their website to receive recommendations of what will fit in your vehicle. Their amplifiers, as well as radios and speakers, are perfectly tailored to provide a better listening experience than the stock radio system in most vehicles.
Sony Car Amplifiers
Sony is a strong company in many different areas, and one of their strongest is in sound. They have been producing speakers and headphones for quite a while, and the perfect accompanying item for those are their car amplifiers. The continued the top quality products and customer support into a different area, the spectrum of car audio amplification.
Sony’s car amplifiers are highly recommended in car audio amplifier reviews, and considered to be some of the top amplifiers on the market. Their automatic thermal control and installed filters that help to produce a clean and enjoyable sound push them to the top of the list when considering the top amplifier brands.
Kenwood Car Amplifiers
Kenwood pushes the limits with their designs to try and produce the toughest and smallest designs in their class of car amplifiers. Car amplifier reviews will confirm that they include the latest technology of amplification into their products. Some of these features include audio tuning and crossover settings, giving you full control of your car speaker system.
Because they manage to pack all of this into such a small size, Kenwood amplifiers are perfect for any vehicle. Whether it is a small coupe or a large SUV, Kenwood amplifiers provide the necessary tools and processes to maximize the sound and efficiency of your mobile speaker system. Shop around, and you will find that Kenwood is indeed a top brand for car amplifiers.
Alpine Car Amplifiers
Alpine provides a more versatile approach to becoming the best brand. Based on car amp reviews, people claim to take note to the diverse applications that you can use Alpine amplifiers for. What makes them different is they allow for quick installation and removing of the amplifier, as well as easy access to the adjustment dials.
Most amplifiers require stripping and clamping of the speaker wire to acquire a connection. Not the Alpine amplifiers. The snap-in speaker wires make it very simple to install, and the adjustment dial is on the front, instead of the back, where most other amplifiers have it located, makes adjusting your gains and fine tuning they completed system that much easier.
Boss Car Amplifiers
Boss amplifiers may not be the first company that comes to your mind when you are considering what company to invest your money in, but they certainly need to be. Boss Audio Systems offer top quality products for non-top quality prices. They have the product diversity to provide you with the right amplifier for your audio system and help pick out and tailor that amplifier to your system.
They have both highly powerful and robust systems that have auto-cooling technology, so they will last for a long time ahead. Investing in a Boss amplifier will be sure to ensure no disappointment in your audio system.
Kicker Car Amplifiers
Kicker has long been pushing the envelope of new and upcoming technology when it comes to amplifiers and speakers. When surveying what people consider being the top car audio brands, Kicker will come up as much as other brands, if not more, depending on the group you are asking.
They strive to keep up with the latest releases in sound processing technologies, and continually release new items to give users the capabilities to upgrade to the newest items. Their top quality products are easy to install and even easier to maintain.
The components are perfectly calibrated for an optimum listening environment, and when paired with the right audio speaker system, can prove to be a system that is near impossible to beat.
Rockford Car Amplifiers
Rockford has a long-standing reputation for building and providing high-end car amplifier products. They have multiple product lines that each have their own perks and key features, but most have similar notable components in them that help push them to the leader of the pack. Rockford prides itself in producing amplifiers that are sleek and compact, while still being very functional.
One of their patented technologies that helps with this is a Dynamic Thermal Management system. This helps air be distributed evenly over the unit, preventing a build-up of either or hot air, both of which can damage the device. The combination of this and their outstanding line of products puts them in the running for the best car amplifier brand.
Best Car Amplifiers by Type
Best Monoblock and 1-Channel Car Amplifier
Monoblock amplifiers are also referred to as 1-channel amplifiers, but there is one monoblock in particular that stands out and is highly reviewed and recommended. This model is the Kicker 12 ZXS1500.
This Monoblock amplifier has plenty of power to support your car audio system and has built-in indicators to protect those components from shorts and to filter out the noise that comes from the car components and airwaves.
Packing 1500 watts of power, it has the abilities to supply power to just about any speaker combination you can throw at it, and it has plenty of customer and manufacturer support behind it if you have any questions.
Best 2-Channel Car Amplifier
When looking for top-rated models online, one of the highest rated car amplifiers available is the Boss R6002 1200-watt amplifier. It has 1500+ reviews, and all of those reviews give it a favorable praise.
This 1200-Watt amplifier has 2 channels, which gives you up to 600 watts per speaker, which is more than enough for just about any speaker size.
With variable bass boost and interchangeable low and high-level inputs, you have full control over the use and performance of this amplifier.
Best 4-Channel Car Amplifier
When debating “what is the best car amplifier”, you may come across the Rockford Fosgate PBR300X4.
It is an ultra-compact car speaker amplifier that outputs 300 watts to its 4 channels and it has dynamic thermal management to keep all the components cool.
Its one of the top rated items in its class, and is highly reviewed on Amazon as recommended to those who need an affordable amplifier for their vehicle that is pristinely crafted with small tolerances and attention to detail.
Best 5-Channel Car Amplifier
Kenwood makes a fantastic 5-channel amplifier, and one model in particular to look at is the KAC-7005PS.
It is manufactured under their umbrella of the performance series and is built to deliver a good listening experience for a price that is less than expected.
The included 1-year warranty gives you the peace of mind knowing that if anything goes wrong, you’re covered, and the 1200-Watt power rating lets you know that you have plenty of capabilities to run those large speakers and subwoofer that you have purchased.
Best 6-Channel Car Amplifier
Good 6-channel amplifiers are hard to come by, so it’s rare to find one as highly rated as the JL Audio XD600.
This 600-watt amplifier has the abilities to support anywhere between 3 and 6 channels, so it’s not just good for 6 channel applications.
If you plan to start with only 3 channels then upgrade to more, this is the amplifier for you. Variable filters and modifiable pre-amplification give you the ability to really tune this amplifier to the ideal sound that you desire out of it.
What is a Car Amplifier and Why You Might Need It?
A car amplifier is installed in all car stereo systems because it amplifies the signal from the radio, CD player, USB inputs, and it powers the car’s speakers. Even though car manufacturers install amplifiers into cars, the quality of those amplifiers does not compare to external amplifiers, where you can customize and choose a stronger amplifier for your car.
Due to the limited space in the headspace of the dashboard, manufacturers have to install smaller, less powerful amplifiers which can’t power improved speakers or a new subwoofer.
External car stereo amplifiers are a great way to not only produce a better sound quality of the music being played but can support better-quality speakers and an additional subwoofer.
Amplifier Types available
There are six different types of amplifiers that can be purchased, they are:
Monoblock amplifiers have a single channel. The amplifiers themselves tend to be class D amplifiers and usually produce more power than multi-channel amplifiers.
The class D amplifiers have a different form of processing sound than other amplifiers because they utilize multiple transistors at a time with the approach that they are completely turned on or all completely turned off at one time.
Due to this type of process, there is a lot of crossover distortion within the transistors, but the signal passes through a filter before being projected from a speaker, which eliminates most of the distortion and makes it sound smooth.
With the all or nothing style of approach, it creates very little power loss and keeps the heat relatively low. Since they are so effective, class D amplifiers tend to be the best car audio amplifier for subwoofers.
1-Channel amplifiers are usually the same or also referred to as a Monoblock amplifier. Both the 1-Channel and Monoblock amplifiers have a single channel for sound to be processed and project out of a subwoofer.
1-Channel amplifiers are different because they can produce a stereo sound, which is better for a speaker.
The 1-Channel amplifier uses the all or nothing outlook on transistors so that there is less power lost in the process of filtering the signal and projecting the sound through a speaker or subwoofer. These are also the best car audio amplifiers for subwoofers of basically any size.
2-Channel amplifiers have two different channels, which can power two speakers. This type of amplifier usually is in the class A or class AB circuitry style of amplifiers. These types of amplifiers are made for either two speakers or a single subwoofer for greater and better sound quality.
Class A amplifiers tend to use a single transistor to transmit the sound waves, and the transistor will never turn off. Due to the fact that the transistor never turns off, the amplifier is losing a massive amount of power and making the amplifier run hot.
Class AB, on the other hand, takes the best qualities from both class A and B amplifiers. They use two transistors while having minimal crossover distortion and making it the best amplifier for its efficiency.
A 4-Channel amplifier has four separate channels for multiple variations of stereo speakers and subwoofers.
These types of amplifiers are typically the best amps for cars because they can power four different speakers without creating any type of crossover distortion.
The only set back is, that if you want to power all four speakers and a subwoofer, an additional car subwoofer amplifier is necessary so it can be powered efficiently.
A 5-Channel amplifier has five separate channels and could be considered a three channel amplifier with a Monoblock amplifier attached.
These types of amplifiers are mainly used to power four separate speakers and a subwoofer, as the Monoblock channel powers the subwoofer.
The 5-channel amplifier is the best amplifiers for car or SUV owners that have limited space but are stilling wanting to have four speakers and a subwoofer. These amplifiers are also very power efficient and the amplifier does not get very hot.
A 6-Channel amplifier has six different channels to utilize bigger cars such as large SUVs. These types of amplifiers are less common due to the fact that they are very inefficient when trying to conserve energy loss.
They are mainly used to power high end or large audio systems because of their ability to run four speakers and a subwoofer, or all six speakers.
It is due to this that it is best suited for large SUVs because large audio systems fill more space and require more power, which most small vehicles can’t accommodate.
Tips on Choosing the Best Car Amplifier
Tip# 1: Narrow Down Your Channel Choice
Before shopping for your car amplifier, make sure you choose the number of channels you have on your amplifier because that can set both the price and availability of the amplifier you are shopping for. Do this by deciding what speaker configuration you want, and then shop for amplifiers based on that.
Tip#2: Safety First
When installing the amplifier, make sure to install a fuse or switch that allows you to safeguard your battery and other electrical components from a short or power surge. The last thing you want is to install a brand new system then have a faulty wire render the entire thing useless.
Tip#3: Do Brand Research
Deciding on a brand ahead of time can limit your searches, but if you find a couple brands that you like more than others, or that have a good reputation, you can increase your chances of picking a quality unit at an affordable price.
Where to Buy Car Amplifiers?
Car amplifiers can be bought at many retail stores. These retail stores consist of: Walmart, RadioShack, BestBuy, Target, and other large retail stores. The great thing about buying amplifiers in stores like these is that you can ask questions about the products in a face to face conversation with an employee.
The problem is, sometimes the employee will not know the full specifications of the product, and will not be able to satisfy your needs.
On the other hand, online shopping is a great, efficient way to purchase amplifiers. Websites like Amazon will have a search bar to aid you in finding the product you were interested in, as well as any lacking information you did not know about it. If you are looking for the best cheap car amplifier for sale then Amazon is a great site to start your search.
Great! You’ve made it this far, and you now know more information about car amplifiers and the many different variations that can be produced from them.
A car amplifier is a great way for that extra oomph of power that you’ve been looking for in a stereo system. Before you purchase an amplifier, make sure you compare prices online for the best deals possible, and that you are purchasing the correct amplifier for your desired setup.
Make sure to do research, and spend time looking at multiple amplifiers to find the one for you.